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Stephen Starr’s The Continental Restaurant & Bar: Crushing the Competition

continental philadelphia ext night 587 300x199 Stephen Starrs The Continental Restaurant & Bar: Crushing the CompetitionClassic Martini Bar Still Running the Show in Philly After All these Years

By Matt Goldstein 

When my cousin asked me to meet her and some friends at the Continental in mid town last year, I was completely apprehensive.  Immediately I just thought it was a trendy yuppie tourist trap and was always too crowded.  After all, something that draws a crowd can’t be good right?  I’m a genius, what can I say.  I’ve been walking past the Continental in Old City for more than 15 years but never did more than just walk through it once very quickly.  I might have had one drink there about 5 years ago but I cannot be sure.  Anyway, as soon as we began eating the food I was immediately a fan and it was literally after the first few bites of an appetizer.  First, their French fries are absolutely amazing, and literally a thing of beauty.  These are probably the thinnest French Fries I have ever seen and the spicy mustard for the French fries is outstanding.  Then it was onto the grilled baby octopus with spinach, Greek herb vinaigrette and pita.  I only had grilled octopus once before but will order it every time I’m at the Continental, no question.  The meat was soft, tender and the sauce was subtle, not overbearing.  It was perfectly prepared. 

A little more than a year later, my cousin decided to have her rehearsal dinner at the Old City location.  This past Friday night we had the entire back room to ourselves, with lots of room and an open bar.  Have you ever tried a cheesesteak egg roll?  I would make reservations at the Continental for that alone.  Seriously!  Let’s break down the entire menu: 


Shoe String Fries with Spicy Mustard: excellent

Grilled Baby Octopus:  excellent

Cheesesteak Egg Rolls:  excellent

Hummus & Pita:  excellent

Our Israeli native cousins claim it was the best hummus they’ve had outside of Israel. 

Wasabi Mashed Potatoes:  very good

Meat Kofta Sticks:  good

It’s kind of like an Indian style meatloaf but we didn’t try the dipping sauce

Spinach Ravioli:  good

Teriyaki Filet Mignon:  good

If I were to order a filet, it would be without any sauce because I want to taste the steak, not the sauce, however, this filet was still very tender and had good flavor. 

Chilean Sea Bass with Peanut Sauce:  excellent

Radna Thai Chicken Salad:  good

Flying Fish Abbey Dubbel on tap:  excellent choice by the sommelier 

Chocolate Martini:  good

I know, you think it’s a girl’s drink.  Just try one.

Ultimat Vodka Martini:  terrible! 

Ultimat Vodka is totally overrated and over priced.  It tasted like paper and had no bite. 

Chopin Vodka Martini:  excellent

Chopin was recommended by the bartender… 

Gin Martini with a Cucumber:  excellent

Someone told us this is a signature drink of the Continental but I can’t be sure. 

The Astronaut: Sari’s favorite drink

For the rehearsal dinner, the staff was great and very easy going.  The bartenders recommended great drinks, joked around with us all night and even let us invent some drinks of our own.  The General Tso is coming soon to Whiskey Goldmine.  It was a great atmosphere with great food, great drinks, great friends and family.  The exclamation point on the night of the rehearsal dinner was what is now being described as “the incident.”  It is being hailed as “so amazing that it might have overshadowed the entire wedding.”  “The incident” is also coming soon to Whiskey Goldmine.  Congrats to Sari & Kevin for a beautiful wedding on Saturday.  And yes, the bride and groom took some friends and family back to the Continental on Sunday night for one last party.  Thanks for the invite ya jerks!


Check out – Philly’s Top 10 Restaurants , Village Whiskey, Barbuzzo Mediterranean Kitchen and Bar 

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