By Tim Rodgers
It was 2003, winter in Philadelphia. There was 2 feet of snow on the ground in the Fairmount/Art Museum section of the city. I think the liberal media called it the President’s Day Storm II if I am not mistaken. My car was immersed in the snow, not to mention plowed in by a futile attempt the night before. Bottom line, the city was paralyzed. I figured I needed supplies, “the French toast syndrome” I referred to it as. The essential Milk, eggs, bread, and butter were imperative. It seems like that is what you are supposed to get when snowed in. And most importantly of course, I can’t be sitting in my third story apartment without an ample supply of beer.
It was only 9 in the morning at that point but the neighborhood bar, “The Bishop’s Collar” seemed to have its lights on. Maybe, the bartender is cleaning up from the night before, and perhaps he’ll sell me a six pack or two. I opened the door to the Belgian Beer House and it was packed with twice the amount of people that the Philly fire department would probably have been comfortable with inside the establishment. At that point, it dawned on me that this was a special place for the residents of this Fairmount neighborhood. Students, young professionals, and artist alike found solace in this watering hole on that cold snowy February morning.
Needless to say, I spent the whole day there drinking the array of Belgian beers on tap. La Trappe, La Chouffe, St. Benardus, among many more. Today it’s a great variety as well, Lost Abbey avant-garde, Fatty boombalaty, Boom Shakalager, and for those sour beer lambic types, they got Russian River Consecration. (Mighty strong my friends.)
Fast forward seven years later. I found myself downtown last night. As I was making my way home from my appointment to hop on I-76 back to the suburbs, I drove by the Fairmount section. “I need to stop at the Bishop’s Collar,” I told myself. To my slight surprise It hadn’t changed since the days when I resided there. Great Belgian selection on tap, great bar food items “chalked up” on the board daily, and an eclectic mix of neighborhood types frequenting the establishment for that post-work beer and sandwich. After I downed two La Trappes, I decided it was time for the “spicy meatloaf sandwich” with old bay fries. I washed down the tasty, tangy, spicy sandwich with a Lost Abbey avant-garde. I must say, both the La Trappe (darker) and avant-garde (lighter) really brought the flavor.
As the Belgian’s made me feel nicer and nicer, as my headache subsided, and the pains in my back and shoulders disappeared, I was taken back to my days living in the neighborhood in my early twenties. I remembered how great the burgers are here, but most importantly I remembered that the crab cake sandwich was my go-to meal whenever I went there. I continued to watch the Phillies game at the bar, talking to a young couple who relocated to Philly from upstate New York. They were drawn to the place as well when they moved here and love it. “Screw-it,” I told myself. By this point I was inebriated by the finest beers. After my spicy meatloaf sandwich, I went for it, and had my crabcake sandwich. No regrets!
If you are ever by the Art Museum or Fairmount and want an easy bite to eat with some solid beer selection, the Bishop’s Collar is the place for that warm, neighborhood feel. They are located at:
2349 Fairmount Ave