The Piazza at Schmidt’s
1050 N Hancock St
Philadelphia, PA 19123 (215) 268-7825
A few people are talking about this place online…just a few – read here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here (the rest of the world still has Crystal Pepsi? Seriously? Damn!), here, here, here, here and oh, here. Holy word of mouth! Well, if there is one thing legendary Philly party-promoter Tommy Up knows how to do it is get people talking and with his latest venture, the uber-hip restaurant/lounge P.Y.T., it is clear another thing Up can do really well is run a burger joint.
Self-described as a California style burger bar, P.Y.T. as a concept is well thought out and its location in the middle of Bart Blatstein’s Piazza At Schmidt’s is both ideal and logical. Indoor seating in stylish booths and at the sleek bar will be more popular in colder months, but on a gorgeous day like we had (a rare example of the idea that it is “Always Sunny in Philadelphia”) the piazza-side tables with lime green umbrellas were the place to be.
I modified my P.Y.T. Burger (toppings are key here) and was able to snap a few pics before eagerly diving in to devour the 1/3 lb.(ish) of beef blanketed (but not buried or overpowered) with a fried egg (preparation nailed – just the slightest bit of yolk ooze), bacon, lettuce, tomato (bright red!), onions, cheese (great melt) and a devilishly sweet onion & mayo secret sauce (note to Colgate – this would make the perfect toothpaste flavor). The burger was heavily seasoned and cooked around the range I requested, not pegged, but to the rarer which is a 1000 times better than going too far. The completed burger stacked pretty high, but everything squished together well and was pretty manageable to eat in mixed company.
As good as the burgers are, the P.Y.T. sign also promotes two other strengths of the restaurant. If the “T: thing” is the burger and the “Y:young” is the music (djs, Steely Dan’s “Kid Charlemagne” was playing as we were leaving – probably not stereotypical but it worked for a Sunday), then “P: pretty” is a really great way to describe the drinks.
With a tip of the hat to the history of the area, P.Y.T. offers cherry sodas (and cherry cokes) mixed special for the under-21 set (and or those feeling a bit guilty about imbibing so early in the day). For those old enough there are adult milkshakes that may become the calling card of the restaurant. Offered in 3 varieties they were the perfect mix of ice cream pleasures and alcoholic zing….. my “Jack Rabbit Slim” vanilla shake, spun with a healthy mix of Maker’s Mark, was impossibly simple yet incredibly complex in taste. Not overpowering or “boozy,” the shake was light and airy and instantly brought smiles to our faces.
Brunch ended with strawberry mojitos and that warm and fuzzy glow of a great meal shared in good company.
Up’s place is still in soft-open mode and the addition of a POS machine and a few more weeks with the layout of the joint may help the flow. I truly appreciated our server’s enthusiasm for the menu. I gotta say, I love it when the wait staff is as excited about what you are ordering as you are. It is clear Up (and his team) spent some time in training making sure that the staff understood it is ok to be themselves. P.Y.T. is to a degree about the scene and the servers fit the part straight from central casting, but everyone we came into contact with had a personality, a smile and enthusiasm for what they were doing – that is rare and is a testament to Up and his history creating a vibe.