“This place is a balance between edge and charm” said the young and cheerful bartender as I confided in him about not finding parking easily near this famous German bier garten in Fishtown in Philadelphia called Frankford Hall and ordered a half liter of Munich Gold without bothering to look at the menu.
It was one of those slow and lazy and sweaty summer weekends. One of those weekends when you realize that summer was fast getting over and you needed to move your center of gravity to another place once in a while to make it memorable. After sleeping through the entire morning I knew that there had to be more to Sunday life than just the intellectual battle of reading the weekend Review over a cup of Darjeeling tea. Someone said Frankford Hall was worth going to for fresh beer. But let’s think it over one more time. Living in Suburbia forces you to think over every decision deliberately in an unhurried fashion. Meanwhile I realized I had ran out of Marie biscuits to go with my tea. Darn it / that was another shopping trip. Hmmm. Now - did I really want to be like a young city slick person and drive to the city and go though the hassle of finding parking just to get a freshly brewed jug of beer. Hmmm. Decisions decisions. Besides there was a 30 percent chance of rain. Not to mention that it had rained cats and dogs yesterday. I made a mental note that I better carry my gustbuster large vented umbrella.
40 minutes later. There was no decent parking available at all in Fishtown. The only option seemed to be to park in one of those narrow mean lanes between the row of old dilapidated houses. This was the shad-fishing community of Philly. Shad - by the way - tastes almost like Hilsa (Hilsa or Ileesh - is the heart stopping delicacy fish for any Bong with a taste for the finer things in life). So anyway. This Fishtown place was very old and industrial but it was indeed trying to redefine itself as the epicenter of new cool artistic, culinary and musical action.
I finally did find parking - very far from the restaurant in one of those deserted automated lots where you have to pay a flat fee of $20. You could also park without paying anything but then your car would be towed and then you would pay a hefty fine plus the towing fee of $175. Hmmm. Decisions decisions.
So anyway. I paid the flat parking fee, looked up at the cloudy sky, collected my priceless umbrella from the trunk and marched towards Frankford Hall. This is quite the place. Industrial environment paired with original German food and beverage. Tents laid out like Octoberfest in Munich. A ping pong table. Loud music. Loud conversations. The beer and the food were to be ordered at different counters. I ordered the bratwurst as the appetizer and tried to impress the waitress by sharing with her that there are more than 40 different types of bratwurst one could find in Germany. She smiled sympathetically. “Are you from the city?” Err no, I’m from Jersey but I come here all the time. Liar. She left in a hurry.
I kept an eye on my umbrella which was nicely parked inside a beer drum at the entrance. And I gulped the half liter of gold in a few minutes while I wolfed through the bratwurst and sauerkraut. Man - this is the good life.
There was a noisy young trio right next to me. An innocent looking chap with two harmless young women. One of them highly inebriated and using swear words to gain attention. The other one seemed to be in deep thought, cheeky shorts, high heels, perched on the wooden bench like a female version of Rodin’s “The Thinker”.
As I ordered the next half liter, I asked the bartender for tips on where to find parking. As I put a couple of dollar bills on the table, the advice became more genuine. The other bar tender started offering advice as well. I thanked both of them and returned to my table as I promptly forgot all their advice.
Oh wow, there was this young German couple with a baby in a pram that just arrived on the table next to mine. The pram was conveniently put facing my side. I could see the baby. The baby was staring at me. I smiled back. But the baby was not so happy. It started making worried noises. The parents came around one by one to check on the baby, and politely smiled at me. I tried to smile again at the baby. But this time it started wailing. It must be the ambient noise. I gulped down another half liter of the gold.
All this while I kept an eye on my umbrella that was parked on the beer drum at the entrance as I waited for my Wiener Schnitzel. This one takes time to prepare. It is truly a German masterpiece of culinary perfection. Ah - the pleasures of German food. The baby was now smiling at me.
As I closed the tab I noticed that it was getting quite busy as I was preparing to leave. The really fashionable people were starting to show up now. Oh well. It was getting dark. I had to get out of the city now. Time to get back to the routine.
I walked back to the parking lot and was happy to see my car was still there. The car seemed to be happy as well as it chirped back and lit up in response. “Turn right on Callowhill road in one and a half mile” said the GPS. In just a few minutes I was sailing on the Ben Franklin bridge - leaving the city lights behind and racing back to the prized loneliness of the woods. A Sunday evening fast becoming a faint memory as I almost started to see a bright Monday morning on the horizon.
It was only when I was turning into my garage that it started pouring heavily and I realized that I had forgotten my prized possession- the gustbuster large vented umbrella inside a beer drum at the entrance to Frankford Hall.