Dining Out at Front Street Cafe

Front Street Café is an amazingly innovative restaurant that has recently opened in The River Wards section of Philadelphia. Owner Nicole Barclay was inspired to open this restaurant as a result of her struggles with dairy and gluten allergies and the near impossibility of finding dining options to meet her unique dietary needs. As longtime native of Fishtown and Northern Liberties, she wanted to open a restaurant that addressed the void she witnessed in serving individuals with restricted diets. She developed Front Street Café with a mission of serving primarily plant-based cuisine and the option to have all dishes served gluten free. Barclay is thrilled to be joining the spectacular culinary scene in the River Wards and adding her consciously created fare to the mix. We had the lovely opportunity to speak with Nicole Barclay about the style and cuisine of Front Street Café.

The Style

“Front Street Cafe is a neighborhood cafe that is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, featuring a coffee shop, fresh juice bar, a restaurant with garden seating, indoor and outdoor bars as well as a private event space.

Front Street Cafe is different from other eateries in many ways. The design of the space itself is very unique with an intelligent blend of new and old elements that make it feel immediately comfortable and familiar yet fresh at the same time. Additionally, the rare European inspired combination of a full service restaurant that has both an espresso bar and cocktail bar allows Front Street Cafe to better serve the needs of the surrounding community and has been an immediate hit with the breakfast and lunch crowds. We recognize that both the physical design and concept help set Front Street Cafe apart, but it is the menu and quality of ingredients that really differentiate the restaurant from other breakfast spots and restaurants in Fishtown and Northern Liberties.

Not only is the building itself a beautiful representation of late 1800’s architecture but the corner location is very convenient for commuters who want to grab that early morning coffee or juice before they hop on the train to head into Center City. With the versatile space spread out over several rooms, the Cafe offers guests many options, whether it is a private room for that company party or quiet space for nearby freelancers to park on their computer. With the outside garden that feels more like California than Philadelphia on warm days, it is the best-kept secret of the River Wards.”

The Food

“The Menu at Front Street Cafe is primarily plant-based with a focus on healthy, organic and farm to table fare. ‘Farm to table’, ‘gluten-free’ and ‘organic’ are all buzz words in today’s restaurant culture, but these are concepts that Front Street Cafe takes very seriously because we realize that eating well and knowing where your food comes from is the foundation of health, and healthy customers will come back for many years to come. We offer organic chicken and free range grass fed beef as well as sustainably harvested seafood in order to have something for everyone, but these items only make up a small portion of the menu.

Our Lean Green Hotcakes are a breakfast favorite. They are a special mix of organic buckwheat, rice flour and coconut oil blended with kale, giving them a vibrant green color. The hotcakes are topped with house made granola, cashew cream and served with organic maple syrup and fresh berries. For lunch, Front Street Cafe takes the veggie burger to a whole new level by using a special blend of smoked mushrooms and quinoa served on a fresh vegan brioche bun. For dinner, the pecan roasted honshimeji mushrooms served on a crispy butternut polenta with garlic griddled spinach and tomato-saffron broth have been a big hit. The roasted butternut squash is folded into the polenta, which gives it a sweeter flavor to help balance the earthiness of the mushroom and the savory nature of the saffron tomato broth. Our salmon dish uses a sustainably harvested and ocean farmed salmon, hand selected in Skuna Bay, Vancouver and shipped directly to the cafe. Prepared and served on sautéed kohlrabi with soba noodles in a shiitake dashi broth and finished with organic miso butter, it has been a favorite of the dinner crowd.”

The Service

“Our staff is very friendly and makes hospitality their number one priority. From the moment a guest walks in the door we try to make it very clear that they are welcome and that we appreciate them coming to join us. Our second floor space will be available for members of the community to come and work on the free WIFI or host casual meetings.”

Special Features

“Front Street Cafe offers over 30 choices of organic, fresh squeezed juices as well as teas and coffee. We have incorporated some of our juices into our specialty cocktail menu at the alcohol bar. One of the favorite fresh organic juices is the “Firefly,” a blend of carrot, pineapple, lemon, orange, ginger & turmeric which provides strong immune system and anti-inflammatory benefits. So along with the fresh zesty flavor of the juice, there are positive benefits for the body as well.

At the alcohol bar we have incorporated organic fresh ginger, apple, beet, cucumber and lemon juices with ‘Wigle’ organic whiskey to create a completely organic refreshing drink we call the ‘Whiskey Ginger Aid.’ Our cocktail menu is changing seasonally and we plan on having new delicious and fresh creations out in December.”

Nicole Barclay is passionate about the City of Philadelphia and is grateful for all of the amazing guests that frequent Front Street Café as well as the “amazing and beautiful personalities” that she works with. She mentioned her appreciation for the welcoming attitude she has received since opening and looks forward to introducing new dishes while perfecting the atmosphere of the her café. Most importantly, she is ecstatic about helping her fellow dietary restricted Philadelphians and turning her guests into friends. Welcome to Philly, Front Street Café! We are happy to have you!

Written by Patrick Kaisinger (Mike McCann Team Blogger Extraordinaire)

Moving? Know the value of your home …