The Olde Bar, located at the former home of Philadelphia’s iconic Bookbinder’s Restaurant, is officially open for indoor dining with a brand-new menu, a newly renovated dining room, and socially-distanced seating.

The celebrated space that once housed one of Philadelphia’s most famous seafood restaurants debuts a new library-inspired dining room that pays homage to the Bookbinder family. Patrons are invited to enjoy 16 new dishes while dining in the comfort of their own beautifully decorated, intimate library nook. Additionally, The Olde Bar will be the new favorite for date nights with retro library desks that feature classic emerald green reading lamps throwing off a vintage dose of nostalgia.

New dishes will bring together classic seafood favorites but with contemporary and unexpected presentations. With sweater weather taking over Philadelphia, the new menu also provides elevated hearty and comfort food fare for those coming inside to dine for the first time this fall. Highlights of the new menu include Lobster Pot Pie, Crab Stuffed Lobster, Warm Lobster Salad, Hamachi Pastrami, Tuna Frites, Lobster Corn Dog, Crab and Corn Chowder, and many others. The Olde Bar’s new indoor hours are 1 to 10 pm daily.

Current service now includes indoor dining, outdoor dining (while weather permits), contactless pick-up, delivery, happy hour, and cocktails to go.

“We are excited to welcome guests back for indoor dining with the debut of our new reimagined dining room,” says Chef Jose Garces. “Our team has worked hard creating a fun and unique dining experience that maintains safety guidelines and keeps social distance. We can’t wait to have guests enjoy our updated menu from inside the new library-inspired dining room.”

For the new dining room, the Garces team started to reimagine the space back in late spring when the shut-down forced restaurants around the region, state and country to shut-down. The closure presented an opportunity for the The Olde Bar team to step back from busy service days, and get creative and out of the box. After several months of renovations, the end result is a brand new vibe that plays off of a nostalgic library filled with stacks of classic books, vintage lamps, colorful and quirky art, emerald jewel-toned reading lamps, a reading lounge, and even QR codes delivered to the table inside a book.

The 14 dining nooks all ensure that tables are more than the standard six feet apart. In fact, some tables and chairs are more than ten  feet away from the patrons at the adjacent book. On top of the private mini-dining rooms, the space also features old fashion-inspired library reading desks perfect for date night or happy hour bites for parties of two. All dining nooks and reading desks all come with a full view of the stunning low pressed-tin ceilings and the overhanging nautical caged (or beer garden-style) lights. Guests will notice the changes when they enter in the newly renovated host area – that is also library themed. For the make-over, Garces worked with his internal teams throughout the pandemic while the restaurant was closed.

In addition to the renovations in the main dining room, Garces has also changed up the layout and operations in the bar dining room – with social distanced seating that leaves every other banquet unoccupied to keep guests more than six feet apart.

The Olde Bar will pair the new dining experience with a new menu that continues Chef Jose’s vision of modern influence on classic dishes. The sixteen new menu items feature a selection of new seafood additions, as well as elevated comfort food and bar favorites that are perfect for the season and the colder weather moving in. New dishes include the following:

  • Warm Lobster Salad; Fingerling Potatoes, Frisee, Sherry Truffle Vinaigrette
  • Crab & Corn Chowder; Blue Crab, Guanciale, Lime Crema
  • Hamachi Pastrami; Dijon & Rye
  • Striped Bass; Celery Root, Truffle, Watercress, Wild Mushrooms
  • Tuna Steak Frites; Herb Marinated Yellowfin Tuna, Lemon Garlic Fries, Green Peppercorn Jus
  • Lobster Corn Dog; Sweet Corn Bread Batter, Lobster Aioli, Spicy Mustard, Lemon Garlic Fries
  • Madai Snapper; Meyer Lemon & Hazelnut
  • Smoked Salmon Spread; Three Garlic Aioli, Almond, Radish
  • Bay Scallop Pappardelle; Asparagus Cream, Speck, Peas, Fermented Chile
  • Brussel Sprouts; Bacon, Chestnut, Caramelized Onion Aioli
  • Stuffed Lobster; Half Lobster Stuffed with Crab, Haricot Verts, Almonds, Roasted Potato
  • Steamed Lobster; Drawn Butter, Green Beans, Herb Roasted Potatoes
  • Winter Squash Risotto; Pecorino, Squash Puree, Brown Butter, Sage
  • Calamari Misto; Squid Ink Batter, Cornmeal Dredge, Shishito Peppers, Spicy Old Bay Aioli
  • Sunchoke Toast; Cauliflower Puree, Sunchoke Chips, Goat Cheese Fondue
  • Lobster Pot Pie; Sherry Cream, Smoked Scallops, Root Vegetables, Puff Pastry
  • Steak Tartare; Smoked Oyster Aioli, Charred Onions, Marbled Rye

“We wanted to create classic seafood dishes that offer a hint of comfort for our guests after this trying year,” says Garces. “The Lobster Pot Pie, Crab Stuffed Lobster and Winter Squash Risotto are great examples. We can’t forget the Lobster Corn Dog – that one is fun and tastes awesome.” 

New dishes will join other The Olde Bar favorites that include the Raw Bar, Seafood Tower, Crab Fingers, Olde Bar Crab Cake, Snapper Soup, Olde Bar Fries, Jeff’s Fried Chicken, Seafood Rolls, and other returning dishes.

All new dishes will be available on the all-day menu) and/or on the dinner menu. Additional food and drink specials will be offered during Happy Hour, 4 to 6 p.m. daily. For a full list of dishes and menus, visit The Olde Bar website.

“The Olde Bar, and now our new library-themed dining room, pays homage to the original traditions that made Bookbinder’s a landmark in Philadelphia,” says Garces. “Our long-term goal is always to celebrate the nostalgia of that place and time in Philadelphia’s history, but with our own unique spin and a look to the future. The new library nooks and the new menu are great examples of old meets new.”

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