Friday, July 8, 2011

Off the Map: ...Until It Was the Worst of Times in Philadelphia

Chocolate Soda & Egyptian Egg Shake Phosphate – The Franklin Fountain, Philadelphia, PA
The Franklin Fountain

From the highest of highs in Philadelphia, Vodka soon reached the lowest of lows….

No city can infuriate me quite like Philadelphia can.

It’s just that, dear Philly, I expect so much more from you.  You are the metropolis of both my childhood and my college years.  I let you remain in my Top 5 of American Cities out of nostalgic affection, and then, just like that, you show me why I’m prepared to kick you by the wayside.

Frankly, Philly, if you weren’t the home of both my alma mater and my mother’s main culinary crush (Jose Garces), you and I might cease our acquaintanceship all together.

(Oh, and you can thank Marc Vetri for providing a great boost to your reputation in the form of his aforementioned tasting menu).


Floating on pure euphoria after the scrumptiousness of Vetri, I coerce my parents into venturing to Franklin Fountain for dessert.  The first flaw in this plan is that, being Independence Day weekend, Philadelphia decides to start flinging fireworks up in the air a solid 48-hours before the holiday (and as someone who hates fireworks, this is highly unnecessary).  Unfortunately, Franklin Fountain is located right in the thick of the patriotic insanity.
Philly's Idea of a Good Time
Rounding the corner to the shop, now sobered up from our dining high and on the verge of defeat from the fireworks absurdity, we find a line out the door of Franklin Fountain featuring some of Philadelphia’s most “splendid” characters.  Despite the fact that I would much prefer a coffee ice cream, I am dead-set on sampling both Marc Summers’s and Duff Goldman’s favorite sweet beverages from the BEST I EVER DRANK episode of Best Thing I Ever Ate: the chocolate soda (Summers) and the Egyptian egg shake phosphate (Goldman).
Not seeing the chocolate soda on the menu, I ask the Franklin Fountain menu distributor if it is still available (and God knows that if it is NOT available, there will be trouble in River City).  He assures me that it is still a menu item and that I should just ask for it.  Fine.
This Guy Looks Really Annoying After a 30 Minute Line
Finally approaching the counter, we order: two small ice creams and the two Best Thing I Ever Ate beverages.  The whole affair smells of failure when the man pulling together our order can be seen consulting with another worker about how to make a chocolate soda.  And the metaphorical smell turns to a distinct odor when he, after many minutes of us waiting at the other end of the counter, approaches me and asks how to make a chocolate soda.


Do I look like I was a soda jerk in a past life?!

After a very articulate, “Um, I want the one that Marc Summers drank on Best Thing I Ever Ate,” (for which I receive a blank stare.  New rule: the Food Network show that your establishment was featured on needs to be required viewing before you’re hired), he continues, “Do you want a scoop of chocolate ice cream in it?  It can’t hurt, right?”

Hey, buddy, I don’t know how else to say this but…


Eventually, he hands over my two beverages, and I am prepared to judge the taste of Marc Summers versus the taste of Duff Goldman.
I'd Rather Have a McFlurry
Unfortunately, based on this highly scientific experiment, I should never eat anything either of them recommend again.

Let’s begin with the Egyptian egg shake phosphate, which allegedly is made with an egg plus orange and rose flavoring.  A date clings onto the straw for dear life, and the drink itself has the look of an creamsicle.

Oh, how I wish it were a creamsicle.
Dates Don't Belong Wrapped in Bacon or Hanging Off of Straws
This drink is only mildly sweet and mostly fizzy.  The components all seem to be rebelling against each other, though whether this is the fault of the concept itself or the “master” dessert-maker behind the counter is anyone’s guess.  Setting that monstrosity aside, I turn to the chocolate soda.

Or let me rephrase: the club soda with a scoop of chocolate ice cream combusting in the middle.
My, My, Doesn't That Look Scrumptious?  NOT
It is now abundantly clear that Franklin Fountain is more concerned with forcing their employees into bow ties and sailor hats than teaching them how to make a fountain drink.  If possible, the “chocolate soda” is even worse than the Egyptian egg thing.
Gross Meets...
And to make it all worse, the fireworks, which have been blasting out our ear drums for the past fifteen minutes, are now over, and Market Street has turned to chaos.

Amid bouts of nausea, I dump most of the drinks in the trash can, and my parents and I hightail it to the first available cab to take us far, far away from Franklin Fountain, Philadelphia, and the Worst Things I Ever Drank. 

The Franklin Fountain’s Chocolate Soda & Egyptian Egg Shake Phosphate: 1 star

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