My date-night at Irwin’s was everything I wished it to be and more! It was definitely worth the wait!
Fun fact: Irwin’s is named for the architect, Irwin T. Catharine, who designed for The School District of Philadelphia from 1920 – 1937. He is responsible for over 80 school buildings in Philly including Masterman, Palumbo, Overbrook, and this stunning art deco inspired building, BOK!
This space located inside the (somewhat) newly repurposed BOK school is so eclectic. They left graffiti on the walls, kept some other original features and mixed it with mid-century modern pieces, lots of candles, greenery and a breathtaking, dramatic crystal chandelier at the entrance. I TOTALLY dig the vibes! Excellent design details! It’s absolutely a place for a romantic evening out and an awesome addition to ever flourishing South Philly.
We actually wound up switching our reservations to an earlier time to catch a movie afterwards and walked into the space just as an electric sunset was taking place. That unexpected bit of magic set the tone for the rest our our evening here. (Try to come for sunset! Between the outdoor space and all of the large open windows, you’ll have an awesome, impressive view!)
We were seated at a quiet, corner, candlelit table by large windows. It was perfect for cozying up and sharing these delectable small plates that are inspired by the cuisines of Turkey, The Mediterranean and the Middle East. The dishes that brought my tastebuds right back to some of my recent trips around the world were memorable…the sea bass, the lentil rice cake, the baked haloumi with dukkah, the sweet potato hummus topped with sweet pomegranates, even the simple the seeded crackers and perfect grilled pita. Everything was so flavorful and complex…except the baba ganoush. It just wasn’t as smoky and garlicky as I’m used to or how I make it. Definitely not bad by any means, it just didn’t have that punch I crave in the classic eggplant dish. Other than that, I would absolutely order all of the plates again. They were excellent. (They say 2-3 per person is recommended and I would say that’s accurate. We left satisfied but not stuffed, which on a sexy date night, I feel is key!)
The drink list is impressive. Unique beers, solid wines and cocktails ranging from classics to innovative. The cocktails we had were stellar! Their namesake, ‘The Irwin’, was strong and sexy. It was a deep with the walnut bitters and garnished with a thin slice of orange peel and a soaked dark cherry at the bottom of the highball glass. The pink ‘Aviation’ was a sweeter, lighter, more “girly” drink, shall I say. Both good. Very different.
Our server was very welcoming and super attentive throughout the evening, and the hostess was kind and was gracious, snapping a few photos of us in the super cool space.
It’s really a special place, one I enjoyed immensely. It’s reservations only and it felt very exclusive with the check-in at ground level and the guided elevator ride up to the top floor.
Off season, just as they opened was a neat way to experience Irwin’s (especially for the very first time) and when we could have the place basically to ourselves. I cannot wait to return. I would definitely like to come in warmer weather and sit outside, although popping out there on a chilly night was still spectacular as I believe this is the best views of the city. I would die if they started opening for Sunday brunch (Hint, hint if anyone capable of making that happen is out there reading this!).
Irwin’s is not for everyone as the portions are on the smaller side and priced higher according to effort, but it’s certainly for us. I cannot praise Irwin’s design team, staff and chef enough!
Excellent date choice!
*The parking lot directly in front of front door belongs to Irwin’s and is free to use for patrons.