Art / Bars / Booze / Center City / Small Plates

Art Bar: Not Your Typical Hotel Cocktail Lounge

Art Bar at Sonesta Philadelphia

Last week we had an opportunity to check out Sonesta Philadelphia’s Art Bar, on the corner at 18th & Market Streets, to sample the recently launched “Thirsty Thursday” offerings. We enjoyed the atmosphere, the drinks, and eatables.

I remember when it was a coffee shop and cafe many years ago. I used to stop by for a cuppa joe or a quick snack, before going to my job on Market Street. It’s come a long way since then.

Art Bar is going for a swanky vibe. Decor is modern and stylish; complete with bold, contemporary colors — red, gray, and white.

Art Bar at Sonesta Interior

Cozy interior at Art Bar [Photo by David Johnson]

Furniture is very minimalist and sleek, yet comfy; plush gray banquette seating with accent pillows, white and chrome side chairs, and glass tables with white table bases. You’ll be close to your neighbors, but you won’t bump elbows.

A signature feature of the space is the “Art Lounge” between the bar and hotel lobby. It is brightly-lit and features avant-garde paintings hung on the walls courtesy of The Center for Emerging Visual Artists.

Art Lounge in the Lobby at Sonesta Hotel Philadelphia

Art Lounge at Art Bar [Photo by David Johnson]

The interior says “sophisticated cool” but without being cliche or overwrought. I didn’t feel “stuffy” in there.

So, what about drinks and eats?

Reserved at Art Bar Sonesta Philadelphia

I beg your pardon.. I am NOT reserved! [Photo by Marilyn Johnson]

They were expecting me… of course DH came along, too. 😉

Cocktail Wine and Spirits Menu at Art Bar Sonesta Philadelphia

Drinks anyone? [Photo by David Johnson]

After we were greeted and seated by our very friendly server Franklin, we were given time to review the drinks menu. Art Bar offers a variety of handcrafted cocktails, spirits, red and white wine by the bottle. As well as a few brews on tap and a respectable list of bottled beers. We were definitely in the mood for some artistically-named cocktails.

While our libations were being prepared, they brought out a “Palette of International Cheeses” – literally served on a plate that looks like an artist’s palette. I see what they did there.

Cheese Plate at Art Bar Sonesta Philadelphia

Palette of International Cheeses [Photo by David Johnson]

Of course, who could say no to THAT? The plate featured Humboldt Fog, Gorgonzola & Smoked Gouda with Acacia Honey, Fig Jam, Grapes & a Warmed Baguette as accompaniments. Except ours did not come with the warmed baguette. Sad face. The cheeses were still delectable; we happily gobbled them up. Humboldt Fog is one of my all time favorites, by the way.

Calder's Circus at Art Bar Sonesta Philadelphia

“Calder’s Circus” [Photo by Marilyn Johnson]

While noshing away on yummy cheese, our cocktails arrived. 🍸 My first cocktail was the “Calder’s Circus” which features Cabo Wabo Reposado, Triple Sec, Fresh Squeezed Lime, Pineapple, and Housemade Ginger Syrup. Sweet and tart, but a very good start.

Summer Days by OKeefe Art Bar Sonesta Philadelphia

“Summer Days by O’Keefe” [Photo by David Johnson]

🍸 His first cocktail was the “Summer Days by O’Keefe” which features Absolut Citron, Benedictine, Grapefruit Juice, Fresh Squeezed Lemon, Mint, Simple Syrup. Absolutely delightful!

Wyeth’s French Twist Sangria Art Bar Sonesta Philadelphia

“Wyeth’s French Twist Sangria” – mmmm, I approve! [Photo by David Johnson]

🍸 My second cocktail was “Wyeth’s French Twist Sangria” featuring Chardonnay, Cruzan Rum, St. Germain, Kiwi & Pineapple. This is my new favorite white sangria! It’s served in a very large wine glass, so it’s a generous drink.

Autumn Rhythm by Pollack Art Bar Sonesta Philadelphia

Autumn Rhythm by Pollack [Photo by David Johnson]

🍸 His second cocktail was the “Autumn Rhythm by Pollack” which contains Ardbeg 10 (Scotch whisky), Muddled Orange & Cherries, Fresh Squeezed Lemon, Housemade Vanilla Bean Syrup, Club Soda.

Cheesesteak Spring Rolls at Art Bar Sonesta Philadelphia

Cheesesteak Spring Rolls [Photo by David Johnson]

After two cocktails each, we were ready to chow. We started with the Cheesesteak Spring Rolls. Perfect finger food; flavor was good – nice & cripsy on the outside, and savory cheesesteak-y goodness on the inside. They came with a side of ketchup to dunk ’em in.

Lancaster County Beef Sliders at Art Bar Sonesta Philadelphia

Lancaster County Beef Sliders [Photo by David Johnson]

The Lancaster County Beef Sliders 🍔 served with Caramelized Onion, Applewood Smoked Bacon & Gorgonzola Cheese also sounded great. Fun little bites of burger-ness! Definitely a good choice for sharing with a companion or a meal for one.

Herb Coated Pan Seared Salmon at Art Bar Sonesta Philadelphia

Herb Coated Pan Seared Salmon [Photo by David Johnson]

As far as I’m concerned the star of the menu is the Herb Coated Pan Seared Salmon 🐟 served on Bed of Asian Slaw with a King’s Hawaiian Fresh Baked Rolls & an Asian Dipping Sauce. The salmon seemed like it was sushi grade because the flavor of this dish reminded me of a salmon sushi roll! It was cooked perfectly – supple and flaky; the slaw was yummy and the sauce was heavenly. At first, I was confused by the addtion of King’s Hawaiian Rolls to this dish. But then I got creative and made a mini salmon and slaw sandwich and dunked it in the sauce. SO GOOD! Seriously, you MUST to get this dish!

Furthermore, I discovered that dipping the cheesesteak spring rolls into the ketchup and then into the Asian sauce was AMAZING! Asian cheesesteak spring rolls? Did I just make that up? YUM!

Try as we might, there just wasn’t any room for dessert. A travesty because they have Red Velvet Cake on the dessert menu. 😰

Art Bar Sonesta Hotel Philadelphia
We enjoyed our visit and can’t wait to go back to enjoy some live jazz entertainment while trying a few more cocktails! 😋

Check out Art Bar at Sonesta. It’s hip, artsy, and cozy; has good cocktails, tasty nibbles, too. So, not quite your typical hotel cocktail lounge. A great spot for locals to socialize with friends or chill a while.

Tell ’em Philly Grub sent ya.

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