St. Stephen's Green: The Patron Saint of Bad Chefs

Burger Breakdown

St Stephen's Green - Map It!
Two of the following: bacon, grilled portobello, caramelized onions, roasted peppers, Gorgonzola, brie, herbed goat cheese, mozzarella or feta. Love and purity aren't options.
They existed. Wise up St. Stephens. There's this magical seasoning called salt. It makes fries taste better.

When St. Stephen's Green first opened in 2006 it was the talk of Fairmount, at least until The Belgian Cafe opened shortly after. St. Stephen's has the look of an amazing gastropub. In many ways it looks strikingly similar to The Belgian Cafe but St. Stephen's Green doesn't have much to back it up. At least as far as food is concerned.

In general my feeling on the saints has always been that they talk a good game but end up being generally shitty when a little thing called reality comes into play.

The bar is run by James Stephens, who owns The Black Sheep, and Jeff Keel, who owns the Bishop's Collar. This may explain something about the burgers we had at St. Stephen's Green. We weren't impressed by Bishop's Collar either.

The Burger: The 17th St. Burger is a 9 oz. sirloin patty topped with any two of the following: bacon, grilled portobello, caramelized onions, roasted peppers, Gorgonzola, brie, herbed goat cheese, mozzarella or feta. Like the name, the burger is uninspired. Salt and taste cost extra.

Photo of the burger at St. Stephen's Green in Philadelphia

Laurence: I remember being really excited about the opening of St. Stephen's Green. It had a great looking interior, nice outdoor seating, a decent number of taps, great food and a pristine soul. Okay some of that is not true. Like the priest at my church when I was a child, St. Stephen's Green mostly just keeps trying to mouthfuck me. It's a bait and switch. The food sometimes looks good but when I order it I find very little to like. It's similar to when you close your eyes and open your mouth for special private communion... It's never a wafer, is it?

From the first time I ate at St. Stephen's Green in 2006 I was disappointed and yet I keep returning every now and then only to be further disappointed. I keep thinking it will change but it never does. On the fateful night Kyle and I ate the 17th St. Burger I was greeted by cheese that had less taste than milk, fries in need of salt, and meat that reminded me of a burning trash can. The only thing holy about this meal is the deceit.

Okay, I'm being harsh. As much as I really didn't like the burger, I do like St Stephen's as a place to hang out, have a beer, and enjoy a crisp evening. It's a good place for all these things.

But we're not rating places by how much we like the beer or the atmosphere (though this factors in). We're rating F-in' burgers here, man. And the short story is this one isn't good. Or more importantly, it isn't good considering the options nearby. When the best thing I can say about a burger is that the bun was fine but underwhelming and that the meat erupted burning grease onto my face when I bit it, the time has come to look St. Elsewhere for dinner. Also, the bacon was just gross, period.

Sorry St. Stephen's. I'd rather laugh with the sinners than cry over this burger again. Hedonists are just better cooks. Rating: 4/10.

Photo of the burger at St. Stephen's Green

Kyle: Laurence and I ate lunch at St. Stephen's Green the week it opened. I ate an overcooked, lifeless burger with sad slices of bacon and swiss, then quickly wrote the bar off. Since then, they got a new chef and the bar's menu has completely revamped, and I've eaten lunch there several times. The grilled cheese with rib tips and flank steak sliders are personal favorites.

But I would never order the burger. My fellow lunchers would get it, and it was not the same burger I had eaten before. A thick, enormous patty would come out, with the freshest looking produce imaginable, color saturation courtesy of Fear and Loathing. Fatty, dripping bacon would still sizzle as they bit into a hearty kaiser roll, and they would struggle between chewing and smiling.

"You have to try this," they'd tell me.

I told Laurence of the change, of how great the burger looked. It was always a low priority for him, given our prior experience. But I'd seen the future, and the future looked good.

"We have to try it," I told him.

The burger I ordered the night Laurence and I returned was not the same burger, either. That is to say, not the same burger I've seen at lunch so many times. Gone was the crisp lettuce and perfectly ripe tomato. The fluffy, thick roll was replaced by one crushed under the weight of the world of a million other rolls in a bag. And the impressive hunk of meat was reduced to a thin, dry, overcooked, gristly, lifeless burger, topped with sad slices of bacon and, this time, unmelted chunks of gouda.

"You're an asshole," Laurence told me. Rating: 4/10.


I never understood why people like the saints so much. Very few of them make burgers and the ones that do are apparently bad at it.

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