28 July 2017

Philly bucket list: Poe house, Fednuts

The mister has put together a "bucket list" of places he wants to see, things he wants to do, and restaurants he wants to try before we leave. Today:

The Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site is on 7th Street, one block north of Spring Garden. Admission is free and you can see a short biographical film before you take yourself on a self-guided tour with a laminated card (PDF). My friend Joseph is a volunteer ranger there -- he can explain to you why they close for an hour every day at noon for lunch rather than stay open the entire day. We got there about 10:00 and spent 90 minutes or so poking around the tour.

Then we got hit by the hungry stick. Right up the street is the "North Philly" (really just Northern Liberties) location of Federal Donuts. The cake-type donuts and fried chicken do live up to the hype -- this is absolutely a destination if you want to try some great Philadelphia food. For a home economics calculation, I'll try to compare it to fast-food staple Kentucky Fried Chicken. There's no straight comparison menu-to-menu, however. The closest I can get, I think, to what we tried would be something like this: We shared a 3-piece basket of Korean-style chicken, with a complimentary honey donut, or 4 items, for $10.00. (We added 2 more donuts and a coffee to our bill, for a total a little under $20.00 with tip.) KFC offers a 2-piece basket of its "Nashville Hot Chicken" with coleslaw and a biscuit, or 4 items, for $5.49. So, no, obviously you're not saving money by trying some of the best fried chicken in the U.S. rather than hitting up the KFC down the street.

As for donuts, an individual Federal Donut will run you $1.75. Dunkin Donuts charges $0.99 per piece. Again, obviously not a money-saver. However, I've written before about how a bargain can be too good to be true. What do we think of the quality of the ingredients in a $5.49 basket of chicken and sides, or a 99-cent donut, when we know what kinds of profits these companies make? (That's a double-digit rise in operating profits for KFC's Yum Brands in Q4 2016, and $50+ million quarterly for Dunkin' Donuts.) Of course, the Fednuts operators seek to profit from their work, too. But they're clearly aiming at quality, which they're not going to get if they start using cheaper chicken or cutting back on their spice blends.

Two little food review notes: Conventional wisdom is that Fednuts' coffee is amazing, but we didn't find it so. It's not bad at all; it's simply not so spectacular that you should go to Fednuts solely for the coffee. And to be honest, don't tell anyone, but I prefer yeast-raised doughnuts, Beiler's style, to cake donuts.

Anyhow, fun way to spend late morning and lunch, especially since Joseph happened to come into Fednuts himself for lunch right after we'd sat down. We got some pro-tips for visiting Grand Canyon (he also volunteers there) and had a real nice chat until he had to head back to the Poe house.

And we walked home to try to burn off at least part of one of our donuts.

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