Brunch · Full Complement

Rx, Philadelphia: Life Isn’t All Ha Ha Hee Hee

I’VE been hearing about Rx (BYOB) for quite some time now. This quaint West Philly haunt is a cute corner spot that serves as both a student hangout and a community home. The waitstaff know their patrons; the woman sitting at the table beside ours forgot her wallet and her brunch was put “on tab.” Her waiter joked she’d be leaving him a 50% tip.

Knowing my fondness for french toast and fruit, Stainless Steel Faust recommended Rx to me, remarking that this had been a “classic” brunch place in his college days. It certainly has a homey, comforting feel to it. Small but humble, the drugstore-turned-restaurant is a place in which you can cozy up around a volume of Descartes or a particularly juicy Donne poem.

But don’t let appearances fool. For all of Rx‘s inner charms, the food is hit or miss (though salvageable). The brunch menu is printed up week-by-week, serving up a variety of options. Friend and I decided to share our brunch fare, ordering the Brioche French Toast with Strawberry Compote and Endless Maple Syrup ($8.00) and the Oley Valley Shitake and Oyster Mushrooms with Baby Arugula and Swiss Cheese Omelet ($9.00).

Now, you know my feelings on french toast. I have clear rules, and I don’t think they’re unreasonable. Rx‘s strawberry compote put in an admirable showing, but I don’t like my french toast crunchy, and I don’t like it soggy. Moist, yes; soggy, most definitely not. Friend didn’t even finish her three-slice portion.

And the omelet, though filled with delicious mushrooms and arugula, was salty. Nothing a little Tabasco couldn’t fix, but I like my condiments optional. I should go there only if I choose, not because it’s imperative for a palatable mouthful.

That said, I can’t find it in my heart to completely write off Rx. I love the idea of a neighborhood eatery that’ll know you, and take your meal on credit. Our waiter was fabulous, and chased us halfway down the block when I left my camera on the table. And the coffee–advertised as “endless”–made its rounds again, and again, and (thankfully!) again.

What could have been a great meal degenerated into something woefully short of spectacular. What could have been a reliable West Philly brunch spot is tainted now with the stain of not living up to its potential. As with Meera Syal’s Life Isn’t All Ha Ha Hee Hee, I was left with a heavy heart. But where Syal assuaged that heaviness with a message of hope and self-reliance, Rx just left me heavy-hearted and hungry.