The Bottom Line
Route 6 serves classic New England style seafood in a beautiful space that will transport you to a lakeside cabin in Maine.
· One of kind décor and ambience
· Enthusiastic, friendly service
· Um, Lobster!
· Delicious, inventive cocktail menu
· Some lackluster dishes
· Address: 600 N. Broad St. Philadelphia, PA 19130
· Hours: Mon - Thurs 5 pm - 10 pm, Fri – Sat 5pm – 11 pm, Sun 4pm – 10 pm
· Transportation: Valet Parking 7 days a week, street parking available. Accessible from the Broad St. Line
· Phone: 215-391-4600, Reservations suggested
· Website: http://route6restaurant.com/
I happened upon Route 6 sort of by accident. It was my sister’s 28th birthday and she didn’t know what she wanted to do. After driving around for a while I suggested chef Mark Vetri’s celebrated restaurant Osteria, which I have never been too and have always wanted to go. We headed up to North Broad Street and parked. The members of our party were all surprised to see what a bustling restaurant destination this strip of Broad Street, north of Spring Garden has become. Passing by Osteria, which felt too posh and uninviting and Alla Spina, which looked bland, we finally set our sights on Route 6 and we’re all immediately intrigued.
Looking in through huge bay windows, passerby can see a raging fire, seashells in glass cases and vaulted ceilings with angled skylights. Diner’s wearing bibs, bathed in a golden glow are cracking lobsters and sipping nut-brown beer. This is the kind of special occasion place one should celebrate a 28th birthday. We bounded in, wearing jeans and sneakers, and were warming welcomed and immediately seated.
Route 6 is restaurateur Steven Starr’s bazillionth restaurant. Steven Starr is somewhat of a divisive character in the Philadelphia restaurant scene. In a city that values the underdog, mom and pop establishments and understated authenticity, it’s natural for Philadelphians to want to deride Steven Starr. But he simply cannot be beat when it comes to ambience and restaurant design. In a business that has a 50 percent failure rate he just keeps winning. His restaurants are immersive destination experiences. And Route 6, designed by California's Marshall Agriam Design Studios, is just unbelievably beautiful. Named after the highway that begins in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and runs through the heart of Cape Cod, Route 6 celebrates the cuisine that is distinct to the coastal towns from Maine to Maryland. Offering a season menu with classic dishes such as clam chowder, lobster rolls, oysters and whole lobster by the pound. An open kitchen reveals a spectacular wood-burning oven and grill, which adds a distinct flavor to the seafood.
I ordered a Nor’ Easter, a delicious tart, boozy drink made with Maker’s Mark, maple, lime and ginger beer. My companions selected from the beer list, which offers many IPAs that are great seafood pairings. We immediately reached for the house made oyster crackers and gobbled them up. The crackers were a far cry from the rock hard pellets that usually pass for oyster crackers. We started with some Clam Chowder. Which was rich and savory and loaded with large whole clams. The birthday girl and I both ordered the 1-¼ lb. whole lobster. Optioning to have it grilled on the wood burning stove, rather than the usual method of steaming. I’m not sure where else to get a whole lobster in this part of town other than Red Lobster, which is disgusting. Any way the lobster was cooked to perfection and the meat easily fell from the shell. There’s something so festive about donning a paper bib, ripping your dinner up and soaking it in melted butter. We also tried the Lobster Roll which was served on delicate, buttered roll and really great. The only disappointment of was “the shack classic,” Stuffed Flounder. The flounder stuffed with crab imperial, dressed in lemon pepper butter sounded decadent and enticing, but was in fact, dull with slightly unappetizing fishy finish.
Our charming waiter, David was so cool and helpful, dressed in crisp white shirt and tie. When my sister was in the bathroom I mentioned it was her birthday. He excitedly thanked us and scurried off to send us an extra dessert, an amazing pecan pie, with a candle and “happy birthday” written in chocolate. She was thrilled. When you want your dinner to be more like a mini vacation, Route 6 is a great place to go. Though we were a little surprised to see the bill add up, all in all, Route 6 is totally worth it.