Last Friday, we ventured to The Cambridge, a pub located on South Street in Philadelphia, for a chili competition. Like most businesses along this main street, The Cambridge is located in a storefront attached dwelling with residences above making this a row pub. The role of the pub, or originally known as public house, is a place to gather with friends because your own house isn’t quite set up to receive guests. Philadelphia has a fairly large stock of really small row houses so if you want to meet up with more friends than you can fit in your row house, pubs are a great option.
Pubs are also great if you want to meet neighbors you don’t yet know and try chili that complete strangers have offered up to compete for the bragging rights to having made the best chili in the neighborhood. The Cambridge, being a row pub, has a cozy little secluded backyard area that’s perfect for hosting small events like a chili cook off, which was well attended.
All the chilies were delicious but I ended up voting for this coffee stout chicken option which was delicious, not too spicy, and artistically presented.
This option, my number two choice, featured ingredients that included just about everything that the Italian Market sells. A quick count put the ingredient count around 40 different things. The description was very South Philly.
On a cool night, having a nice fire pit is very enjoyable. If you’re going to put a fire pit in your row house backyard, make sure you have enough space and keep a fire extinguisher on hand just in case. Your neighbors shouldn’t be overwhelmed by the smoke or fear for their safety. Another option is a chimera. Both keep a fire well contained.
When having an outdoor shindig, no matter when, be mindful of your neighbors. I’ve never been to a chili competition before but this was just a nice happy group of people with crockpots just enjoying a lovely fall evening. We had such a good time that I think next year, we might enter our own chili.
Finally, it’s always nice to get out and see how people are living in their row houses, or in this case, how a public establishment makes the best of their working row house space. This charming little corner would be easy to replicate in your own row house even if your outdoor space is small.