Dolsot Bibimbap at Southgate

A Few Firsts

posted in: Personal Essay | 2

I had originally written this for our food blog,, but I decided to update it an post it here as well since it describes the end of our self-isolation which I have written about here a few times.

As I’ve mentioned, Holly and I have been diligent during the pandemic. Since mid-March 2020 when we started working from home and self-isolating, we haven’t been inside anywhere other than our apartment except for grocery stores, pharmacies, and select medical appointments.

Recently, we received our two vaccine shots: one at the very end of March and one in April meaning that we were fully vaccinated by early May. Although we intend to still be careful, we have been eager to resume some activities.

Shortly after we passed our two week mark after our second shot, we ventured out for some outdoor dining. We went to SouthGate which is basically across the street from our apartment building. It is among our favorite local restaurants, and we had gone there often in the before times. In fact, the last 2 times we had gone out to eat prior to our self-isolation was to SouthGate.

On Thursday, March 12, 2020, we went there after a particularly stressful day at our jobs as plans were being made to shut the building and transition to remote work. We went there again that Saturday for brunch after our usual trip to the Rittenhouse Farmers Market.

It seemed fitting that our return to dining out would be at SouthGate, and, not surprisingly, it was a success. Not only was it comforting going back to a place we know and love, but the weather was perfect for outdoor dining.

We had ordered takeout from them a few times over the past 13+ months. As much as we had enjoyed those meals, takeout isn’t the same as getting it straight from the kitchen.

It was both thrilling and a little strange to be eating somewhere other than our apartment after so long, but the thrilling quickly outweighed the strange.

We went right at 5:00 before it got crowded. When we first got there, only one other table was occupied.

We started with a couple of beers. Then we shared the steamed vegetable dumpling appetizer (all these pictures were taken with my Samsung Galaxy S9+).

We both ordered the Dolsot Bibimbap for our entrée. It comes with a fried egg, but they also offer choices for additional protein. Unless I’m particularly hungry, I find the egg is usually enough. Holly replaced her egg with tofu.

Dolsot Bibimbap at Southgate
Dolsot Bibimbap at Southgate

This has long been one of my favorite dishes anywhere. I had gotten their Bibimbap for takeout, but it’s definitely not the same experience from a plastic container as it is from the hot stone pot.

During the pandemic, we had been relying on Philly Food Works for our fresh and local produce. After that Saturday last March, we stopped going to the farmers market. Emboldened by our successful dinner out, we returned that Saturday which was also both thrilling and strange. We had already gotten our delivery from Philly Food Works so didn’t really need anything from the market, but we wanted to check it out for future reference.

Although we didn’t need anything, we couldn’t resist getting fresh scallops from Shore Catch. We routinely had gotten fish and seafood from them, and they certainly have been one of the vendors we’ve missed the most.

That night, we made a simple dinner of pasta and homemade red sauce. I cooked the scallops right in the sauce, and they turned out great. I’ve never had scallops as good as the ones we get from Shore Catch. I rarely order them at restaurants since they are never as sweet and tender.

We continued our adventures on Sunday. We went for a nice walk (which isn’t new) but decided to stop on the way home for a beer which we hadn’t done in ages. It was chilly and rainy, but we wanted to take advantage of being able to stop for a drink.

We went to Second District Brewing which is a little far from our apartment but a place we had been to handful of times before and really enjoyed. I find their beers to be among the best of our local breweries. They have a big space with a lot of windows and a garage door that are often open so we thought it would be a place we would feel comfortable at. However, we still decided to sit outside. We each had a couple of ten ounce beers but didn’t stay long because of the aforementioned chilly and rainy.

Leaf Storm and Estimated Antler at Second District Brewing
Leaf Storm and Estimated Antler at Second District Brewing

The weather took a turn for the better the following week, and we took advantage of it by meeting a friend at Jet Wine Bar, which has been one of our go-to places since moving here. In fact, I had scoped it out prior to moving into our apartment building when I was investigating our potential new neighborhood. Having an excellent wine bar in walking distance has certainly been a big benefit.

Jet had opened an outdoor garden shortly before the pandemic. We hadn’t gotten the chance to go there before but it is now a great option to have since we’re still leery of crowded indoor spaces. It was great being back although the vibe was different since we hadn’t been in their lovely garden before. It was also great spending time with our friend who we had seen a few times during the pandemic. She lives in our neighborhood so we had met up with her for a couple of walks during the past year.

Sparkling Rosé at Jet Wine Bar
Sparkling Rosé at Jet Wine Bar

The nice weather continued through the weekend, so we went out for bunch at Le Virtù, one of our favorite Italian restaurants. They have a great outdoors space which we had been to before, but their brunch service is new so we were thrilled not only to be back there but also to try something different.

The weather continued to be perfect for sitting outside and our leisurely lunch felt almost like being on vacation. Their patio is relatively isolated from the street so it’s pleasantly peaceful.

We started with a couple of Aperol Spritzes. I had their Eggs Benedetto, and Holly ordered the Panino Vegetariano.

Philadelphia is lifting a lot of the pandemic restrictions on June 11. Despite starting to feel comfortable doing some outdoor activities, it still feels too soon for a complete return to normal. I hope restaurants will still offer outdoor seating options. A lot of places in the city added outdoor seating during the pandemic so there’s no guarantee it will continue.

Although all the things we did were fairly simple and had at one time been pretty routine, we had a newfound appreciation for them after such a trying year.

I guess now that we’ve both been fully vaccinated and have been out doing a few things, I can declare that our self-isolation is over. By my count, it had lasted 414 days.

2 Responses

  1. Khürt Williams

    Sigh. I miss walking around and hanging out in Philly. I love lower the Battery Park area and DUMBO, but I think Pilly is so much more accessible than New York City.

    • Tom

      One of the things I love about Philly is that it’s big enough to be interesting but not so big as to be intimidating.

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