Ladder 15: Forealz’ Truffles, And A Turf War Of Epic Proportions

When we quickly posted about our love for all things truffled, we didn’t anticipate the Box O’ Pandora that quickly followed. A chorus of ‘Marc Vetri and only Marc Vetri‘ was repeated by our readers in regards to legit magic mushroom use within the city limits.

A quick stop into the shiny new Ladder 15 opened the ground of Truffledom and provided good news: For those of us who cannot afford the Grand Tasting at Marc Vetri’s eponymous outpost,  The Ladder will dump a shit-ton of black truffles all over a flatbread for you. Photographic proof above, naysayers. And lo, it is yummy.

With the blend of Mike Stollenwerk‘s brilliant concepts and the often Axe Body Spray-ed Mad River teaming up, there could be a turf war ahead. The Jets and Sharks are chomping at the bit to claim this land as their own, and with the recent stamp of approval from Arthur Kade, the foodies have a lot of work to do. Ladder doesn’t know if it wants to be a brohang or a culinary showcase. Case in point: A set of taps on the left of the bar is Bud, Coors, and Guinness. The tap handles about 6 feet away showcase Sly Fox, Flying Fish, Victory, and Yards.

With dishes like Brussels Sprouts with Duck Fat Vinaigrette and Chilis, Pistachio Shrimp, and Haystack Shallots, there are haute cuisine options for the palate-centric. There are also re-imagined pub classics, such as Macaroni and Cheese Croquettes, Soft Pretzel with Corned Beef and Gruyere, and Pierogies stuffed with Sweet Potato for those looking for comfort. Either way, luxury ingredients need an audience. Without the right promotion and support from the foodie culture, the menu could become ordinary and fall by the wayside. What will we be left with then? Mad River Midtown.

Our belief is that there can be a peaceful co-existence of Food Psychos and The Brahs, but we need to make an appearance to support a menu that has some really interesting options. Oh yeah, and there’s the issue of those tasty, tasty, truffles. You just can’t go wrong with truffles.

Ladder 15, 1528 Sansom St. (215) 964-9755

  • RT

    I went there on Saturday night in the hopes that both groups of my friends could be satisfied due to the two different sets of taps. I stayed for about five minutes. It was definitely a place for the Bro’s. I’m guessing those Sly Fox/Victory taps won’t be there too long.

  • Amy

    Unfortunately, I had a horrible experience there…and I had such high hopes too! Haystack Shallots were burnt to the point on inedibility, the braised short ribs flatbreat was probably sitting in the window for 10 mintues before we got it. The “Buffalo Style “lollipops were just ok, and the duck had a horrible aftertaste (but that just may be my own tastebuds). The Crab and Corn Hushpuppies sounded like a good idea, but I couldn’t really taste the crab at all.

    The only positive part of the experience was how nice the managers were to me after I realized later that night that I left my cellphone there…

  • Joe K

    I went and they wouldn’t let me in because I was wearing sneakers. These weren’t dirty messed-up kicks, either — but casual, clean sneakers. How can it be a brohang if you can’t wear sneakers? I don’t know what they’re shooting for over there, but the doorman was pretty much a dick about it, so I’m not going back — and I know a lot of people that feel the same way. I don’t usually get soured that quickly by these things either, but the place just didn’t rub well with me at all.

  • Amy P

    Loved the food and loved the scene. Truffle Flatbread was off the hook ! Loved the lollipop wings, the seared tuna, and the pretzel sandwich. Great bar scene, great music, very very impressed with the decor. Had a blast and def will be back.

  • Greg

    The place will not fail, but it will move into the “mad river” west direction solely because the place is simply not accessible as a dining destination except for lunch on the weekends. From happy hour on- the place is packed with the coors light crowd. They’re trying to toe the line between the two worlds, but isnt sustainable long-term.

    I remember, the day it opened, there was a velvet rope outside in the afternoon- from that point on, I knew what this place was all about.

  • Anne

    The opening of Ladder 15 was great news to my office. Desperately in need of a new, closer happy hour gathering place, we welcomed the restaurant with open arms. Although we have only made it over there a few times now, all of our experiences have been impressive. The food was excellent and the crowd was nothing short of professional. If having Coors Light on tap makes it a “brohang”, Im wondering what other “brohangs” will start serving duck? I’m slightly offended since Im partial to a cold Coors Light occasionally…most women I know would agree, since bathing suit season is looming. Ladder 15 is unique, quite beautiful inside and the food is far from ordinary. I have no fear that a place like this could fall to the wayside when on a daily basis Ladder 15 is full of suits, drinking martinis and munching on truffle flatbread.

  • Ben

    Went here for lunch when it first opened. Tried a few sandwiches and the food was excellent.

    I met the owner, and he specifically told me that he wanted the Merrill Lynch guys to come in after work. So the target audience here is grown-up former brah with too money. Drinking Coors Light and ordering fancy food fits with that image.

    Also noticed one evening that the minimum age was 23. They are definitely going after the “professional” crowd, maybe people that used to go to Mad River but then got old.

    I agree with Greg about “dining accessibility” being an issue. Could be a banging happy hour spot though, before they bust out the velvet rope. Anyway the chef was there when I ate; I could see consistency being an issue here as this type of food can quickly turn bad the if the execution doesn’t remain at a high level.

  • Max

    As one of the owners of Ladder 15, I felt obliged to respond to this article and the many reviews posted. After reading it multiple times, I can only say that I appreciate that the author says nothing but great things about our restaurant and the food that he/she ate, and extremely grateful that he/she is beckoning foodies to support our interesting menu. I feel that if the author had not known that the same people who opened Mad River were responsible for opening Ladder 15 by reading it somewhere, than this article wouldn’t incorporate the theme of the turf war, which I think was biased especially considering he/she was there on a Wednesday night. We are very proud of Mad River and many people have had a lot of fun there, however Ladder 15 is absolutely a completely different place, from the food, to the music, to the clientele, to the atmosphere, etc..
    We take much pride in our menu, which is diverse and interesting, and will do everything possible to keep it that way. We have been fortunate to have the help of Mike Stollenwork and Ann Campbell (of White Dog Cafe) on our team, and have put a lot of work into serving the best product possible, as well as serving unique items that aren’t found on other menus. To insinuate that we will simply drop our menu and start serving chicken fingers to make way for the “brahs” is simply just not the case. We have many local beers in house, as well as many mainstream domestic and import beers for the simple reason that not everybody wants to drink a slyfox or a dogfish all the time. To those who insist that we will not carry local beers in the future to make way for more mainstream products, I assure you that this is not the case, and that you will see a good selection of local beers for a long time to come, as well as the mainstream products that we currently carry…because the bottom line is that offering both will enable us to please people who want a Guiness or a Coors Light, and those who want a Yards or a Flying Fish ESB.
    When I eat, I enjoy places like Amada and Little Fish, and thought that with the right executive chef on board (Ann Campbell) and the help of Mike Stollenwork we could offer a product that was new to Philly and well executed, just like the former restaurants that I admire so much. Offering a great dining experience is extremely important to us, and as far as “dining accessibility,” goes as Ben states, we are opening our upstairs in a couple weeks and will be able to utilize that space for non-dining customers if need be, to keep our dinner guests pleased.
    In our first couple weeks we have had the great fortune of having a wonderful crowd of business professionals and local Philadelphians come in to eat, drink, and socialize. We believe that by offering a good product we will be able to keep this great crowd and gain many new customers. But as far as catering to the “Brahs,” goes, it’s just silly and there is simply nothing that has happened in our establishment so far to support that….and we have no idea who Arthur Kade is (no offense Arthur).
    We understand that it is a challenge to have a successful dining crowd and happy hour/late night crowd as well, but feel that it is 100% possible as long as we offer the best product possible, and make our customers happy. I’m well aware that we will receive some criticism, as it’s the right of any individual to criticize, and we will use constructive criticism at times to make the place better. But we are going to stay true to our product and stand by it as we are extremely proud of what we are offering at Ladder 15, and hope that existing customers will continue to enjoy our establishment, and new customers will continue to come in and give us a try.

  • e

    i’ll be very interested to see how this place pans out. i don’t agree with no sneaker policies, as some sneakers are quite nice and cost more than some people’s suits… but i do get the mentality behind it. it’s similar to a “no timberland” and no white t-shirt policy. it’s basically to keep out a certain type of person. it’s a lot easier on most people’s egos than not letting someone in for wearing ill fitting pants or ugly shoes. or just being ugly. haha. i hear that the food is great, but the portions are horribly small. and no fries with burgers/sandwiches that cost $12? well, i’d rather get a good dog burger or rouge burger.

  • Greg

    Max- regardless of an upstairs seating area- that does not solve the accessibility issues- As a local resident, who is a professional and often has to work until 8-9 at night, I want to be able to grab a beer and some good food in my neighborhood when I get home @ 10. So lets say I want to grab a bite @ Ladder 15 on a Friday night, or catch the Phils game when they’re out west, how can I when at that time of night I have to wait in line simply to get into the place behind a, god-forbid, velvet rope?

    That’s not a restautant, thats a club.

    Even once I get to the front of the line, I have to be sure that what I’m wearing is bouncer approved- so how again is this place accessible? Especially when I can walk another block and go to Good Dog or Misconduct or even Nodding Head?

  • Max

    Greg- I do hope that you’ll give us a shot. Regarding accessibility, we do not offer a late night menu, and our last seating is at 10p.m. daily. From that standpoint there is limited accessibility. Regarding the velvet rope, that was put in place our opening Friday in order to add character to the grand opening. Having a line at 9 just doesn’t seem realistic, however the point I was making about the upstairs refers to the fact that private parties and such will be upstairs and not packing the dining room, making the dining room easily accessible for diners. Aside from that, we are open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner and I do not think that there will be lines during the week. Our dress code was put into place to keep a professional clientele and is only in effect on weekend nights after dinner. Nice sneakers and such are allowed. I do see what you are saying, but like the article infers, it is possible to have a restaurant and a social gathering spot at the same time. Keep in mind that we are brand new and are constantly taking feedback to improve the experience for all of our customers. Such as E’s comment before yours, which inspired us to increase many of our small plate portion sizes beginning tomorrow night and add house made chips to our sandwiches. As with any new place, it takes time to perfect/improve different aspects of the establishment, and all we can do is listen, tweak things accordingly, and do the best we can to earn customers.

  • J.G.

    Max- I just want to say that I admire your passion for your business. Just do not be fooled by these food critics whom do not really know the business at all (no offense) the problem with doing so is you are letting these people dictate how you are running your brand new business. You started this place with a plan, stay on that plan and do not let anyone tell you how to run your place. I am a very succesful restaurant owner in Philadelphia, and know how rough the fine people of this city can be. If you think you have a great idea let them come around and try you out for who you are, not what they are. that is all… ps I still have to come check you guys out but for now I will stick to running my places…
    Good Luck, stay strong

    J

  • Kim B

    Hey Ladder 15 !!!

    Great Job. Don’t listen to the all the haters out on the internet. It’s really easy to jump online and type a bad review. It’s a lot cooler when you hear from one of the owners though!. You obviously have the hottest place in Philadelphia ! Just make sure you keep that laid back atmosphere I felt when I was in there. The vibe is really cool and don’t let it get to your head. Just keep listening to the feedback on portions, etc..and do the right thing. You can’t make everyone happy but listen, adapt, adjust and the place will be there for a long time. Just keep it real and don’t forget the basics. Good service, good product, good times.

    THANK YOU !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Greg

    JG- What restaurants do you own? Want to be sure to avoid them since you seem oh so annoyed with paying customers in this city. stay strong.

  • http://bostodelphia.blogspot.com cheesesteak the impaler

    I thought it was obvious who “J.G.” was pretending to be. What “J.G.” fails to acknowledge is the inconsistent “vision” being held by the proprietors here, as evinced in the review and the owners subsequent “customer relations” in this entry. The real J.G. is, in fact, a lot smarter than this guy.

  • http://www.Phoodie.info CEF

    Cheese, you sir, are on the money.

    And this ‘food critic’ who doesn’t know how a restaurant is run happened to work in all facets of the restaurant biz from front of the house to kitchen to mgmt.

    I stated I want the place to succeed and that luxury ingredients need loving attention and an audience.

    The real JG is good friends of the Phood, and is too busy to be commenting on a blog.

  • Greg

    wow- yeah, what oversight on my part, “J.G”. I’m really disappointed in myself for not picking that up….

  • Max

    I noted very much that I highly appreciate the critic’s desire to see the restaurant succeed…Very, very much appreciate it. It was an extremely positive article in regards to Ladder 15. I was responding more to the repeated comments insisting that we are gonna drop all the local beers and creative menu to make way for the “brahs.” I was simply trying to state that we are proud of the menu and are not going to let it fall by the wayside. JG was being very cool and trying to communicate that we should stick to our guns and not let the pressure of restaurant ownership and critical review change who we are at heart. Again, much appreciation to the reviewer. I should not have responded on the thread in the first place as it was probably unprofessional, and will let the place speak for itself going forward.

  • e

    actually, max, i’m very impressed that you did respond and that you’re willing to listen and interact with the community. i’ll definitely drop in to check the place out for food and and beer a few times.


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