PHLReview

photo credit: KERRY MCINTYRE

Helm image
7.6

Helm

American

Kensington

$$$$Perfect For:BYOBCasual Weeknight DinnerDate NightQuiet MealsSmall Plates

Included In

Think of the classic sports films—Rocky, Friday Night Lights, Major League, and Rudy. While they’re all great, inspiring movies that make us feel good, they also tend to be repetitive and a little formulaic. Try to imagine a remake of Rudy where they tell the more realistic version of the story where nobody did the jersey thing, or the fact that carrying him off the field was actually a joke. No studio would sign off on that script.

Much like a classic sports movie, the food at Helm is somewhat predictable—which makes your experience here just a little bit less exciting than it could be. But just like watching an entire arena shout “Rudy,” a meal here will still make you feel warm and happy inside.

Helm is a New American BYOB that sits on a residential block in Kensington. The restaurant sources most of its ingredients locally and has a cozy dining room with a chalkboard menu that changes seasonally and features lots of radishes and turnips. There’s also a pleasant playlist in the background with indie up-and-comers that your coolest friend would give a half-hearted nod of approval to upon hearing.

Helm image

photo credit: Kerry McIntyre

Despite feeling like you’ve seen all of this before, the food stands out from a lot of the other BYOBs around the city, and pretty much everything they serve will surprise you in a good way. There’s a delicious glazed carrot and beet dish drenched in a mole that looks like a bunch of orange mountain peaks poking through the clouds, creamy grits topped with tender chicken, and ravioli with peppers and lamb that reminds us of a deconstructed gyro in the best way possible.

Other dishes are good but forgettable—kind of like the fact that Vince Vaughn makes an appearance in Rudy as running back Jamie O’Hara. The bowl of squid, apple, and fennel has no distinctive flavor and there are scallops topped with cabbage that you’ll find yourself eating around to get a layer of buttery spaetzle that’s beneath it. But what you’ll notice is that those forgettable dishes only make up a small portion of the otherwise great $55 three-course tasting menu.

If you’ve been to one New American BYOB in Philly, you’ve basically been to them all. But if you live nearby Helm, then you should be thrilled. It’s a great place for a weeknight date or dinner with your family, and you can almost always get a last-minute reservation. You probably won’t cry from how moving your meal was like the end of Friday Night Lights, but you might leave feeling like you have a new restaurant to root for.

The menu changes often, but here are some dishes we’ve seen on our trips to Helm.

Food Rundown

Beets, Smoked Carrots, Mole

This is a simple dish of charred carrots that are mixed with some stewed beets, and all covered with a spicy and earthy mole. It’s a light and sweet way to start your meal here.

Chicken, Grits, Marinara

In theory, the combination of chicken, grits, and a spoonful of marinara shouldn't work together. And this messy dish proves the opposite. The mix of blackened chicken, smooth grits, and the tangy blend of sweet basil sauce surprisingly works.

Ravioli, Sweet Peppers, Lamb

You may have to play a game of Where’s Waldo to find the ravioli with this dish. That’s because is stacked underneath a pile of sweet peppers and huge chunks of tender lamb. It’s drenched in a stop-sign-red and garlicky tomato glaze that seeps into the doughy pouches nicely.

Intergalactic Cheese Danish, Cranberry, Apple

This is a simple cheese danish with a few bits of sweet fruit you’d find in an orchard. But between the flaky texture of the crust and light cheesecake-like filling, it’s also really good.

Included In

FOOD RUNDOWN

Suggested Reading

Cadence image

Cadence

Cadence is a BYOB in Fishtown with one of the best and most affordable prix fixe menus in the city.

Martha image

Martha in Kensington has the three things we wish every bar had: a nice patio, great cocktails, and way better food than you’d expect.

Kanella Grill image

Kanella Grill is a Greek BYOB in Washington Square West that’s a great spot for a weeknight dinner.

Ekta Indian Cuisine image

Ekta is an Indian BYOB in Fishtown that works well for big groups and carry out.

Infatuation Logo

Cities

2024 © The Infatuation Inc. All Rights Reserved.
The views and opinions expressed on The Infatuation’s site and other platforms are those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy or position of (or endorsement by) JPMorgan Chase. The Infatuation and its affiliates assume no responsibility or liability for the content of this site, or any errors or omissions. The Information contained in this site is provided on an "as is" basis with no guarantees of completeness, accuracy, usefulness or timeliness.

FIND PLACES ON OUR APP

Get it on Google PlayDownload on the App Store