Anyone that follows the blog knows I’m somewhat of a sailor myself, and needless to say I found the idea of dining on a 100-plus year-old boat to be a romantic one. With a AAA Four Diamond rating, the Moshulu floats on the Delaware River in Philadelphia, a ten-minute walk south of Penn’s Landing (FYI only 2.7 percent of the 28,000 restaurants approved by AAA make the Four Diamond list).
Since the launching of the Moshulu (pronounced Mo-shoe’-loo) in 1904, she has had a long career on the seas working the ports of Europe, South America, Australia, America and Africa. She was confiscated by the Americans in one war and by the Germans in the next. She has traveled around Cape Horn 54 times. She has hauled coal and coke, copper ore and nitrate, lumber and grain. In lesser days, she has served as a floating warehouse. In grander days, she won the last great grain race in 1939. Today, the Moshulu is the largest four-masted sailing ship in the world still afloat.
Pretty good resume, and the actual experience was just as impressive. Before dinner, we took a walk and were rewarded with a calming pink sunset, and I remember feeling very relaxed despite the chilly weather along the Delaware River. Sometimes certain situations move me in a way that I can’t describe – the mix of a natural occurrence with a particular mindset – and when the walk ended and the dinner began I was completely immersed in the moment, hearing some of the boards creak under my feet as we stepped on the boat.
I’d recommend having a drink at the bar before sitting down in the dining room for many reasons, but most importantly to take in the setting. You can see the way the room narrows as it extends and the portholes and windows, all constant reminders that this is a completely different experience. The staff was very friendly and we found ourselves involved in conversation with both the bartenders.
The carry very few beers on tap, yet as luck would have it they were pouring the Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale, self described as having the “characteristics of each style that inspired it: The color of an American Brown, the caramel notes of a Scotch Ale, and the hopping regiment of an India Pale Ale.” You definitely have to give this unique beer a try, lots of caramel and malty flavor with a balanced finish (one of my friends later described it as a “hoppy porter”).
For dinner, we moved to the dining room and were seated in a U-shaped booth that faced the window. Couples can dine closely and enjoy the views of the river, making the experience rather romantic. Prompt and friendly service aided in this feeling, creating an atmosphere that felt intimate and personalized.
This may not sound romantic, but the Kobe Beef Sliders are a must when you go. A perfect dish for sharing (two large sliders), it was the best gourmet burger I’ve had since the Burgers and Beer night at the TASTE in Los Angeles.
A unique sounding dish tempted me for the main course: Trout stuffed with braised short rib. The idea of it really impressed me – a nice take on surf and turf – and the taste was delicious, the mild trout a perfect compliment to the flavor of the braised meat.
We chose to linger for a while after dinner, conversing and having a drink and enjoying the ambiance. No worries when it’s time to leave: As you exit the Moshulu, you are greeted by a view of the Philadelphia skyline and are in close proximity to Old City, where an after-dinner drink awaits (I recommend Race Street Cafe).
For reservations, menus, and additional information, visit the Moshulu’s website.