Ants Pants Café
By Chloé Picard
There is some major jive, java, and…international cuisine going down on 2212 South Street in the heart of the Graduate Hospital area, an up and coming neighborhood in Philadelphia.
Ants Pants Café was started by two childhood friends, Liz Fleming and Nancy Silverman from Jenkintown who opened this Australian-inspired café in October 2004. As they write on all their menus, ‘Ants Pants’ is “an Australian colloquial term meaning unequivocally ‘the best.’” A large boast for a small, neighborhood place but maybe not far off the mark speaking of Philadelphia cafés.
While working at a café called “Cool Beans” in Australia, Fleming came up with the idea of the café and its name, of course, with the help of the local customers. Both Fleming and Silverman’s cooking skills were garnered through kitchen experience, Fleming in Australian cafés and Silverman in restaurants in the area. You can tell by the way they whip up their homemade hollandaise sauce they have a good amount of moxie between the two of them.
Celebrating a year this Oct. 22, Ants Pants has become a true neighborhood establishment; their regulars consist of neighbors and friends that come for a great cup of joe and some of their ‘quick fixes’ before rushing off to work. Their quick fixes, the more basic side of Ants Pants, include an egg and cheese roll/sandwich—melted Swiss cheese and a gooey fried egg—nestled in between two gigantic slabs of bread, your choice of whole grain, wheat, or white. Their bagel platter is a carb kingdom laid out with cream cheese, butter, and two kinds of jam nestled in their own little containers. For a mid-afternoon snack with a book, one can try the Australian sweet potato fries served with sour cream and sweet chili sauce.
Everything at Ants Pants is simple and fresh. Their juices, orange, grapefruit, and green apple, are made on the spot—the fruit thrown into their huge commercial juicer. The green apple juice won Best of Philly 2005. The room is painted in butter yellow and pink, giving the room a relaxing and rejuvenating air perfect for sitting down and making the morning last all day long. A cluster of candles greet the guests at the Saturday and Sunday brunch line up.
When the weekend brunch comes along, the café is packed to the brim with customers as far away as the northeast suburbs, who come to put their forks into the Bacon Stack or the Crème Brulee French Toast. The Bacon Stack, my personal favorite, is a Promethean sized piece of white bread supporting bacon, fresh tomatoes, arugula, sunny side up eggs and finished with delicately shaved curls of pecorino romano. The arugula gives just the right amount of spice and veggies to this bacon lover’s breakfast. Details are not overlooked but also never too fussy here. Don’t even attempt to get a seat during high Brunch season on the outdoor patio.
Anne Rogers, a customer since the Café opened with her baby son Gabe in tow, comes all the time for coffee and says that “it’s the best coffee in the city and that they need to sell it everywhere.” It may give La Colombe a run for its money sometime down the line.
Fleming and Silverman stay close to home with their drip coffee, using Blue Water coffee beans from Germantown, Philadelphia, but import Belaroma coffee, roasted in Australia, for their espresso drinks. Fleming says that there are possible plans to open another café in West Philadelphia in the near future. Too many West Philadelphians and Penn students have been complaining about the hike into Center City for their Honey Maple Turkey sandwiches with avocado and brie; yes, they serve lunch, too!
One can ask two questions, will their next endeavor also be ‘Ants Pants,’ and when will Ants Pants Café start serving dinner?
Ants Pants Café is located on 2212 South Street
Monday- 7 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
Wed-Fri- 7 a.m.-8:30 p.m.
Weekend- 8 a.m.-4 p.m.
Phone (215) 875-8002