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Farewell, Elephant & Castle

The bar-restaurant in what is now the Sonesta at 18th and Market Streets has closed.

Thursday, March 20 marked the end of the road for Philly's branch of Elephant & Castle, the English themer in the Sonesta hotel at 18th and Market Streets (previously a Holiday Inn).

The lease was up, and the chain packed up its trunk. If you need an E&C fix, D.C. has two of 'em.

Doug Green of Michael Salove Co. says negotiations with new restaurants are underway, so the space may not be dark for too long.

Talk about Teflon. Critics could not kill it, starting from its first review, by Maria Gallagher in the Daily News in 1995:

She summed it up as "Bennigan's with a British accent."

The good news: The Elephant & Castle serves snacks until 2 a.m., doesn't mind if you come dressed like Kato Kaelin and offers one of the most extensive lists of beers and scotches in town.

The bad news: The food and service are dreadful.

This link in a Canada-based chain of imitation English pubs has all the requisites to make it a popular drinking place - including TVs soundlessly tuned to sporting events and headache-inducing background music - but not a thing that would make me want to eat there again.

Well, maybe the fries. If I could get them to go.

The Elephant & Castle got the usual two chances to prove itself in this space. (The same menu is used at lunch and dinner; buffets are an option at breakfast and lunch.)

At dinner, my husband sawed away at the three puny sausages on his Bangers and Mash platter ($7.25) without making a dent.

"They're like bullets," he said.