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foodzings: February 2008

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Izenberg's Deli

We stopped by Izenberg's Deli for lunch the other day. It's a jewish style deli with a small dining area in the back. I visited the one in Lafayette Hill, and there is also a King of Prussia location. They also do catering.

R got the bagel with lox. She wanted a plain bagel, but they were out of plain bagels. And yes, they call themselves jewish deli. So she got egg. Then she wanted another separate egg bagel with cream cheese, but that was the last egg bagel left. So they were out of plain and egg bagels. I found it all bizarre. Apparently, this whole running out of bagels thing is a regular happening at Izenberg's.

T got the Pennsylvania Special, which was grilled turkey breast on rye with bacon, melted Swiss, sliced tomatoes, Russian dressing, and came with french fries... and three pickles! The fries were good.

I got the hot pastrami sandwich on rye, which came with hot pastrami, chips, and no pickle! Not even one! The sandwich was alright, but I found the meat portion paltry compared to my other deli experiences (let's think Hymie's) and it was a bit on the too much fatty side. I expected better.

Service isn't the hottest here. We waited for way too long after sitting down before we got our menus and our drinks. But overall, I think it was alright. None of us got dessert, but I hear it's pretty damn good here.


Great American Pub - Conshy

We had a newbie join our team, so we took her out for a first day lunch last Monday. After we all voted against the Boathouse, we ended up at the next worst thing next door, the Great American Pub.

I didn't want to traumatize the new girl by taking photos of everybody's food, so I just stuck with mine. I got the chicken corn chowder, which was a special of the day. It wasn't very chowdery. It was more like cream of chicken soup with some chicken and a very few pieces of corn thrown in. Not horrible, but really, it was kind of a misnomer.

I got the gulf coast salad, which had lettuce, croutons, bacon, and tomatoes, tossed with a combo of thousand island and caesar dressings. This was alright, nothing spectacular, but a safe choice. It was basically a bacon salad with some veggies thrown in. I'm not sure which I like less, the Boathouse or this place. Honestly, I think it's a tossup.


Princess Party

If any of you remember about a year ago, K's twins turned 3. Well, it's that time again, and this time around, yes folks, they're 4. So another kiddie shindig was had, with kick ass cuban and other dishes.

Chips and dips... delicious homemade guacamole, K style. Salsa and black bean dip, easy peasy. Some veggies courtesy of Gentile's... some of the best carrot sticks I've had in a long time!

K always makes the best food, including some of the most kick ass salads ever.

Cuban black beans and rice. K's not cuban, but she's gotten so good at making this, that you would never know that she was an Irish lass.

Another great dish - rice and broccoli casserole.

Was this a cuban dish? I don't know, but made by gran abuela, this was rice with veggies (peas, corn, carrots, red peppers) all topped with hard boiled egg. This was my favorite dish of the day.

Ok, this definitely wasn't Cuban. It was couscous with apricots, and a mediterranean veggie stew to put over it. Random, but great.

And here are the little princesses with their matching pink and purple princess outfits. The grown up cake and the little cupcakes. I ate way too many of these cupcakes and even some of the cake. When in rome!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Irish Pub in Baltimore

Saturday night was supposed to be something completely different than what it turned out to be. I won't bore you with the tragic details, but let's just cut to the chase and say that I ended up at some random Irish pub in Baltimore instead of where I truly wanted to be. This random Irish pub was Claddagh Pub in the Canton neighborhood. Can I just say, parking here blows? There's only street parking and absolutely no lots. So you just drive around and around until you find a spot. And at 9PM on a saturday night, it's a pain in the butt. It took us way too long and way too many rolls around way too many blocks. Ugh.

It was a pretty lively spot, but most people were just drinking, not eating. There were multiple large dining areas. Where we were, there were these giant nice, yet creepy, paintings above us. Why does the laughing violin guy have a black eye? We were puzzled.

J ordered crab toast. When in Maryland, do as the Marylanders do... so I got a bowl of the maryland crab soup. R got a cup. It was good. There was real crab in there, not from a can, as I found some big shell chunks. So in a way, I didn't mind, as it seemed more authentic that way.

J ordered the rack of lamb. I don't remember the last time I ate rack of lamb. Ok, I do. It was many years ago and it was in Michigan at a russian restaurant. Man, that was a fun meal.

R ordered the mussels. She did not enjoy these at all. She said they were rubbery. I tasted one, and it didn't seem rubbery to me, but they were very smoky tasting.

I went with the small portion of the steamed shrimp appetizer as my meal. I know I'm not typically an appetizer girl, but in this case, I went with two appetizers as my meal. They said these were jumbo shrimp, and boy, did they ever mean it. It's hard to see the scale from this photo, but trust me, these were JUMBO! They came doused with old bay and some deliciously sweet onions. I was worried that this wouldn't be enough food, but man, there were 7 of these bad boys, and I was plenty filled up.

I was happy with my food here. The service was good. I even asked for a wet nap, and even though they didn't have one, our waiter fashioned one for me. He even heated it up for me. That's service! Oh, and you can't smoke in restaurants and bars as of Feb 1 in Baltimore. Whoo hoo!

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The Great Burger Taste-Off of 2008: Ruby's

I met A for lunch the other day and we decided to go for burgers at Ruby's Diner. It's one of those throwback 40's style diner spots, with burgers and fries, fountain drinks, shakes, etc. The servers wear cheesy little red and white outfits with funny hats. Everything is in red and white and at the one in K of P, there's a miniature train set that rolls around and a big motorcycle in the middle of the restaurant. Totally strange, I know.

I got a bacon cheeseburger with fries. All burgers come with lettuce, tomato, and ruby's sauce. Ruby's sauce is mayo with thousand island dressing... I asked for it on the side, as I am a simple ketchup girl. Their burgers are big and flat. The meat is a thin patty. A kept saying their burgers were flat and I was confused by what she meant, but when I got my burger, I totally understood. The bun is big, sesame seeded, and lightly toasted. The fries are plain and shoestringed, a la McDonald's, and really, I dug these a lot. They were crisp and not greasy at all, just the way I like them. All in all, a good burger! Even though it's a thin burger, it's big (or wide at least) and greasy. Even with the paper it comes wrapped in, you'll be using tons of napkins and stuff will be falling all out of it. It was actually such a big burger, I didn't quite finish it, and that rarely happens!


The Oakmont Pub

One of my favorite places within (almost) walking distance from my house is the Oakmont National Pub. It's a nice, relaxing, and unpretentious neighborhood spot, with a surprisingly good selection of beers and some good food. The spot used to be an actual bank, hence the "national" in the name. Some time during my childhood days, this used to be another restaurant. Then one day it burned down. And from the ashes rose up the Oakmont.

When you walk in, there's a sizable bar, the kitchen in the middle, and some booths on the side. There is also an outside dining area, which they call their "outdoor beer garden." I wouldn't go quite that far, but it is outdoors, and during the cold months, it's enclosed and heated. There is also a very small dining area upstairs, which overlooks the entire downstairs.

They have regular bar fare, burgers, salads, some pasta dishes, seafood, veal, and some of the most humongous cheesesteaks you've ever witnessed in your life. They also have a great selection of beers on draft (no bud or miller lite pints here) as well as a full booze bar.

J ordered the french onion soup as an appetizer. He almost damn near burned his mouth off. But he still liked it. He also got the meatloaf. It came with mashed potatoes, gravy, and some beautiful looking garlicky green beans.

I went with something I'd had before and liked, turkey pot pie. I still liked it, but it was a bit saltier than I would have preferred. I probably also wouldn't have minded if the puffed pastry was cooked a bit more. But otherwise, still good.

We were sitting upstairs, but the service was just fine. They did not forget about us up there. We're in the burbs, so you can still smoke here, which is a bummer, but I guess you just have to deal with it. On a surprising note, there was strangely good music playing here the whole night. I certainly did not expect to hear Teagan and Sara, Spoon, Modest Mouse, and the like from the stereo at the Oakmont. I thought for sure it would just be some sports game or country or black eyed peas all night. I really like this place. I will like it even more when it goes non-smoking. So hurry up Ed Rendell!


Boathouse... again!

I ended up at the Boathouse again for a post-work thing. Why do they always pick the Boathouse? I know there aren't many options in Conshy, but why? Why?

Shockingly, I actually liked my food this time. I got the fish and chips, and while the chips were blah, the fish was actually great! It was a good sized filet of tilapia encrusted with panko breadcrumbs and fried. It was surprisingly good. I also had a Rising Moon beer which is made by the folks at Blue Moon. Also surprisingly good, smooth, and almost too easy to drink. It's a good thing I didn't stay very long or I could have drank way too many of these.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

From the Boot!

R had been talking about From the Boot for the past few weeks... insisting that we go there for lunch. We stopped by the other day and had a nice low-key meal. It's a small BYOB italian place in a horribly unassuming strip mall in Lafayette Hill. It looks like just a crappy takeout place from the outside, but inside, it's cozy and there are a small number of tables. It's right next to a depressing looking sushi place.

The pasta lunch specials come with these garlic rolls. Oh my dear goodness. Piping hot... garlicky... parmesany... delicious! Man, these were worth the entire meal.

R got the cheese ravioli. I think there were 5 humongo ravioli. The pasta entrees also come with a house salad.

T got the penne rustica, with had chicken and portobellos in a cream sauce. Everybody liked their pasta.

I got a meatball parm sub, or half of one. This was good, but also friggin hot, and I burned the roof of my mouth. Oops. Service was good, our waitress was extremely nice and friendly, but she herself could have used a sandwich or 12. From the Boot was a nice surprise.

From the Boot
517 Germantown Pike
Lafayette Hill, PA 19444
(610) 834-8680


I Heart Brazil!

I can't believe you don't know this already, but I love me some brazilian food. Like LOVE LOVE LOVE it. It's one of my absolute favorites. I was lucky enough to go to brazil for 3 weeks a few years back, and I fell in love with everything about the place, especially their food. The whole country has a slightly obsessive relationship with gastronomy, and boasts so many different types of foods, from traditional to borrowed ethnic. Seriously folks, some of the best sushi I've ever had in my life was from brazil.

When I came back, I had to find brazilian food around here. Luckily, we have a slightly brazilian area of neighborhood in the northeast. I found this little grocery store on Castor that had some food, buffet and weigh-your-plate style. Soon after, Picanha Brazilian Grill opened, further down the street on Castor. And now, philly has super chain Fogo de Chao. If you don't want to pay an arm and a leg for all you can eat brazilian buffet and bbq, then head over to Picanha, the non-expense account alternative.

Like the big chain counterparts, the concept is simple, but the choices are large. There is a large buffet, with a slew of different food selections, from various salads, fruits and veggies, traditional brazilian foods, meats and pountry, and some sides. Brazil boasts an incredible selection of fresh fruits and vegetables and their food reflects this. They're big fans of heart of palm and also strangely fascinated with beets.

One of my favorite foods in the world is feijoada, which is a traditional brazilian beef stew. It is something that takes hours to cook and was developed by slaves, using whatever cheap and crappy ingredients they had. Eventually it became the national dish of brazil, and on wednesdays in brazil, most restaurants serve feijoada as a special. Serve this over rice, and it's perfection on a plate. Oh, and it's not a veggie dish, as there's all kinds of pork products in it. Yum!

There was some delicious stewed meat in this buffet, as well as my staple favorite, fried plantains. Brazilians are also crazy about fresh fruit juices, so you can find pretty much anything here. While it's not always of the fresh kind at Picanha, in brazil, it's all about fresh squeezed juices everywhere. And it's so damn cheap! Here at Picanha, it only costs about a dollar or two.

You can also get the meat here, which is cooked on a rotating grill. There's no flavorings put on the meat, except for some coarse salt. The variety of meats is large, including filet, brisket, sausage, chicken, sirloin, etc. For dinner, the gauchos come around with the meats on a stick and cut off pieces for you, and you take the pieces with tongs. This place isn't fancy, so there's no green light red light stuff going on, but they'll just ask you if you want some. You can also just go up and get meat yourself without waitingn for the meat stick men to come around.

There's two ways to eat her: all-you-can-eat or weigh your plate by the pound. If you want to gorge, certainly go for the all-you-can. I usually do not. I usually do the weigh by the pound and get two full plates. And it only ends up costing $10 or so. Picanha is also a BYOB. If you bring your own cachaca, they will provide the caipirinha mix, which is pretty handy. They're big huge glasses and they only charge a buck. That's a bargain! Sure, Fogo de Chao is fancy and expensive, but for a more down-to-earth option, head over to Picanha in the northeast.

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Happy Year of the Rat

This past Sunday, Sangkee Asian Bistro had a traditional Chinese Lion Dance Party to celebrate the Year of the Rat. I remembered this on my way home back from yoga, so I stopped in. They basically had an open house, served us free(!) food, and gave us a really fun treat.

They had some light appetizers (coconut shrimp, shu mei, spring rolls) and some peking duck, baby bok choy, some noodles, and some general tso's chicken.

See, even the lion wants him some of that delish peking duck... I love that they did this, there were a bunch of kids there, and they loved it. Even though this is the sister restaurant to the more famed chinatown spot, it's a place with a total neighborhood atmosphere.


Monday, February 18, 2008

Ladybug Cake!

How cute is this shizz??? For Isabella's 2nd birthday... a lucky gal!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Yakitori Boy

I'm usually pretty lazy when it comes to trying out new places. I let everyone else do the trying out, and then I'll roll around after everyone and their grandmother have been there. Well folks, I'm changing it up a bit! I headed out to Yakitori Boy on a Friday night, the week they finally got their liquor license.

It's really quite an attractive restaurant. All dark wood, everything is brand spanking new, and tastefully decorated. So there's a bar downstairs, where the main dining area is. There are stools around the sushi bar. There are booths in the middle and there are some tables to the side. There are also more private rooms with rice paper doors. Upstairs, there is a lounge (21 and over only) along with an additional bar. And the karaoke rooms are here too. Ok, onto the food!

So they bill themselves as a "japas" restaurant - japanes tapas. It's all about the small plates here. Many, many, many small plates. Between the five of us, there were probably 30 plates. Seriously. So what exactly is yakitori? Technically, yakitori is bird on a stick, but really, it's basically grilled meats and non-meats on sticks. They gave us complimentary edamame... it was quite fine. Above? Squid legs. I dug this.

We ordered a crapload of stuff - yakitori, sushi, noodle soups, other appetizers... There is essentially no beef available on the yakitori section of the menu, except for the "karubi". I think this is a bad romanization of korean kalbi, it is rib meat, but it didn't taste like kalbi. It's just plain meat on a stick, with essentially no seasoning. A little fatty. It was alright, but I wouldn't order this again. Behold some eggplant, mushrooms, chicken, chicken and scallion, broccoli, corn, asparagus. Sorry, didn't taste any of this, except for the corn. But it was probably all just fine. As for the corn? Not that exciting. But it's corn. Hard to screw up grilled corn.

Here's where the fun begins. H/A ordered this little fish on a stick. Don't know what kinda fish this is... some thing sardine-esque, I think. Ok, from fish down: chicken liver, pork belly, chicken gizzard, chicken heart! T, adventure man, ordered all these innards. So the chicken liver was freakin good! It had some kinda sauce on it (most of the other things on sticks did not really have any seasoning or flavoring at all). Pork belly was alright. Chicken gizzard? Good! Chicken heart? Gross. It was crunchy and mushy. So so unpleasant. Do not get this!

Ok, so we also got other stuff... H/A got some sushi... and chicken ball yakitori. This chicken ball stuff was mmm, mmm, good!

A bazillion rolls... various stuff... rainbow roll, philly roll, volcano roll, mexican roll, green river roll. I ordered the green river roll, and it sure was tasty. And pretty big, even though it's only 3 pieces.

H/A got the mini udon and I got a mini shrimp tempura soba (shrimp tempura came out separately, oops). These were good. Nothing extraordinary, but still good. The bowls were certainly pretty! The shrimp tempura, when it eventually came out, was quite good. Fresh, hot, full of grease. Yum!

Ok, so I can't remember what these were called, but it was a chicken appetizer. Basically, tender pieces of chicken (not white meat), battered and deep fried and served with some kind of spicy sauce. The batter probably had a bit of spicy in it as well. Loved it!

As for me, I'd been craving takoyaki for awhile. Once when I was in SF, a japanese native made us homemade takoyaki. It's a fascinating thing to watch really. It's dough, with pieces of octopus thrown in, with a brown okonomiyaki sauce and bonito shavings on top. These were hot (temperature hot) and good. It might sound a bit gross, but it's really delicious. Trust me!

All in all, quite a fun meal. And that's what Yakitori Boy is, fun. The food isn't particularly great, but it's tons of fun, and there are things to eat here that you can't find in other japanese places. And sometimes, being adventurous is just amusing. The service here was pretty good. Your food just comes out when it's done, there's no coursing at all. It just comes out... in droves...

One note... while waiting upstairs in the lounge area at the bar, the blonde bartender tried to pour a Sapporo and the tap was tapped... and it splattered beer all over me. Ok, it wasn't terrible, but point is, it did land on me in several places. And dude, the girl did not even apologize to me. She didn't offer me a napkin either. I had to ask the other bartender. Note to the bartenders at Yakitori Boy... if you spew beer all over a patron, apologize. Even if wasn't your fault, it's still your fault, so just do it. Because if you don't, she'll certainly blog about it...

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