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foodzings: April 2008

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Plate - Suburban Square

Living in the burbs, there are plenty of places to eat. But for whatever reason, I don't venture out much. I have my favorite haunts and I stick to them. Last week, I took a trip to Plate, in Suburban Square. I'd only been there once before, and that was years ago. But I remember liking my food that time.

Complimentary rolls... freakin tasty. It comes with a hunk of butter and some mysterious dipping concoction. I loved it. We eventually asked what it was, and it turned out to be hummus. But I don't buy it. I think it was something else. It wasn't nearly chickpea enough and a bit too smooth, but whatever, it was good.

F got this tempura maki roll thing. I couldn't find it on the menu so I don't have a spot-on description for it. But it was a maki roll with black rice and other things on the inside and deep fried. We thought it would have something tempura'd on the inside, not be entirely tempura'd. Not bad though. Just strange.

F also got the farfalle with smoked chicken. The waitress warned that this was an extremely smokey dish. That some people couldn't handle the smokiness of it all. As if describing the dish as smokey couldn't actually do the justice of how really smoky it really was. Well, in the end, it was quite smokey, but not extraordinarily so. So the chicken tasted a bit like ham, is that bad? Not if you like ham!

I got some mussels as an appetizer. These came in a roasted garlic and spicy tomato sauce. The mussels themselves were teeny tiny, but the sauce was good.

I wasn't all that hungry, so I also got a little side of mac and cheese. This mac and cheese was friggin good! The melted and charred cheddar on top I could have done away with, but otherwise, a very fine mac and cheese.

The service was good, our waitress was cute as a button and very helpful. They also did not rush us at all and let us stay as long as we wanted to. We ended up pretty much closing up the place. All in all, a nice suburban dining experience.

Monday, April 28, 2008

I Want to Live at McNally's

You already know I love McNally's. I mean, I raved it about my last and first time there, and this time isn't gonna be any different. We got there pretty early, it was about half full, and got a table right near the door to the basement. That door leads to the bathroom. A little scary going down into the scary silence of the lambs basement to hit the can. But not a big deal. Our waitress was amazingly nice and about the sweetest thing ever. She quickly took our drink orders and brought us out a couple of nice, cold pints.

E got a cup of the soup of the day, chicken corn chowder. A pretty hefty looking cup of soup if you ask me.

I don't have time to mess around with soups at McNally's, it's all about the sandwiches and you know it. E got the Schmitter. This time, I got the Tobias. The Tobias is basically a Schmitter, only with added fried pepperoni slices. What's better than a Schmitter? Oh, you know, the Tobias. It was perfection really.

What was even more perfect was that we were just hanging out, eating slowly, drinking some beers, and talking, and people were coming in and out. All of a sudden, we're the last people there, but they didn't kick us out. They just let us hang out. I was wondering when they closed, but I didn't ask. I just figured they'd kick us out. But no. Eventually, we decided to bolt, and we asked them when they closed. They said on Sundays they close at 8. It was 9! Who could not be totally in love with a place that just lets you hang? Yet another reason my love for McNally's burns strong!


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Korean Meat Coma

M and I visited a friend last week who's been recovering from a freak accident. She's at Einstein rehab, and since this is near the hood of Ktown, we stopped by Kim's Restaurant for some korean bbq. M had never had korean food before, which surprised me. She's pretty adventurous when it comes to ethnic cuisine, so I only assumed that she was well versed.

It was fairly late when we got there (nearly 9) so the place was fairly empty. We decided to just get the spicy bulgogi (which is not really all that spicy). It came out quick, and the handy thing was that we didn't even have to cook it ourselves. Our waitress pretty much did all the work for us. So all we had to do was stuff food in our mouths. The plethora of banchan were ok. The radish kimchi was a bit too fermented, but the regular kimchi was pretty good. I really liked the seaweed dish.

And the meat? As usually, it was really good. And as usual, I stuffed myself into a meat coma. And when we left, we had korean bbq smell ingrained into every pore of our beings. Mmmm... This really is one of my favorite places in Philly for korean bbq. When my family gets a hankering and we are willing to drive a little, this is where we go.
Kim's Restaurant
5955 N 5th St
Philadelphia, PA 19120
(215) 927-4550


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

More Food at Johnny Brenda's

I had another meal at Johnny Brenda's last weekend before catching a surprisingly fun show. I don't remember the big back dining area being open the last few times I was there (or maybe it was just dark and I didn't notice) but it is open now and luxurious and spacious. It's also away from the main bar and the main noise, so it's actually a pleasant place to grab a bite.

Johnny Brenda's doesn't have a printed menu, as their selections change daily. So everything is written on chalkboards. Note to JB's, write a little bit bigger for those of us visually challenged. Even with corrective lenses, I had to go and stand right below it to see it clearly. I've heard good things about their grilled octopus but didn't go for it this time. I'll save that for another day.

D got the cubano sandwich. Since he is a writer, I decided to let him delight you in his own words. "Unfortunately, I don't remember what was actually IN the cubano. But I know this: it had bread. The bread was good. A little hard but not too hard. Hard enough to keep it from getting soggy. There was a condiment involved. A mayo or cheese. That was it! It had a cheese! The cheese was rather liquidy--hence the threat of sogginess--but tasty. To put it in perspective: it was better than a pot pie. On the whole? Delectable. That's a fancy blog term, right? The cubano was goodo."

And me? I got the shrimp kabob. It came on a warm and tasty pita with a yogurty sauce. Some veggies thrown in there too. This was mighty fine. The sauce was surprisingly spicy. To steal D's words, the shrimp kabob was goodo.

The service here was fine. We were marvelling at the number of Bic pens the waitresses had stuck in her hair. And she kept us full of beers. This was the first time I'd drank in awhile, and man, did I ever enjoy these fine brews. You all know how much I love this place, so look for many more posts about it in the future. Next time, the grilled octopus.


Monday, April 21, 2008

Fine Dining in West Philly

I haven't eaten much in West Philly, save for a couple of trips to Dahlak and maybe some random visits around campus. I had a delightful meal at Marigold Kitchen last weekend. I can't stop raving about the place. The place is in a row home, and it's truly like you're just eating in someone's house. It's sparse, yet warm and colorful. There is a room in the back that looks to be perfect for bigger parties, and then multiple two tops in the main dining area. It's a byob, so don't forget to bring a bottle. They'll provide excellent stemware (damn, I just said stemware in my blog). Marigold got a new head chef fairly recently and the short and sweet menu has tons of southern influences.

J started with the cornbread with collards, ham, egg. Really great actually, and I'm not into greens much. I got the grits and shrimp. Holy crap this was good. I could have eaten a giant bowl. It's not like I'm all that into grits, heck, I've probably tasted it maybe only a couple of times in my life. But when in Rome I say. These were smooth and cheesy with hunks of shrimp in and on top of the grits. Hot diggity. I practically licked the bowl.

For the main course, J went with hanger steak with cauliflower puree, cooked medium. Mmm... this was really good. I don't even know what else to say. Sorry I can't be more prolific. I went with the red snapper with rice, asparagus, spring onion. Damn, I'm out of words for this too. The fish was cooked perfectly, so the skin side was slightly crispy. I don't even know what kind of sauce it was in, but I just love, love, loved it. Again, I practically licked my plate. I would have if there weren't other diners around.

Marigold serves human-sized portions, as opposed to cheesecake factory portions, so there's actually room left for dessert. J got the banana bread pudding with coffee ice cream and I got the apple tart with sour cream ice cream. I read that the banana bread pudding wasn't that great, but screw that, it was tasty! As for my tart, it was excellent. The crust was crunchy yet flaky, and the sour cream ice cream? Does anybody know where I can buy sour cream ice cream? If so, please please let me know. It was awesome, just awesome.

The service here was great. The waitress was helpful, friendly, and attentive. The food came out fairly quickly. All the other diners looked happy to be there and seemed to be enjoying the food. I highly recommend this place to anyone. It's a nice alternative to the more student-oriented spots in the area. That night, there was plenty of parking on the street, and not at all scary to walk around. So don't be frightened, and venture out to Marigold for a surprisingly nice meal.


Saturday, April 19, 2008

Yeats Lunch

I saw Barack Obama give a little speech on Saturday. This is not an endorsement people, not at all. I still don't know who the heck I'm going to vote for. But he was doing a Whistlestop tour of certain R5 train stations, so I figured I'd just bike myself down there and give it a looksee. There were tons of people there and he gave a nice little inspirational speech. Did he convince me to vote for him? No. No one's convinced me as of yet. Afterwards, we were starving, so we walked around a little bit, got tired and even more hot, and so we stopped at Yeats.

T and I ended up ordering the exact same thing - classic wedge salad with grilled chicken and honey balasmic vinaigrette. It was the perfect thing on an 80-something degree hot ass Saturday. Lettuce, bacon, cukes, tomatoes, chicken, and a zesty dressing. What's not to like? It was nicely air-conditioned and we were so thankful. It was pretty empty, but then again, I've never seen the place very busy. The service was just fine as usual and T enjoyed a nice cold beer too.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Spasso Small Bites

I got to attend another fabulous Yelp happy hour the other night at Spasso Italian Grill. It's an italian (der) place on Front Street, in old city, and I've never heard so many people speak with such strong italian accents! Not even in the italian market!
It was a wine tasting along with some select appetizers. I didn't partake of the wine as I was still not drinking, but everyone seemed to like the selections.
Bruschetta. Good, but extremely oily. I had to grab a dozen napkins.

Some kind of chicken skewer with a slightly sweet marinade. Didn't seem very italian at all.

Mussels with tons of garlic. These were the best appetizers they served all night. Loved em.

Not sure what this was... some type of phyllo dough appetizer thing. Wasn't too crazy about it.

Polenta wrapped with prociutto. Strange, yet good.

Those aren't mozzarella sticks! This is a classy joint people! Those were actually mashed potato croquettes served with marinara. And on the right? Some kind of doughey ball, possibly with either potato bits or shrimp. I wasn't sure.

I've heard some great things about the regular food here. After this hint of a taste, I'll be sure to go back there for a proper meal.

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Another Stop at Izenberg's

The other day, we stopped at Izenberg's again for lunch. Don't ask what R got. You know - nova lox and bagels. But this time, I did try it. She made me a tiny little mini lox and bagel sandwich. I liked it! I didn't expect not to or anything. It was very light. Not necessarily what I expected. No extremely strong flavors or anything. Quite pleasant.

As for me, I got an egg salad sandwich. Seemingly benign, but damn, this was good ass egg salad. Huge chunks of egg, and lots of it. It was so big that I ate only half and then had the rest for dinner. After having those amazing sweet potato fries at Good Dog the other day, I also decided to get a side of sweet potato fries. Bad idea. These weren't sweet at all. In fact, they were like plain potatoes that they had dyed orange. Quite a disappointment. But that's ok, my sandwich was still yummy. The service? Meh. Nothing to rave about.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Good Dog Burger Rocks My World

After my third and last film festival flick, of course I had to eat some more. I was at the Prince Music Theater, and I knew that Good Dog was nearby. I'd been hearing so many good things about the place, especially the burger, so I thought let's give it a go. This place is f'in cool. Just f'in cool. I just got a great vibe from it. It's a warm and cozy place, with a nice neighborly feel. It was a random mix of people, which is a plus. It wasn't surly hipster or fratboys. It was just all kinds of people. We sat at the bar and they were playing the Star Wars Trilogy (original) on the tv's. The bartender was very nice and friendly. I hear there are 3 floors here, but we didn't explore.

We both got burgers. C got his with no cheese (an ode to lactose intolerance) and I got mine with american and caramelized onions. OH MY GOODNESS. This was one of the best burgers I've ever had in my life. The meat alone is super thick, I mean like over an inch thick. That's a thick ass burger. It comes on a fairly puffy brioche bun, so all in all, it ends up being a fat burger. Hard to put into your mouth. Everthing about it was perfect though. But not as perfect as these fries! A perfect mix of yukon gold and sweet potato fries, hand-cut daily. I barely left an iota of potato on either plates. There's also some sauce that comes that you can dip your fries in, but there's no point, the fries are perfect as is. Perfect I tell ya! I will be dreaming about this burger and fries until my next visit, or I'll be making up excuses to go again really soon.

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Campus Eats - Don't Be in a Hurry

After catching a film festival flick at the Bridge, we decided to grab a bite on campus. Look folks, there really isn't much to choose on Penn's campus. Truly. The pickins are damn slim. After walking around to no real avail, we ended up at Izzy and Zoe's, which is essentially a deli. I think this place survives because there are tons of students who need to eat food. It was such an ordeal to even order. There were maybe 4 people working there, but only 1 person was taking orders, and he was also the only person making sandwiches. It was an insanely inefficient system. But this is not say that the food was not made with love. The one and only guy who actually was working, painstakingly constructed each sandwich with extreme attention to detail. Too much if you ask me.

Eventually when we did order, B got the "David's Seal the Deal" which was smoked turkey, muenster cheese, honey mustard, all on grilled challah bread. I was almost tempted to get this myself.

Instead, I went with something crazy, the "Lovely Lindsey", which was hot brisket with ketchup and fried onions slopped on top of two big ass potato latkes. I know looking at this picture it just looks like barf on a plate, but trust me, this was surprisingly awesome. The latkes were thick and crunchy on the outside. And with a hunk of that and a bunch of meat and onions and ketchup, gosh, I ate the whole damn thing. You knew I would.

So the service is awful, we can all agree to this. If you don't care about that and aren't in a hurry, it really is not a horrible place. If you do care about that and are in a time crunch, please avoid at all costs.

Izzy & Zoe's

224 S 40th St

Philadelphia 19104



Saturday, April 12, 2008

Watching Live Music Makes Me Hungry

After catching some local bands at Johnny Brenda's on Friday night, the kids were feeling hungry, and because I was the driver, I had to go along, right? It was the middle of the night, so there weren't too many options. We ended up in Rittenhouse at the Midtown III. It's a total divey diner. It's a rather hideous place... crazy bright lighting, weird chandeliers hanging everywhere, just awful. You don't go here for ambiance people, you go here because you're drunk and hungry (neither of which I actually was that night).

C got the grilled ham and cheese and fries. It was weird, his fries were seasoned, but the fries at another table were plain. We didn't quite understand why.

Lox and bagels again? That's right. Of course that's what R ordered. Look at those giant friggin tomatoes. And that giant hunk of cream cheese? I'd like to see the ginourmous block of cream cheese that got hacked off from.

I'm not sure what compelled me, but I got the cream chipped beef. Maybe because it's fun to say that I ate shit on a shingle. Surprisingly, I enjoyed the whole thing. The shingles, the shit, and the accompanying home fries. Actually, I really enjoyed the home fries a lot. I was impressed. I told you I wasn't hungry, but as soon as I started eating, I realized I was famished.

The service was quite good. Our waitress was extremely nice and the food came out fairly quickly. We even got to see a guy so drunk that he couldn't walk out of the place by himself. Ah... good times!

Midtown III Restaurant & Cocktail Lounge

28 S 18th Street

Philadelphia, PA 19103

(215) 567-5144


Um... Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos!!!

Hello world! Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos! I went on this weird junk food binge at Wawa the other day, and picked up a bunch of crap, including tastykakes, sun chips, and these little crunchy triangles of heaven. It's a new flavor, and damn, I'm addicted. When you pop em in your mouth, the first flavor you taste is soy sauce. But don't worry, this isn't like you're dipping a chip into soy sauce. It just has a slight soy saucey taste initially, and then you taste the sweet, slightly sour, and not too spicy. It's not easy to describe. It's just easy to say that I am in love. I made D try em, and as healthy as he may be, he too was a convert. They are now officially his kryptonite! Seriously folks, nacho cheese and cool ranch ain't got nothin on these!

UPDATE: I went back to the same Wawas to get some more of these treats, and they did not have them! GRRR!!! Now I must hit up every store I can possibly think of and stock up...

Friday, April 11, 2008

Tacos in Ntown

You guys, Friday was f'in beautiful, no? We had to step out for lunch. I had a hankering for tacos, so we headed over to the mean streets of Norristown for some mexican action. I've posted about this place before, Taqueria La Michoacana, so this isn't new territory. It wasn't too busy during lunch, probably because everybody wanted to eat outside. Al fresco dining in Norristown probably isn't the best idea. The complimentary chips and salsa were good, as usual. The chips were nice and hot and only slightly greasy, and we had three different types of salsas - verde, something red (maybe a chipotle), and pico de gallo. None of them were very spicy.

R got the enchiladas americanas(?). She asked for green sauce, but it came with red and green sauces. Who cares... she just liked em.

I got the carnitas tacos and rice and beans. Chunks of pork in corn tortillas with a sprinkling of onions and cilantro. Simple and good. The rice and beans were great, as usual. Service wasn't the speediest, but that's ok. The food more than makes up for it.

Taqueria La Michoacana

301 E Main Street

Norristown, PA 19401

(610) 292-1971


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Milkboy Treats

Somehow, we made an impromptu stop at Milkboy in Bryn Mawr earlier this week. It was an open mic night at the acoustic cafe location. This one being the much smaller one next to the Bryn Mawr Film Institute. It's a tiny little place. They serve coffee and tea and some snacks. There's wifi and reading material and even some board games. It's not a bad place. It had some crazy art for sale on the walls.

R got a giant black and white cookie. It was alright. I don't drink coffee, but in general, I've found the service and attitude at the Bryn Mawr Milkboy to be quite good. The staff is friendly and helpful and generally have a good time. The Ardmore spot is the original one and much bigger. And with that comes an attitude. The staff there seem like they can't be bothered. Hello, you are slingin' coffee. There's no reason to be surly to me. I don't know what it is, but there's just something about the Ardmore one that rubs me the wrong way. They have live music pretty much every night at the Ardmore location. And if it weren't for the surliness, it would be even better.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Slowly Getting Better! Pho Real!

When you have a bit of a cold, there's nothing like drowning yourself in a giant bucket of pho. So that's exactly what we did. Before catching a film festival flick and getting a parking ticket a 9 PM on a Sunday (up yours PPA), Washington Ave was to be the street of choice. And Pho & Cafe Viet Huong was the pho place of choice.

H/A got some strange rainbow ice drink. I wouldn't exactly call it a drink. There's very little drink, and much more chunky stuff. There's sweet red beans, shreds of green jello, yellow mung bean, and coconut milk. I don't think this is a drink for me.

Got some rolls (Goi Cuon), as tradition always calls for it. They were pretty good, but there were tons of mint in. I like a tiny bit sometimes, but this may have been a bit too much for me. Don't get me wrong, still good.

H/A went with the pork chops on broken rice (Com Tam Suon Nuong). Holy crap, this was good. I'm totally ordering this the next time. Screw the pho, now I'm all about vietnamese pork chops!

But no complaints about the pho here. I got beef eye round and well done flank. After throwing in the entire pile of sprouts and the requisite sriracha, it was just what the doctor ordered. Although it was pretty ginormous and I did not finish it. Damn you sickness and my diminished appetite!

The service? It's not so great here. The place is huge and run like a cold machine. You get your food real fast, but they don't really follow up or check on you. Then you go up front and pay. Attentiveness is not their strong suit. But that's ok, because they're food is good.

Pho & Cafe Viet Huong

1110 Washington Ave # 2A

Philadelphia, PA

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Sunday, April 6, 2008

Late Night Eats in Manayunk

Friday night was the first nice day/night out in... oh... months. So what to do? First Friday! We hung out a bit, and then ended up at National Mechanics. We didn't eat there, but I have eaten there before, but I don't remember it at all. I think I vaguely recall nachos. They had chicken on them? But I do like the place. It's different, in a good way.

After a night of shenanigans, R was feeling peckish and wanted to go to a diner. I was still feeling pretty crappy so I didn't really care. There aren't many late-night options, so we somehow ended up at the Manayunk Diner. Never imagined I'd ever eat here. It's big and multi-levelled... they even have wifi! Ha!

R went with her diner food and just general favorite food of choice - lox and bagels. I've never seen anyone so in love with lox and bagels. I've never actually officially tried it. I really should see what all the fuss is about. I've eaten plenty of bagels and plenty of smoked salmon, just not together. Although I'm not that into smoked salmon, but I will try it soon.

I went with the blintzes with apple topping. Screw the apple topping! It came from a can and was heated up, but they were fairly blech. The blintzes themselves were good, although because I was sick and stuffed up, I really didn't taste much. That's kinda been the worst part of being sick. I really don't care about the feeling crappy and the phlegm and the sniffling. What sucks is not being able to taste food. Ugh.

There are crazy random characters hanging out at the Manayunk Diner after hours. But what do you expect? The service was quite fine and really, their dessert case looked pretty frickin good!

Manayunk Diner
3720 Main St

Conshy's Main Strip - Tony and Joe's

It ended up being a crazy week of pasta for me. We stopped by Tony and Joe's for lunch during the week. You wouldn't know it from the outside, but it's not just a pick-up joint here... they actually have an adorable little dining area inside.

T went with the eggplant parm. Biggest plate of eggplant parm I've ever witnessed in my life. HA! Those veggies aren't just plain... they were loaded with garlicky and buttery goodness!

R went with her trusty old standby - ravioli.

I ordered the rigatoni. The only rigatoni on the menu was rigatoni abruzzi... which was supposed to come with sausage in a spicy sauce. I ended up with plain old rigatoni with a red sauce. It was fine and all, but plain as all get out. I don't know what happened... You also get garlic bread, which was pretty good. And soup or salad... we all got salad. My russian dressing was really really weird. Service was pretty good. All the pasta was made to order so it took a bit of time, but not tremendously long. It's a nice hidden option on Conshy's main strip.


Pioneer Penne

Being homebound most of the week, I got inspired to cook a little. So I tried out this penne recipe from Pioneer Woman. I took a bit of creative license... added some sweet peas (organic ones from trader joe's) and some diced tomatoes (probably will leave these out next time). I also used chicken stock instead of the wine.

It turned out great! It didn't really turn out anything like her recipe, and like some of the commenters said, it wasn't very thick and rich or chunky. It ended up being quite light, and dare I say, healthy? Yeah, I know it had cream in it and all, but it was quite light. It was a huge batch, so I ate it all week. And it tasted even better as leftovers.