after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

Cochon: Philly’s Best Pancake?

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t says: Ok, those are some big words in the title, but we have reason to believe that Cochon might serve the best brunch in the city.  Now, we’ve never been to “fancy” brunch eateries, like LaCroix or Fountain Restaurant, but we have been to some pretty good small[er] places that put some nice twists on brunch, like Sabrina’s, Carman’s, Slate, Tinto, Farmicia, Mixto, and Day by Day.  Palumbo’s Grill (may it rest in peace) did an awesome brunch – it was cheap and tasty.  Carman’s is similarly priced and delicious, with a little more innovation, but good luck getting a seat (and I sometimes wonder about that kitchen’s cleanliness)!  Sabrina’s also does a good job, especially the Art Museum location that is far easier to get into – but I haven’t been blown away every time.  As you can see, I’m very picky about what I want in a brunchery.  I want reservations, friendly service, delicious food, ample servings, and a reasonable price.  It seems that as food quality and quantity goes up, it’s harder to find it cheap (e.g. Tinto) or not packed (e.g. Carman’s, Sabrina’s).  And, while I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad brunch in Philly, there just hasn’t been a place that did everything right.  Palumbo’s was the closest.  Cochon is my new frontrunner.

The first best part about Cochon’s brunch is that it is unknown – or at least, that’s what it seems (they’re well-known for dinner – we still have not had a pork dish to rival that pork shoulder special they had when we went – it was insane).  Their brunch starts at 11 (and that’s when our reservation was for).  We arrived at 10:50.  There was no crowd.  There was no line.  Only one two-seater table had patrons in it (I guess the hostess didn’t have a problem with letting a couple people in early).  This alone was a breath of fresh air.  We took a walk around the neighborhood to kill some time – it was a beautiful day!  They seated us the moment we walked in, and we ordered some tea.  The selection wasn’t huge or exotic – there was no “French Breakfast Tea” like at Parc, but for me, any black tea (which I purposely over-steep) is fine for a nice “rustic” breakfast.  Maybe other foodies will want more of a selection.  As far as a “crowd” – we never really saw one!  Even by the time we left, there were still open tables!  How weird!

As the menu stared back at me, I was faced with a major conundrum: there was no way that I could taste everything I wanted at this one meal.  The egg dishes all sounded fantastic.  They had French toast and pancakes (the age-old battle of the breakfast breads).  Then they had pizzas (?is it a French pizza? a traditional pizza?  no idea!) including one that had brie cheese, caramelized onion, and pear.  Then they had what I could only imagine were sandwiches of smoked meats, including ribs, short ribs, etc.  It was not fair.

I ended up going for the pancakes – I needed to test their version of a classic (I’m the bad cop, remember?).  They came to the table in this round glazed earthenware dish that fit the pancakes just perfectly and were topped with caramelized bananas and walnuts in some sort of syrup.  And there was a healthy dollop of cream.  They were large and looked fantastic – but nothing looked obviously different than something you might find elsewhere.  Then I ate my first bite.  Holy … Crap … !!   The banana was soft-but-not-mushy and played beautifully with the walnuts. But the heroes of the dish were the pancakes.  They had a deep dark color – it was almost like they looked over-cooked, but trust me, they weren’t.  They had a nice “crisp-ness” to the outside, followed by the softest, fluffiest interior I have ever seen.  And they were super-thick!  It was luscious like cake, but floppy like a pancake.  Now, I hate the idea of whipping out cameras at restaurants to take pictures of food for the sake of showing everyone else what it looks like – it just feels tacky.  It’s clear that I don’t have a problem photographing my own stuff in my own house.  But, to be honest, I’d hate it if someone showed up at my workplace and started photographing what I was doing without my expressed permission (wow – they’d be bored out of their mind if they did).  Furthermore, I’d be super-weirded out if someone I invited to my dinner party starting photographing my food without asking.  But I guess some might feel entitled to do so because the food becomes theirs, as they are paying for it?  I don’t know – right or wrong, it just makes me feel awkward.  BUT … this one time … I did the unthinkable and asked g for her iPhone.  I had to take a picture of the pancakes because no one would believe just how fluffy they are without evidence …

That fork is a normal size fork!

I realize that these pancakes were technically simple – a lot of places can put together banana, walnut, and pancakes.  I’m not even a huge fan of banana-walnut things (e.g. I’ll pick blueberry muffins over banana-walnut every time).  But these were the best pancakes I’ve ever had.  It definitely had less to do with their choice of ingredients and more to do with cookery.  If I knew how to make pancakes like that, I’d never eat out for breakfast again … (I’d also open up a pancake shop).

What’d g order?  Here she goes …

g says: Apologies that there are no pretty photos of the Eggs Cochon that I ordered… I dug into my plate so quickly, the dish looked a mess and I was halfway through by the time t decided to shoot our meal. Maybe next time I’ll wait for the photo op, but don’t count on it!  My dish was an interesting take on eggs benedict – there were 2 poached eggs over a slice of toasted brioche, chunks of roasted suckling pig, and a drizzling of hollandaise sauce, alongside perfectly-spiced home fries. It was incredible, and if there weren’t so many other tempting items on the menu that I am dying to try, I would absolutely order it on every visit!  Thank you, Cochon, for another lovely time — our brunch was the perfect start to a lovely Sunday!

t says: The final best part – the entire breakfast, for two people, was under $31.  So, for less than the price of one restaurant week meal, both of us ate until completely stuffed.  As a matter of fact, I couldn’t finish my entire plate, as much as I wanted to – and I was still a little uncomfortable trying to walk home.  Even g had a little leftover (but not enough to bring home).

Conclusion: The lack of a crowd makes me suspicious – was our meal a fluke?  This, combined with how many things we still want to try on their menu means only one thing: we will be going back.  Forget just “going back” – g and I started staking out rental properties nearby to see if we could live within walking distance (seriously)!  The food was ample, the price was right (maybe $2-3 more expensive than Sabrina’s – but they don’t have the “normal” stuff that Sabrina’s has, like “2 eggs any style” … well, they do, but not without including house-made sausage and bacon), and the seating is not super-cramped; I might even consider bringing my parents there!  The way we figure it, we have 9 months or so until Philly magazine tells everyone else how great brunch is here (or maybe they already have and no one read it – but remember – you read it here first), and then it’ll be so booked you can’t get in.  Although I warn you – g and I have booked a table for every Sunday possible for a ridiculous amount of time into the future …  Let us know if you want in.

LATER …

t says: We went back to Cochon today, and I ordered the pancakes.  Yep – absolutely as delicious as I remember – and still super-thick!  Actually – it was so much that I couldn’t finish it.  So I brought some home … and measured it … right before I ate it.

The ruler and pancake are the same exact distance from the camera lens ...

That’s right – it is a bit over an inch tall!  And that’s for ONE pancake!  They serve you two!

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Written by afterdinnersneeze

21 March 2010 at 10:16pm

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