after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

Archive for the ‘in Philadelphia’ Category

East Coast Holiday Interlude

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t says:  g and I decided that the best time to run east for the holidays was the few weeks before Christmas – the flights were just so much cheaper!  It was a great visit, with good times had with friends and family.  Here are some food-related highlights:


Oh yes – here it is: Talula’s Table!!  Now, we’ve been to the Table a few times before, each time enjoying the parade of farm-to-table dishes, beautifully composed and riding the balance of “homey” and “contemporary American”.  This experience was no different.  Now, there were a ton of courses, ranging from the three fabulous amouse bouche, a welcome gruyere gougere (still sooooo good), and those mentioned above.  Each of us had our favorites (we went with a and v and a’s parents) … but because I’m in front of the computer, we’re going to focus on mine:


The sous-vide egg.  By the Table’s standards, this dish is a bit more hoidy-toidy than their usual dishes, but it was totally worth it.  The egg was custardy-creme-brulee smooth, accented with strong salty (bacon, chicken skin) and bitter (greens) flavors.  It was incredibly simple but got the job done, setting us up for a fabulous meal.  Sure, the rest of the meal was solid, but if I had to pick one of those to have again, it would be this one.


Although g and I have our faves in Philly, we had to tackle a few new[-to-us] restos as well.  This one is only “kinda” new: Kanella Grill.  Back in the day, the original Kanella was one of our favorite Philly BYOs – one of our “go-to’s” for anyone visiting the city who wanted to really experience the “Philly” we love.  Well that Kanella moved, while the old location now houses “Kanella Grill”.  Dedicated to a more casual lunch-ish kebab-centric menu, we were psyched to taste all that is Cypriot lunch …  Above is g’s lamb shwarma hiding in pita, Greek salad, and some pickled vegetables.  I went for the gyro.  Let’s just say that both were delicious: tender meat, a bit of toasting on the pita, and great vegetables.  Overall, I feel that it was on the order of greatness of Souvla in SF.  Kanella Grill lightens it up with the bright crunchy veggies (i.e. afterwards, we could both still walk), whereas Souvla hits you heavy and hard (i.e. afterwards, we experience food coma).  Both are smile-inducing …  


But really, the star of Kanella Grill was the hummus.  It was just so crazy.  Now keep in mind: this is not Zahav hummus.  This is not Dizengoff hummus.  This is Kanella Grill hummus.  It was unrefined, a bit chunky, and a bit of a mess in appearance, with roughly chopped parsley.  But it was just so damn good – something in that mix of spices that I can’t even explain.  That, mixed with the blistered pita was sublime.


The last resto worth mentioning on our visit with DuBu Tofu house up near Elkin’s Park / Cheltenham.  Probably the best soondubu I’ve had yet, this kimchi stew was hot and spicy, with perfectly soft tofu and bits of meat.  I was sweating like grandpa by the end of it, but with the spice-induced endorphins running through my brain, my euphoric grin brought out laughs from g: “you’re crazy”.  The galbi was fine, the dolsot bibimbap was fine, but let’s face it: the soondubu was the star.

As you can tell, we had a lot of great food during our visit.  I wish there was one more place I could mention, but I can’t … because they refused to serve us.  Well – they refused to serve some of us.  g, a, v and I wanted to go toHungry Pigeon.  g and I had heard so many great things, and a is a Hungry Pigeon veteran.  We (the four of us) rolled in at 10:51 (exactly), when the lady behind the counter, upon seeing us enter, announced that breakfast would be over at 11 (that’s why I know the time – I got scared and looked at my phone).  Scared we’d miss breakfast, we immediately got in line behind a woman with a very convoluted drink order (it was 10:56 by the time she finished).  I ordered for g and me and paid using my credit card and signed.  I took one step to the side to allow a to the counter so he could order for himself and v.  The woman announced that breakfast was over (it was 10:59 – I checked my phone).  a was dumbstruck.  He thought it was a joke, but the hipster-glass-wearing barista deadpanned.  She offered up only silence and an empty stare.  No “sorry”, no apologies, nothing.  Not even a “you could buy something from our lunch menu” (actually I don’t know if we could or not – I don’t know when lunch officially starts) or “we have some yummy pastries” or anything.  Just a robotic emptiness.  We pleaded, as we had all come in together and were in line promptly, but nothing.  I had no choice but to cancel my order (what was I going to do? eat my breakfast in front of a and v?).  I actually wonder if she would have stopped me in mid-order had I attempted to order food for the four of us.  Afterwards, I did tweet at them to see if such Seinfeldian-soup-nazi rule was a “real” thing, and got a response directly from @hungry_pigeon indicating that “she was right. Lunch starts at 11. Sorry, we make no exceptions”.  Bummer.  I hate it when that Cinderella-at-midnight moment happens and the carriage turns into a pumpkin and the cooks get amnesia and all the ingredients necessary to make a breakfast bowl and an avocado toast instantly spoil (that brown rice porridge must be very temperamental!).  Although we left Hungry Pigeon still hungry, we were rescued by nearby South Street Philly Bagels and invited to enjoy them inside Ox Coffee – how civilized of them!  Now, I’m not sure if I’m over-reacting by vowing to never go to Hungry Pigeon ever again, but being as we don’t live in Philly, I’m pretty sure it’s a vow I can keep.

Written by afterdinnersneeze

8 January 2017 at 8:25pm

Post-Philly Ramen and Wine

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t says: We’ve been out a few times recently so I figured I’d take a lazy day to update the blog.  And so, with season 5 of The Wire in the background, I’m here on my phone, with my first ever phone-post!

My little sis got married with a reception at Zahav!  The whole event was wonderful!!  Congrats to her and her new hubby!  Also: congrats to Zahav for serving up some absolutely amazing lamb and salatim!  For any couples looking to close some knots, check out Zahav!

We started lining up a farewell tour of Philly (we won’t be back again until December) and it included a little bit of something old and something new.  Well, here is the new: brunch at The Dutch.  These are my new favorite pancakes. They are to. Die. For.  Second only to Cochon (R.I.P.).  Don’t let the silly blueberries or anemic banana distract you from the perfectly made pancake with a bit of crunch on the outside and a soft pillowy inside.  Yes, a did order a wonderful cream chipped beef, and g got a tasty omelette, but seriously, these pancakes were the star!!

For something old, we hit up Reading Terminal.  Ahhhhhh.  Home indeed.  DiNic’s roast pork with rabe and provolone.  Insert drooling face here.  Forget the cheesesteaks, Philly – stick with these!  As for dessert: you know I picked up several chocolate-dipped chocolate chip cookies.  Day-um these were just as good as I recall!

We continued the ramen search.  This time, we went to Oakland for some Itani ramen.  Going for a more contemporary mixture (I had corn in mine, g had tomatoes in hers), the end result was pretty good.  Nice form alkaline noodles, with savory broth.  It’s not worth the trip if you have some good ramen nearby, but if you’re local, it’s worth a visit.  Next time I’m going to try some of those dumplings.  BTW: corn = hard to pick up with chopsticks.

And for our most recent exploration, we hit up Napa [again].  We love this place.  After hiking through Oat Mine Hill Trail (after finding out that Bothe was closed for a half-marathon), we hit up Model Bakery in St. Helena.  Holy. Hell.  We knew Model was good (we’ve been to the one at Oxbow several times), but this one was WAY better.  Above was a bacon egg and pimento on a scallion biscuit that was better than any breakfast sandwich I’ve ever had … even a’s (I’m sorry a!!!!  It just happened!!!).  g got the “traditional” breakfast sandwich on their famous English muffins and she devoured it.  There’s something about this location’s sandwich construction that’s impeccable: not soggy, melted cheese, perfectly made meat, structurally sound.  Gonna have to make the special trip to St Helena for future visits, even if it is a half hour away from Oxbow!

Here’s a tip: Heitz has free wine tasting.  Now, there is a caveat: Heitz does not do flashy, fruit-bombs.  They do cabs like pinots: single vineyards with focus on just how important locations are for flavor.  One tasted like pure green bell pepper.  Another had a finish of super-spicy black pepper.  The final was mushroom-alicious (if you like that sort of thing).  But the real star: the 2015 Sauvignon Blanc.  It was in-your-face with tropical and grapefruit, followed by mouthwatering acidity and a petrol hint that was amazing (for those of you that like the way gas stations smell).  Amazing. $20 at local wine merchant – check it out.  Heitz is now on our short-list for anyone visiting Napa for the first time!  We finished off our day with a trip to Hog Island oyster company – the grilled oysters have changed g’s outlook on oysters forever!  She loves them!

An Instant Philly Fave!

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t says:  I’ve been holding back on this review for a while because I couldn’t figure out how best to do it.  Normally, for a restaurant that was this delicious, I like to do a dish-by-dish review.  But the lighting was so low that the photos all came out terribly.  So now what?  And I don’t have the gift of word necessary to carry you through an entire multi-course meal.  So I decided to keep it tight:


First, I wanted to prove to you how terrible the photos were.  I mean look at this thing!  It looks disgusting!  What’s that supposed to even be?  There is simply nothing I could say at this point to make you want to try the above dish … which would be a shame … 


… because then you’d miss out on the best Boeuf Bourgignon that I’ve ever had – which is a lot of Boeuf!  For me it could not be any better: the beef was braised to perfect tenderness, and it was accompanied by the perfect consistency of the vegetables and the perfect depth in the sauce.  Sure other people had things on the table that I tried and also enjoyed (the fennel salad was spot-on, the spice goat was actually spicy, and the shakshuka was Kanella-good), but that Beef will haunt me until the next time I can have it again …  Gawd I want some right now …  I will mention one caveat – it was frickin’ snowing in April, so the Boeuf also gave me the psychological hug I needed to give me the strength to go outside again …



Did I mention that the desserts were also delicious?  This is a huge plus in my book.  In a world where people are half-assing their desserts, I’m glad to see some with actual creativity and execution – good job Neuf!

Written by afterdinnersneeze

22 May 2016 at 3:33pm

“Helm … it’s like Star Wars …”

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t says:  So, for our last visit to Philly before the big move, the gang (g + t + a+ v) decided we go out with a bang.  a and I thought it’d be fun to see Star Wars.  g and v disagreed, feeling it would be more fun to get manicures.  So the boys went to the movies, and the girls went to the salon.  We met up at Helm to compare notes.

December 2015, Friday Dinner, Party of 4.  We Uber’d our way to Helm as it is tucked away in north-east Philly (although not too north-east – wouldn’t want to go beyond where the hipsters live …).  Jus having seen Star Wars, a and I had to control our conversation as we strolled in with our bottles of wine in hand, as we did not want to reveal the super-not-so-secret-plot-twist.  Fortunately, we were promptly seated and introduced to the menu.  The format of the introduction was was weird.  Really weird.  How?  Well, they have a super-“cool” chalkboard menu on the wall (i.e. the entire wall is essentially the chalkboard), on which they have scrawled all of the dishes.  But unlike classy chalkboards (e.g. Little Fish), this one was only one part informative and one part hipster-cool and 18 parts kindergarten disaster.  Seriously.  There were colors everywhere, changes in font size everywhere, no empty space whatsoever; it was super-hard to read.  That’s ok, we found out that they must feel that reading would be “soooo 2000’s”, because our trusty waiter walked us through the menu.  Like the whole menu.  Like every frickin’ dish on the menu.  Like every ingredient in every frickin’ dish on the menu.  Like how every single ingredient was prepared and assembled to make every frickin’ dish on the menu.  And he did so with the gusto of 1980’s robot; it was clear that he was going to finish his memorized speech come hell or high water.  So we let him … not even calling him out on the dish he forgot to tell us about, or the disparity between some of the ingredients he was mentioning and those listed on the menu.  But, to be fair, he probably forgot those, himself, because the chalkboard menu which was supposed to remind him was illegible.  There is only one way to summarize our first impression of the restaurant: foodie-douche-baggery.  Fortunately, we were able to get the waiter to open up as the meal went on (and we were among the last diners remaining), but we had to break down his forcefield of douche-baggery to get to the actually nice, pleasant, Philly-BYO-attitude underneath.  We’re glad we found it before we left, otherwise the title of this review would have been something different entirely …

The food?  Well, it had lots of potential, but felt short:


This guy, an assortment of nature’s bounty, ultimately had every texture coming out identical …



… meanwhile the Brussels sprouts (with almond, not hazelnut as on the board) was inundate with salt and fried garlic so that your palate was beaten to within an inch of its life. (Although death by garlic wouldn’t have been that bad – I do like garlic).




One of our mains was a filled pasta with a duck-containing sauce that would have been delicious had not been for the excessive saltiness … which was similar to our complaints with the other three mains on the table (so I’m not going to bother showing them to you).  For all of the praise that Helm has been getting, is it possible that people are mistaking “flavor” for “excessive salt”?  And what gives with all the blank space on the plates?  This is a Philly BYO for godsakes – get over yourselves.  Give us an appropriately-sized plate or give us more food (with less salt).



Dessert … *sighs* … how did I go wrong?  I chose “the chocolate one”.  (g says: oh gawd. that looks awful).  t’s back: Why is it a puddle of goo?  Covered in what appears to be blood and dirt?  Ok – that’s an exageration (blood is more opaque) – so let’s just say that it was not a feast for the eyes.  It did taste better than it looked, which is a plus, but it’s not like I was taken to the highest clouds of chocolate heaven …



But this is Helm’s redemption.  A Basque cake.  Really.  This little P.O.S. cake was insane.  While it didn’t totally make up for every one of Helm’s wrongs, it came pretty darn close.  We should have just ordered four of these for our mains and called it a night, as it was butter-sugar perfection.

So, in the end, we have no choice but to compare our experience at Helm to a’s and my experience at Star Wars.  A lot of critical acclaim built up some high expectations, followed by a lot of buzz by normal people who loved it, too!  But ultimately, from our firsthand experience, we are left wondering, “gee, were we in the same theater/restaurat as everyone else?”.  Don’t get us wrong, Helm and Star Wars weren’t “bad”, but we were left wondering, “where’s the magic?”  For The Force Awakens, yes, it was certainly better than Episode 1, but it lacked some of the “wow”/”magic”/”attitude” of Episodes 4-6 that presumably inspired it, with its super-fast-moving plot and “twists” that were not at all unpredictable, while being marred by excessive CGI.  Similarly, Helm was better than eating at McDonalds, but it lacked some of the “wow”/”magic”/”attitude” of the old guard of Philly BYO’s that presumably inspired it, with its stupid chalkboard and foodie-douche-baggery “twists” that were not at all unpredictable, while being marred by excessive salt.  Helm is no Django.  Sorry guys.  Time to go back to Mercato …


Written by afterdinnersneeze

31 December 2015 at 2:21pm

3 months and no post – what gives?

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t says:  It’s true!  In the history of adsz, we have never had such a break!  What happened?  Where did we go?  Well, it’s complicated.  About one month ago, we moved to NJ.  But it wasn’t the “oh, let’s move to the NJ ‘burbs” maneuver that most people might try, rather, it was a “oh, crap, we shipped all of our stuff to California and have no place to live” maneuver.  So we lived with our folks for a bit, which was surprisingly awesome.  But because there was so much commuting time, the blog kind of fell off the radar (if only I could blog and drive at the same time …).  Well, anyways, let’s make up for lost time.

I had a sad-looking burger from Good Stuff Eatery ... which closed soon thereafter.

I had a sad-looking burger from Good Stuff Eatery (Asian-inspired – I think there were some Vietnamese influences given the pickled carrots) – it was uninspiring, thus I was not surprised when they closed soon thereafter.



Managed to find this little treasure on and had it sent (for free) to a local PLCB branch.  It was quite good.  If you're looking for a not-so-boring-yet-not-in-your-face-Merlot with some bottle age on it, Matthiasson '07 can do no wrong.

I managed to find this little treasure on and had it sent (for free) to a local PLCB branch. It was quite good. If you’re looking for a not-so-boring-yet-not-in-your-face-Merlot with some bottle age on it, Matthiasson ’07 can do no wrong – I’d say it’s worth about 40 of the $50 they charge (probably would have been a little more exciting of a bottle a year or two back).


Who could do wrong, however, was Serpico.  No - it wasn't the food's fault, rather, it was the service's fault!  We brought the aforementioned Matthiasson to eat there, thinking that they were still corkage-free.  The server gladly brought over glasses and poured our wine with nary a mention that they WERE charging corkage.  We weren't even told anything until after I noticed the charge on our bill!  When I brought it up to our server, she realized that she neglected to tell us anything and went to "ask the GM about it".  He came over, apologized that they had done away with the corkage policy some 6 months prior, and said that he COULD NOT forgive the charge just this once, even though it was his own server's fault for not telling us about the charge!  We have been to several restaurants with the intention of paying corkage, and they always always ALWAYS remind us at the beginning of the meal, "just so you know, there will be a corkage charge" - which we gladly accept.  But if you do not tell the diner that they are on the hook for the cost, serve them the wine, admit that you forgot to tell us about the cost, you should not charge the diner.  I'm sorry you made a mistake (#SorryNotSorry).  In any case, the food was fine at Serpico, but it has now been written off as a restaurant that we will no longer go to.

Who could do wrong, however, was Serpico. No – it wasn’t the food’s fault, rather, it was the service’s fault! We brought the aforementioned ’07 Matthiasson there, thinking that they were still corkage-free. The server gladly brought over glasses and poured our wine with nary a mention that they WERE charging corkage. We weren’t  told a thing until after I noticed the charge on our bill!  When I brought it up to our server, she realized that she neglected to tell us anything and went to “ask the GM about it”.  He came over, apologized that they had done away with the corkage policy some 6 months prior, and said that he COULD NOT forgive the charge just this once (even though it was his own server’s fault for not telling us about the charge!).  We have been to several restaurants with the intention of paying corkage, and they always always ALWAYS remind us at the beginning of the meal, “just so you know, there will be a corkage charge” – which we gladly accept.  But if you do not tell the diner that they are on the hook for the cost, serve them the wine, admit that you forgot to tell us about the cost, you should not charge the diner.  I’m sorry you made a mistake (#SorryNotSorry).  In any case, the food was fine at Serpico, but now there are two strikes against it – #1: no more BYO, #2: intolerable service practice.  adsz will go there no more.


We did a DiBruno After Hours Party (if you don't know what it is, google it now), and it was FLAWLESS.  Gawd.  We ate so much cheese - like this blue which is my new favorite - so salty, so minerally, it really is the gateway-blue of blues.

We did a DiBruno After Hours Party (if you don’t know what it is, google it now), and it was FLAWLESS. Gawd. We ate so much cheese – and it wasn’t just stuff we already knew we liked (or stuff we had before) – there was new stuff!  Like this blue which is my new favorite; I’m not a fan of blues, so when I had this one which had only mild funk, but a salty minerality that was so addictive, I knew I had to buy some.


And then they paired this blue with this chocolate bar and my face melted.  I'm currently faceless.  Thanks DiBruno.

And then they paired this other blue with this chocolate bar and my face melted. I’m currently faceless. Thanks DiBruno.


We made a trip to NYC just to bid it adeu until our return to the East coast.  Brunch started off at The Smith, which had dishes as scrumptious as this - that's a serious mashup of Florentine + Benedict + Waffle.  So delicious.  They did no wrong.

We made a trip to NYC just to bid it farewell until our return to the East coast.  Brunch started off at The Smith, which had dishes as scrumptious as this – that’s a serious mashup of Florentine + Benedict + Waffle …


Of course, we did dinner at Freeman's, which is one of my favorite NYC restos - it's just too darn cute!

… and the day continued on to dinner at Freeman’s, which is one of my favorite NYC restos – it’s just too darn cute!


and the food is nothing to sneeze at either.

and the food is nothing to sneeze at either.  I have to say that it was pretty good – I think that it didn’t really hit any notes that we couldn’t find in Philly, and it was, of course, at NYC prices, but for the super-cute ambience, it was totally worth it.


We visited Frog and Peach, one of a and v's favorite restos near Rutgers.  It was kind of surreal to finally be sitting in the place - the food was good, but surely would have been made better had a and v been there.

g and I visited Frog and Peach, one of a and v’s favorite restos near Rutgers on our return from another NY trip. It was kind of surreal to finally be sitting in the place – the food was good (their take on a carbonara), but surely would have been made better had a and v been there.


We gave Bistrot La Minette another chance.

The gang gave Bistrot La Minette another chance, and while they had me at escargot, I’m just not sure everything was drool-worthy.  Nothing made our eyes roll into the back of our heads, followed by urging others to try such-and-such dish.  Where’s the magic?


I’ll tell you where the magic is – it’s at Mercato.  It’s always at Mercato.  Frickin’ Mercato.  We show up with a bottle of Ayoub, order us up the pasta specials, and they just wreck it.  Every.  Time.  You know – I can’t even remember what we ordered, but I do vividly remember thinking, “you know, after being in Philly for 10 years, I will now put down Mercato over Melograno for BYO Italian”.  *Begin Slow Clap Here*.


fednuts sandwich

Some people are crazy for FedNuts sandwiches.  I’m not sure why.  I mean, sure, it’s tasty, but it’s chicken, pickles, and some cheese.  It was reminiscent of the KFC Chicken Little sandwich, which, while being delicious circa 1980’s-90’s, really shouldn’t draw the attention that FedNuts gets for these.  Oh well.


so i went back to Freeman's for some pancakes.  mother-f'in carrot cake pancakes were so amazing.

Remember Freeman’s?  Well, one day, I snuck back to NYC and had brunch there.  And as the scent of the carrot cake pancakes you see above triggered a tidal wave of drool from my mouth, I realized that while dinner there is good, the brunch is to die for (or to kill for).  Imagine carrot cake.  But make it about 436% better.  And make it for breakfast.  Of every food in this post, this is the one dish where only expletives can fully capture how good they were.  Those f*****g pancakes were so f*****g good.  End rant.


fish was so good

And finally, there was a trip to Lo Spiedo that impressed drb quite a bit.  While he was disappointed in the charge for whisky, he was more than happy with the food (including a not-pictured avocado bruschetta).  The roasted fish was indeed delightful – very simple and so good.

BUT – we’re not done yet!!  There’s one more Philly post in us!

Written by afterdinnersneeze

27 December 2015 at 2:19pm

crap – I forgot one!

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t says: In my last post, I did forget the other adsz adventure we went on: the suckling pig at Amada!


Screw pictures containing the “sides” and cut straight to the main event: the frickin’ suckling pig.  Now, a and I have done this before, but for g and v, this was their first time.  Let me make a few comments:  1)  Yes that is one-half of a pig, and it was plenty for our 6-diner party.  (There were tons of leftovers).  2)  If you want the head, you have to let them know ahead of time (we didn’t think to do that).  3)  The absolute best damn part of this pig is the skin.  Seriously.  I must have eaten the whole carcas of this thing – it was like “sesame cracker” that you start off with at Serpico, but expressive of the most profound “sense” of pig (fatty, salty, sweet).  Gawd it was insane.  4)  When you dine at Amada, bring magnums to avoid excess corkage fees (they still charge only for one bottle).  5) Take photos with the tableside carving person – he doesn’t mind … <pictures omitted to protect our identities>

Amada’s suckling pig was fantastic.  If you’re only in Philly for a limited amount of time (e.g. for school, residency, fellowship, whatever), I highly recommend you do this at least once before you leave.  It is true that Jose Garces is no longer as cool as he once was, but it’s good to know that when the fame goes away, his crew has the skills to pull of a damn fine looking pig like this.

(and yes – the head is mandatory if you have the option: the cheek meat is incredible).

Written by afterdinnersneeze

28 September 2015 at 6:59pm

Some Things Old, Some Things New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue

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t says:  There’s seemingly a lot of grown to cover with this month’s post.  With so much to tell you about, where do I begin?


The most logical place is to begin at the beginning: we went to Bibou – I mean, Le Cheri.  Having caught a “special” two weeks at Le Cheri where they were bringing back “THE bone marrow” and “THE pig’s foot”, we had to go.  Just in case you didn’t know, Bibou, long before they were fixed price, had these two wonderful dishes frequently on their menu (the latter moreso than the former).  So dedicated was v’s and my love for the pig’s foot, that despite the number of times we went there (probably in the double digits in total), both of us combined have probably only ever not ordered the pig’s foot twice.  Seriously.  But, we’re getting ahead of ourselves, as the picture above is not of the pig’s foot, rather of the bone marrow.  This bone marrow is done up a little differently than most I’ve encountered – the marrow having been done up with bread crumbs to form more of a “stuffing” before being reconstituted in the bone – so lovely!


g got a fish dish.  shocker, I know.  But no matter what I saw, she swears that this dish “won” dinner.  How?  I’m not sure – I mean it was downright delicious, but could it really compete with … you know …


… the mother-flinging pig’s foot?  NO!  NO WAY!  Because it is perfection.  Unctuous meat: check.  Dose of foie: check.  Fiber (lentils): check.  Veggies: … there are some pieces of carrot there …  As kp, v, and I have said on multiple occasions: if we could bathe in a single food item it would be those lentils …  It’s an oldie, but a damn fine goodie.


Our meal at Le Cheri was wonderful for so many reasons: great food, great friends, great wine.  We also hatched a plan, with the help of some very special friends (I can’t go into details), to replicate the beloved dish …


… not bad, right?  Well, we can’t take more than 2% of the credit.  Those who can know who they are …  I hope this qualifies as “something borrowed”.


g, v, a, and I also went back to Tria Fitler Square (damn, we must spend a lot of time with a and v – doesn’t it seem like we go everywhere with those guys?).  It’s personally our new favorite brunch, as I love love love their pancakes.  This time, however, I ventured their French toast with strawberries over marscapone, and while the French toast, itself, was killer, I have to say that the unripe strawberries and rather boring marscapnoe really biffed it for me.  Oh well – better stick with the pancakes if what you desire is carb-on-carb action.


g, however, had more success, going for the eggs benedict carbonara.  She threw caution to the wind, forsaking her usual “omelette”, and liked what she saw, calmly remarking, “you know, if more people used pancetta instead of Canadian bacon or ham, I choose eggs benedict more often!”  Well if that ain’t some I-talian superiority, I don’t know what is!  But in any case, I agreed with her: Tria’s take on eggs benedict was a simple, yet effective, delivery.  Nice job!


For some reason, wordpress won’t let me rotate this image, so I’m going to leave it all silly-like – as I feel that that is also representative of the experience that g and I had with my sis at the new restaurant “Southgate”.  Advertised as serving Korean pubfare, we were there to check out the Korean Fried Chicken, a dish that even our server (who was kind of weird overall) boasted, “a lot of chefs in Philly who came to check us out, love our wings”.  Our take: they sucked.  Yes, the skin was indeed very crispy, which is a great accomplishment, but just because you have an inch-thick crust on a chicken does not make it an excellent piece of fried chicken.  The skin needs to be crisply fried, with a fun, delicate crunch – not like eating through a layer of cardboard.  Furthermore, the underlying chicken wasn’t particularly tender or moist.  The pieces, themselves, weren’t even large enough to warrant the steep price!  The other dishes were similarly underwhelming, including the steamed buns that were so bland I had to dip them in the above fried chicken sauce, which was terribly sweet.  What a sad meal!  Fortunately, the company was great and was able to make up for it!

The gang (you know: g + t + a + v) also got together for an outing at Sbraga.  Not having gone since our previous “Kia Cadenza Experience”, it was good to give the restaurant another go … you know … to see what it was like when a car manufacturer wasn’t paying for the meal …

Now, we initially made the reservation because they were boasting a “lamb dinner”.  Sadly, when we showed up, they had none available – somehow having sold out despite it only being Friday night.  Sorry Sbraga – gotta get on top of stocking that fridge!  Before we go on, I do want to give props to the service there – our server was very nice and accomodating – so good job on that!  Between his attentiveness and the funky music, how could we go wrong?

Well, the meal started off with a bang, as a was really impressed by the foie soup. In his words:

Well, the meal started off with a bang, as a was really impressed by the foie soup. In his words: “It’s ​always great when chefs make something heavy, light.” He was less impressed with his lamb tartare (“good, but nothing out of the ordinary”)  Then, the above dish hit the table and we were floored!  The waiter promised, “the gnocchi dish is more like a lobster dish with a garnish of gnocchi” – and he was right!  It was quite scrumptious – although to be honest, I would have loved to have seen more gnocchi (they were ALSO great!  it’s a shame there were so few!)  But how dare I complain about “too much lobster” …


My dish was straight off the lamb menu – it was the “osso bucatini” (g says: “isn’t the name so clever?”) and it was incredible.  I could have sworn that the noodles themselves were made of lamb, the way the lambiness penetrated each hollow piece of pasta.  So good.


Meanwhile, g and v ventured a ?crab? pasta that they swore one-upped mine.  I mean, they’re wrong, but that’s ok – just so long as they think they won, right?  (More osso bucatini for me …)

There are pictures of our main dishes, as well, but the picture quality was terrible, as the restaurant got darker and darker.  Turns out, if you show up with three bottles wine for four people, you’re in for a nice, leisurely dinner during which the sun will set, and nighttime takes over.  Where did the 3 hours go?  I’m not sure that any one of our third dishes (that’s right – I forgot to tell you: each dinner is a soup, three savory courses, and a dessert!) really showed us something lifechanging, and did border on “fussy”, but we do like that chef tries out all different manners of execution, from a homely puddle of pasta, to smears of sauces on plates.  The desserts could use a little re-tooling – I mean, I liked that mine tasted exactly like Trix cereal (v swore Froot Loops), but I’m not sure if that’s really going to compete with the likes of finishers like Talula’s Garden.  All in all, a very nice meal, and a restaurant we wouldn’t hesitate to try out again.





Well, we here at the sneeze have been harboring a little secret for the past month or so.  g and I will be moving [temporarily] to San Francisco.  And while that’s a little sad/blue, we hope for a fun adventure and an eventual return to the City of Brotherly Love, with its jawns and whatnot.  We’ll still be bloggin’ from the west coast (and a + v will have to hold it down here on the east coast).  True, we will miss our friends (come visit!), so we’ll just have dry our tears with our goose down coats … cuz Lord knows we won’t be needing them where we’re goin!

Written by afterdinnersneeze

15 September 2015 at 7:52pm