after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

Posts Tagged ‘Brunch

pancake-off: cochon vs. honey’s

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t says:  There are two kinds of brunch spots in Philly … the kind that everyone knows about and waits for religiously every Sat/Sun morning … and the kind that, for some inexplicable reason, go unnoticed.  (Actually, there’s a third kind, too: the expensive kind like at the Four Seasons or Lacroix … but who can afford that regularly?)  For this post, I’ve put adsz fave Cochon vs. everyone-and-their-mother’s-fave Honey’s for Battle Pancake …

Challenger: Cochon's Banana and Chocolate-smothered Pancakes - just as fluffy as it used to be, but now served on a plate so you can behold it's massive height!

Challenger: Cochon’s Banana and Chocolate-smothered Pancakes – just as fluffy as it used to be, but now served on a plate so you can behold it’s massive height!  It features this banana-nut-laden bread (that’s different than before when the banana and walnut were just on top of the pancake) – and I know that it looks burnt (I was about to complain when I first saw it), but when I tried it, it actually added this really addictive toasty flavor and a super-light crunch to the outside – it’s more like a burnt sugar than a burnt bread – very weird.  I’ll dock them the points for the appearance as it looks a bit dark, but I’ll leave the points alone for taste, as the pancakes were truly delicious – I can almost finish the entire plate!

"Champion" (by wait time): custom concoction of banana-chocolate-PB pancakes at Honey's.  Ultimately not as fluffy and loses points for undercookedness in the center of one of the pancakes - likely due to poor distribution of stuffings causing concentration in the center, thus making it more difficult to cook ... sorry guys - i can't take the blame if you're a little sloppy

“Champion” (by wait time): custom concoction of banana-chocolate-PB pancakes at Honey’s. Ultimately not as fluffy and loses points for undercookedness in the center of one of the pancakes – likely due to poor distribution of stuffings causing concentration in the center, thus making it more difficult to cook … sorry guys – i can’t take the blame if you’re a little sloppy.  I ate around the undone area – it was fine, but at +1.50 per topping, the bill racks up so it’s as expensive as Cochon’s.

Winner: definitely Cochon.  And that’s not to say that Honey’s was bad – aside from the uncooked part, it was quite delicious.  But I think the problem is that it’s not remarkable; I could make the same exact pancake at home … actually … I could do it better.  However, Cochon’s fluffy pillow of love is something that I know that I can’t make at home no matter how hard I try (if someone gave me a recipe, I could give it a whirl).  Consequently, I have to give Cochon the nod for better pancakes.  Because of this, I just don’t foresee us waiting in line for Honey’s on the weekends, ever.  Plus, Cochon has other little “perks” of going … like this:


“Widowmaker” … no – that’s not what it’s called on the menu … but it should be!  This guy probably has ~2500 calories, 2473 of which are from fat … it’s totally crazy (and crazy-delicious!  it’s sr’s favorite!  and i think that v even tackled it once!)

Written by afterdinnersneeze

7 April 2013 at 9:43am

wishing Gardenia was still around …

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t says:  g and I visited Rittenhouse tavern for brunch.  After such a glowing review from Craig LaBan (who did more of a dinner review), we figured we’d try give brunch a whirl first and then go from there.  We know that in the restaurant industry, Sunday brunch isn’t exactly “the best” of what the kitchen staff can do (or even possessive of “the best kitchen staff”), but we figured that if the last restaurant in that space, Gardenia, was already “good”, then this would be even better!

August 2012, Sunday Brunch, Party of 2.  g and I walked in to an empty restaurant.  I guess their brunch service takes a little while to get going.  We sat in the b-e-a-u-tiful outdoor space and proceeded to be torn in a variety of directions by the menu.  I could have gone in a sweet-breakfast direction, I could have gone in a savory-sandwich-lunch direction, I could have gone anywhere inbetween.  Everything sounded good.  Of course, some things sounded stupid, like the $25 foie supplement to the pancakes, or the $5 fruit supplement (I mean, seriously, how much fruit could they possibly be adding to the pancakes?  a quart of strawberries?).  But alas, we rolled with the punches and, after consulting with our server, ordered/ate the following:

fluke crudo

So I forgot that Craig LaBan actually love-love-loved the crudo, which was offered to him during dinner:  “That crudo of local fluke, cured in kombu before being layered with sheer radish chips and silky dabs of lemon puree, was one of the best bites of raw fish I’ve had in months.”  We have to agree that it’s a net-positive dish, as the crudo was a surprising mix of delicate flavors that were very-nearly-perfect.  We say “very nearly” because there was a little bit of a salting issue in that some pieces had salt (i.e. all the ones I had) and some didn’t (i.e. all the ones g had).  Thus, g was actually pretty underwhelmed by the crudo (and she loves crudos) … right up until she had a salted piece, and was much happier (but still not blown away).  It’s not necessarily “the best bite of raw fish we’ve had in months”, but it shows that someone can make a very pretty, very tasty dish that shows a nice balance of delicate flavors.

For our mains, we did the turkey schnitzel and the pancakes (sans fruit/foie):

g likes chantilly cream …

I have to come right out and say it: the pancakes were a disappointment.  Flat [“as a pancake”].  A touch rubbery.  A wee-bit burned.  g suggested I send them back (and g never suggests that I send things back), however, upon tasting the single not-visibly-burned pancake (1 of 3), I found that it, too, had some of that burned-smokiness to it, so I doubted whether it could actually be done any different – and it’s not like “buckwheat” is so full of flavor that I was missing out on something.  Now I know why someone would want to pay $5 for the fruit: to add some much-needed flavor and friendliness to the pancakes … and in that moment, as I doused my pancakes in the Chantilly cream, I longed for Gardenia’s lemon-ricotta-blueberry pancakes …

The schnitzel, on the other hand wasn’t bad at all.  The sauce was delightfully punchy, and the potatoes were nicely done.  The meat was well-seasoned and as tender as turkey could be.  Was it authentic Austrian schnitzel?  No.  But that’s ok – those things tend to be very heavy, while after this one, we felt full, but not gross.  So I put this one in the “win” column … not in the “rocked my world” column, but it was just a whole lot better than the pancakes.

We do have to mention one course that we did not have but looked pretty awesome: the bread board.  There were an assortment of breakfast pastries: I believe I saw a cinnamon roll, some small muffins, maybe scone or something like that.  Looked pretty tasty!  (And definitely better-looking than my pancakes tasted!)  So try that next time and let me know how it is!

In conclusion: Sunday brunch is something that we’re not going to be re-trying at Rittenhouse Tavern (and if a friend suggests it, we’ll try to re-direct them to Parc).  We will, however, give dinner a try, as that fluke was quite delicious [for me], so we hope that LaBan was actually on to something with the rest of his review.  On the flip side, our server said, and I quote, “The schnitzel is like one of the best things that we make, including the dinner menu …”  I hope not, because it was squarely good, but not nearing greatness … I guess time will tell …

Written by afterdinnersneeze

20 August 2012 at 10:59pm

gettin’ my coma on at sabrina’s

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t says:  After working a 16-hour shift from 7pm to 11am, what’s the first thing that you would do?  Most people would probably go home and sleep.  But not me.  And certainly not my coworkers, either.  We’re super-humans.  Well, either that, or we’re plain ‘ol silly … and hungry …  Collectively, it was decided that we go to brunch.  After a few back-and-forth emails/texts/conversations, we chose to venture to Sabrina’s in University City (closer to Drexel than Penn).  The journey was a dangerous one, as one of us almost perished on the way due to desert-like heat and Louisiana-like humidity.  We were able to rally our spirits when I confirmed on my iPhone that we were indeed 1 block away and not lost/drunk somewhere in Bangkok.

July 2012, Brunch, Party of 4.  After sitting down “in that round porch thingee”, we perused the menu and decided that we should choose four different items and divide them equally.  It’s been a while, so I can’t remember what they were, but I can tell you that three of them had Batman-related names (probably in honor of the new film).  What I can show you, however, is a pic that was taken of a plate adorned with precisely 1/4 of each of our items:

why have just one dish when you can have four?

What is above is a pancake dish, a French toast dish, a frittata dish, and some kind of “chihuahua” dish.  My memories about each is fuzzy, but what I do remember is that everything was quite delicious.  The French toast used less cream cheese than past stuffed French toasts I’ve had at Sabrina’s, which I find to be an improvement (who wants to eat a hunk of cream cheese?), while the pancakes were doused in some kind of crack-like citrus-based glaze that everyone loved (drawback: there wasn’t enough of it – only the top pancake was covered in it … resulting in many-a-stranded bottom two pancakes).  I had no qualms with the two egg-based dishes (although I think that maybe as a whole, they were weaker than the sugar-laden bread-based ones – they didn’t have punchy flavors that I can remember), and the potatoes were wonderfully fried.  And … well … that’s it.  It was a large quantity of delicious food – great for putting an immediate smile on your face and a coma on your brain.  Nice job Sabrina’s.  I still don’t think it’s worth waiting in line for on Sunday morning, but definitely a superb weekday brunch!

Written by afterdinnersneeze

6 August 2012 at 10:44pm

Chloe and Wedge+Fig make us smile

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t says:  continuing the a + v dinner series

a says:  First, Chloe …
We’ve been a fan of Chloe for awhile and visit it every few months… if they decide to open.  We’ve also wanted to bring my parents there since it is convenient and delicious. Everything came together a few weeks ago for what was our best meal there, yet. It’s no wonder they have lasted this long (over 10 years) and earned a reputation as Old City’s best bistro.

April 2012, Friday Dinner, Party of 4.  We ordered almost exclusively from the specials menu which mainly consisted of appetizers and small plates. We find the appetizers to be stronger at Chloe, plus we get to try more items. Standouts included a well executed potato leak soup that had great potato flavor without any mealiness. The leak could have been more pronounced and the Vichyssoise at GTC still owns the top spot for potato based soups.  (side note to GTC: Why, oh why, did you take this off the lunch menu?  [g interjects from nowhere: Yea!  The first time I noticed it wasn’t on the menu, I was SO sad!  t joins in: She was almost in tears … g fights back: Shut up!])  A luscious gnocchi in a venison and pork ragu hit all the right notes along with my entree, halibut with a potato, bacon, and lobster hash – I’m pretty sure that’s all the “bait” you can fit in one cohesive dish. I’d say this is one of my favorite entrees from the past few months though nothing about it was nuanced, just damn satisfying. v’s salad with grapefruit, avocado, and fennel was fresh, interesting, and more subtle than the other dishes. If you find yourself in Old City, consider Chloe for inventive, modern American cuisine… just pray they’re open. (n.b. They do not take reservations and are byob.)

Next, Wedge + Fig … x 2 …
April 2012, Brunch, Party of 4.  Still one of the best places to enjoy a bottle of wine (byob) while enjoying the outdoors. We went with the cheese board special of the day which introduced us to some interesting takes on old standards. I had the “Jawn” sandwich (butter-fried turkey, pork roll, cheddar, jalepeño-dijon aioli, and red onion on pretzel bread) and can honestly say it was that jawn: A great take on what makes a sandwich uniquely Philly while not being heavy or overpowering. The saltiness of the pretzel bread is a nice touch but I think the pork roll could have had more oomph.

v takes over from here:  May 2012, Brunch, Party of 3.  On our most recent visit, the service continues to improve as does the decor, chairs, and most importantly, the food. The portion sizes are a bit bigger than when the restaurant first opened. As temperatures continue to rise, Wedge + Fig has made some subtle changes to ensure comfort in the back garden. This is one of the quietest, most relaxing places in Philadelphia. The sound of the small fountain and the high walls block any ambient noise that may come from the bustle of the city. As for the food, it just keeps getting better and more satisfying. I ordered my favorite brunch dish at Wedge + Fig, the lox and cream cheese. It is one of freshest, lightest versions of this classic I’ve had at any restaurant. Not surprisingly, a ordered the panini of the day (PoD) – dubbed the “John Wayne” –  buttermilk blue cheese, ham, bacon, fried egg, apples, and whole grain mustard on rustic white bread. This was one helluva breakfast sandwich, not for the faint of heart. The cheese was extremely creamy, the apple cut the richness of the cheese, and the fried egg brought everything together.  As always, we left Wedge+Fig content, happy, and above all, relaxed.

Written by afterdinnersneeze

7 June 2012 at 9:57pm

Talula’s Garden crushes brunch

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t says:  We had heard that Talula’s Garden was now offering brunch – naturally, we just had to go.  Oddly enough, it actually took us quite a long time to get there – maybe a bit more than a month?  (That’s odd for Olexy-fans like us.)  Whatever the reason for the delay, we finally went this past weekend – and we were on a mission!  You see, this upcoming weekend, for Mother’s Day 2012, we’re going to do something absolutely stupid – we’re going to have brunch with our parents … in Philadelphia … at a restaurant …  It’s. going. to. be. insane.  It’s Mother’s Day, it’s graduation weekend, and Dad Vails are in town.  Insane, but I guess we’re up for a challenge.  In preparation for the insanity, g and I reasoned that we at least had to do some reconnaissance at the brunch candidates – namely the longtime adsz favorite Cochon and new-kid-on-the-block Talula’s Garden.  So we donned our service uniforms, packed our hi-tech image acquisition apparatus, and force-marched it to Washington Square … (btw – we went to Cochon recently – they’re still ridiculously tasty).

May 2012, Sunday Brunch, Party of 2.  After sitting down, g and I dove into the brunch menu – we were quite hungry from the morning stroll.  And it hit us: the menu oozed pure awesomeness.  My mind was boggled – there were too many dishes to try: blintzes, pancakes, butcher’s breakfast, pastries, cheese, donuts …  I’d say 50-67% of the menu was totally t-worthy.  This conundrum was great news, as all of the preliminary reports featured so few dishes that I feared a lack of selection (which would have stunk for Mother’s Day if there was nothing that mom liked …).

After much consideration, g and I forced ourselves to limit our choices to 3 selections – three that we were pretty sure most people in our party next weekend would choose (Party of 12 baby!).  Here they are:

breakfast pastry trio + lemon curd + butter + berries

Hidden in the menu was the breakfast pastry trio – as it’s not called that at all.  Nevertheless, as soon as we spotted a single item, we knew we had to start with the breakfast pastries.  That item: lemon ginger scone.  While I’ve mentioned them in passing in Talula’s Table posts (although I’m currently failing to find them right now), I think that this blog has failed to completely capture g’s (and my) love for Talula’s Table’s scones, especially the lemon ginger ones.  And if TG’s scones are even 23% as good as TT’s, we would be happy.  How did it stack up?  We’ve decided that it was almost as good as anticipated.  It was a bit cakier/cakeier/more-cake-like than TT’s, which makes for a lighter pastry – but the flavor was spot-on.  There’s pluses and minuses to this, though.  On one hand, there’s a certain richness that TG’s scone lacks, but on the other, you don’t feel completely full after eating just one scone, so it’s definitely not too much of a letdown because we had more food to eat!  And while the muffin and coffee cake (especially with the lemon curd) were also very good (giving Parc’s pastry basket a run for its money), you just can’t beat a lemon-ginger scone, even one operating at 87% of max-deliciosity (you have to try them when they come straight out of the oven at 7am at Talula’s Table in Kennet Square … only then will you understand our obsession).

g’s main = “crab benedict” over fresh English muffin + potatoes

g ordered an egg-based savory breakfast dish … surprised?  Not I.  This one was featured egg, crab, and some kind of ?tomato-based? Hollondaise/Bearnaise-ish sauce and accompanied by those wonderfully-gold brown potatoes … and it totally rocked g’s socks.  It was funny, because although there weren’t massive chunks of crab, that sauce tasted so much like crab it was kind of like what would happen if capo giro made crab-flavored gelato.  Ok, maybe that’s not the best picture to paint, but you get the idea – it had a very vivid crab flavor!  The eggs were perfectly poached with good yolk runniness.  And then there was that English muffin … that English muffin was crazy!  We got word from one of our fave TG staff that these were made in house and required some time to perfect before they released this dish – well let me say it was perfect!  (I’m contemplating swearing off Thomas’s.)

t’s main = wheat pancakes + bruleed bananas + pecans

What you see before you is my main.  The wheat pancakes pictured above were oh-so-fluffy – coming within a hair of the reigning pancake champ at Cochon in terms of thickness,  but still pretty impressive!  The bananas (with accompanying sauce like a bananas foster) and pecans were fantastic (although perhaps obvious) accompaniments, and reminded me a little of the bananas that Cochon used to put on their Elvis French toast (back when they used to offer the Elvis French toast).  Actually, I loved the Elvis-themed toppings so much back then that I frequently asked them to put them on top of their super-wicked pancakes.  But alas, they Elvis no more.  Ok – back to TG’s pancakes: while “wheat” is normally not a desirable flavor for me (just ask g about my thoughts on wheat bread), it actually added a little bit of a savory pinch in the background of all the sweet on the plate – I liked it!  I think overall, the dish needed some salt – maybe a piece of bacon or something, which I guess I should have ordered, myself.  Be that as it may, in light of Cochon’s lack of gussied-up pancakes (they only do French toast dressed with sausage gravy on their menu right now – pancakes are a “side dish”, and while they’re still fan-frickin-tastic, they lack to bananas and bacon ice cream of old …), it seems like there’s a new pancake champion in town … Talula’s Garden!  Woop woop!  Raise the roof!  And other such cool exclamations!

And then we were full …

g and I were bummed – there was still so much food our mouths wanted to taste, but our stomachs had had enough!  We decided that TG was the way to go for Mother’s Day brunch – not to say that Cochon would have been worse, but there really is something special about their brunch.  While it’s not as heavy as Cochon (which g and I like – we were full, but we didn’t feel disgusting), it’s also not as inexpensive as Cochon, so I don’t know how often we can afford to go.  I think Cochon will remain our usual adsz Sunday brunch pick, with TG winning “special occasion Sunday brunch”.  So great job TG!  We look forward to seeing you this weekend.  I hope you guys are ready for the crazy that is Mother’s Day.

Written by afterdinnersneeze

10 May 2012 at 9:01am

Supper’s still got those red velvet waffles

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t says:  I know we/I kind of ragged on Supper’s brunch the last time we went.  Sorry Supper, we gotta call it like we taste it.  Be that as it may, we did give Supper another whirl recently, and I feel that to make up for the bad things I said last time, I should focus only on good things this time.  Fortunately, Supper made that easy for me with their long-time brunch standard bearer:

red velvet waffles (enlarged to show texture)

This time was even better than I remember – the waffles were moister, the sweet cream was fluffier, the sauce and cherries had more of a vibrant punch.  I’d say that this is probably Supper’s best brunch dish.  So go there.  Eat it.  And if you don’t like it, then you have no soul (or you don’t like sweet brunch foods).  Now if only Supper also had a dynamite savory dish to go along with these waffles (I’m not sure if the burger counts – I’m looking for an awesome egg-based dish I suppose), we’d be able to consider them again for “best brunch”  …

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4 May 2012 at 1:03am

re-found Monsu brunch pix!

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t says:  I was clearing out my inbox and found some pix I sent myself from our brunches at Monsu.  I uploaded them in that post.  I got hungry just look at them!

Written by afterdinnersneeze

26 January 2012 at 10:11pm

Posted in Happenings

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