after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

Posts Tagged ‘GTC

a & v ascend to “Steak 9”

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t says:  After my great experience at GTC for their all-you-can-eat steak adventure, I brought some friends to get a second opinion.  Just to recap, it’s all-you-can-eat steak, all-you-can-eat French fries, and [presumably] all-you-can-eat salad … for $25 … and GTC is corkage-free for the first bottle, and $10/bottle corkage therafter.  Oh, and now it’s officially on the menu!  Hooray!  Long live steak!  In any case, this is what a and v had to say:

v says:  Mmmm… steak was delicious. We are on steak 9. My favorite sauce was a’s, but I couldn’t have eaten as much of his as I could mine… It was so good I could have continued making room for more if I wasn’t worried about undoing the buttons on my pants. The fries were also great. What stands out, though, is the salad. I immediately noticed they used the same dressing for this salad as their Lyonnaise one. Great decision, unfortunately, they’ve toned down the flavor due to a couple of complaints about the intensity of the dressing. The service was more than eager to continue serving us, which was great, because we didn’t feel like the gluttons that some of us (a and I) were.

I will wear an elastic waist band next time…

a says: I agree with v’s take. Best $25 complete meal in Philly and bonus: it’s AYCE. My dessert was good but I really didn’t care at that point since I, too, was on steak 9.  Let’s do this again real soon!  N.B. Plan to walk to AND from the restaurant.

Also, the wines were delicious and fun. Most had a typical aspect: nose for the Pinot, mouth for the Sauvignon Blanc and Cab, but then proved more interesting in other aspects. The Pinot was full in the mouth with nice viscocity, it stood up to the steak – the standout of the night (check it here). The SB smelled like rubber (burnt rubber, actually) and hay then switched to strong petrol in the mouth. The Cab smelled more like a Shiraz or Merlot with lots of red fruit and some green earth but then went to dark fruits, vanilla and good grip (t gestures: “grip!”)  on the tongue (check it here).

t says:  Ah, yes, the wine …  That Sineann pinot noir was most definitely a cab-drinker’s pinot.  It was rich and full and void of a single rough edge anywhere, even if it was missing some of that hallmark Oregon funk and acid … but it was still delicious.  Not a single person, including me, could object to it.  I wish more of the ’08 could still be found (I personally don’t know if other vintages taste as good – but one can hope!).  I’ll give it a nod as wine of the night, as it was straight-up more interesting than the Hall cabernet.  Even moreso interesting, however, was the Sauvignon Blanc that we had.  Now, this is not some “easy-breezy” Sauvignon Blanc.  This one slaps you in the face with petrol, petrol, and more petrol.  I estimate that 99% of casual wine-drinkers will not like this wine.  I estimate that 90% of wine enthusiasts will not like this wine.  But g and I love it (a and v liked it, too, but it’s not like they’re clamoring for more).  It will now be added to the cellar so we can have some of this $10 beauty on hand at all times.  If you manage to find it, buy a bottle and give it a try (or take us to dinner and we’ll bring a bottle for all to try!).  I bet that people who kinda-sorta-secretly-enjoy the scent of a gas station will like this wine (seriously!).  Also – if this is your kind of wine, then you’re our kind of people: let’s eat and drink together.  If not, then, well, we can get you some Woodbridge Chardonnay or Cavit Pinot Grigio (burned! … j/k!).

i have steak belly …

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t says:  I visited GTC with cm and his cousin.  We had one goal: all-you-can-eat-steak-for-$25.  I’ll skip the formalities and get straight to the meat of the review …

steak and fries

The steak was actually very good.  This is not like one of those all-you-can-eat smorgasboards where you cram as much top round in your mouth as you can.  This is actually well-prepared meat!  Beware – they only serve it rare and medium, though – so if you want it well-done, then don’t bother.  I went for medium, and it was wonderfully tender, with a good browning on the outside of each medallion maximal flavor.  It was a real treat to be afforded the opportunity to eat as much good-tasting meat as I wanted.  So … for this meal, I wanted to “play it smart” and maximize my quantity of cow consumption.  I ended up going through three servings of cow (pictured above is one serving).  To accomplish this feat (I’m a somewhat-smaller-than-average guy, so I feel like this deserves a gold star), I resolved to the following strategies:

1)  Minimize table bread consumption.  This was difficult because I really do like GTC’s olive oils – but sacrifices must be made!
2)  Minimize salad consumption.  I know that in the grand scheme, a plate of salad is but a drop in the bucket/stomach … but let’s face it – space is space!  I ate some of it as an apology to my bowels for the impending onslaught of meat that was coming … sorry guys!  (By the way, the salad, while very straightforward – greens in a light dressing – was very fresh and tasty – I would have eaten the entire place had all-you-can-eat-meat not been offered).
3)  Avoid the cream.  When I ordered, I opted for the wine-based Bordelaise sauce – I figured the other two were more cream-based and would fill me up.  It was hands-down more delicious than the peppercorn sauce, and none of us went for the bearnaise – next time, maybe?
4)  Ration the frites.  The format of the dinner is this: you get one plate of steak and fries, and as you run out of things, you ask your server for more, and then a food runner appears with a serving plate of your desired item (i.e. steak or fries) and adds it to your plate.  So, let’s say you consume all the steak, but only half the fries – they’ll come by and offer you more steak!  This is a brilliant way to do things, limiting wasted fries and excessive dishes.  It also allows you to just keep on going with the steak at whatever speed you desire, regardless your frites status..  Hooray!
5)  Post-meal walk and caffeine.  With all of the fat/meat consumed, I avoided the “too-disgusted-to-move” feeling with a nice long walk home, fueled by the caffeine in one of GTC’s coffee drinks.  Not a bad way to end the night … now if only I could fall asleep instead of blogging this entry right now …

P.S. The first bottle of wine at GTC is corkage-free.  Bottles after that are charged corkage – something in the $10-$20 range.

Written by afterdinnersneeze

26 October 2012 at 11:39pm

GTC goes corkage (boo!) but makes a fine veggie sandwich (yay!)

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t says: I wandered into GTC today to buy a sandwich.  Wanting something lighter than my normal food choices, I opted for their veggie sandwich (the “jardiniere”).  While I was there, I eavesdropped and found out that (and maybe it’s old news to everyone else) that Garces Trading Co. is now going to charge $10 corkage for bottles of wine after the first one.  Bummer man!  Sorry a!

AND, the lady behind the register told me that they are going to move the sandwich-making into the kitchen, move the bakery area to where the sandwiches are, and then put in a full bar where the current bakery is!  Looks like things’ll be changing at GTC, and I’m not sure if it’s for the better (at least, for what I like GTC for … everyone else may disagree and like the change).

How was the sandwich?  Awesome!!  It had grilled radicchio and this thinly sliced zucchini and, most importantly, delicious bread (crusty outside, soft inside).  I would venture to say that it’s the best of the sandwiches currently available (ever since they 86’d the lamb sandwich …).  I would have taken a picture of it, but I had to choose between stopping eating it (for the pic) or continue making my mouth happy with grilled leaf chicory (that’s what radicchio is – I just found out) … and guess which one won!

v says: Nooooooo. Bad graces, bad!! Slap! slap!

Written by afterdinnersneeze

31 March 2011 at 11:55am

Hog Heaven: Cochon’s Pork Belly and GTC’s Bacon Maple Apple Pie

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t says: We went to Cochon for dinner this past weekend, and it was great! I’m not in the mood to do a proper full-on post which includes the context of the visit and super-long descriptions, so let’s go straight to the restaurant and get to the good stuff…

December 2010, Fri Dinner, Party of 6. The atmosphere was very nice – dark tables and little candles reminded me a bit of Audrey Claire – but I hoped the food would be better than Audrey Claire. It did get louder as the evening went on, but it wasn’t anything we couldn’t handle.

The food was amazing … I had the pork belly for the first course. It was the best cookery of pork belly I’ve ever experienced. Better than Talula’s. Better than Morimoto. Morimoto might still have an edge for sneaking in those Asian flavors, but damn this was so silky smooth it was unbelievable. And I believe that an appetizer is a great size for pork belly, because I think it would have precipitated a heart attack had I eaten any more (and if I was given more … I would have eaten it without a doubt). I thank them for saving me from myself. There were some Brussels sprouts and bacon underneath the pork belly – they were also quite good. Hell – they could have spun that into a whole ‘other appetizer had they given me more of it. I will say, however, that maybe if they snuck in some sort of something to cut through some of the fat and refresh the palate every now and then (?citrus? veggie? I don’t know) then I’m pretty sure I would have cancelled my second course and ordered another of the pork belly …

For my second course I had the “lamb steak” special. I’m actually blanking on what the cut of lamb was. Maybe I should call them and ask. Nah – what’s the fun in that? In any case, the mystery cut of lamb was surprisingly not “lamby”.

g says: pardon the interruption… it was lamb sirloin. continue!

t says: It really was like eating super tender steak (think of the shape and done-ness of a medium-rare hanger steak with the tenderness of a braised short rib) that had a hint of lamb. It was wonderful. Yes, there was some delicious Israeli couscous underneath it, but who cares? The lamb was the hero.

Everyone else seemed to enjoy their food as well (g and I went with our parents). sr totally cleaned up his bouillabaisse, and ha did the same with her suckling pig dish. g and her mom had no qualms with the pork loin, and g’s dad dispatched with the scallop dish (we spoiled his appetite beforehand with stromboli and meat and cheese from DiBruno Bros. so he was quite content with a single order of scallops).

The desserts were also pretty tasty – I had the “molten” chocolate cake and was satisfied because the chocolate didn’t just ooze onto the plate after you sliced into it. It was a thick molten chocolate cake. Woohoo! I hate stabbing into a molten chocolate cake and having to chase after the precious oozing liquid all over the plate. This dessert needed but a single scoop of bacon-vanilla ice cream and it would have been perfect …

There were two problems with the evening, though: no parking in the area on a Friday night (which is not really their fault), and there was some poor timing with the scallop dish – it came out a good 5 minutes after everyone else’s. g’s dad didn’t mind – he said that they were handicapping him so he wouldn’t finish his scallops faster than everyone else finished their meal …

Overall, I found this to be a fantastic dinner. The price was reasonable, the food was great. It’s up there near Bibou for our favorite BYO dinner. And it was so much fun to see Cochon at night when it has a bit of “swank” in its atmosphere vs. what we normally see for Sunday brunch (which, btw, is still unbelievable).


The next day, g and I were throwing a party, so I picked up a bacon maple apple pie. That’s right. Bacon … in your apple pie … Who would do something like this? The same people that brought you bacon maple cinnamon rolls. I now wonder why would anyone NOT put bacon in their apple pie? I dare say that to NOT put bacon into your apple pie would be un-American! You know – I have no pictures even though I wanted so badly to take one. How’d it taste? Well, I felt that it was very well-executed apple pie with a hint of smoky, salty bacon – it was superb. Not the absolute best pie I’ve ever had, but definitely a step up from ordinary apple pies. g felt the bacon was quite pronounced – I’m still not sure if she felt if that was a good thing or not. Our friends … well … they really didn’t say anything about it in particular – but they did go back for multiple pieces and demolished it … sooooo … I think it was good!

Here’s the question though … Penza’s crumb apple pie vs. GTC’s bacon maple apple pie … On one hand, you have my favorite maker of fruit pies ever (go ahead and google Penza’s pies) … but on the other hand, you have bacon … We have GOT to do this showdown …

Written by afterdinnersneeze

13 December 2010 at 12:53am

GTC: Vengeance (and Bacon) for Breakfast

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t says: A while ago, I skewered Garces Trading Company a bit for their somewhat mediocre scones.  Obviously, they were unhappy with my/our comments and struck back with a new breakfast pastry creation (n.b. sarcasm – we know that only approximately ten people read this blog … and 8 are related to us).  So what is it?  Well, it’s almost like someone at GTC read our blog and noted the absurd number of posts dealing with bacon, including those in which bacon was coupled with sweets like ice cream or chocolate chip cookies.  So here we go with the new [to us – it’s possible they’ve had this for a while] variant of a cinnamon roll:

Bacon Maple Roll

Ok.  Take a cinnamon roll, but replace the cinnamon with maple and bacon.  Now, I will admit that I was skeptical at first read the sign and laid my eyes on this beauty.  Just because you sprinkle bacon on top of something doesn’t make it super-awesome.  It makes it better, but not necessarily super-awesome.  In my humble opinion, a breakfast pastry’s success depends first and foremost on the execution of the dough …  yea, it was perfect.  The bread was gloriously soft; it was actually difficult to do the above picture because I wanted to grab it securely without crushing it, but it was so soft that it kept drooping in the middle.  Note – it was soft, but not the least bit mushy.  The bacon was delicious, cut into appropriately sized pieces with just the right balance of crisp-ness and give.  From what I recall, bacon was not studded in the bread, itself, which would have been interesting, however, there was plenty of bacon on top to make up for it.  Finally, the icing had a beautifully pasty feel (i.e. instead of a watery glaze or a too-thick fudge), and there was enough of it so that if you got one bite, the amount of glaze on top would distribute and coat the rest of the pastry in your mouth.  j and kp, I’m sorry you missed it.

Well played, Jose.  Well played, indeed.

EDIT:  A reader commented below that the above bacon delight was put forth by pastry sous chef, Ms. Rafalski.  While I have no absolute proof of this, I’m more than happy to credit her with the tears of joy I cried that morning.  It was a great start to a fabulous day (we went to Talula’s Table for dinner that same night … details forthcoming …).

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8 September 2010 at 9:54am

GTC vs. Distrito: Battle French Toast

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t says: That’s right – you read it – a Jose Garces vs. Jose Garces battle. We’re absolutely sure that Jose is going to win. What’s more interesting is that this battle was kind of … accidental. It all started on Saturday morning …

6/2010, 11am, Party of 3. g, her mom, and I were in the neighborhood at our appointment with the hair doctor when we found that we were quite hungry. Whole Foods failed miserably to satisfy my desire for breakfast (no pancakes? no French toast? why!!!), so I managed to make some not-so-subtle suggestions that we should revisit GTC for lunch. Little did we know that GTC now does weekend brunch! It didn’t really change much for g or her mom, as they again went with the lamb sandwich and the insalada semplice. But not me – I stepped outside the box. I asked to have the blueberry muffin French toast as a separate order ($25 worth of brunch is a lot of brunch! I just wanted some starch!) for ~$10-14 (I can’t remember). Yes, the other two had delicious, delicious things to eat … but this French toast was amazing. What could possibly taste better than getting a soft Blueberry muffin, dipping it in an egg batter and then frying it (I imagine it was fried)? Nothing. Well – almost nothing – more to follow. There really isn’t much more to describe about the dish, and there’s only one thing left to say, “duh! why didn’t I think of that?”.

So, I was right about to write up a “best French toast in the city” bit for adsz … then we found another contendor …

6/2010, 1pm, Party of 2. g and I had some recent success at Distrito for lunchtime. As a mini-review of that meal (too lazy for a separate write-up), here we go … The Blue demon special is a REAL DEAL. The nachos ignacio (vegetarian nachos) and queso fundido (duck and cheese) are an insane combination – I couldn’t finish it (but brought it home and ate it for lunch the next day)! And that chocolate flan is my new favorite chocolate “thing” – displacing chocolate bombs, chocolate gelato, chocolate brownies, chocolate cakes, etc. Seriously – this place really REALLY has surpassed Tinto in terms of food. And, if you go at lunch, you leave with money still in your pocket. it really only lacks Tinto’s selection of cheeses and its dark, seductive atmosphere (which I like – it makes me feel suave, like I have style – but of course, some people might actually prefer Distrito’s funky pink interior).

g and I decided to go back to Distrito for the Mexico vs. Argentina soccer game because cm reported a Jose sighting when he and k went there for a World Cup game. We were destined for a chance to flirt with celebrity and indulge in nachos. We walked in, were seated, and were handed a menu. As I stared at the page, I wondered, “Where’s the blue demon?”. ALAS! We went during weekend brunch! Frick! I was upset, as I recalled brunch at Tinto, which, while absolutely delicious (I’ve enjoyed brunch at Tinto several fold more than dinner), is very pricey if you want to leave feeling full. I maintained composure and reasoned, “well, the game will come on soon, and Jose might show …”. As I contemplated an exit strategy, my eyes found “Tres Leches French toast”. A fellow coworker [and his wife] made a tres leches cake and brought one in to the workplace that was ridiculous! It was so good that I wanted to use pieces of that cake as sponges to bathe myself (I’m not actually sure why that imagery popped into my head – but it was so weird that I had to type it). So I figured, “well, if this is half as good, I’m set”. I ordered it and waited, wondering if French-ifying tres leches cake would do wonders the way it did to muffins.

It came to the table and I was beside myself … there were two large, golden brown deep-fried pieces of cake in front of me. I had no idea that it’d be that large. I had no idea it’d be that … fried. As my fork broke through the super-crispy crust, I knew good things were to come. As I chewed through the crunch, I got a super-indulgent mouthful of creaminess, caramelized sugar, butter, etc etc. g said it reminded her of funnel cake. Funnel cake is less fried than this dish (read that again and contemplate it). Basically, this is exactly what one should NOT be eating if you want to live to see 28 (it was the day before my 28th birthday). But I couldn’t stop. I chuckled as I ate the strawberries and blueberries – they couldn’t cut through the fried sugar goodness of the toast at all. So if you like things fried, you will like this French toast more than anything in the world. BUT, there’s an evil side. I felt full for the rest of the day. But not just “full” – it was more of a “disgusting, uncomfortable full”. It’s the kind of full you’d get if you ate two bacon, egg, and cheese biscuits from McDonald’s. AND – I didn’t even finish it!

So, yes … For taste – go and try out that Tres Leches – but I’d share it if I were you – maybe foil it with something lighter and less greasy (unless you want digestive troubles later). For something a little less heavy, although not much healthier (muffins are notoriously unhealthy), head on over to GTC.

PS No, Jose didn’t even show up to the game. Mexico didn’t even win. But at least we got to try out something new!

Written by afterdinnersneeze

29 June 2010 at 6:05pm

GTC: Pasta Challenge

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t says: We went to GTC again this past Friday as a follow-up to the last time we went. You see, last time, we went with a bottle of white and opted for some white-friendly dishes, vowing to go again to sample those items that escaped our wrath. This time, we went with a red and sought some red-friendly dishes. I’ll tell you right now: it was quite the tasty and educational experience.

6/2010, 5pm, Party of 2. We showed up with a bottle of Spanish red and went straight for the margherita pizza and the pappardelle with lamb ragu. The pizza was great – thin and delicious (and the red sauce wasn’t too sweet – hooray!). But forget about the pizza – let’s talk about the pasta. Now, this pasta dish had beautifully thin, wide, and al dente noodles. The lamb ragu was also cooked superbly, with plenty of soft shreds of lamb amidst a sauce that had some unique other ingredients (e.g. sunchoke). But, something was … missing. It seemed that the noodles and sauce were winners on their own – but there was something about the dish that was a little lacking. The pasta dish as a whole was not quite at the level of Melograno‘s pastas. I think it has to do with the way the pasta absorbs the sauce. At GTC, the pasta, itself, didn’t have much “taste” to it – it actually tasted just like plain pasta, thus, the pasta was a vehicle to transport sauce. Meanwhile, at Melograno, the pasta takes on the flavors in the sauce, meaning that every strand is preciously delicious. It was amazing to me how such a seemingly small difference could lead to such a large impact on the dish. Don’t get me wrong, though- we ate every last noodle, shred of meat, and drop of sauce (seriously – I used the table bread to search and destroy any drop of sauce that remained).

In conclusion, the meal was great, the service was great, and the price was kind. Yes, I am being overly critical about the pasta, but really, it was quite good overall!

Written by afterdinnersneeze

21 June 2010 at 6:47pm