after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

Posts Tagged ‘Mixto

Mixto: Great Potatoes

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t says: We got together at Mixto this past weekend with a fairly large group of friends. They take reservations and have ample space to handle such large groups, so we figured it’d be a safe bet; we were also far closer to Mixto than Cochon, ruling out a trip to my favorite pancakes. We’ve been to Mixto at least once before – if we’ve gone more than once, I’ve forgotten. In any case, I distinctly remember their croissant French toast, which were quite tasty (how can you go wrong if you start off with a croissant? Dunkin’ Donuts and Burger King have been relying on croissants for years), although small in serving size, so I was pumped to try something else.

5/2010, Sunday 12:30pm, Party of ?12?. We arrived and were seated promptly. There was some snafu with the table we were seated at and the number of people we had coming (g and I were last minute add-ons … oops!), so we had to be reseated at a larger table. I appreciate their ability to “roll with the punches” on a fairly busy Sunday. As we sat and got reacquainted with our friends, I perused the menu. Would I go for the pancakes? That’s the natural move, as last time I had the French toast. But, in my head, I doubted whether they’d stack up against Cochon’s, which is a tall order to fill. So, instead of set myself up for disappointment, I went for a g-dish: steak and eggs. Now, Mixto claims that theirs is “Argentinian steak and eggs”, so I was excited to taste something a little different. I ordered and “patiently” (i.e. looked longingly) at servers holding trays, hoping that one would carry my steak and eggs.

When my dish arrived, my nostrils were filled with the beautiful smell of beef and potatoes. It was a manly smell – the kind that puts hair on your chest … well – the kind that smells good and puts hair on your chest. The portion of beef looked substantial (vs. what I had seen a friend recently enjoy at Parc) and the potatoes were golden brown. The two perfectly over-easy eggs stared at me, like a deer in headlights; they knew what was coming … and there was nothing they could do to stop it.

I then sliced into the beef … or at least, I tried. It was a little more resistant to cutting then I had hoped – a combination of the knife’s fault (it was fairly blunt) and the meat being a little over-done; I ordered medium-well, but there was not a trace of pink in sight (as a general rule, I save medium and medium-rare for places that either specialize in steak or have small enough volume to ensure consistency coming out of the kitchen). The beef was seasoned well, but its toughness dampened my spirits. I also didn’t really taste a whole lot of bold flavors or anything to justify the tag “Argentinian” (I actually had no idea what flavors make something Argentinian, so I was looking for anything).

The potatoes, on the other hand, were delicious. They had a little crust but were soft and moist the whole way through, just how I like my morning potatoes. Bravo!

There was also a side salad that was little more special than a side salad. A friend of ours swears by the dressing that accompanies the salad, but compared to great salads like kp’s spinach-and-pancetta salad or g’s super-summer-special salads, it really didn’t stand out. It did however add much needed vegetal zing to an otherwise heavy dish – so I was happy it was there.

g had the huevos rancheros, another classic g-dish. She seemed satisfied with it, but it was a little more deconstructed than she had had the last time she was there, so it didn’t sing quite as harmoniously. That said, she did eat it all, so I’m sure it was fine (I had a taste – it was fine) … just not fine enough for her to rave, “hey – you have got to try this”.

In summary, outside the overcooking of the beef, I don’t have any problems with Mixto. I think that the food is “good”. But I think that in the future, I’ll mostly think of going to Mixto because of their ability to accommodate a group, not because I’m looking for mind-blowing food. But when you have friends, who needs mind-blowing food? Mind-blowing food doesn’t drink a mojito, get an Asian flush, and then state emphatically at the top of its lungs: “most men do NOT do yoga”.

Written by afterdinnersneeze

20 May 2010 at 12:04am

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!

Written by afterdinnersneeze

21 March 2010 at 10:16pm