after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

Posts Tagged ‘Parc

a brunch storm

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t says:   I was flipping through some of my previous photos on my phone, only to find that there were a few dynamite breakfasty items I’ve had recently.  While no one particular visit is entirely substantive for a single post, I decided it might be fun to smoosh together some highlights.  And here we go ….


Honey’s Sit-n-Eat, March 2014, Brunch.  Those who know me know that I am very plus-minus on Honey’s.  To this day, I just can’t understand why this particular place is worth waiting in line for.  Be that as it may, if you do get in (i.e. on a weekday or something), the service is fast, and the food is often “solid”.  Being a pancake-o-phile, I have to confess that I’ve often been a bit underwhelmed with Honey’s; the pancakes are often a bit too thin, and a bit too rubbery/elastic (I prefer cakey!); thus when I go to Honey’s I often try to find something else to eat.  Well … except this time: the above is the S’mores pancakes that was a special at Honey’s last month.  If you thought that finely ground graham powder, chocolate sauce, and marshmallow would make for a CRAZY good pancake, you would be right!  The toppings definitely made up for the pancake’s ho-humness, so much so that I’d order it again if I saw it on the menu!



Parc, March 2014, Brunch.  The above pancake is the polar opposite to Honey’s loaded kind.  These standard pancakes from Parc’s menu are as good as plain pancakes get nowadays.  Yes, there is a luscious taste of butter and sweet sweet sugar when you bite in, but those flavors are oh-so-comforting.  Combine those with a fluffy-cakey pancake, and you have a stunning example of what a well-done, un-fussy pancake can achieve.  Bravo Parc – way to keep up with this classic!


Cook & Co, March 2014, Brunch.  So this one’s not fair because the eatery is located outside of NYC, quite far away from PHL.  Served at a place that reminds me a lot of Picnic (the eatery in The Left Bank), the above “Elvis” is amazing, harkening back to my memories of Cochon’s Elvis French Toast.  This version is far more restrained, lacking that bananas-foster-sauce, and instead having that peanut-butter cream layer which adds a nice texture and flavor to go along with the banana, bacon, and perfectly battered/cook French toast.  While it would be challenging to eat any more than one of these at a time (it’s still pretty rich!), it was a fantastic experience I hope to re-live on my next visit to Scarsdale.

Written by afterdinnersneeze

6 April 2014 at 6:57pm

replacing the Saturday brunch spot

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t says:  A little bit ago, I described the disappointing brunch at Supper that g and I had, which resulted in a demotion from its former title on our Gold Standards list as our pick for Saturday brunch..  While we will eventually find our way back there to re-evaluate their offerings (how do you argue with free parking at Whole Foods?), we needed to find a reliable replacement for Saturday brunch.  We looked far and wide and found two potential contenders.

The first is Monsu.  These guys are seriously kicking some brunch ass – and I’m pretty sure no one’s noticing, as it was dead-quiet both times g and I visited in November.  Regardless, we were pretty darn impressed with the food and the pricepoint.  I’ll smoosh together the visits to show you what kinds of things are going on over there.

November 2011,  Saturday Brunch – Multiple Visits.  Monsu features a “tourista” menu in which one gets three courses for $22 (actually, it was $20 the first time, $22 the second time – no idea what the real price is).  In our visits, we’ve tasted a variety of dishes and all are quite good.  Here are our two favorites:


So it doesn’t look like much … but let me tell you that it was a radical kick to the mouth.  Aside from Koo Zee Doo’s milk-poached polpo at dinner, this is the best octopus I’ve ever had.  I mean, it beat out Amada’s polpo for crying out loud!  I’ve only had it once, so maybe I should re-try it just to make sure it wasn’t a fluke before making such statements …  The octopus, itself, is nicely cooked, being tender and not rubbery, but what really makes the dish is the “everything else”.  Now, there was a lot going on and at the time, I didn’t scrutinize the menu enough to memorize the ingredients, but there was some fennel, some sundried tomato, and something with a bit of kick.  It was zingy and light and sweet and spicy all at the same time.  No, it doesn’t look pretty (it looks kind of ugly, actually), but it was awesome!

steak and eggs

Similarly, the steak and eggs doesn’t look like much.  The skirt steak was medium-rare-to-medium, and the potatoes looked bored next to the eggs, which had an odd paleness to them.  I was pretty unimpressed when this plate showed up in front of me … but then I took a bite: it blew me away.  I’m not sure if it was because I was hungry or if it was because it looked so “bleh” that I had zero expectations, but I was shocked.  There was a wonderfully textured and nicely seasoned steak, perfect potatoes, and eggs that were clearly cooked in some kind of meat-fat drippings.  g felt her steak was over-salted.  Mine was not.  I consumed the entirety of my dish (the portion you see above is the tourista-sized portion – if you ordered it alone, it would have been larger).  So approach this dish with closed eyes, and you’re good-to-go.

Yes, there were starches and desserts offered at our visits, including a delicious pork belly and scallop dish and some classic tiramisu.  I think lc joined us for one of the meals and left quite content.  And, of course, one of the best things is looking out the window at those people waiting to get into Sabrina’s.  Ha!  When will they learn?

EDIT:  I found more photos!

chocolate mousse, profiteroles

?scallop + porkbelly?

something g liked involving poached eggs, basil, toasted bread, roasted potatoes

And now allow me to introduce the next contender: Parc.  PARC?!?  Yea, that’s right, Parc.  Now, I must admit that there are a lot of things we dislike about Parc.  It is a Starr restaurant, so you pay big moneys for EtOH and it’s a little pricey overall (e.g. they charge a ridiculous amount for their “pastry basket” at brunch).  Additionally, because of its Rittenhouse location, it tends to attract a slightly older, posher clientele that’s just not quite our crowd.  And then there’s the food that I’ve bad-mouthed in the past, including a boring burger and boring French Toast.  Don’t get me wrong – they’re still boring and we’re probably never going to order them again – but we’ve been recently going back to Parc again and again (and will do so in the future) for two specific dishes …

January 2011, Saturday Brunch, Party of 2.  g loves the “warm shrimp salad”.  As far as naming conventions are concerned, this is perhaps the most boring name ever.  I think it’s because it sounds a bit like two adjectives and a noun instead of an adjective and two nouns.  Also – it should be noted that this is no mayonnaise-laden shrimp salad – this is a completely different animal, being more like a traditional salad with delicious shrimp and dressing  Furthermore, even I, who generally hates salads, have been known to enjoy the dish every now and then.  Fresh greens, avocado, shrimp, truffle [oil], and buerre blanc sauce.  It just can’t go wrong.  It’s neck and neck with Tria’s “grilled asparagus salad” as our favorite Philly salad (and might win just by virtue of being closer to us than Tria).

The second dish is one that I encountered just recently:


That’s right – it’s just a pancake.  No bananas foster sauce, no bacon ice cream, no chocolate anywhere on the plate.  This is a new, more mature t in town – let’s call him “fuddy-duddy-t” (can anyone guess precisely what I’m referring to when I say “fuddy duddy”?).

fuddy-duddy-t says:  Sometimes you just want a pancake.  And that’s it.  You want it a little sweet and a little buttery.  You want it to be rich like a bisquick pancake, but still light and fluffy.  You want it to be thick, but perfectly browned on the outside and still cooked the whole way through.  You want it to remind you a simpler time when you were 7-8-9 years old and would eat McDonald’s Hotcakes with your grandparents before heading to the mall to play video games … except you don’t actually want to eat McDonald’s Hotcakes because their texture is that of a sink sponge that’s on it’s fourth week of use …  This is that pancake.  Lightly dusted with confectioner’s sugar and served with plain maple syrup, it is an homage to all that is good and holy about pancakes.

Written by afterdinnersneeze

11 January 2012 at 5:03pm

Parc: A Splendid Salad

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t says: I’m not a huge pro-Parc type of person.  I think it has excellent location and a buzz-ful atmosphere, which is fun.  The food is … ok – but that’s not my big hangup with Parc.  It’s just that sometimes I feel weird going there because I just don’t know how to dress.  On one hand, it is clear that some clientele feel that this place is worthy of a nicer shirt (maybe a collared shirt or a button-down shirt without a tie), but I have a problem with that, because to me, Parc is not quite that up-scale – I just don’t think it’s “fine dining”.  Maybe it’s because I’m local and see it all the time – I don’t know.  Maybe I’m the patron that no waiter wants to get because I look all cheap-o.  Whatever.

In any case, g and I were hungry and had not a single food item in the house (I think we just came back from SF).  We resolved that we would simply walk outside and keep walking until something intrigued us.  Well, we apparently don’t take many turns at all when we walk, so a straight shot led us right to Parc.  I was hesitant.  g was hopeful.  We went for it.

September 2010, 8pm, Party of 2. I don’t remember the exact date/time/etc … but I do remember that we sat next to a couple that had some bizarre conversation topics (it was their first date) – everything from “What is birthright?” to “So, is every minister of Russia a bad person?”.  Hi-lar-i-ous.  These were almost as good as one time when we were at Melograno when an adjacent couple (it was their first date, too) were talking about how he had dated her friend for quite some time, prompting her to ask, point blank, “So, what ended it?” … which was then followed by an extensive dating history of all the people they dated on JDate and how they didn’t work.  Dude – these two were not messing around – there was some serious dating going on (i.e. “playing for keeps” as I like to say).

The food?  g had the warm shrimp salad.  She loved it.  It is her new favorite salad.  The four shrimp were sizable, and the greens were tossed in this creamy lightly-tinged-with-truffle-oil buerre blanc.  She totally pwned it (that is not a typo – look it up). We’ve gone back once since then and she just had to get it again rather than try something new … that means it’s reached wild boar bolognese at Melograno status … that’s a pretty high standard to reach!

Me?  I had the burger and pomme puree.  Why mashed potatoes?  It’s because it was featured on “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” – the dude from Dinner Impossible (the super-jacked guy – Robert Irvine) said that Parc’s mashed potatoes were the best he has ever had.  I had them.  They were good.  They were super-smooth and creamy.  But I have to confess … they really didn’t come across as mashed potatoes – they came across as some sort of potato creme.  It kind of reminded me of when I was little and we used to go to my grandma’s house for Thanksgiving, and she’d serve instant mashed potatoes, and I’d be in charge of mixing them until they were smooth as silk (I hated lumps of dehydrated potato powder – gross!).  Of course, we don’t use instant ‘tatoes anymore, but those were fond memories …

The burger?  It was ok.  Cooked fine with great bread and nice veggies.  But to be honest, the meat tasted like ground beef – surprise!  I don’t know – I guess I expect beef to sing beefiness, not just say “i’m beef”.  But I’m not exactly sure how that can be done – so it’s not like I could even attempt a suggestion.  I still say that the Supper Burger reigns supreme – but there are still tons of burgers I have yet to try (Rouge, 500 degrees, Grace Tavern, Smokin’ Betty’s, Butcher & Singer), so don’t let that endorsement mean anything … yet.

Conclusion:  Parc is a big restaurant with lots of space (seriously, the indoor seating just keeps going and going!), dressed up people going on first dates, and a fantastic warm shrimp salad.

Written by afterdinnersneeze

24 October 2010 at 2:41pm

The Pig Crawl [and Percy Street BBQ: A Taste of the South on South]

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t says: Last Sunday, g, kp, and I wanted to do a pig crawl. We wanted to sample some notable pig dishes and truly experience pig in all of its glory. We originally planned to go to DiNic’s (in Reading Terminal), Sampan, and Percy Street BBQ. Things don’t always work out as planned.

When the day began we actually found ourselves at Parc with even more friends! We’d gone there once before and, in preparation for our pig crawl, we exerted restraint in choosing our dishes. We opted for the pastry basket, a side of bacon, and a French75. That’s restraint, right? Starting off the day with some buttery pastries and fatty bacon chased by a bubbly cocktail? Sounded good to us! Plus, the bacon meant we were starting our pig crawl early! (which is actually why we ordered it). The pastry basket was delicious like the first time (although the chocolate croissant still had its rod of chocolate), and it included madelines! Sooo good. The bacon was only ok for me, as I like mine a bit thicker (and a little crispier), but the salty, smoky taste of it was quite nice, and, after all, who’s going to argue with bacon? The French75 was exactly as before, so g liked it a lot! Our friends sampled the pomme frites, pain perdu, the poached eggs, and the steak-and-eggs. By the end of the meal, not a single scrap of food remained, so I think it was a success. Good job, Parc. You might not be besting Cochon’s brunch, but you’re a good ol’-reliable.

As g, kp, and I readied to go to DiNic’s, we called ahead just to make sure they were open. It’s a good thing we did because they told us that they only had like 15 sandwiches left and that unless we were “in the area”, we probably wouldn’t get there fast enough. We appreciate their honesty. But that removed DiNic’s from the Pig Crawl! So we decided to take a little break (that pastry basket was quite filling) and skip straight to Sampan.

Sampan was very nearly empty when we got there (5:30). We were seated and enjoyed the Pork Banh Mi, Brussels Sprouts, and the Beautiful Boy sake. The Banh Mi was spot on (you go, Fernandez!) – I grow weary of raving about it, so you can read about it in all of our past reviews. g felt that the meat was the most tender it’s ever been – I felt that there might have been a tad too much cilantro – but it’s not like any of this prevented us from demolishing the sandwich. The Brussels sprouts were a little firmer than I’d like, but still tasty. The sake was as smooth as a baby’s bottom. When we were finished we got up and readied ourselves for the main event – a restaurant we’ve never visited: Percy Street BBQ.

5/2010, Sunday 6:30pm, Party of 3. When we arrived at Percy Street, I was impressed with how big it was. Maybe it was the open windows or something, but it just felt like a very large space! We were seated promptly and happily perused the menu. kp was happy that there was a roll of paper towels on the table – apparently that’s how they do it in the South. We ordered a PST sandwich, the deviled eggs, the mac-and-cheese, and a half-pound each of pork belly and pork spare ribs. We had no idea that this was WAY too much food for three not-starving people.

The mac-and-cheese and deviled eggs arrived first. The deviled eggs were classic deviled eggs. No dill (like Village Whiskey), no fancy add-ins (like Supper) – just eggs, mayo, and paprika. If there was anything else, my feeble palate missed it. They were quite good! Classic. I’m not sure how they got the filling to be so light and fluffy – but it was like an egg yolk cloud in my mouth. The mac-and-cheese came bubbling in a hot dish covered with nicely-toasted breadcrumbs. It was a nice, plain mac-and-cheese. Once again – no weird cheeses, nothing added to it – just mac … and cheese … It was also done well – the macaroni was a soft-but-not-mushy consistency, and the cheese was calm and smooth. kp and I wanted a little more flavor in the mac-and-cheese (maybe some sharper cheese), so kp requested his go-to fix-all, hot sauce. He was pleasantly surprised and satisfied with Percy Street’s selection of hot sauce: Crystal (apparently this is also the hot sauce that is used in the South). It perked up the mac-and-cheese nicely (although if I used as much as kp did, my mouth would still be burning).

When the meat came, I was a little worried that I was getting full … but I pressed on … for the sake of the blog. As the meat was set down, we were asked if we wanted some bread to make sandwiches. Sure! The waitress returned immediately with a basket of sliced white bread. kp was delighted by this as well, as apparently white bread is also how they do it in the South – no fancy baguettes, no brioche – this could have been Wonder Bread. And it worked beautifully. I put some pork belly on the white bread with some of the baked beans. Wow – that was SO tasty. The pork belly was soft and nicely streaked with fat (maybe a little too much for g’s taste – it’s a textural thing). The baked beans had just a touch of sweet and some nice heat and were firm enough so you knew were eating beans, not mush. So good. The ribs were no slouch, either (actually, opposite of my preferences, kp preferred the ribs to the belly!). The meat was super-tender and had enough smoky flavor that made you want to gnaw on the bone to ensure you got every last bit.

g’s PST was a pork belly-coleslaw-pickled green tomato sandwich. It tasted exactly as one might imagine it to taste – the pork belly was the same as I had ordered but the accompaniment of that pickled tomato and cole slaw added some sour and tang. I gravitated towards the belly-bean combination – g gravitated towards her sandwich. I kind of doubted that the belly-bean combo was that good and suspected that the atmosphere was altering my perceptions … Well, I took the leftovers home and ate it the next day; yep – still delicious. I have GOT to learn how to make pork belly like that …

The wait staff was very courteous and the food was quite good, so we liked our Percy Street BBQ experience overall. It was definitely fun to have BBQ-esque food that you could pick up with your hands. I have a feeling that this place could be kind of like a cheap Amada for us in the sense that it would be a blast to dine there with a group of friends. Of course, unlike Amada, the dishes aren’t as polished/refined, but BBQ’s aren’t supposed to be ; Percy Street wasn’t so chic-ified that it lost sight of the whole theme: down-and-dirty BBQ.

g says: Whoa there, cowboy! I wouldn’t go comparing psbbq to the almighty Amada. They are definitely not in the same galaxy of awesomeness. Don’t get me wrong, we did have a great time and really enjoyed our meal, but I wouldn’t get carried away. Are you with me, kp? Okay, I’ve said my piece – back to your regularly scheduled programming…

t says: That said, a true, Southern BBQ seeker I imagine will be disappointed with Percy Street because it’s not that down-and-dirty, but for someone who wants a slight touch of clean with their down-and-dirty (kind of like a down-and-dirty-lite), I think he/she will be satisfied – we sure were. Actually, we look forward to taking our dads there … between ribs (for my dad) and chicken (for g’s dad), I just can’t see how they wouldn’t like it!

Written by afterdinnersneeze

5 May 2010 at 1:25am

Parc: Donnez Mois Raspberry Jam!

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t says: We’ve been trying to go to Parc since it opened. Every time we walked by, especially during warmer weather, the happy-faced diners sitting on the sidewalk and the gentle hustle-bustle sounds emanating from the open windows were always so inviting. Food Network’s Robert Irvine (from Dinner Impossible) even claimed that Parc makes the best mashed potatoes he’s ever eaten! But for some reason, whenever we picked out restaurants to visit, Parc kept getting bumped in favor of other well-respected, French-esque [BYO] eateries. Well, all that changed when we found ourselves craving a Sunday brunch at a place that took reservations (we’re tired of waiting at Sabrina’s and Carman’s) and was within walking distance of Rittenhouse Square.

Sunday, 11:15am, Party of 2. We showed up to our reservation nearly 15 minutes early (apparently we walk MUCH faster when it’s cold outside), but the restaurant was happy to seat us immediately. Our server was very friendly and made her suggestions – I was particularly swayed by her descriptions of the pastry basket and the pain perdu (which we ended up ordering). g had some decision-making to do about her order, which she’ll go through below.  We also ordered a “French breakfast tea” (black tea with a bit of mint and vanilla) and a French75 (common theme throughout the blog: g likes sparkly drinks), both of which were very good and we’d highly recommend – more about the French75 with g below.

The pastry basket featured a blueberry muffin, a plain croissant, a chocolate croissant, a croissant star with a dollop of jelly, and a lemon custard filled pastry. First off, the croissants were great – they were crispy on the outside, soft and flaky on the inside, and tasted of delicious butter without being oily. When coupled with the included raspberry jelly … they were even awesomer (that’s right, awesomer, because “more awesome” just doesn’t adequately capture the degree of increase in awesomeness). The other pastries were also good, but those croissants stole the show. However, I had a major gripe with the chocolate croissant. I see this all the time, especially in coffee shops: a “chocolate croissant” on the menu. But in actuality, it’s a plain croissant with a single rod of solid chocolate in the middle. Sorry guys – that is not a “chocolate croissant” to me (maybe this is how they do it in France – I have no idea). My chocolate croissants (i.e. the ones I buy – no, I don’t make them – although maybe I should) have layers of chocolate interspersed throughout the croissant – not an identifiable rod. How one attains that result – I have no idea – but I’ve definitely seen it done. But don’t worry – I handled the fake chocolate croissant situation at Parc with grace … I ate the part of the croissant with the chocolate first, and then finished the rest that was completely void of chocolate with the raspberry jam. Problem solved.

The french toast was very good. The brioche bread, itself, was superb. It was thickly sliced (four slices) and dense but super-soft. The cooked, caramelized apples on top were a nice touch, but the hazlenut butter was what completed the dish. As good as the hazlenut-apple combo was, I found it to be a bit monotonous midway through the second slice. By the end of the third, I felt a little bored (and it wasn’t just because I was getting full), so I reached for the raspberry jam from our pastry basket – that livened the dish up nicely.

g says: My brunch selection process went something like this:

g – “Ooh, I want something with eggs; maybe eggs benedict or the omelette espagnole.”

t – “Omelette espagnole? That doesn’t sound French! Sounds like ‘Spanish omelet!’ Are you sure you want that here?”

g – “But what about the ratatouille? Ratatouille is definitely French; the movie says so. Also, although I love a good eggs benedict, I don’t know if I could get something like eggs and ratatouille just anywhere. I think I’m gonna get it.”

t – “Really? All right, whatever. It’s your birthday week.”

g – “Yep.”

End scene.

I was really happy with my choice when it came out of the kitchen. It was a rather large (filled a decent size plate) disc of ultra-fluffy eggs, seasoned with some green herbs, topped with a generous helping of ratatouille (squash, onions, eggplant, tomatoes all cooked down into a warm compote). And it was delicious! Paired with the bread basket t and I shared, it was even a little too large to finish. The ratatouille may have been a tad overseasoned (I tend to be pretty salt-sensitive) but the rich veggie flavors were a nice, homey foil to the more dainty taste/texture of the eggs. I definitely want to try and make my own version of this at home sometime.

Lastly, can we please talk about how great French75’s are? Every place I have had one makes it a little bit differently, but the basic recipe that I like is champagne, good gin, fresh lemon, and a little bit of sugar or simple syrup for sweetness. I have seen them made with cognac and cherries rather than gin and lemon, or raspberry instead of lemon. Parc makes a good one (basic recipe), so I was happy. I’m not sure if it beats the ones I had at double crown (Brad Farmerie’s place in NYC), but that’s a post for another day.

t says: g loves Brad Farmerie … I’m glad I found her first … finders keepers, losers Brad Farmerie …

g says: what?  he seemed like a nice guy on Next Iron Chef!

Written by afterdinnersneeze

12 March 2010 at 7:58am