after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

Posts Tagged ‘Philadelphia

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

With a Heavy Heart …

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t says:  Every now and then you hear about something devastating and have a severe negative reaction: sadness, anger, regret.  These emotions are often appropriate, following things like national/international tragedies, losses of family, etc.  But every now and then, they sneak up and ninja you at times you didn’t expect.  For example – it’s like when you trade in your first car – I mean who cares – it’s just a car!  It didn’t matter yesterday, when you used your foot to kick your door closed because your hands were full.  And you were so excited today, when you bought a new car!  But I’ll never forget the few seconds of remorse that flashed into my mind as we left the dealer, never to see our trusty ‘ol red-orange-burgundy-colored S40 behind ever again [even though we were driving away in a newer, better car!].  Sometimes I still look for her …

Well, today is one of those days:

Pig BYOB extraordinaire, Cochon, has closed.

For those that don’t know, Cochon was the classic “Philly BYO” in the truest sense.  It was small.  It was homely.  Chef cooked spendidly, but stayed out of the spotlight.  Prices were incredibly reasonable, often in the low-20’s.  Portions were incredible.  You always felt like you were “getting away with something” when you ate there – like how could it be that you had such a great meal without spending $50 per head?!

That said, I recognize that g and I haven’t been to Cochon in years – 2013 according to our blog.  Of course, we still recommended it to everyone, but we just hadn’t made it there ourselves.  I guess we, like the rest of Philly, forgot about it.  Damn.  Had we lost our way?  Maybe we got caught up in things like “craft cocktails”, “beer gardens”, and “tasting menus”.  We sought out the hot new restaurants with narrow niches, like Pho and “plant-based” cuisine.  “Interesting wine lists” made us tolerate the non-BYO-tariff.  “Celebrity chefs” came from New York and/or television cooking shows.  Meanwhile, the Solomonov, Vetri, and 13th Street empires continue to grow, proving that success-begets-success.  The Philly dining scene has certainly lost its Scrappy-Doo attitude, nowadays far closer in resemblance to Fred[dy Prinze Junior].

So let’s to take a moment to reflect on the Cochon:
It all started in 2009 for us.  (Cochon apparently opened in 2007, though).
There were pork shoulders and tenderloins and everything inbetween (want “the fish?” or “the duck?” – it probably had pork in it).
But of course, the memories that will get me just a little choked up will be those of the BRUNCH:
The Elvis French Toast and Those One-Inch-Thick Pancakes (sometimes with chocolate!)

So yes, we at adsz will mourne the loss of Cochon.  While I am sad they didn’t have a celebratory “Cochon is closing week!” where undoubtedly the adsz would have dropped everything to attend one last hurrah – perhaps it is better this way, leaving us with the fond memories of dining with mimosas/wine in hand, raising a glass to how lucky we were be together, eating [there].

Written by afterdinnersneeze

4 August 2015 at 2:10pm

Posted in Happenings

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Trifecta from Heaven

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t says:  So … let’s say you just finished a dental appointment and were looking for a congratulatory treat (still no cavities!) – something to rub in the face of those smug hygienists (“yea … I floss 17 times a day and brush before and after every meal …”) – something that’d give you a real reason to floss …  What’d you eat first?  I was on the prowl near Rittenhouse … and wandered into the Bakeshop on 20th … which gave me several options … like this one with which I left the store:

strawberry + hazelnut = money chocolate + hazelnut = money strawberry + chocolate = money So basically, we're left with mo' money and absolutely no problems as far as I'm concerned.  Trust me - it tasted every bit as good as it sounded and looked.

strawberry + hazelnut = money
chocolate + hazelnut = money
strawberry + chocolate = money
So basically, we’re left with mo’ money and absolutely no problems as far as I’m concerned. Trust me – it tasted every bit as good as it sounded and looked.

Guess I should move up my next 6-month cleaning …

Written by afterdinnersneeze

25 February 2015 at 1:02pm


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t says:  It’s my fault.  It’s not due to a lack of eating.  It’s not due to a lack of photo-taking.  It’s not even due to a lack of time to type.  I’m not sure what’s gobbling up my time (it’s clearly not because Scrubs is now on … ok … maybe it is …).  Let’s play some catch-up:


While in SF, we went to Nopalito, where g had her most “craveable” meal. I mean, we ate a LOT of good things, but she chose this place when pushed (g confesses: I think it’s dumb when t asks me these questions, like, “what was your best meal?” – they were all fantastic meals – for different reasons – how do you choose? [t breaks in: ok “every-parent-ever”; “no I can’t choose between my children – I love them all the same – just differently] back to g: *rolls her eyes* whatever … anyways, I was telling t that when I look back, I’d definitely “crave” the food at Nopalito – it’s simple but it’s soooo good, and it’s not too fancy of a place, and the prices are reasonable and it’s not too much of a production when you get there – you pick up a menu, you order, and delicious food comes out! done!)!  t takes over: so above is a seafood and avocado “soup”/gazpacho thing that was wonderful opposite the ?Brussels sprout quesadilla?.  Yes.  Brussels sprouts.  In Quesadilla.  Boom.  Mind blown.  Brain bits splattered on the wall behind you.


And of courrse, the carnitas, which is like the best tacos I could ever put together. Oh, and the empanada in the foreground? See all those bright colors. As good as it looks, it was 10 times better to taste. Gawd we love this place.  g says:  and it’s different than when we get “fancier” Tex/Mexican food in Philly.  Our dishes weren’t “too heavy” or “too oily”.  I mean this was heavier than Don Pepe that cm’s parent’s delivered, but it still was much lighter than here in Philly.


Oh yes … Griddle Fresh for brunch … first page of the menu blew my mind – I had no need to read anything else on the pages that followed.


green tea latte – exactly as you imagine it would taste. It did look like a milkshake, however, which was a funny incongruence with what it tasted like (it’s a warm drink).


This mess-of-a-dish was fabulous. I should incorporate more parm-reg in all of my morning breakfasts. The savory-salty note really helped me consume more sweet-juicy strawberries and syrup-laden French toast. Dangerous …


k had some issues with her pancakes. she asked if they were going to be “too cheesy”. The guy said “no – not at all – they’re pancakes”. I think the miscommunication centered around exactly how cooked through the marscapone/ricotta pancakes were going to be. It’s ok – they were delicious.


If your corned beef hash experiences are like mine, they are courtesy of a Hormel canned product … but not in California … where they use real corned beef slices and real potato chunks to make their hash. I swear cm must have had a whole cow’s worth of beef in this thing (don’t be fooled by the photo – it was a lot of hash – I’m pretty sure he had some leftover).


g went fruit + egg. No frills. Just fruit and an egg. Snoozeville, right? I agree. Well … just so long as she’s happy …


Dinner at Redd was “ok”. I mean, the food was good, and in line with what we’d expect to pay for fine dining in Napa. However, they didn’t quite nail the dishes as they did the first time we went. We missed the “spark”.


I have no idea where I ate this.  I distinctly remembered “wanting to be healthy” … so I got a “salad”.  Of course, it had these little pork cubes on the side – so as a “salad” and it was fabulous. I should routinely take some shreds of pork and fry them together into a chicken-nugget-like objects more often.


my name is t, and I have a problem. No, the problem is not alcoholism, the problem is that I only have 12 spaces in my wine-bottle-carrier for the airplane. Fortunately, I’m also a master probem-solver (we had to drink a bottle or two right then-and-there …).


kp has bigger problems than me. He lacks the 55-bottle wine fridge I have. So he had to perform a “draft” of which of his bottles were going to be stored in perfect conditions … and which ones were going to be in “near-perfect” 65-degrees of his SF apartment … cuz, you know, temperatures don’t really get much colder than that in SF … *looks out the window at the 27-degree weather outside right now in Philly*


We hit up brenda’s “Meat and Three”, which is probably kp’s most frequented restaurant/take-out. This is their watermelon sweet tea. Yes it’s outrageously good. Can’t believe I’ve gone this long without Snapple bottling this stuff. Sooooo good.


Imagine banana chocolate chip pancakes you might have had at Honey’s. And make them better. Like WAY better. Much fluffier, with a richer more buttermilky taste. I’m thankful my pants couldn’t expand anymore, otherwise I would eaten myself into insulin resistance.


Meanwhile … back in Philly … a and I hit up Zavino for lunch. Here they started off with a bang – a delicious “ricotta of the day” that was light and sproingy (“sproingy”? is that a word? is it onomatopoiea? sure, why not?) Not as decadent as Barbuzzo, but at least they give you ample bread …


Also had top-notch meatballs – I was afraid the sauce was going to be too sweet, but these were solid.


And now: bacon pizza … BACON PIZZA. Slam dunk, right? WRONG. a and I can’t figure out what went wrong. It had bacon and onion and arugula. But it just couldn’t get itself together. It also had some pickle on it, which made it weird – it made it come off like “all-the-toppings-you’d-want-on-a-burger-but-no-burger”. Weird. We won’t be ordered that again. We missed the ‘Stache pizza. Teaches us for committing to “trying something new”.


As I’ve been eating out a lot, my waistline is growing. It was hard to notice because I spend so much time in pants with drawstrings … but it was noticed! As a result, I had to miss out on a bakesale. How good could the “Ultimate Bake Shop Triple Choc Cake” be? I don’t know.


g and I hit up Pizzeria Vetri the other day as well. The salad was an interesting concoction of cauliflower, kale, raisins, etc. I felt like it was the best thing we ate!


This cinnamon-roll-looking thing was actually dough, rolled up with a layer of prosciutto and topped with nuts. It’s funny because all of the visual cues and proprioceptive cues (like the feeling of the fork as I was cutting it) and textural cues were that of a cinnabon … but it tasted like meat and nuts. So bizarre. It didn’t stop me from finishing it.


g loved the pizza. Personally, I felt like it was a little sweet, but she loved the fennel-on-fennel-sausage combo. She housed it.


But for me – I saved room for one of the most delicious affogatos ever. Affogato made with soft-serve? Yes please!

Ok, so now my iPhoto is all caught up.  Hooray!  Now I feel far less guilty about not updating the blog.  Ahhhhh.  I’ll be sure to try and keep up with the holiday eating season.  It’s tough, but I’m up for the challenge.


Written by afterdinnersneeze

8 December 2014 at 10:36am

Happy Anniversary [To Us!]

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t says:  Four years ago, we (g & t) went on our first food-centric outing with a & v.  We chose Modo Mio, as we heard about this “great tasting menu option” … and it was FABULOUS.  Fast forward 4 years, and here we found ourselves: four friends, with a helluvalotta good food and stories.  And guess what: Modo Mio is still killing it:

November 2014, Friday Dinner, Party of 4.  The challenge of the evening was: “who could eat the most eggs?”  You’ll see what I mean in a second …


My appetizer was the chestnut crepes.  It was amazing.  To this day, I couldn’t tell you what was in it, but I was amazed.  I remember thinking to myself, “this  is kind of like breakfast … but boy am I happy to have it now at dinner.”


There were lots of fried eggs topping a lot of the dishes.  Consequently, we have no idea what was under each …


And here’s another fried egg!  We swear the things under the fried eggs were great.  one was a lasagna, while another was a “special appetizer” featuring some other vegetable concoction.  Darn.  I wish we wrote down notes …


Another special, this wrapped up thing included a variety of veggies and meats that I remember wishing they would have put together with a normal noodled pasta (or something thicker like a lasagna noodle – but overall, the flavors were spot on.


I remember that v got the papparedelle, which included mushrooms and chicken liver.  The pasta and chicken livers were both fantastic – we hope that the mushrooms were acceptable to v.


No wait … THIS was the lasagna … right?  No?  I’m so confused …


gnocchia and shortrib … classic …. delicious.


My pulled pork was “like  a roast pork sandwich …”.  Except even better.  I don’t know how they treated it, but it was so incredibly savory and sweet at the same time – but not like a “sugary” sweet.  Gawd – is there any animal tastier than pig?


ah, yes – a steak hides underneat that egg.  g demolished it.  it’s always good here – but don’t think something like a refined piece of meat cooked perfectly medium rare, meant to stand alone – this is a fixed-up piece of meat with a ton of additions.



a went for the veal as his main.  It was one of the best veal parms I’ve ever had!

You know – I know we’re light on details – so sue us.  But know that the meal was fabulous.  The price was right (did I mention it was BYO?)  And we’ll go on recommending it friends and family alike … just so long as they bring us with them when they go …


Written by afterdinnersneeze

21 November 2014 at 12:42am

A Petruce Surprise!

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t says:  g and I hit up Petruce et al the other night.  Yes, we know, Petruce has been out there for a while now, getting rave reviews – people have already been there and opined, so there’s no need for another blog post about them.  Right?  Ah, the glory of having a blog: we can write about whatever we want, whenever we want!  And this time, we’re writing about Petruce et al!

October 2014, Friday Dinner, Party of 2.  Although we arrived on time, our table wasn’t ready, so we took up residence at the bar and began constructing a plan to attack their wine list.  Would we be disappointed like at Townsend, where I boo’d their no-BYO policy?  Well, to be honest, I didn’t even ask if Petruce allowed outside wine!  WWHHAA!?!?  Have I taken ill?  Did I run out of wine?  Did I suffer a blow to the head?  Not at all – I knew their wine list was actually going to be interesting.  Like wine-nerd-interesting!  Not a single Cali-cab on the list!  No boring Chardonnays!  And do my eyes deceive me – are those boxed wines on that list?  So I was down for paying by the glass, ready to see what the wine program could surprise us with.  For our meal, we did an Elbling (super-tasty – a nice lighter white wine with good acidity and surprising length for a white) and a not-on-the-menu Cava.  Why cava?  Well, g was originally going to go with a Cremant de Limoux (Domaine Collin – a super-awesome sparkler we’ve had before) but the bartender offered the cava, and then was able to compare-contrast the wine to the Domaine Collin to see which she’d prefer – that’s some good wine-nerdery right there – we were impressed!  And then for the main, I ventured for a Cahors (i.e. Malbec from a specific region in France), and for her main, a pork shoulder, the “wine guy” recommended a rich off-dry white (that’s right – not a red!), which was perfect.  So Petruce gets some big points for their wine.  Will it appeal to everyone?  Nope.  Will it appeal to wine snobs?  Not really – it’s not like these are big-name bottles or anything.  But it will appeal to wine nerds.  Yay!

Ok, enough about wine.  Let’s talk food … with pictures!


beans, chorizo, and cheese.  Imagine, if you will, a cold mid-January night, as you sit cocooned in a blanket, staring out the window  watching the sky cover the earth in forgetful snow … this is the dish you would eat to warm your soul.  It was just a notch below the lentils underneath Bibou’s pig’s foot.  The perfectly cooked, rib-sticking beans along with scattered chorizo adding both meatiness and spice … mmmmmmmm.


The carrot dish was a little quirkier.  The bagna cauda and pistachio was a fun accompaniment, but it seemed like the carrots were of various levels of doneness that confused me.  Were some pickled and some cooked?  I don’t know.  They were good, but just too heterogeneous for my taste.


Ahhh … the duck.  g thought it was the rarest duck I had ever eaten.  Maybe that’s true – but I think it’s because it’s the first duck I’ve had that was this superbly cooked.  The fat was unctuously delicious with excellent greens and eggplant.  Although it was a small-ish dish, it was so rich that I doubt anyone could eat more (even I had a piece left!).

Not pictured was the pork shoulder.  And with that pork shoulder, g felt like she “won” dinner.  That’s a pretty impressive statement coming from g, and here’s why: the usual course for dinners is that g goes for either cow (she loves a good steak frites) or lighter fare (seafood, veggies), often foregoing pig as it’s often too fatty, too rich (usually I get the pig and she’ll take a bite … before claiming that her steak, veggies, or seafood is superior).  But not this time – she went for the pig, and it blew her away.  I agree – the pig was delish!  I don’t know if it “won” – as it was equal to the duck for me – but I will say that the leftover pork shoulder made for a super-awesome omelette the next day.

Other awesome things: service was spot-on the whole night.  They cleared the tables with efficiency.  The chef occasionally delivered dishes (our table was right next to the kitchen), with a smile.  They did give us an extra course (spicy octopus) because the server felt like g’s wine would also pair well with spicy, and nothing we ordered was at all spicy (so he did it for the fun of the meal, it seems!).  g recognized one of the chefs as one of her faves from Little Fish.  What were the bad things?  Well … there wasn’t really anything to complain about.  While nothing we had was quite gotta-have-it-can’t-live-without-it-crack-addictive, it was indeed some excellent food, excellent wines, and excellent service.  It’s going to go toe-to-toe with Serpico for us, which is amazing.  Maybe it’s more along the lines of a Talula’s Garden (but without the cheese … which is a big minus, but more interesting drinks)?  Bravo for a great new restaurant for Philly!

Written by afterdinnersneeze

11 October 2014 at 7:45pm

forgetting Townsend

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t says:  It had been a while since the four of us (g, t, a, v) went out to eat for dinner, so we were super-psyched when v’s new resolution – “New Restaurant Fridays” – took us to Townsend on East Passyunk.  You see, we’ve been so strapped for time lately that g and I just kept on going back to our favorites: Serpico, Sotto, Mercato, etc.  Not only that, we couldn’t even make it to all of our favorites (it’s been ages since we’ve been back to Talula’s Garden!)  So the real question was going to be this one: could Townsend put on a strong enough show to be added to the rotation?  Let’s find out …

September 2014, Friday Dinner, Party of 4.  To get things started on this very special occasion, I called up the restaurant and asked them if they did corkage.  Nope.  That’s a big fat negative.  They played it as, “we have a wine list that pairs excellently with our food – we don’t allow outside wine”.  Now, I’m ok if a place just doesn’t want us to bring wine – that’s fine – just say: “we have a full bar and we don’t allow outside wine” – and I’d give you more props for saying: “bringing your wine eats into our profits” (because really, that’s what restaurants really mean).  But if you’re going to have the audacity to promote your excellent wines, you better back it up with … some excellent wines.  When we arrived, we were greeted with a wine list … and no actual suggestions on what they recommended to pair with each dish.  That was weird: what happened to the excellent pairings?  That’s ok – this wasn’t a’s and my first rodeo.  Next we were surprised by the markups.  Like “holy crap” markups.  Spending over $40 for a bottle of Gruet is insane.  Absolutely insane. Finally, the wines kinda sorta sucked.  I had a rose that tasted like water-downed grenache (a felt it was more like rubbing alcohol), a mediocre red (and a steal at $8/glass!), and a pretty run-of-the-mill French chardonnay.  Basically, not a single “oh I can’t believe they have that” or “whoa – where is that from?” … just “meh” after “meh”.  Ok – time to step down from my wine soapbox and get on with the food:

The escargots were "ok", but the real winner was the surrounding broth, full of usual bait.

The escargots in the foreground were “ok”, but the real winner was the surrounding broth it was in, full of a creamy delicious savory broth that we just couldn’t get enough of (it was full of bait: mushrooms, bacon, etc).  The ramekin in the back held a foie mousse which was fine, but not really at all that special.

hamachi was ok

hamachi was crudo hit the usual notes one would expect for a crudo, while the tartare had some nice mustard accents.


my skate was tasty but a little overcooked.  That bed of corn was delectable, however, allowing me to believe that I won dinner.


v’s chicken was nice – solid, but nothing that extraordinary.


g’s fish was also nicely done, on a bed of smokey paprika-fied accompaniments.

As you can see, our descriptions here are a little on the light side.  Normally we gush or put forth some real criticism.  And you know what, we did have some things to say about their food as we were leaving that night – we had some real strong opinions … but we forgot them all … because we immediately had our brains melted … by this:


after dinner at Townsend, the gang went to Fond for some drinks and dessert.  and that’s where a and I saw it: the pork belly was on the menu.  Would it be ridiculous to eat pork belly for dessert?  Not if you’ve ever had this pork belly.  You see, Lee Styer is such a stud; his pork belly is the softest, most flavorful pork product we’ve had this year, and that’s even before taking into account that thick crispy crust that mocks the “braised pork belly” on any other menu in the city.  It’s just not even fair.  Bibou had once stolen the adsz award for “best pork belly” from Lee a while back (with a special that was on for only one night), but with this show, Lee has reclaimed the belt.  And, as we sat there at the bar, a and I greedily eating this belly, ignoring for a moment the incredulous smirks from our life-mates g and v, we realized that we had forgotten all the nitpicky details about Townsend’s food, as they melted away into a single problem: they had no Fond Pork Belly.  There was not one bite that would haunt us like this one.  Even now as I write this, I find myself ever so slightly on the verge of drooling.

So I guess that’s it.  Townsend was fine for food, but not better than another’s in the immediate area.  Then consider their wine list which got 8 thumbs down from the gang, both for assaulting our wallets and our palates.  And while their very attentive and kind service tried to save the night (they’re not Talula’s Garden good, but still good), ultimately, we expect the noise will die down, as people go back to the restaurants like Fond that sparked the dining explosion in Philadelphia … and could very well keep it burning for years to come.

Written by afterdinnersneeze

28 September 2014 at 9:48pm