after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

Posts Tagged ‘Spice28

catching up!

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t says:  I know – I know.  It’s been way too long since our last real food post!  I wish I had a good excuse, but I really don’t.  There have been a lot of great at-home meals because of the snow (g and I are afraid of the cold).  g’s mastered a bourbon-maple-apple sauce for pancakes/waffles/french toast (the secret ingredient: two types of cinnamon).  As for me, I took on the cookery of a some rather pricey slabs of beef tenderloin that I do confess came out quite awesome (with some charred broccolini and fingerling potatoes).  And, as usual, several bottles of wine have come and gone, including a Riesling that was like sucking on a lemon (2011 Ransom Wines Riesling).   But we have gone out a few times, so let’s start up a firestorm of reviews from places we’ve been:

First off, we visited Spice28 with some friends.  The food, much like the last time we visited a little over a year ago, was pretty solid.  While nothing super-crazy went on here, we were happy to enjoy the company of good friends as well as the flexibility of the menu to accommodate vegetarians and meat-eaters alike (yours truly went for some kind of very nice lamb-and-eggplant dish that was two thumbs up!).  Oh wait – there was something a little crazy.  We happened to have gone during restaurant week, meaning there was something like 4 courses for $35.  On one hand, this seems like a deal.  The truth: it’s not.  I’ll allow g the opportuniyt to soapbox it: g clears her throat:  If it costs less than $35pp to eat at a restaurant normally, then that restaurant has no business participating in restaurant week.  t agrees: Case in point: the 6 of us decided to not to participate in the RW deal, spending ~$45 per couple … including tax/tip … thus coming in at nearly 50% less than we would have paid via RW.  Now, it is true that we didn’t get dessert, but you have to admit that with Capo Giro so close, who is going to bother with Spice28’s 1990’s-styled desserts? (have you seen their dessert menu?)  In any case, we had a fine time.


The Strip Joint (i.e. the artist formerly known as “Sowe”):  g and I hit it up “The Strip Joint” for brunch, and within seconds, I knew I was headed towards the fried pork over waffles.  I have to say that I applaud this idea (especially with the bourbon syrup), but I would have appreciated a smidge more pork – there was great crunch going on, but not enough oink!  This was a case of pork being cut/pounded too thin.  The waffle was “ok” – but really – it was just a vehicle to put syrup-slathered pork into your mouth for breakfast!


g ventured the steak salad at The Strip Joint that suffered some technical issues.  Construction was not the most intuitive, as the carrots were tiny pieces, but then the cucumbers were in long strips, against a background of big pieces of lettuce.  Additionally, the overcooked meat (so much for “medium”) was a downer (not intolerable, just a few shades more done than expected).  But the bread was nice, and the ingredients were fresh.  And just to confirm: nothing tasted bad – it just had some execution issues!


I submit this dark picture to remind myself that we also went to Butcher and Singer for RW.  Now here’s a place where the RW pricing is absolutely critical, as there’s no way that g and I can afford to drop upwards of $50 on a piece of meat … not including sides …  a and v joined us on this adventure, so we knew we were in for a good time – but would the food live up to the friends?  This being my first time at B&S I must say that I was super-impressed with the setting. This is a grand restaurant environment if there ever was one. The staff was courteous and prompt, which was a bonus – they were dealing with their completely-booked-for-RW-schedule just fine.  But there were some issues …  The wine list made us weep. While a spotted a nice bottle of ’07 Duoro that we sprung for, seeing other fairly commonplace wines at 4 times the local wine shop price made us die a little inside.  I understand that the whole “idea” of a fancy steakhouse is to be fancy … but at least let someone in the beverage department flex some muscle and put up a little section of wines that aren’t total rip-offs – or maybe make up an “interesting wines you’ve never had” section which would feature more reasonable prices for those willing to take a chance on something relatively unknown (looking at you Greece, Slovenia, Fingerlakes, China, India).  Maybe this way a, v, g, and I would be more inclined to visit?  Well, wait a second, that’s untrue – in order for us to visit on not RW, they’re also going to have to kick some more ass in the food department. The filet was fine … a nice, solid, appropriately-sized filet … but to be honest, g, who doesn’t do things like “play favorites” (g can be very tiger-mom-ish) admits that our home-cooked filet is superior. Boom.  TKO.  Similarly, the vichysoisse was good, but uninspired, as was the mashed/whipped potato.  Maybe there are strict rules against adding a twist of novelty here and there to tickle the senses?


Now B&S’s dessert, on the other hand, was quite surprising – it was actually pretty frickin’ great.  Being a devout chocolate-ophile, I’m pretty suspicious of “chocolate tarts”, “chocolate bombs”, and “chocolate cakes” – it’s going to have to actually do something to make me notice it, otherwise it might as well be like the slabs of chocolate cake they serve at my workplace’s cafeteria (which, by the way, are totally fine – I’ve been known to down a slice or two in my weaker moments!).  But one stab of this chocolate tart, and it started bleeding a sweet-but-not-too-sweet caramel that balanced perfectly against the dark bitter-but-not-too-bitter chocolate. I inhaled it.  Give me another!  Take back the mashed potato and give me one more of these things with my steak!  Seriously!


A polar opposite of B&S is Sotto.  Ah, Sotto.  You’re like the old recliner in every family’s family room.  You’re there, you’re not the prettiest piece of furniture, but you’re reliable as hell.   g and I returned with k to Sotto and were instantly reminded just how much we love this place.  But this time, get this, I did not  just get a bowl of pasta!  I also tried out calamari, which were fantastic!  So well-seasoned, and with a smokey charred flavor that is oh-so-great.  And, judging by appearance, it seems like there’s no bung (i.e. pig rectum) – so hooray for us!

And that’s pretty much it for a restaurant roundup for January.  We’ll have to get crackin’ with February.  Our opentable account indicates that g and I completed 42 reservations throughout the past year – we gotta beat it this year!  We’re on a quest for that $100 opentable gift certificate (so we can use it at a restaurant we couldn’t otherwise afford … Per Se, anyone?)

Written by afterdinnersneeze

2 February 2014 at 4:22pm

Philly’s new Asian eateries

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t says:  We checked out two cool Asian-centered eateries that somewhat-recently opened.  Here they are in lightning-round style …

Jane G’s.  September 2012, Restaurant Week (and some a-la-carte), Party of 3.
Props:  The mains were sizable and quite tasty.  Check ’em out!

hunan lamb – think of it like the best Chinese-takeout-beef-and-vegetable-stir-fry ever (except that this was way better because it was tender yummy lamb) – the sauce had a nice balance of savory and sweet, and the veggies were a nice texture … but the greens on the right were pretty dumb though – they had no purpose!

crispy half duck – it was actually crispy on the outside, moist on the inside, and the largest amount of duck i’ve ever seen a restaurant put on a plate ever! (and it was for restaurant week).  the sweet potato was pretty much an afterthought, and the veggies were “ok”, texturally.

The popcorn rock shrimp was pretty solid (it gets rave reviews online) – but to be honest, it really is nothing more than some fried shrimp and wasabi aioli.  Be that as it may – it’s still pretty tasty.  Dumplings are similarly solid – not earth-shattering, but good!  The tiramisu … once again – not “great”, but it was pretty good – with solid tiramisu flavors and a format more reminiscent of a cake than a real tiramisu – we ate it!
Slops:  The service was W-E-I-R-D.  Our dude checked on us every two minutes in a very direct in-your-face manner.  And it’s not that he was impolite – it was more of a lack-of-politeness.  For example, instead of asking, “would you like another drink?”, he pointed at my empty glass from a few feet away and stared at me.  He was a little too intense for us.  On the flip side, whenever we had a need or want, it was accommodated.
Take-home:  I’m worried about Jane G’s.  On one hand, they have “good” food – not mindblowing, but good.  On the other, their service needs some work, and their prices on the normal menu are pretty high!  If Jane G’s is trying to be “fancy Chinese”, then I think they are unsuccessful because all of the “garnishes”/accompaniments were mediocre at best.  But if it’s trying to be “one step above Chinese”, then I think we’re right-on.  I’ll keep it in mind for future restaurants weeks …

Spice28.  August 2012, Friday Dinner, Party of 4.  No pictures of this one – just words.
Props:  Excellent cumin lamb – as flavorful as Han, but even more tender.  Duck crepes were nice, too!  Furthermore, the total bill was as cheap as Han when you share among people (seriously – our bill was $20/pp including tax/tip).
Slops:  Cold sesame noodles – not as flavorful as Han, and mooshier.  Pineapple fried rice was a little boring.  No longer BYO.  The desserts seemed uninspiring (but that’s ok – Capogiro’s closeby!)
Take-home:  It’s an interesting alternative to Han Dynasty.  Definitely a different vibe to the restaurant (a little more “modern” – riding that line between “cool” and “too cool”), but at least there are less undergrads.  I’d definitely check it out if Han’s booked in the future!

Written by afterdinnersneeze

12 October 2012 at 10:47pm