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Everything posted by philadining

  1. I've been frustrated for years by not managing to getting myself into Swan Market in time for lunch. Their hours are a little quirky: Wednesday-Friday from 8am-5pm, Saturday 8am-2pm, closed Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. That ought to offer plenty of opportunities, but I could never seem to get myself over there at a good time. I finally made it my main goal for a recent saturday, and now I'm feeling a little crazy for not going more often. It's an old-school German deli/butcher/grocery, selling a wide array of sausages, smoked meats, and more. They also have a few tables, and a nice selection of German beer, so not only can you get food to go, you can also sit and enjoy an array of traditional German foods. Even better, the place has ...character... We got a pitcher of beer, dug into the basket of excellent rye bread on the table, and ordered a Sausage Appetizer. At $1.50 per person, it's crazy to not get it... This is the portion for two: It's generally variety of cold sausages, like beef sticks, Landjaeger, Venison Pepperoni, Yugoslavian sausage, etc. There's a board over the deli case listing the various selections available for lunch. There's an array of sausages, and other classics, like Schnitzels, Sauerbraten, Rouladen, Smoked Pork Chops, etc. The plates are only about $7.50 - $8.50 even for the combination platters. This is a sausage combination, which includes your choice of two sausages, usually from a list of 5-6. We chose a smoked Bratwurst, and a Bauernwurst. (German potato salad and red cabbage on the side.) If you can't decide among the non-sausage offerings, you're in luck, there's a combo platter with small samples of almost everything else, in this case, some jaegerschnitzel, roast pork, rouladen and goulash. All four sides are piled-on too: warm German potato salad, Sauerkraut, noodles with gravy, and red cabbage. It was all so delicious, we were strongly tempted to order another round of lunch. Our neighbors' jaegerschnitzels just looked insanely good, and the smoked pork chops were not included on the combo plate. But as you can probably tell by looking, this food is pretty filling! Somehow we squeezed in a passable slice of Black Forest Cake. They intentionally are running a little low on everything by closing time on saturday afternoon, but we went up to the deli case and grabbed a lot of what they had left: random sausages, lunch meats, salads, even just good meats to cook at home. Their bacon is serious stuff. These little neighborhood groceries, maintaining once-pervasive traditions, are all too rare these days. I'm really glad places like this still exist, partly for the sake of preserving culture, but mostly because the food is delicious. Swan Market 231 Parsells Ave Rochester, NY 14609 (585) 288-5320 http://swanmarket.com
  2. Tried a Banh Mi from Lee's, on the eastern end of the Monroe Ave strip before it turns into Brighton. Whatta Banh Mi is kind of a hole-in-the-wall, but it seems pretty deluxe compared to Lee's, which really is just a bare room with a counter, and one unadorned 6-foot banquet table. The selection and pricing of the sandwiches is similar. Lee's does not have bubble tea, but they do offer both Pho and Bun Bo Hue, and the menu is supposed to expand even more very soon. We just tried a roast pork Banh Mi, the same thing we had ordered at Whatta Banh Mi. I gotta give it to Whatta. Lee's was fine, but the bread was lighter and crustier at Whatta, and the overall balance of ingredients was better. And I'm not sure what to make of it: the Lee's sandwiches tasted just fine, but they smelled a little weird... just a little funky... I might give them another visit, maybe to try the soup, but for now, when in the mood for a Banh Mi, it's Wahtta Banh Mi for me. Lee's Vietnamese Sandwiches 982 Monroe Ave 585-506-9506
  3. I know what you mean about the buns, but I do think the dirty little secret is that the vast majority of places get those buns shipped-in, prepackaged. As you mentioned, even David Chang buys them, rather than making them. And the bottom line was the buns I had were tender and fluffy, so I'm going to pretend that I don't know where they come from, because I enjoyed them! And that metallic thing you detected with the Dan Dan noodles can sometimes happen if those Szechuan peppercorns build-up, I'm at the point where I dig that, but it certainly can be disorienting! I did notice the Vietnamese vendor at the Public Market and was indeed tempted by the skewered meats, they looked pretty good, but I was saving myself for Banh Mi, and Han snacks. And hey Cinghiale: yes, believe it or not, you actually can get some Momofuku-ish buns in Philly. Sadly there seems to have been some kind of coup at the Tyson Bee's truck, and they're not in business any more. They made a tasty version... But you CAN still get some pretty good ones at Chifa, the Garces place at 6th and Chestnut. And also at a little Korean/Japanese place called Doma at 1822 Callowhill St. OK, maybe not quite as good as the Ur-buns at Momofuku, but close!
  4. Chef Katz occasionally makes some culinary references to his family's roots in Morocco, and even went pretty deep into it about a year ago, at a special dinner at Zahav, as mentioned in the post above (sorry for not reporting back on that, I thought I took pictures... ) He went fully back to his roots this past wednesday, when he hosted two seatings of a family-style Moroccan dinner, prepared under the supervision of his mother. The regular Mémé kitchen did the actual cooking, but they used David's mom's recipes, and she was on-site to make sure it was done right. As he explained in some welcoming remarks, this was not just served family-style, this really was home-style cooking, what they would eat at home when he was growing up, and as such it wasn't going to be restauranty-flashy, just good. And I think I'd agree with that portrayal, it was indeed comforting, hearty, homey food, but from a Moroccan home. The spicing was more subtle than I'd expected, but then, I'm probably used to Moroccan restaurants that while referencing the same geography, are cooking from a different cultural tradition, and that are amping-up the exoticism for effect. Chef Katz joked that there weren't going to be any belly dancers, and that worked as a metaphor for the meal too: it wasn't a show, it was dinner. The restaurant is named for what he called his grandmother, and his kids' grandmother was overseeing the cooking, so the dinner was dubbed Mémé at Mémé. Cooked Carrot Salad cumin, parsley Beets and Beet greens Salad Cooked Olives Celery, Peas Potato Stew Baked Blue Cod Tomato, Lemon, Herbs Lamb and Turnip Tagine Prunes, Almonds Potato Pastels Ground Beef Grilled Merguez Couscous, hot pepper salad Almond Apricot Cigars Orange Blossom Honey Mint tea... I'm frequently pestering Chef Katz to put some more Moroccan food on his regular menu, and some dishes do show up from time to time, but after this meal, I'll be hoping for it even more, especially that tomatoey, garlicy, lemony cod, and the tender, slightly sweet lamb tagine... That said, as I was waiting for my dining partners, I was reading over the restaurant's regular menu, which is fairly compact, and is not too different from other times I've gone, but looking at that list made me kick myself for not eating here more often, without a special event to motivate me. Here's hoping I can manage that soon, I need some sizzling mussels...
  5. I do trust your judgment Gordon, especially on Korean food, but as I mentioned above, I was pleasantly surprised by Seoul Garden on that visit. I haven't had enough free time to do any serious eating around Rochester in quite a while, but on a recent visit I managed to squeeze-in a quick detour through the Public Market, and down Monroe Ave, to grab at least a few bites. At the market, of course, we needed some Poutine - thanks yet again Gordon for the heads-up! Le Petit Poutine It was a very well-made poutine, with good, fresh, crisp fries, cheese curds, and an excellent, rich brown gravy. They weren't especially busy when I ordered, yet they made a fresh batch of fries for this order. I'm really impressed with that kind of dedication to the craft, and it showed: the fries were good on their own, even better with the gravy. I could even stop there, good gravy fries are a thing of beauty, but the cheese curds do add that specific squeaky, poutine weirdness that's petty satisfying as a whole. Next time, I'm trying the breakfast poutine. While at the market, we couldn't resist some Tacos from Monterey Tacos, beside the bakery. We got a mix of pork, beef and chicken, and they were all pretty tasty, if not mind-blowing. The beef benefited from the inclusion of some rajas, and all of them were better with a splash of spicy salsa. Ultimately perfectly decent traditional-styled tacos: nice fresh soft corn tortillas (yes, you can get flour tortillas if you must... but come on, they're tacos... ) good stewed or roasted meats, just a little onion and cilantro, that's all you need. Over on the other edge of the market, it's hard to pass the empanada stand without grabbing at least a few... I really wanted to like the breakfast empanadas, and the pizza version, but I really only enjoy the beef, which is fine, I can leave some room for more grazing. Oh, right, and there was a lot of good-looking produce at the market as well. It always weirds me out to see all the pineapples and mangos and bananas, but if you look carefully, you can actually find some local farmers selling local produce. We scored some ramps and fiddleheads, probably the last of those for the season, but there's plenty more good stuff coming... After leaving the market, we took a drive down Monroe Avenue to check out a couple of new-ish places. There's actually been a bit of local press about these spots so while they're not dramatic discoveries of obscure restaurants, it's worth mentioning that they're really good! Despite the silly name, Whatta Banh Mi it turning out some delicious Vietnamese sandwiches. We just got a Roast Pork version, but one of the really nice things about this place (as well as the newish Lee's further up Monroe toward Brighton) is that they have a wide variety of sandwiches. The other places I've gotten Banh Mi in Rochester have generally just had one kind: the classic melange of odd pork cold-cuts. Nothing wrong with that, it makes a great sandwich, but it's nice to have some options. And even beyond the variety, this is the best Banh Mi I've had in Rochester, and one of the better ones I've had anywhere. The roll is just about perfect: crusty, yet light and airy. They crisp them up to order in little toaster ovens behind the line. The roast pork was very good, and the pickled vegetables, cliantro and thin slices of jalapeno were in perfect proportion. And it was pretty big, especially considering that it's only $3.50. They're located right next door to a Subway, and if there's any justice in this world, people will wise-up and get the better, cheaper sandwiches at Whatta Banh Mi (673 Monroe Ave.) Just a couple of doors east on Monroe Ave is Han Noodle. This is one of the more exciting openings in quite a while, as far as I'm concerned! It's a great idea - a casual place with a lot of noodle soups, and other dishes that can act as a quick snack, or a full meal. Even better, they're offering some traditional regional dishes that I haven't seen in the city before, sometimes in straight-ahead trad versions, sometimes buffed-up in trendy presentations. I found both approaches produced pretty consistently delicious food. Their web page states: "No fusion. No gimmick. We cook the way we want to eat." and that's fine, if not totally accurate, there's certainly a bit of fusion creeping in around the edges... On that modern, trendy side, they offer steamed buns with various fillings. I thank/blame Momofuku in NYC for making them popular in the mainstream a few years ago, but of course these kinds of buns, with various fillings, are traditional snacks in many parts of China. The versions served here are a little of both: the very successful Pork Belly buns, dressed with tangy hoisin and chopped peanuts, could be right off the Momofuku line (although I did miss the cucumber... ) but the brisket version was much more rustic, featuring a rough chop of fatty, sinewy, sometimes chewy meat, as one might find in a traditional Chinese soup or stew. There are also spicy chicken, and shitake and bamboo versions we did not try. A starter of Cumin Beef was not as saturated with cumin as the versions I tend to get in Sichuan restaurants, but the extremely tender slices of beef were nonetheless very tasty, a little spicy, and an absolute steal at $3. The Szechuan Pepper Mini Cuttlefish were beautifully-cooked, just barely done, so they stayed tender, not too rubbery. The texture may be a challenge for some, but if one likes grilled squid, these shouldn't be too big a leap, although the varied shapes of the whole tiny cuttlefish create some strange sensations. But more to the point, I'd eat just about anything in the sauce that's applied here, a thin marinade tingling with the numbing spice of Szechuan peppercorn. I found myself dipping buns in that sauce, dragging the cumin beef through it, drizzling it on anything. I find it a little odd that the Scallion Pancakes are served with sour cream. That doesn't mean it's not tasty though! The Roast Duck Noodle Soup looked fantastic, and the person who ordered it said it was excellent. I would have stolen a taste, but all the broths (except a vegetable stock) are made from both pork and shrimp, and a shrimp allergy made that a little too perilous for me! I think they really might want to highlight that on the menu: I saw it in a review and asked, but I wouldn't have guessed that there would be shrimp in a pork noodle soup, or brisket... Shellfish allergies are not all that uncommon, so beware! But if you're cool with both pork and shrimp, get a noodle soup, they're clearly a specialty of the house. But it is Han Noodle, so I had to get some pasta of some sort. No problem, one of my favorite Sichuan dishes is available: Dan Dan Noodles. This is a very credible version of this classic, a bit more saucy than I'm used to, but that's not really a complaint. The gravy-ish sauce had a great flavor, spiked with both chile and szechuan peppercorn heat, and there was ample coarsely-ground pork too. One member of our party needed to avoid the spicy ingredients that are pretty prevalent here, so we got a basic stir-fried rice noodle, with chicken and shrimp. It was very well done, if by definition a little plain. On the more spicy side was the Chuanjiao Pork. Chuanjaio is another name for those mysterious Szechuan peppercorns, and this dish indeed bristled with that flavor. The dish as a whole was on the dry side, in the style of many traditional Sichuan dishes, but the pork itself was tender and juicy, and very flavorful. I liked it a lot. There's LOTS more on the menu to try, so more visits are in order. The prices are pretty ridiculously low, almost everything is under $10, with a lot of starters under $5, so it's a great place to experiment, it's not as if you'll be out a ton of cash if you don't happen to like something! Han Noodle Bar 687 Monroe Ave. http://www.hannoodlebar.com/ Good times for Asian food on Monroe ave...
  6. Yeah, we've gone in on weeknights a few times recently, and it's been packed. I think we were late enough in the evening that we didn't have to wait long, but yes, they're busy... I'm losing track of the movements of the chefs out in the burbs: I think the original Royersford chef is now at the Exton location. In any case, I've been getting really great food at the Exton lately. I chatted with Han's mom there recently, and I seem to recall her saying something about the chef that's now at Royersford recently coming back from China, but I haven't been to that branch recently to sample his cooking. Paradoxically, I like the inconsistency. You'd think that uniformity and reliability would be more desirable, but I actually enjoy the fact that each chef has an individual style, and is better at some dishes than others. The trick is finding out which dishes are his specialties. You can always ask!
  7. It closed back in September (2010.) I was under the impression that they might have continued to brew beer, but the bar/restaurant is closed for good, or until someone buys it and tries again...
  8. I was going to mention Tony's Napoletana, but then, you should be getting Tony's pizzas in the West Village any day now... http://newyork.grubstreet.com/2011/05/900_degrees_will_offer_neapoli.html So maybe skip that... You seem to have the high-end stuff covered, but as Carolyn mentioned, I don't feel like a visit to San Francisco is complete without a Mission burrito. I'm pretty fond of El Farolito at 24th and Mission, and it has the benefit of being right next to a BART stop. It's kind of a dive, but the burritos are so good... And I'll also second Carolyn's suggestion for Burmese. The ginger salad at Burma Superstar is pretty awesome, if a little more lettuce-y than others I've had. If you're mobile, and don't mind heading back down toward the airport, Dim Sum at Koi Palace in Daly City is a pretty serious highlight of the Bay area.
  9. Streaming is working fine (except that the projections are all blown-out, just look white) and sadly the audio is so distant and echoey that the speaker's pretty incomprehensible. But then, maybe that's just Gaz, he kind of sounds that way up close too...
  10. There's a huge collection of Root recipes on the manufacturer's website. http://www.artintheage.com/spirits/recipes/ I too was mostly disappointed with Root, but living here in Philly where it was created, I've ended up drinking several of these concoctions as local bartenders worked out many of the drinks on that list, and I can testify that some good drinks can be made with it. I particularly liked (eGulleteer) Katie Loeb's competition-winning creation: Dr. Hadley’s Root Restorative. http://www.artintheage.com/spirits-content/recipes/dr-hadley’s-root-restorative/ Good luck, and hey, at least the bottle looks kind of cool on your shelf in the interim...
  11. I was recently in a pub outside of Philadelphia that serves the sandwich "Beef on Weck." In its place of origin, Buffalo,NY, it's always just thinly-sliced roast beef, plenty of jus, and horseradish on a kummelweck roll (a kaiser-like roll with caraway seed and coarse salt on the top.) I ordered one at the place outside of Philly, and the waitress asked if I wanted cheese on it. I had an immediate, unconscious, reflexive reaction, and cried out "NO!" The waitress laughed, and replied that lots of people around there like it that way. I'm not sure why, but it just sounded wrong to me. There's no reason that it should be bad, but I definitely did not want that. So, I guess I'm conservative about Beef on Weck. Back when John Kerry was running for President, he made the obligatory stop at a famous Cheesesteak joint in Philly. When someone asked him what kind of cheese he wanted, he reportedly asked for Swiss. This was met with widespread derision. There's nothing logically wrong with that choice, in fact, it might be quite tasty, but it just isn't done. It's not like there isn't swiss cheese in Philadelphia, or that it's seen as an especially luxe ingredient, but for some reason, ordering a cheesesteak with swiss was seen as unforgivably elitist. So, I think it's safe to say that Philadelphians are conservative about cheesesteaks.
  12. I'm not sure how many places are prepared to package a "travel hoagie" with the components kept separate, but gfweb is right that the sandwiches are often better if the vegetables can be kept separate so they, and the bread, don't get soggy. One of the great things about a Philly hoagie is that it tends to have a pretty significant salad-ish component. That said, it's a bigger problem if they'll be kept for a long time. I've eaten plenty of conventionally-assembled hoagies the next day and they're still fine, if not quite as snappy as the moment they were made. I find that Banh Mi keep really well, because the pickled vegetables are more hardy. The cilantro will probably wilt, and the bread is best the same day, but again, overnight storage shouldn't make too big of a difference. There's only one Burmese place in Philly: Rangoon on 9th St, just north of Arch. It's open until 9pm. There are two Malaysian places in Chinatown: Penang and Banana Leaf. They're around the corner from one another, near the corner of 10th and Arch, and virtual clones. I believe Banana Leaf was opened by former Penang staff. The only big difference is that Penang serves beer and wine. The food is generally pretty equivalent, although FWIW, on a few recent visits to Penang, the food has been especially good. Both are open really late, until at least 1am.
  13. At the risk of completely derailing this thread, I'll concur that Chinatown is probably your best bet on that first night when you're getting in late-ish, other than the Down Home Diner in the RTM, which should still be open, and is the closest thing to you that's not a soul-less chain. I realize that Asian food may not be a big priority for you or your kids while in Philly, but Chinatown is only a couple of blocks from your hotel, and offers a pretty wide range of possibilities: Malaysian, Burmese, Shanghainese, Taiwanese, Fujianese, Sichuan, etc, not just Cantonese, or Americanized Chinatown clichés (although there are good examples of these too, if that's what you're in the mood for!) I'll even bring it back around to sandwiches: there's a good Banh Mi shop in Chinatown at 48 N 10th St (just south of Arch) called Q.T. Vietnamese Sandwich. They're only open until 7pm, but if you're on a Banh Mi Quest, you might fit it in. I prefer Cafe Nhu Y down in South Philly, but QT's are good too - larger, more stuffed, for better or worse, and QT is close to where you're staying. There are also a couple of intriguing-sounding sandwiches on the menu of the new-ish "Pearl Restaurant - Szechuan Noodles" at 935 Race St in Chinatown. It's a very basic, super-casual place with a small menu of noodles, sandwiches, congee, and a few other things. (Although, if you're right there, it's hard to resist the hand-drawn noodles at Nan Zhou.) As for places being open late in the Italian Market: as a rule, no, with some exceptions. Pats and Genos are open 24 hours. Many of the Taquerias are open fairly late. I don't recall the exact closing time, but George's closes mid-afternoon-ish? Earlier on sundays. Paesano's is only open 11am to 3pm (!) most days for some ridiculous reason. Friday and Saturday they go crazy and stay open until 5. At least that's what their website says, I haven't actually made it into the new location at 1017 S 9th Street. http://www.paesanosphillystyle.com/ So I'd suggest getting down to the Italian Market by early afternoon if you can, it'll be more interesting to walk through anyway, many of the other shops, produce stalls, etc close up by 5 too. The walk down there and back isn't too bad, especially if you stick to 9th street. If you made it through the Tenderloin unscathed, this is a cakewalk. That said, there are a few blocks in there that can feel a little desolate after dark, so I'd shoot for earlier. And yes - you're right, Philly's hard to sum-up in 5 meals! Sorry, I can't think of anything especially good that you could pick up for a 5am train ride, other than leftover hoagies from the day before...
  14. That's the interesting thing about the "Italian Market" in Philly: there are probably at least as many Mexican and Vietnamese shops and restaurants in that area as there are Italian. They're scattered around a bit, but within a few blocks of the corner of 9th and Washington, there's lots to choose from, and not just Italian, Mexican and Vietnamese. There's Middle Eastern, Laotian, Indonesian... But that neighborhood is pretty strong in Mexican and Vietnamese (and Italian) food. But this is a sandwich thread, if you want specifics on Tacos, Pho, Satay, etc, we can hook you up - But we should probably find another thread for it!
  15. You can cover a LOT of sandwich territory within the confines of the Reading Terminal Market, so you'll be well on your way after a visit or two there. As you've probably figured out from scanning this topic, among the highlights there are: Roast Pork Italian from DiNic's, followed closely by many of the other sandwiches at DiNic's, but if you're goign to start somewhere, it's the Roast Pork, with sharp provolone, and greens. You can get either spinach or broccoli rabe, each of which have appeal, so it's hard to go wrong. A Pastrami sandwich at Hershel's East Side Deli. This is not uniquely Philly, it's a decent approximation of a New York style deli sandwich. But it's a fine sandwich, and unless you are going to NY and eating at Katz's, you should get one. Hoagies at Salumeria, and/or Carmen's. Carmen's is a bit more traditional Philly, Salumeria a bit more Italian, maybe... but both good. As has been documented upthread, there are a few passable cheesesteaks to be had if you just want to check that off your list, but I'd save the stomach space. As for other sandwiches within walking distance... I think you're right out of luck for the prime examples of Cheesesteaks, unless you feel like hopping in a cab. John's Roast Pork makes a cheesteak that is actually worth eating, but it's not easy to get to. Their roast pork is good too. Tony Luke's makes a very good roast pork sandwich, and a good cheesteak too, but it's similarly hard to get to. Not too far away, at 15th and Sansom, is Shank's Original, which is, oddly enough, not in its original location, but they serve up some serious South Philly style sandwiches. The better news is that there are a few more places that you could walk to that are worth the effort. They're a bit of a hike from your hotel, if you're staying up around the RTM, but if the weather is OK, it's not that long of a walk, and probably an area you'd like to see anyway. So head down to the Italian Market, basically south 9th street, starting 2-3 blocks south of South street. At 9th and Fitzwater, you have Sarcone's Deli, featuring some of the best sandwich rolls on the planet (they bake their own a few doors away.) I've heard a few sad stories recently of stale bread and therefore mediocre hoagies, but I still say it's worth the risk! Continue south through the market, and you'll pass several places you will likely want to pop your heads into, but on the sandwich quest in particular, there's George's, and then most importantly, Paesano's. The Paesano's sandwiches are ridiculous, over-the-top intense, sometimes a little weird. Their Arista, which is their equivalent of the Roast Pork Italian is right up there with the best, but they also have plenty of other crazy, delicious offerings. They have another location over near 2nd St and Girard Avenue, but that's not as convenient for you to get to, and not in the middle of a foodie destination like the Italian Market. When you're down there, you're right near the famous Cheesesteak intersection with Pat's and Geno's facing one another, and despite their generally poor reputations among locals, you can get a decent steak there, although when you have the option of a sandwich from George's or Paesano's, or heck, tacos from any of the many little Mexican places that have sprung up along that strip (especially Tacos al Pastor from Taquitos de Puebla... ) While you're down that way, you're not far from a fantastic Banh Mi shop: Cafe Nhu Y. It's at 802 Christian St, which is right near the corner of 8th. They're not very big, but they're delicious, and cheap. There are lots more Banh Mi shops around town, but this one is my personal fave. I'll throw in a recent development too, which would be especially convenient if you happen to be visiting the historical stuff around the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, the Constitution Center, etc. The Khyber Pass Pub, on 2nd St, between Chestnut and Market, makes some delicious New Orleans-style Po-Boys (they ship Leidenheimer's rolls in from New Orleans). Those are worth a trip by themselves, especially the roast beef with "debris" gravy, or the ham with debris, or, the fried oyster, or.. but a pretty regular offering on the specials board even trumps them. They're doing a version of a sandwich created at the New Orleans restaurant Bayona. It features smoked Duck, Cashew Butter and Pepper Jelly, on toasted whole wheat bread. It's a little odd, but maybe my favorite sandwich right now, anywhere. The Khyber is a bar, but there's a dining room that would be fine with kids. It can be a bit loud, but not so much of you go for lunch, or early in the evening. As for how much to order... tough call, many of these sandwiches are pretty large and dense. You could always err on the under-ordering side, and then get another kind of sandwich from the same place, or hit another spot, if you're still hungry. But then, I wouldn't want to have to choose between all of the good options... Good luck!
  16. As has already been well-established here, the correct answer is Franny's. I've done that walk many times, it's not only pretty short, but pretty much a straight line, so you'd have to be working pretty hard to get lost. I love the pizza at Franny's, but everything else I've had has been great too, especially cocktails. Do not miss the chocolate sorbet for dessert, even if you're heading to the chocolate room later. Sit out back if it's nice weather. www.frannysbrooklyn.com If the 5 or 6 block walk seems too daunting, you could stop at Bark Hotdogs for sustenance along the way... barkhotdogs.com
  17. While I'm in the minority that thinks that one can get a decent steak at Pat's or Geno's, I wouldn't ever claim that they're the best. As Mike mentioned, sometimes it's a location thing, the Italian Market is right there, you're in the area, you're hungry. More often, it's a time thing for me, they're open all the time. Sometimes you need a steak at 4:30am. My favorite spot is John's roast pork, but they're hardly ever open when I want to go, and they're not in an especially convenient location, especially for visitors, so they're hard to recommend. I also like Tony Luke's, and while they're open more, sometimes, they're not open late enough... and they too are in a less-than-convenient location. Dalessandro's is way off the beaten path, it's more of a neighborhood place, not a location you'd send a visitor to. And no offense to their supporters, but I just don't think it's a real destination kind of place - it's perfectly fine - I like their steaks well enough, but I feel like they're mostly distinguished by being generous with the meat. That's all well and good, but more is not always inherently better. I'd get one if I were out that way and hungry, but I personally wouldn't send someone out of their way for one. And for the "wit" pronunciation, I wouldn't generalize too much from one guy - there's certainly a gradation of a range between with and wit. I certainly started out saying with, and I don't think I'm all the way to wit, but it's getting there. Also it's hard to keep that "th" fricative after a dose of cheeze whiz, so a second steak is a whiz wit for sure...
  18. Those Totinos pizzas have become increasingly difficult to find around me, legitimate grocery stores seem to have stopped carrying them. But I do see them occasionally at small convenience stores. I think the last one I bought was at a gas station... I still love them. There's something about the combination of the weird bubbly, crunchy crust, and the crappy toppings that just works. I have a hard time saying that they're "good" frozen pizzas, but they're just what I want sometimes.
  19. I don't think a detailed discussion of the language of ordering would be productive, the exact lexicon certainly varies a lot from place to place. That said, I'd say the particular phrase "whiz wit" and/or "cheeze wit" is worthy of inclusion. It is indeed legit local vernacular, I hear people say it all the time who are clearly not tourists. It's understood everywhere, even if Pat's is the only place I've noticed with a sign posted that dictates the "proper" way to order with such stridency. Perhaps more important, I've seen it used incorrectly in print quite often, it is sometimes misunderstood to mean with cheese, when the "wit" part actually means with onions. So "cheese wit" is a steak with cheese and onions. Depending on the place, that would get you either whiz or american cheese. "Whiz wit" is a popular disambiguation, as the wiki world would say. I use the phrase "whiz wit," I find it an efficient way to order. But, like Holly, I'm an immigrant, I've only been here 30 years, so maybe both of us are still newbie rubes.
  20. I don't generally pay enough attention at the checkout, so I can't comment on whether it happens often, but if you encounter a scanner error at Wegmans, it appears to be a system-wide policy to correct the error, and give the customer a buck. From their website FAQ: Again, I haven't challenged a scanned price myself, so I can't say how common mistakes are, or how smooth the rectification process is. But I can say that I left an entire bag of groceries behind one time, it was part of a huge order for a party, and somehow one of the many bags didn't make it into my cart, and must have been left at the end of the checkout line. I went back the next day, explained the situation, pointed out the items on my receipt that I didn't get, and they quickly and politely offered to replace the items or refund the cost. It was my error, I left the bag behind, but they chose to just fix it. That level of customer service is one of several reasons that I'm happy that they're invading my current neighborhood.
  21. Han was kind enough to accommodate a last-minute reservation, we called a little rudely close to closing time, but I'm so happy he managed to squeeze us in. The food was great, our visiting VIP was happy, Philly seemed cooler than ever. The convention and visitor's bureau ought to give Han an award or something: I've sent lots of visitors home raving about how great the food is in Philly, after just one visit to Han Dynasty...
  22. Those tasting menus sound pretty amazing, if a little pricey. I'm tempted to check them out on the basis your great descriptions, and on the general quality of the food I had on a brief afternoon visit (last summer - hence the corn, etc.) It was one of those days spent eating in various locations, so we didn't get to try as much as we wanted. Most everything on the menu looked great, but we just grabbed a couple of starters and some pizza. Corn Salad with Nduja Duck Prosciutto, Purslane, Candied Olives Millenium Falco pizza (adjusted, no cheese) Pizza oven. I have been looking forward to getting back there, especially now that the weather's getting better. Thanks, Tupac, I think your accounts might have provided the necessary incentive!
  23. I like that Rye quite a lot, and I've had no trouble getting good results mixing it - I found it makes a delicious Manhattan with Carpano Antica (but then, what doesn't? so maybe that's not a good test...) and was also quite happy with it in a Sazerac with Herbsaint Original. But I'll agree that it's got an interesting enough flavor that I like it straight too. I think it might be the sherry barrels they use for finishing that gives it an unusual twist. I look forward to seeing what they come up with when they can leave it a little longer to age, it's a little young, but surprisingly complex for its youth. I recently noticed that Fingerlakes has released a bourbon as well, but I haven't had a chance to taste that yet.
  24. Yeah, so... apparently there's interest in this kind of food in Philly! I didn't get there until pretty late, but apparently the dining room, and then the waiting list, filled up immediately, so indeed, at the height of it, it was about a 3 hour wait. Of course, they were hoping for a good turnout, but I don't think they were expecting this level of response. So, yes, waits were long, and then they had so many people, most all of them ordering ramen, so they ran out, despite making a huge batch. I'm sure that was frustrating for some, but then, nobody had any idea whether there would be much interest. Now they know! They were out of most everything by the time I got seated, but the Kara Age (Fried Chicken) was pretty awesome! Anybody manage to try more of the menu?
  25. OK, admittedly, it might be premature to start a topic for a restaurant this far before it opens, I'm not even sure a location has been chosen for it yet. But if you act quickly, you can get a preview of what some of the food might be like tonight - Monday February 21, 2011. There's a "Pop-up" version of the restaurant happening at the Khyber Pass Pub tonight, featuring Hakata-stlye Ramen. There's more than Ramen too: Sometimes it's good to be in the right place at the right time: I happened to wander by the sushi restaurant called Ro-Zu during its short premiere, when chef Todd Dae Kulper was manning the counter, and was very impressed with his skill and imagination. After he parted ways with the owner of Ro-Zu, I hoped that we hadn't seen the last of him in Philly. It turns out that he's hooked-up with the owners of the Royal Tavern (and the Khyber Pass Pub, and the Cantina Los Caballitos and Cantina Dos Segundos) and they're planning an Izakaya (basically a casual bar with food) that will also feature Japanese snacks as well as Kulper's sushi skills. While they're working on that, they decided to do a "Pop-Up" restaurant to offer a brief preview. Again, being in the right place at the right time, it happens that I know the owners of the Royal/Khyber/Cantinas, and I managed to sneak a preview of the preview, getting an advance taste of many of the dishes. So you can engage all appropriate skepticism about my ability to be objective in a circumstance like this, but I'm kind of excited! This post is actually rather late, given that they're starting to ladle-out bowls of ramen in a few hours, and it's one night only, but I figured some of you might like even a last-minute heads-up, especially about the availability of the elusive high-quality ramen. (I was contemplating not telling anybody, so there'd be more soup for me... ) It's called Pop-Up #1, I have no idea if there are plans for more, and if so when, or where, or what food would be featured, so if you're a ramen fan, you might want to seize the moment! More info about tonight here: http://royalsushiandizakaya.com/ It's being held at the Khyber Pass Pub, which is on 2nd street just north of Chestnut St. And hopefully it won't be long before there's a permanent spot, not a random pop-up. I'll post here if I learn anything.
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