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Everything posted by RonV

  1. I've recently moved to Middletown and I'm looking for a place doing a Feast of the Seven Fishes dinner in the area. My Google skills have been put to the test and I'm coming up empty. I found one place up in Woodbridge but we're trying to say down in the shore area. Any ideas?
  2. RonV

    Sabor Peru

    What an enjoyable meal, one of the best I've had in the past few years. Not only was the food fantastic, but the owner spent so much time describing what we were eating, telling us about his father's passion for cooking, describing how the restaurant came to be, and so on. The space is great, although I'm struggling for whether I'd call it cozy or homey or comfortable. It was small enough that it felt as though we were getting special attention, but not as small as I expected. Given my experience in tiny Latin-style restaurants (ie La Isla in Hoboken), I was expecting something far more luncheonette, but this was gorgeous, more like an upscale lounge that you wouldn't mind wearing shorts to, if that makes sense. The post about the paper napkins was right though, a bit of an oddity, hence the trouble really nailing the vibe. As for the food, it was simply delicious. GF and I shared the house ceviche, which had such a fresh, lively flavor I couldn't get enough. The lime and the sweetness of the crispy red onions, along with the fantastically tender seafood (most notably the calamari) was the perfect summer meal. I easily could have ordered another plate of it for my dinner. For the entree, she had the Tuco Tuco (not sure of the exact name) which was an extremely thin steak (owner said skirt steak, but it was much thinner and wider than skirts I've had) on top of grilled rice and white beans. The steak was fantastic. Unlike a churrasco at a brazilian restaurant, the flavors here were subtle and developed as you chewed. It didn't hammer you over the head with garlic/salt (not that I even complain about that, it was just a nice change). The best way to describe the rice/beans would be diner home fries, with rice instead of potatoes. Flavor was amazing, but I thought it cried out for some sort of sauce, or maybe just a bit moister rice under the layer that was grilled. I had jalea, which I had no idea what to expect. In a fantastic surprise, I got what was bascially a medley of fried seafood -- shrimp, octopus, calamari, yucca and potato - in such a light breading that it didn't weigh me down the way you'd expect. While the fried seafood on its own was tasty, the entire dish was made by the lime/pepper sauce on the side. Alternating 4-5 bites with that beautifully sour sauce with 1-2 of mayo (the other side) made for a fantastic meal. There are so many interesting things to explore on the menu, I can't wait to go back. I will certainly have the ceviche every time I go, but will try anything they offer with seafood as it was all so delicious, regardless of preparation. Add in the fact that the owner is incredibly friendly and attentive and I think Sabor Peru will become a mainstay on our restaurant rotation. BTW, we shared a flan for dessert, and I'm not a huge sweets fan, but I enjoyed it. My gf, on the other hand, loved it so much I thought I saw her eyes roll into the back of her head at the first bite.
  3. That's me. I appreciate your thoughts and it's certainly nice to hear feedback from people who read the paper regularly, especially when you're pointing out the sorts of things we're constantly trying to do. I think my staff's sick of hearing me say things like "zig while everyone else zags" and I was especially happy that the Philly guys came up with the "If you don't care, why should we" concept (I showed your post to someone in the office and he asked if I wrote it myself). While I know why you'd have concerns about moving some of the newsroom functions out of the city, you can be assured that most of the decision making remains right there on South 15th Street. Most of the duties that shifted were logistical, but we maintain reporters and editors in each of our cities. Plus, looking around the Metro US newsroom (located in NY), more than half the staff has worked in Philadelphia at one time or another. Sorry to have this conversation on a food forum, but I'd love to hear more of your thoughts, so don't hesitate to shoot me a PM or email. As for Oyster House, even though it's been a couple weeks, I can't stop thinking of that raw bar. Can't wait to get back.
  4. I've been gone from Philly for about 18 months now, but find I still keep up better with the Center City food scene than I do New York's even though I live here now. I happened to be in Philly last Thursday for work and immediately started thinking out my eating plan for the day. There's so many ways to go, but when I walked out for a late lunch, I made a bee-line to Oyster House. Aside from the gorgeous space (I still had the Sansom St. Oyster House in my mind), it felt like Sansom as a whole had been cleaned up, less cluttered and less "alley" than a couple years ago. I've always tended toward clams when at a rawbar, but the waiter was so good at delivering the oyster spiel I really wanted to taste these different flavors he was mentioning. I had some east coast for brine (I want to say something from Cape Cod, but I forget exactly which), some from west coast to see if it really did have a cucumber flavor, and a few from NJ since they were $1 each. Wow, I'm sold on oysters. At least good ones. I guess I've always had inferior oysters, because I've just never gotten the sense there was much to them beyond some goo floating in a pretty tasteless liquid (the most forgettable being a batch from Oceanaire). As a safety net, I also got 6 cherrystone clams, but really wished I had 6 more oysters -- hell, 12 more oysters. While the west coast oysters were interesting with such a different flavor, I actually liked the NJ version the best. As great and eye-opening as the oysters were, I was most excited to taste my first Katie cocktail, a bourbon old fashioned. I'd seen a couple commercials for Mad Men earlier in the day and felt like an old-time cocktail would be cool. While I enjoyed sitting at the shucking bar, I'd have preferred to sit at the actual bar, and thought I had requested that when I walked in, but the hostess and I must have gotten our wires crossed. It's probably for the best, since I'd have worked my way across the cocktail list and needed to get back to work for another couple hours. Like a truly loyal Moriarty's regular (must have eaten more after-work meals here than anywhere else in PHL combined in my 3 years in town), I ended up at the bar after work for an order of wings and way too many beers. Like I needed any more reasons to miss the city, with all the great (yet oh-so-friendly) places to eat, add The Oyster House to the list. The good news is, the project I'm working on should mean several more trips in the coming weeks and months!
  5. I'm in the early stages of wedding planning and the fiancee says I spend enough time on egullet that I should start the caterer search. We're getting married in a renovated old-time theater in Jersey City, so we need someone who will help us with everything from tables, linens, wait staff to obviously food. One reason we didn't want a typical wedding hall is that the food is always so run of the mill. Seems like such a waste for a piece of subpar meat and a twice baked potato. As is always the case, we're working within a budget, so my idea is that rather than having an average "expensive" menu (filet, lobster, etc) that we'd prefer to find a good caterer who can work with us to create a menu that's less expensive but well executed. Seems a buffet is the way to go given the set up of the theater, so my mind keeps floating back to an Italian menu (my fear is it just doesn't seem very wedding-y, if that make sense). Just strikes me that well done Italian could be done relatively inexpensively -- some nice antipasti rather than the typical cocktail hour fare; a few pasta dishes that would work on a buffet; a couple chicken dishes, a fish thrown in there. Of course there might be a completely different way to go, and I'd love to hear any suggestions. I've been living in Philly the past few years and haven't done a very good job of scouting out North Jersey since moving here about 6 months ago. So I toss it out there for you guys. Any advice so I can try to get the ball rolling? I know that Picnic is a favorite of the board, so I reached out to them first a couple months back, but never heard back. I get the sense they cater higher end parties/events than we were looking to have, which was a bummer, but makes total sense. Thanks in advance for any help. Ron
  6. Thanks for all the responses. I realized after writing that the fact I'm moving to NY makes a big difference, since it's not like I'm moving to a food wasteland. So I guess I'm looking to hit up the Philly experiences I'll miss - hence the DiNics, Moriarty's, etc. Katie, I will absolutely take you up on that offer. I always promised the gf we'd get to your last stop and never made it, so we'll make our way to Chick's soon. I've already moved to NY but have my place in Philly for another few weeks, so I'm expecting to have a chance to enjoy about one more weekend's worth of meals. Thanks for the reminder about Davio's. That remains one of my favorite meals, so I'll try to get there again. It also dawned on me that I've never gotten to either Sarcone's or John's Roast Pork, which I probably need to do, right? Add in a night at Chick's and it sounds like I've got my list. Should I have some extra time, I'll try to get to Ansill again for that Osso Bucco sandwich. One of the best things I've eaten in the past 3 years. Thanks again to everyone and feel free to pile on to the list. The nice thing is I'm not moving across the country, and could always build a weekend away around eating and drinking my way around the city!
  7. After almost three years in Philly, a promotion at work has me on the move. The restaurant scene is certainly one of the things I'll miss most, and sappy as it sounds, it's due in large part to this board. So, knowing I'm down to my last few meals, help me out. In the past week, I've already visited a few places I love - Osteria, DiNics, Szechuan Tasty House, Moriarty's for wings. Depending on work and move schedules I figure I've got about 4 meals left - 2 lunch and 2 dinner. I also figure I'll get down to Center City Pretzel Co., for pretzels right out of the oven. A few other favorites have been Ansill, Little Fish, Amada. Never got to Le Bec Fin or any of Laban's 4 bell spots, just never had a desire, but if there's a place I can't miss, let me know. What I'd love from you guys - 4 meals left, what's the lineup? Don't need to be a tour of the most expensive places in the city, but I'd like to make the most of these last four. Think of what 4 meals would really send me off best. I think I've already nailed the four previous, and hell, might just repeat them, but maybe there are some spots I never hit up while here and would love your suggestions. Thanks in advance.
  8. I heard all the hype about Sweet Lucy's. First try I had takeout, and underwhelmed was the right word. Figured the drive home was the killer. Tried again and ate there and just wasn't blown away. I know that doesn't help since I have no examples, but I'm willing to listen if anyone wants to offer a specific dish to try. Both times I tried a combo of several different things trying to get a taste of it all. Smoked Joint was one of the worst dinners I've eaten in Philly. On the other hand, I always go to Famous Dave's with very low expectations and end up leaving incredibly happy. The gf loves BBQ, so we're always on the lookout. If anyone has an under the radar gem, I'll be looking to try it out.
  9. Ah, good question. I'm not a big fish person, but when the craving for fish and chips hits, it's crippling. But of the places I've found, midway through, I decide, "well, maybe I don't really like fish and chips" and it becomes a chore to finish. I just think I need to find a good version. Last two times I tried Fado and (don't ask why) Fox and Hound. Not sure what authentic fish and chips is, so I'm not a fair critic, but I'd expect both the fish and chips to be nicely fried and crispy. I think especially at Fado the batter was very thick, almost bread-like. Maybe that's good? Not sure. I didn't care for it. Fox and Hound was "eh" as you might expect. Also could have sworn I had it at Sansom Street Oyster House, but not seeing it on their menu now (maybe a special?). But I remember it being huge chunks of fish, and the batter fell off as I ate. Starting to think I like the fried batter far more than the fish! I had a version in Florida that was incredibly crispy, the batter thick but not bready, and the fish rather thin. But hell, that might be like saying I like Olive Garden marinara because I've never had anything else. I'd love to know what I should be looking for, and any advice for a place with an authentic version. Black Sheep is next on my list to try, unless someone can steer me elsewhere.
  10. I don't have photos to add, and not sure what one more bit of praise will mean, but stopped by Osteria on a whim a few weeks back. I was nervous that I had built it up so much in my mind that it couldn't live up to the expectations. But those fears vanished with the first bite of our Margherita pie -- the explosion of basil and the mozz, I quickly forgot that I'd had my heart set on a Lombarda (my gf hates sausage pizza). Next, at the recommendation of you guys, had to get the candele with boar ragu, which was a pasta unlike I'd ever tasted. I could eat this every day. I finished with a special of sausage and lentils. This was very good, simple, and hearty. Perfect for a cold night. On the plate, it wasn't impressive, but halfway through I decided if I ate another bite I'd explode. The gf had the lobster in some sort of marinara and she raved about it. Of all foods not to like, I've just never cared for lobster, so I can't pass judgement. Really looking forward to going back. I was sheepish about calling on a Wednesday night, figuring they'd laugh at me trying to make a same-night reservation. But I guess the crowds have quieted down, especially during Christmas shopping season. Got there around 8, and were seated in the "outdoor" area, which we enjoyed. Next time I'd like to sit in the main dining room, but being away from the hustle and bustle on our first visit let us concentrate on the menu and the food. If there was one thing I'd mention as a negative, was a real stench on the walk to the men's room. I know you get closer to their kitchen than you're used to, but it wasn't pleasant. Has anyone else noticed this? I worked at a Ponderosa Steakhous for a week when I was 16 (no one who worked there ever ate the food after seeing how nasty the kitchen was) and it brought me back to those days. Maybe that's more my buried issues than theirs, but thought I'd toss it out there. Anyway, I'm dying to get back. I can close my eyes and taste that candele. Supposed to have lunch with the boss this week at the Palm. Maybe I should convince him to head up to Osteria instead!
  11. Rediscovered La Creole (755 Front St.) Friday night, and it was a nice reminder of how good their wings are. There is nothing fancy about the place (small bar, 3 tables along the wall) but the wings are fantastic. They serve them two ways - one's a traditional buffalo style hot sauce they call their cajun sauce. They also server them dry, with a creole seasoning sprinkled on and htey'll give you the cajun sauce on the side. The dry version is OK and remains incredibly crispy, but we didn't find a lot of flavor in the creole seasoning and ended up tossing them in cajun sauce anyway. I'm a huge fan of places that manage to keep the wings crisp even after saucing and these are dead on in that area. The flavor is very nice, it's more flavorful than a typical buffalo sauce but i'd be making it up if I tried to describe what's in it. Hot, but not overwhelming, and fresh celery (isn't it amazing how many places struggle with this?) and good blue cheese dip. I can't wait to go back, but their kitchen hours are a bit limited - 6-10ish (sundays only while Eagles are playing), according to the bartender/waiter Billy, who I assume is the owner. He was correct in noting that it's hard to get people in the door. It looks like a dive/neighborhood bar from the street, but it's hard to imagine that neighborhood is exactly looking for that sort of establishment (it's wonderful, my gf was daydreaming looking at the for sale signs on a few of the homes). It's also not exactly cheap. We had two orders of wings, two dinner salads and two drinks for $50 before tip. Not bad, but certainly not the "steal" you might imagine from the look of the place. Friday at 7:30 and there were about 6 people in there. Billy indicated that's about right lately. Can someone from the biz explain how a place can make the rent with crowds like that? I hate to jump to conclusions after just two visits, and maybe they're doing a booming happy hour business or something, but it seems to me that it's got to be a very tough go.
  12. Thanks for all the suggestions guys. Thought I'd be adventurous and find a gem on my own. What foolish thinking. Of course all the recent eating has led me to a new waistline that's screaming for me to get on a diet. So no pizza anytime soon. But at least I've got some options once I drop a few pounds.
  13. Ahhhh, braised beef with szechuan style. It had been a while since I've had it, but thanks to you guys for putting STH back on my radar. It's got to be one of my favorite dishes in the city, possibly No. 1. The heat, the crisp celery, the tender beef. And I've found that the sesame bananas are the perfect way to cool down your mouth at the end of the meal. The girlfriend allowed me to order for her (she swears she hates chinese food ... until it shows up) so I got her three pepper chicken, which was a hit. And since she barely ate half, I'm in for a nice lunch tomorrow.
  14. Sorry for the rant. It's just very disappointing how restaurants can set such low standards for themselves. But maybe that's another thread. Anyway, to be fair, I found that digging into my spice rack and 10 more minutes in a very hot oven salvaged the pizza, to at least make it edible. And on Sunday I tried NYPD Pizza, which was much better. Still undercooked, but a few min in the oven and it was fine.
  15. Was going to respond earlier this week to say we've got a Java's Brewin here in Philadelphia, to say it was nothing special. Average coffee, well below average food (salads never seemed fresh, strange sandwich offerings). But as I walked past today, I see it's closed, which doesn't say much for the product as it was in a great location below several big office buildings and had tons of foot traffic. There's a Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks within 2 blocks, but I'd think there was enough buffer that they'd have plenty of regulars. Guess not.
  16. Obviously the bulk of talk on this board is high end cuisine, but I have to ask, why is it so hard to find a decent pizza? How pathetic is it that Dominos is now undoubtedly (but embarrassingly) my first option, only because I know they can't screw up a thin crust pie? Today I got Jake's, at Broad and Race. Is this even pizza? It's undercooked, the cheese is so low-grade it wouldn't melt and the sausage looks like deer droppings. The wings are so hapless they seem to be swimming in some sort of tasteless glaze/slime. The celery is brown on the edges. This comes a week after ordering from another local pizzeria which delivered a pie that rivaled Elio's frozen pizza in everything from the crust to the sparse, barely melted cheese. I always thought the saying was, even bad pizza is still pizza. Well, these recent outings have changed my mind. Even a visit to LaScalas's (Apollo) was disappointing as the crust was incredibly greasy. PLEASE HELP! Where can I get a passable delivered pizza in the Chinatown/Center City East area?
  17. Charlie Palmer Steak I've got to say, I veered off my original intention, but after a burger and beer at the Billy Goat (which was fantastic to cure my Saturday morning blues) and after chicken tenders the night before, it was time to slip out of our 300-person banquet and head for a real dinner. Charlie Palmer might not be the best meal I've ever had, but I swear, the bartender (I think he said his name was Brad) tried to make it so. Nothing fancy, some beer while waiting for a spot to open, then a salad (hadn't eaten anything green this week so I went for a romaine with bleu cheese and panchetta, rather simple but to the point, served the purpose). The steak was interesting. I ordered it medium rare, and I guess in my mind it was a tad undercooked, but I wouldn't complain, it was close enough. Where I found the biggest issue was that there was a very strong red wine reduction on the plate. Call me old fashioned, but I like my steak to stand on its own. They serve mustards on the side, why not the wine reduction? Anyway, it was very good, about 100 times better than anything else I've had while in DC. Imagine this - I spend $100 (including tip) and it didn't seem overpriced. Beer was about $4 a pint and Makers after dinner was $8. Considering I spent $7 for a beer at the Hyatt all week, it seemed a bargain. And the $100 which included the best potato (twice baked with truffles) I've ever had and a great steak with a few drinks was amazing considering I spend $45 the night before on buffalo tenders, fries and a few beers. All in all, I had a hell of a time finding a decent meal in Capitol Hill, which I guess is no surprise. Fish and chips at the Dubliner was like a can of tuna wrapped in a loaf of breat. Breakfast at the Hyatt was $15 for a cup of coffee and a yogourt parfait. If I were living here, the cheap ($3.50) beer at Billy Goat and the reasonably priced but very good burgers would make that a favorite spot. The fact they had an incredibly cute girl behind the bar Friday night doesn't hurt. Actually, her sending me to find a livlier spot was a check on the right side of ledger. Ok, that's my take on DC, after 3 days in Capitol Hill. ps Is there a very strong gay community here? I was approached by a guy Thursday, then there was a conference of gay Mormons in my hotel over the weekend. Interesting.
  18. I'm staying in the Hyatt on New Jersey near Union Station and having a heck of a time finding decent food, so I wasn't shocked when I finally dug up this topic. Tonight is my one free night from this convention and would actually just like to find a bar to watch the baseball game (not necessarily a sports bar, just a place I can sit at the bar and relax). Tried the Dubliner yesterday for lunch and wasn't impressed at all. Guy at the hotel had a hard time with suggestions. Can anyone help me out? Hoping for someplace I could walk.
  19. Pretty sure it wasn't sand that was so objectionable the other night. It was definitely chunks of shell. Actually had some cherry stone and little neck clams tonight and the slight bit of grit was fine. However, I'm learning, because this time I picked out the little piece of shell, lifted up the clams to let them drain and get rid of some what was happening here.
  20. Thanks for the feedback guys. I think the idea that I'm "learning" is right on the money, and that's why I toss these questions out there. Now that I know there's a strong risk of shells/sand in oysters, I'll probably skip them. I've found I enjoy clams more anyway, so that's fine. With the salmon, glad I'm not crazy, but now I understand what it is at least. When it comes to steak I'm far more comfortable knowing what's a good vs. bad piece of meat, what was destroyed in the kitchen,etc. I'm just trying to be incredibly open minded lately, and don't want to be turned off to something just because one kitchen screwed it up. Thanks for all the feedback.
  21. It was Ivory King Salmon from Alaska, which I very much enjoyed (except for the grey part) as it was whiter and steakier than the coho salmon my gf ordered. Do you think this was a matter of preparation, or of fish not up to the standards you'd expect at $40/plate. I'm trying to be fair, and want advice from the experts before passing judgment. Part of me wonders if we beam about a "great dinner" just because it was at a restaurant heralded in the press with impressive space, etc.
  22. Just got back from dinner with the girlfriend at a very high end seafood restaurant in Philadelphia. We eat out a lot, know what we like, but sometimes assume that if it came out of the kitchen a certain way, then it's the way it should have been. But tonight I had a few questions and as someone who is thoroughly embarrassed when I'm out with people who give the wait staff a hard time, I decided not to say anything, because I'm not sure if what we got was actually wrong. The first issue was on the raw bar plate. Both of us found a good deal of shell/grit in the oysters. She tried to convince me that's normal and natural, and as someone who isn't a big oyster eater, I took her word for it. The next one was on my grilled salmon. Not sure if this is a sign it was overcooked, or just a result of a certain cooking style, but there was a line of gray "meat" between the salmon and the skin. I've had this before from what I considered low end eateries and assumed it was a mistake, since it's not very appetizing. But again, as a steak guy, I wasn't sure if I was right or wrong. Obviously neither of these ruined the meal, but for $145 (before tip) when we weren't drinking, I'd hope things would be perfect. Like I said, however, I'm not one to raise a stink, especially when I don't know if something's wrong in the first place. Suggestions?
  23. So many times I'm dying for a DiNic's roast pork, but I try not to get my hopes up since it always seems by the time I'm able to get over there for lunch at 2:30 or 3, they're done for the day. Today I got there in time and the sandwich was great. By 2:30 they were out of greens, but I had peppers instead. I'm far from qualified to offer suggestions to improve such a classic, but as I've noticed in the past, it just needed something to heighten the flavors. I had salt handy, and that worked. But I realized that some red pepper flakes may have done the job even better. I'll have to try that next time. Also, vote me in for broccoli rabe, especially if it's prepared to be spicy. The disctinct flavor of rabe blows away the spinach, which to me seems a little wimpy. With that said, I still prefer the spinach to peppers and wonder, why at 2:30 is it impossible to whip up some more greens? Seemed at least the 2-3 guys ahead of me all wanted them too. I understand that once the meat's gone for the day, you can't do anything about it. But especially with all the produce in the market, why not restock? And on the same general topic, why shut it down so early most days? Is it too risky to ready too much meat for the day and lose it at the back end of the day? Maybe 2:30-3:30 isn't as busy as 12-1, but it sure seems there are endless lines at Ricks regardless of the time, as well as decent crowds throughout the market. This isn't necessarily targeted to DiNics, but it's something I'm finding too often lately. As a customer it's a hell of a turnoff to feel like someone's doing you a favor by serving you. Whether that's a gimmick, or just old-school atty-tood, it gets old fast. And that comes from someone who never orders anything special, complains, or sends something back. Hell, I've now got a list of people I won't dine with because I can't handle how they deal with the wait staff. But that's probably its own topic of conversation.
  24. Not that it's breaking news that the merchants are supporting Rick, but the merchants are supporting Rick. The real question is how much support they're offering. Will they out a day in protest? Most unlikely, but I guess we'll wait and see (and I'll link to the entire page, since there's a foie gras story as well): http://www.readmetro.com/show/en/Philadelphia/20070713/1/2/ http://philly.metro.us/metro/local/article...inal_/9339.html
  25. Yes, and as the gf just said, "it was totally awesome." Personally I liked the cherries served alongside, and the cheese was nice way to end the meal. Still trying to figure out the role of cheese in the course of an evening.
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