Friday, October 24, 2014

Ye Old Coventry Pub

1440 S Hanover St.
Pottstown, PA 19465
(610) 323-5790

There are a LOT of beef and beer type places in the Philly area, especially the burbs. I was on a weekend drive and happened to stop by a place I had heard was one of the good ones, and grab a Sunday lunch and beer.

In a place like this, a cheap domestic just seems right.

The best part is always watching the meat master at work. This was no exception. He painstakingly sliced and dipped each piece of beef off of what can only be described as a quarter cow. It was one of the largest pieces of beef I have seen in this type of setting. I was worried that might lead to tough meat, but was happy to be wrong.

As usual, these were served on a kaiser roll.

The beef was perfectly medium, and meltingly tender. You can see the au jus on the bread just helping lube things up so they can slide down. Double slices of prov were a welcome sight.

If you look through the beef crevice, you will see the layers of uniformly hand sliced meat. Just enough salt and juice to keep it moist and flavorful.

They certainly don't skimp either.

The fries were blah, but I was not here to eat fries (though now that I think of it, I should have gone for gravy fries on the side.

While this place isn't something I would leave the city looking for (it's about an hour away), it certainly adds to the charm and allure of the western suburbs. Now if only there was a way around having to take the Schuylkill expressway and 422 to get there.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

PDQ Deli at Tahoma Market

6937 W Lake Blvd.
Tahoma, CA 96142
(Lake Tahoe-ish)
(530) 525-7411

When anyone tells you that you can't get a good sandwich outside of the Philadelphia area, you should believe them. Time and time again, I am let down by poor imitations and this is just another example of why you should NOT ever go into a sandwich shop outside of the Northeast corridor with high expectations. Unless you're setting the bar at Subway.

I hadn't realized this before setting out to eat at PDQ, but it's a Wisconsin-based chain with shops mostly in and around Madison and Milwaukee with one outpost in California - right on Lake Tahoe. I guess that's why the locals are none the wiser - it looks and feels like a good old fashioned mom-n-pop deli.

It's deceiving, yes. But when the views are this breathtaking, who really cares what you're eating, right?

Wrong. I always care what I'm eating. I took my two sandwiches up to the top of the peak and by the time I sweat out most of the previous night's booze, I was ravenous and couldn't wait to get down on some mouth-watering pesto bread filled with turkey and cheese.

But the bread was bland and the thick slices of turkey must have been sitting out for who knows how long. If your deli meats aren't sliced fresh to order (and you don't see a deli slicer on premises - hindsight is always 20/20) then there's no reason to ingest it.

They are big sandwiches, so it's a pretty good value, but when you can't even taste the cheese, mayonnaise or the pesto in a pesto themed bread, you're better off chewing on some cardboard for free. The bread was soft, almost like white Italian sandwich bread, which is probably why they're getting a one cheesesteak rating (I was hesitant in giving any).

Everything I mentioned above goes for their jalapeƱo cheese bread and roast beef. More thick-cut, old and flavorless deli slices surrounded by regular white bread and some old tomatoes and romaine.

I really wanted to like it, but after discovering the PDQ convenience store chain, it's nearly impossible to say anything good about these sandwiches. Yes, I may have made a mistake in choosing this as a blog site...

Obviously it's a long way from Wawa (and even Sheetz), so until the rest of the country can figure out how to combine gas stations and fresh & tasty sandwiches, I'll just stick to what I know.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Los Dos Mexican Cuisine

2251 Maple Ave.
Downers Grove, IL 60515
(630) 297-8337

On a visit to Chicago, I was kicking around the burbs looking for some Mexican food. Was it a great plan? Certainly not. But I DID have the opportunity to sample this little joint tucked away in a strip mall, and it did not disappoint.

Free chips, as they should be. Ahem, Chipotle, take note.

Serve yourself? Right again. This salsa was so good I nearly drained both containers.

A torta and a quesadilla seemed about right, so I went for the chicken tinga.

It was nothing fancy, but everything was executed with perfection. Fresh ingredients, nothing that was the newest trend in fusion (fusion is overrated), just a solid torta.

Crisp shredded lettuce, thin but sturdy and soft bread with ripe tomatoes – which have been deathly hard to find this year.

Obviously the chorizo tacos had to be tried, and came out perfect yet again. Everything you need, nothing you don't.

The carne asada was a pretty tasty as well, with half a skirt steak grilled to a nice medium, and served with the usual rice, beans and some warm tortillas.

The flan was also a nice touch, as it was brought out on the house (my dining partners were regulars). Light, wobbly, and just sweet enough.

Pretty solid for a strip mall Mexican experience in the Chicago burbs.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Franzone's Pizzeria

501 DeKalb St
Bridgeport, PA 19405
(610) 275-0114

If you don't like sweet sauce on your pizza, stop reading. If you like amazing thin crust, and the "swirl", then get your ass to Franzone's.

Well-known among the Norristown area and beyond, Franzone's is about as unassuming as they come.

A Caesar salad came with surprisingly crispy lettuce, and a nice peppery cream based dressing.

But I was not here to eat salad. I was here for pizza. I went with a half pepperoni, half plain in order to sample both staples. I should have just ordered a whole of each. The crust is thin, crunchy, and has a fantastic slightly nutty flavor. The cheese is quality, and spread generously, allowing it to meld with the dough. But the sauce, oh that sauce, is the star of the show. The old rumor around town is that the sauce is made out of Ragu + sugar, but I believe it is actually made of tomato paste (for richness, sweetness, and umami) and pure love.

And a ton of sugar, yes. Either way, this sweet sauce is to die for, and has me craving some pizza from them RIGHT NOW.

Fancy, this place is not. Delicious, cheap, and crave worthy, it absolutely fits the bill. Some of my favorite pizza around.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Cake Cafe & Bakery

2440 Chartres Street
New Orleans, LA 70117
(504) 943-0010

New Orleans is known for many different foods, but one of the best known pastries among locals and tourists alike is King cake. Synonymous with Mardi Gras, this cinnamon-spiked Danish is one of many stars at the Cake Cafe.

Although it was not Mardi Gras (I would not be eating King cake), I still wanted to get the NOLA bakery experience, and I was not disappointed. They also crush the casual breakfast realm.

The doughnut you see below may seem like an ordinary glazed breakfast treat, but the layers of pastry were so light, flaky, and delectable, that it was almost unbelievable. Even heavenly.

The biscuits and gravy shown below were no slough, with a spicy Andouille side. The biscuits ruled the roost, light and flaky, like I am unable to make them...

Boudin and eggs were also delicious, with a fresh sausage patty fried crispy over grits, and another biscuit PLUS some yolk. Yes please.

The croissant breakfast sandwich below is another of my go-to's and this did not disappoint. Note: if you go here, order ANYTHING that has a baked good with it.

The central American breakfast subbed the grits above with beans and rice, and added some pico and guac. An interesting take, but nothing too special.

Finally the lowly bagel with cream cheese, a barometer of breakfast in my book. This was a very decent bagel for the South. Believe me, I have had some AWFUL bagels all over the Southeastern US. Was it NY worthy? Or even good Philadelphia bagel worthy? No, it wasn't. Was it a great way to pack in the calories before drinking began again? Absolutely.