Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Honey Paw

78 Middle Street
Portland, ME 04101
(207) 774-8538
Website


On a recent trip to Maine, I had some of the most innovative and delicious Asian style food I can remember. It made me long for a Honey Paw in Philly. Alas, I will have to head back up north to get my fix.


A small but bright and airy corner space. with loads of windows, it was inviting and though parked next door to the famous Eventide Oyster Company, the food here made it a destination on its own.


The scallion pancakes were first, deep fried to a perfectly airy, crunchy, light, salty miracle. These were hands down the best I have had, and I have eaten quite a few.


Look at the texture on these. I am drooling thinking about them.


In keeping with my carb-tastic snack course, I had some fry bread with Thai butter. My god. I don't remember having a better fry bread either. Again, the texture and airy pockets of dough were perfection. Sliced hot peppers and chives, with the rich butter just made this one for the books.




The kimchi. I mean, it's kimchi. It's always pretty good. Like pizza. But this kimchi was again, everything it should be. Spicy. Tart. Crunchy. I would have bought this in a five gallon jar if offered, and likely eaten it before getting back to the car. Can you die from eating 18.9271 liters of kimchi? I am certainly willing to try.


Next? Oh just an AGED BEEF CORN DOG. Did I mention I like sauces? Meat? Food on a stick? Fried meat on a stick covered in sauce? Be still my (slowing) heart.



The slight funk of the aged beef let you know it was there, unlike most corndogs where you taste breading and only breading.


If you are familiar with Dan Dan Noodles, do I have a dish for you. Look at the balance on this.


ALMOST too good to eat.



Bok choy, with ground pork, noodles, nuts, and scallions. Spicy, rich and satisfying.


Starting to slow down, but no where near the finish line, I moved on to the fried chicken sandwich. Can we also take a moment to admire the house made chips? They are sprinkled with some sort of heavenly dust (peanut dust?). Stuffed in this roll was napa kimchi, iceberg, mayonnaise, AND american cheese. I love the play on po'boys.



Perfectly fried, on a great slightly crusty roll, with more kimchi. Yes please.



I obviously had to sample the banh mi, right? Sporting chicken liver mousse, fish sauce caramel, cucumber, jalapeño, pickles, cilantro and served on another of these perfect rolls. Maine sure does know bread.



Last but hardly least. I had to sample the house made noodles. Here is the mushroom udon, with miso, bok choy, togarashi oil, and tempura crunch. The ability to control your crunch with the side of tempura was key. Otherwise you would be eating soggy tempura.


The smooth warming miso broth was packed with umami, and filled with earthy mushrooms. Soul soothing indeed.


The bar was also no slouch, and a couple of fancy cocktails never hurts to punctuate the meal.



Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Hummusology

1112 Locust Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
(215) 592-6505
Website


Middle Eastern food is one of my weaknesses. I could live on any countries cuisine that includes warm breads, dips, and spice. In particular, Israeli food is favorite. I was looking for something healthy to eat before a baseball game that I knew would not be healthy. Hummusology was an obvious choice.


They have a small kitchen, that is bright and clean. The staff was incredibly polite and put their heart into it. And it showed.


The dishes are all humuus centric, obviously, but the execution is so varied you would never grow tired of the standard spread.


The hummus itself is just heavenly, silky smooth, warm, and perfect balance of tahini and blended bean. The toppings are unreal. For example, below is the hamshuka hummus platter. The literally have a shakshuka topped hummus. I can die happy. Creamy hummus topped with Shakshuka and warm chickpeas, sprinkled with paprika and a pinch of cumin, olive oil, green sauce, and tahini. Hot damn.


The shakshuka was sweet, spicy, and succulent. The balance was about as good as I have ever had. A warm pita to scoop up the goodness made this irresistible. Easily one of the best dishes of the year for me in the price range ($12).


The contrasts in flavor, texture, and taste were amazing. A healthy drizzle of olive oil and generous spice did not hurt.


The pickles and pickled vegetables added a tart contrast to the rich main course.


The sabich, a stuffed pita sandwich, was memorable, though outshadowed by the perfection that preceded it. Pita stuffed with hummus, roasted eggplant, hard-boiled egg, Israeli salad, and tahini. This benefited from the addition of the table side salt and spice mix, and some pickled hot sauce. The egg was perfectly cooked, and the smokey eggplant was substantial enough to make you forget you were eating no meat.


This is a rather substantial sandwich, and I still ate every bite.


See below with the spice shake and hot pepper relish addition. Delicious.



Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Gritty McDuff's Brew Pub

187 Lower Main Street
Freeport, ME 04032
(207) 865-4321
Website

Freeport Maine is known for their reasonably priced active outdoor-wear, and Gritty McDuff's (probably). This place is pretty well known in Maine, and so I generally make it a point to visit when I am in the Pine Tree State for some beers and decent bar food. Check out the bowl of Iggy Azalea below. Just kidding, it is actually lobster bisque, not clam chowder.


It was certainly creamy. And had lobster chunks. I would have loved some sherry swirled in, or some heat to it, but overall it was solid comfort food.


One of the more interesting things I tried was the barley battered fried chicken sandwich. The chicken was great, a nice hearty crunch, and the portion was huge. I would have liked the Swiss to be melted, however.



Honey mustard, bacon, lettuce, tomato. Good bar food.


A pair of lobster rolls (it IS Maine after all) were again pretty tasty, though obviously nothing gourmet about them. For about $14, it was a nice deal, and made for a tasty bar bite.


The lobster was fresh and well cooked, nothing rubbery here.


A bit of bib lettuce made this basically a salad.



I would certainly order all of the above again, but would love if they stepped it up JUST A BIT. Either way, when you have bought all of the plaid shirts and rubber boots you can carry, this place is the next stop for a pint and bite.


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Whip Tavern

1383 N Chatham Road
Coatesville, PA 19320
(610) 383-0600
Website

Looking for a weekend getaway from the city without spending three hours in the car and another three hundred dollars for dinner? The Whip has you covered. I can't believe it took this long to get here, but I sure am glad I made it. The drive to The Whip Tavern takes you close to Longwood Gardens, and then cuts into stunning horse country, where it is as though time moves more slowly. Winding roads spotted with grazing equines and green rolling hills, its the Delaware Valley we all too often forget about (likely to locals delight). One of the only places around for dining is also the best, with a beautiful old structure producing English style fare.


The first appetizer was a special, and is one of my all time favorites. Pig wings. Braised, fried pork shanks. These had a sticky, sweet, and spicy glazed that punctuated the fall off the bone tenderness of the swine underneath.



Another one of my favorites, the Scotch Egg, a hardboiled egg wrapped in sausage, breaded, and fried. I can find no fault with this. The creamy egg, crunchy exterior, and salty pork are a match made in heaven.


Look at the color on that yolk.


What is British cuisine, without some bangers and mash? Two roasted pork banger sausages served with garlic whipped potatoes and onion sage gravy, simple perfection. The snap on the casing was outstanding, and the savory gravy sopped up with mash was both comforting and ethereal, I am salivating thinking about it.



The finely ground sausage wrapped in snappy casing was all I need in this world.


Not to be outdone, an order of the fish and chips featured Atlantic cod hand dipped house-made batter, fried golden brown and crispy and served with thick cut fries.


A side of coleslaw made me feel like I was eating a "salad" with it, so it basically was calorie neutral.


The fish was flaky, delicate and addictive, especially with some tarter sauce and malt vinegar fries. A tremendous rendition.


The winner of the entrees, however, had to be the weekly special, Chef Anne's Luxury pie. New England lobster, Gulf shrimp and bay scallops in a lobster-infused shellfish sauce with lemongrass and ginger, under garlic whipped potatoes. Are you kidding me? It was a flavor explosion, punctuated by rich shellfish and creamy mashed that were JUST slightly blistered from a trip to the broiler. If you are there on the week they serve this delicacy, you would be remiss to abstain.


Last but certainly not least, sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream, paired with a Wells Sticky Toffee Pudding Ale.


Everything was just right, and the atmosphere made you want to stay and drink English style ales and stoudts all night while watching some footy. I am a new fanatic, and am already planning my next trip.