Thursday, August 25, 2016

Split Rail Tavern

15 N Walnut Street
West Chester, PA 19380
(484) 999-8805

Split Rail is a good place to stop in West Chester for a decent beer selection, and so I decided to try the "Split Rail Commonwealth Burger" that was talked up by the bartenders the last couple of visits I made.

On the menu, it had all of the right components. "All burgers are 6oz Dutch Meadow Farms 100% Organic Grass-fed Beef accompanied by a Russian dressing, shredded lettuce, tomato, red onion, choice of sharp cheddar, American or Swiss, a spicy pickle and house-cut french fries, served on a Big Marty's sesame seed bun." Sounds like a high-end fast food burger to me. Lovely. I ordered it with sharp cheddar, and caramelized onions ($1.50 up-charge on the onions). Which put it at $13.50. Still, when it arrived, it looked quite good, and the fries were tantalizingly golden brown.

The problem with the burger was flavor. It was bland city, the burger meat tasted like watery beef juice that had never heard of salt (and there was a hair on my vegetable toppings served on the side). The hair, well that sometimes happens, but the woeful under-seasoning, that should never happen.

I really wanted this to be awesome, look how good it looks, and is a nice medium (strong medium) which was close enough (I guess) to the medium rare I ordered so as not to offend. But I truly tasted nothing. I asked a dining mate to try it (having given no indication of my thoughts), and the immediate response- "wow, that is incredibly bland" followed by- "is that a hair?". I have been back and tried it again to be sure it was not a one off experience. And it was the same conclusion. Great components, poor execution.

Not to mention the unexpectedly dry bun. Usually these babies are soft and supple, but this bad boy was D-R-Y and crunchy, but not because it may have been toasted (it wasn't), it was stale. Even if the burger had come out medium rare and potentially dripping with jus, the crumbly bun still would have been noticeable.

The fries were the saving grace (I think they mistakenly used the burger salt on THEM). Perfectly fried, nicely seasoned, and pillowy inside, I loved them. Next time I would steer away from the burger, but perhaps try something else that was accompanied by these crispy potato dreams. That is if I venture back during dining time.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Tröegs Brewery

200 East Hershey Park Drive
Hershey, PA 17033
(717) 534-1297

Brewery trips are rarely about the food. Except it sure does sweeten the deal. Tröegs makes some of my favorite beers in the area, and coming home from a recent camping trip in the Pennsylvania Wilds, I stopped in for lunch. This is a huge facility, and even on a scorching hot Sunday, it was packed.

They have what they call a "snack bar" with an abundant menu that goes well above and beyond what you would usually expect from a little league field's snack bar offerings. I went for a couple beers and a couple of sandwiches and it wasn't easy to make my decision. Everything on the menu had my mouthwatering and so at the last minute, I made a snap decision with the order and couldn't have been more pleased with the results.

The braised brisket is served on brioche, with mustard slaw, house steak sauce, and fries. I was also intrigued by the lamb falafel on sesame naan, green tomato and cucumber chutney, harissa, and tahini yogurt. Also shown, cheese sauce.

The brisket was fantastic. It was shredded beef style, very peppery, and extremely tender. I am usually not a huge brioche fan, but the buttery roll worked well on this substantial sandwich. The mustard slaw was perfectly creamy with a tang that cut through the aforementioned rich and succulent meat.

There was a solid ratio of ingredients to carbs, something often overlooked on brioche. This was one of my favorite brisket sandwiches I have had – possibly ever *gasp*.

The lamb falafel was a really interesting twist. I like lamb. I like falafel. Mixed together they were a great pair. It was essentially a falafel-y spiced chickpea and ground lamb meatball, no complaints here. Green tomato and cucumber chutney provided some acidity to the sandwich, and the harissa with tahini yogurt helped moisten what could have otherwise been a dry flatbread.

Harissa is such an underrated condiment. It blends the right heat with sweet and smoky balance.

The lamb-falafel mix was fried crispy, and had plenty of glorious herbs.

The hop fries with spicy ketchup (and let's not forget that side of beer-cheese sauce for dippin') were another favorite. They were larger than I generally prefer my fries, but they were perfectly fried and had a creamy interior to complement the crunchy exterior.

All in all, this was some of the best brewery food I have ever had. And the beer, oh god that beer. Totally worth the trip into Hershey.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Philly Phoodie T-SHIRTS!!! GIVEAWAY!!! WINNER- Molly Pitcher


UPDATE: Molly Pitcher you won via a random drawing. Please email me with you contact details and shirt size!

It's been a long time coming, but they are finally here. Get your own Philly Phoodie shirt by entering our giveaway. These are printed on extremely soft shirts with thin ink and feel broken in from the get-go. Leave a comment on this post letting us know what the best thing you ate in 2016 was (home cooked or out to eat) and make sure to email your contact info so when you hit it big on the random drawing you can tell us where to send it (and what color/size)! Contest will run until Tuesday, August 9th at 9AM ET. One winner will be chosen at random.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Frank Pepe's

157 Wooster Street
New Haven, CT 06511
(203) 865-5762

New Haven is well regarded as one of the best pizza cities in America. I had never been there, so my first stop (and only stop of this trip) was to Pepe's. Frank Pepe is the original, and so I had to give it a try.

The ovens are one of the main claims to fame at this place, besides originating the thin crust pizza. Coal fired brick oven, they run at 650 °F. Notice the crazy long pizza peels, which are used to jostle your pie into position. They hang from the overhead J hook to make life a little easier for the pizza makers.

They serve a salad, and pizzas. Plus, draft beer, which was a major bonus.

Although I was mighty tempted by the white clam pie, my thoughtful server said if it was my first time, I should try the original tomato pie with pepperoni and the fresh tomato pie while it was in season. As I wanted to taste the sauce, I obliged.

The original comes topped with crushed Italian tomatoes, olive oil, grated cheese, mozzarella, and I added pepperoni.

The pizza had a perfectly charred crust, with medium thickness pepperoni cups that curled under the extreme heat. The cheese was well browned, and expertly spread across the pie. Zesty tomatoes kept everything from being too rich, and provided a tangy contrast.

The crust was where Pepe's staked their claim. The perfect amount of char, and crispy bottom made this stand out. Thin and well done, this is how pizza should be.

The fresh tomato pie comes with fresh local "native" tomatoes, mozzarella, fresh garlic, and basil. This pie packed a garlicky punch, and was my favorite of the two. It was fresh, light, and the crust stayed even crunchier.

I got there just before lunch on a holiday weekend's Sunday and I still had to wait ten minutes. From what I have heard, the line wraps around the corner regularly. Plan accordingly.

And be prepared to wait even further once you're seated; you won't regret it.

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Goat's Beard

103 North Wayne Avenue
Wayne, PA 19087
(484) 584-4979

Wayne is not somewhere I often find myself, so when I was out that way recently, I decided to try a bar I was told about. The Goat's Beard holds down a cool disjointed corner lot. The inside is upscale(ish) and the outside lends itself to some pretty good people watching.

There is a great beer list, and some nice cocktails. I decided to try both (don't judge me).

The wings were labeled as "buttermilk fried with a 24 hour brine." But they seemed to have changed that up. I was told they were baked off first, and then fried to make them super crispy. Sounded exciting, but also nothing like the printed piece suggested.

The reality is that they were not as crispy as I had hoped. The skin was soft, and though somewhat rendered, there was little crunch to these things. The pickled vegetables were a nice change of pace, however, and I enjoyed them even more than the wings themselves.

I am not a fan of wings that are hairy (due to obvious reasons) and these were among the hairiest I have seen in a while. See below.

The pork and kimchi fries were my other snack on this trip, and a complete reversal of the wings debacle. The fries were perfectly cooked, and smothered with an addictive garlic aioli, bright kimchi, and unctuous pulled pork.

The portion size was perfect, and I could not get enough of the pork swirled with garlic sauce and bites of kimchi. It was a great bar snack.

Check out the crispy bits of pock hidden around the bowl. Fantastic.

All in all, the wings are a definite pass, but this bowl of fries might have me stopping by again, should I ever find myself in Wayne proper. I mean, likely not. But if you're there, go grab a drink and give any one of their fry options a try for me.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Square Bar

250 E Chestnut Street
West Chester, PA 19380
(610) 696-9825

West Chester is a college town, which generally doesn't equate to to great food. But West Chester is also an exception, with some genuinely delicious cheap eats. Square Bar is a hidden gem of a drinkery, but they also offer a surprisingly good cheesesteak.

The bar itself is a huge wrap around, which leads to many conversations with strangers, a sure sign of good times.

I decided to skip the wings this time, because I saw someone eating a cheesesteak. Believe me, it had nothing to do with the "sweat" teriyaki flavored "souce." I'll be back sooner than later to give you a full report there...

Boy, was I glad that I went this route. The meat was very finely chopped (big fan), and the serving was hearty. Extra cheese and fried onions were all this needed, and I preemptively knew that. I usually always order that way.

The gooey cheese punctuated the well seasoned meat, with the soft roll soaking up all of the grease. It was close to perfection. Yes, I did just say that. Nearing cheesesteak perfection. Nowhere near downtown Philadelphia.

Not even an inkling of chewy gristle stuff in there.

And just look at that perfect ratio of meat to cheese to onion to roll.

They use Amoroso's rolls, which do the job just right. You may know that I have a soft spot for Liscio's above all others, but I will give the former a pass here because whoever's in the kitchen here knows what they're doing.

Cheap drinks, good people, and an amazing interior might just make the Square Bar my new spot.