Friday, August 31, 2012

Wimpy's Original

1015 North Providence Road
Media, PA 19063
(610) 565-3910

Wimpy's is a spot I had never heard about until some coworkers suggested it for lunch one day. They specialize in burgers, but have a variety of other items.

You can eat inside, or sit outside if its nice out. It's a pretty sweet setup for summer lunches.

The buffalo chicken french fries sounded too interesting to pass up. They came out with sliced buffalo chicken fingers, diced celery, and blue cheese dressing all piled on top of fries. The sauce was quite tasty, and I had never seen this interesting take on fries. This entire meal was calorie overload, present company not excluded.

I also tried the Volcano burger, which came with hot sauce, pepper jack cheese, Wimpy WAM! Spice and jalapeno poppers on a bed of lettuce. Jalapeno poppers on a burger sounded interesting, so I gave it a try.

Unfortunately the food took so long to come out (45 minutes) that my poppers were no longer "popping" but were instead "congealed." There was a lot going on with this burger, but overall it was pretty tasty.

The Cowboy Burger is a bacon cheeseburger, with an onion ring, barbeque sauce, cheddar, sad translucent tomatoes (come on, its summer!), and shredded lettuce.

This one is also a tasty burger, reminiscent of the Rodeo Burger, my high school favorite.

All in all, Wimpy's is pretty tasty, but the service was lackluster. I would go back if I were in the area, craving a burger, and wanted a change of pace from Five Guys.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Tomato Bistro

102 Rector Street
Philadelphia (Manayunk), PA 19127
(215) 483-2233

I have a lot of love for The Couch Tomato Cafe, so I was interested to try their newish addition, the more upscale Tomato Bistro.

Its kind of confusing to figure out where to go. There are also a couple of tables outside reserved just for bistro customers.

The menu looked pretty good, with pizza, sliders, and small plates.

They brought out complimentary tomato soup and garlic bread, which was delicious. Unfortunately it was by far the best item of the meal. I was constantly bombarded by an overly assertive server blatantly trying to up-sell just about everything. We were also the only other people in the place for the first half of the meal. It was early (about 6), but this led to more uncomfortable interactions with the pusher. Another questionable practice is making customers give first and last names to get a table. I would simply have withheld, but my dining partner gave theirs. For a walk in meal, in an empty restaurant, first AND last name is overkill. Let's face it, it's NEVER necessary.

The chicken and waffles had potential, but they were lacking a critical component, fried chicken. They contained lager braised chicken, apple butter, bacon and maple syrup on a Belgian waffle. There was also some wilted greens on top. This would have been pretty good as a sandwich, and if there were some type of crunch, a la fried chicken. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't quite right.

After the chicken and waffles, things went downhill. The Mediterranean plate sounded great, but was pretty awful. Which is kind of hard to pull off. The olives were fine, the grilled vegetables, however, tasted pickled and grilled. They were mushy and acidic, I was not a fan. the caper berries (with stems below) were a new one for me, and were pleasantly delicious. They were like a cross between an olive and a fig. The hummus was bland, the cucumber salad was terrible (old soft cucumber and WAY too heavy on the Greek oregano), and the ricotta salatta (or feta?) was inedible. It was supposed to have orange zest in it, but there was so much zest that it tasted like what I imagine Orange Glo would taste like. Me not finishing cheese is unheard of – I could not shake the chemical taste, and left it alone. Also, the house foccaia, which has always been terrific down stairs, was too sparingly dealt, and less than fresh.

The sliders were the last order of business. Now, I know that sliders suck. I am pretty sure it is common knowledge (think to yourself the last time you had a truly good slider, ever?) but I wanted to give them a chance.

The lamb slider was adorned with cucumber and tzatziki. Despite what looks like an abundance of sauce in the first picture, this was quite dry. Possibly because the meat to wheat ratio was way askew. Typical of sliders. This entire offering dripped of mediocrity.

The Kobe beef slider was another let down.

The meat was over cooked, in stark contrast to the medium rare lamb on the last mini burger. Much like the lamb, it looked really good from the side, but the cut away showed its true nature. There was not even a hint of truffle on this one, and the "fondue" served with it was not enough to make the dry bites enjoyable. Look at the bread!

The house made potato chips served with the sliders were pretty good, along with the balsamic drizzle, but unfortunately were not enough to make up for the variety of mishaps.

I wished this place was as good as their pizza shop downstairs, but I would never venture back up those stairs, given the choice between the two.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Ida Mae's Bruncherie

2302 East Norris St.
Philadelphia, PA
(267) 259-6493

Ida Mae's is a Fishtown institution – part greasy spoon and part low-key brunch spot - it is great for a leisurely breakfast or lunch. Just make sure to bring cash.

When you walk in, you are greeted by the open kitchen. There is a bar with some seats, and additional seating in the rear.

They are famous for their huevos rancheros, and you don't have to tell me twice to order anything with eggs and salsa, I am already on it. The huevos are prepared with crispy corn tortillas, two sunny side up fried eggs, avocado coulis, sour cream, salsa, and cilantro over black beans.

This is a visually appealing dish, and it's quite tasty as well.

One issue I had was the overly watery and abundant black beans, seen below. Other than that, add some hot sauce and dig in. Highly recommended.

I can never pass up some SOS, so getting the creamed chipped beef was a sure thing. This one is pretty standard, nicely seasoned with a good consistency, served over toast, and accompanied by crispy hash browns. Definitely a solid offering.

Ida Mae's is a great neighborhood spot with flavorful and reasonably priced breakfast food. If you're up that way looking for something along those lines, you can't go wrong.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Henry James Saloon

577 Jamestown Street
Philadelphia (Roxborough), PA
(215) 483-8460

I was referred to the Henry James (Hank Jim) Saloon by a reader, and so I made a plan to hit it on my way out of town last week. Nothing like a cheesesteak and a beer for a quality lunch to start vacation.

This place is located right by the famous Dalessandro's cheesesteak shop in Roxborough.

They have everything you could want in a dive bar with food – menus on the place mats and a variety of comfort foods ubiquitous to the Philadelphia suburbs (yea you heard me Manyunk/Roxborough).

I somehow inadvertently ordered cheese fries by "accident", which turned out to be beer battered (they call them Brew City Fries), salty, crispy, and served with white cheddar-jack sauce. Delicious.

The "Pud Steak" was, for all intents and purposes, a deluxe cheesesteak. This one boasted a half pound of rib eye, provolone, fried onions, house roasted long hots, hot sauce, and tomato sauce. The hot sauce was barely there, but the rest was spot on. The meat was tender and well seasoned, the long hots added a bit of kick, and the prov kept every bite cheesy.

I also had to give the namesake "Hank Jim" sandwich a try. This one is served on a toasted "football" shaped roll, complete with chicken fingers, pepperoni, sauteed spinach, sweet peppers, and smothered in provolone.

My one gripe is that all of the cheese was stuck on top, whereas I would greatly prefer it to be interspersed with the rest of the components. That aside, this sandwich was delicious. The chicken fingers acted as extra crispy cutlets on a smaller scale. With sweet peppers and pepperoni adding some spice and tang, the crispy bread held it all together. Everything was pretty damn good.

A couple of Guinness's rounded out this meal. There was nothing not to like about this place, and it makes me wish we had more places in Philadelphia proper to enjoy GOOD classic bar food (Nick's Roast Beef being the pinnacle) mixed with the neighborhood watering hole feel. One of my favorite parts of the suburbs is the ability to drink some cheap domestic beer, eat dinner while watching sports, and not leave owing fine dining amounts of money. Henry James fits the bill.