Monday, December 31, 2012

Mr. Gyros

10901 North Military Trail
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418
(561) 627-3979

In my travels, I am always looking for a good hole-in-the-wall that has interesting food and that doesn't break the bank. When in the West Palm beach area of Florida, this can be quite a task. Luckily I got lost and ended up at Mr. Gyros.

I don't think they get many people taking pictures.

I would usually go with a lamb gyro, but the chicken on the spit was so crispy and delicious looking, I passed over the recently shorn gray variety for the poultry version. This gyro comes LOADED, has feta on it as a standard (not noted on the menu), and has tzatziki on the side. Big fan of the manual application of yogurt sauce, as it allows for controlling the slop factor when you get down to the foil parts. The Greek side salad was pretty great as well. Especially with the house dressing.

Probably my favorite part of the meal was that they have and sell their own hot sauce, which is basically the Mediterranean version of the hot pepper hoagie spread I love so much around here. One gripe is that the peppers themselves are tough to get out of the squirt bottle. Other than that, it added a nice vinegary zip to the sandwich (and salad). For the ritzy food and lifestyle synonymous with this area, Mr. Gyros was a great find for some reasonably priced "ethnic" food .

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Euphoria Cafe

1001 N.2nd Street #23
Philadelphia, PA 19123
(215) 238-9209

You may remember the past post about cafĂ© Euphoria, but I didn’t. So I decided to try it again, for the tenth time.

Yes, it's in the dreaded Piazza, yes it's kind of weird, but damn, they make a great cheap sandwich pocket to go.

At $3.50 to $4.50 a piece, you can afford to order a couple and see what you like best.

Look at the beautiful lattice-like markings. Like an Eggo pocket, made just for you.

Luckily it was between breakfast and lunch (though I believe they serve everything all day), so I was able to start with a sausage, egg, and cheese. This is what hot pockets are intended to replicate. So delicious. And convenient.

Not wanting the sausage to feel left out, I also went for a bacon, egg, and cheese. Again, everything you would expect, in a beautiful, crispy, golden puck sized vessel. I will admit, they were somewhat dry in there. But this is nothing that ordering a little smear of ketchup or (and) mayo won't fix next time.

The ham and cheese was something I had not tried, but it about fit the bill for a late breakfast as well. Ham, cheese, iceberg, mayo, mustard. Simplicity, and execution. I could have used the cheese on the outside perimeter of the fillings, as to facilitate more melting, but it was a minor complaint.

If you want to go for a cheap coffee-and-snack-type date in Northern Liberties, you could do worse than choose to come here. Also, try the bulgogi, if you're visiting later in the day.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Izenberg's Cafe

1600 Butler Pike
Conshohocken, PA 19428
(610) 828-8900

I was recently out doing some holiday shopping in Plymouth Meeting, and really worked up an appetite. There was no way I was making it back to the city without stopping first for a snack.

Izenberg's Cafe is an unassuming little brick box attached to an auto shop on the Butler Pike, just outside of what's considered "Conshohocken Proper." It's a Jewish-style deli owned by a husband-wife duo, Julia and Fred Izenberg. "We cook our own savory meats, prepare all of our delicious soups from scratch, bake our own cakes, cookies, brownies, pies and other baked goods, and never, ever cook from a can or a box. Only fresh produce and top quality goods help us complete our delicious foods."

Here Julia is showing a bit of exaggerated enthusiasm towards a couple with a cute baby eating some bagels.

The menu is pretty extensive for such a tiny little kitchen - Fred's back there most of the time, putting care into all of his creations. Even though I really just needed something small(ish) to hold me over, I couldn't resist the sight of piled-high meat sandwiches on their "specialty items" page.

I went with the Hot BRISKET, and Julia was quick to back me up on the decision.

Don't let the aforementioned photo fool you - it's not served on rye, it comes on a kaiser roll, as well it should. It's served with fried onions, provolone and a creamy horseradish mayo that really stole the show. The brisket itself was tender and of very good quality.

But, it was dry. There was nary a sign of any jus. The creamy horseradish sauce helped to make up for some of the dryness, but only on the top half. I don't know if they keep it dry-wrapped back there like it's lunch meat, or what, but the sandwich could really use a lot more beef gravy to sweeten the deal.

A friend, whose self-control is much stronger than mine, did the health-conscious thing and got the veggie wrap. It too was a little dry, but isn't that what's to be expected of something as boring as sliced vegetables rolled up in a tortilla?

If I lived in the Conshohocken area, I'd probably visit on a semi-regular basis. I'd get to know Julia and Fred and have them whip up some jus for the benefit of the community.

-posted by gabulous

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Dave & Buster's

325 North Columbus Boulevard
Philadelphia, PA 19106
(215) 413-1951

Although it is out of my general purview of locations to serve the general purpose of this website, I am never one to turn down a free experience. Especially when there are video games, sports, beer, and bar food involved. When I was recently asked to check out the interior upgrades and new menu additions at Dave and Buster’s, I was pretty damn excited.

I had actually been there somewhat recently, but was unaware of the dramatic transformation that had recently been undertaken.

I can honestly say, if there were a sporting event worth watching in this town in the near future, I would consider this as a viable possibility. The size and amount of new TV’s is almost a joke. Certain to elicit involuntary orgasmic outcrys from dyed-in-the-wool sports fans.

Seriously, there is an awesome set of TVs about everywhere you look.

We decided to forgo the traditional dining room for a seat at the bar, with college basketball and ice hockey (damn you NHL) as far as the eye could see. As this was a Friday night, the new appetizer sampler seemed to be calling my name, especially when I'd be coupling it with a pint of Dog Fish Head 60 Minute (or 5). This platter is the size of a small desk and is flush with wings, fried shrimp, pigs in a blanket, a chicken quesadilla, and homemade potato chips. If that doesn’t equate to bar food, then a drop of fermented beverage will never again touch these lips. Our bartender, Russel, was on point and left us wanting for nothing. Even multiple requests (as are usual accompaniments to my eating habits) like a side of the sauce from this other appetizer or yet another beer, were met with a disarming smile and at times, a fantastic recommendation.

Enter The 5:15. "The 5:15 was made for you and your crew, out of the office at last and looking for a good time. You'll get 5 Buffalo Wings with your choice of Ranch or Bleu Cheese dressing; 5 Chicken Quesadilla Wedges with salsa; 5 Pretzel Dogs; and 5 Crispy Fried Shrimp with spicy habanero sauce; complete with a stack of fresh BBQ potato chips. Because work sucks. And freedom tastes good."

That said, I have to start with the bad. The pigs in a blanket were unpalatably salty. And I LOVE salt. There was a seasoning sprinkled on the blankets (atop an already sodium-rich snack) that, in turn, elevated it to salt-lick status. I also would have humbly suggested serving them with some sort of mustard dip. It would add some acidity to cut the salty, fatty flavor that makes these such a classic party food. The wings were solid, nothing spectacular, but definitely something I would order again. Especially if I were watching some type of athletic event on the aforementioned television encirclement.

The quesadilla was again, fine, all of the things one would expect. Crispy tortilla, melted cheese, tender chicken, spices.

The shrimp were delicious, but growing up with a background that forbade letting a single piece of seafood go uneaten, I could eat any kind of fried ocean goer and be content.

Perhaps the most interesting twist of the evening came in the form of the potato balls that were recommended by Russ, the bartender. The tiny fryer basket they were served in was lucky to not leave with me. Someone may have called it "cute." The potato balls were crispy, not overly salty, and creamy inside. I would have appreciated the inclusion of a dipping sauce or two, but these were like an adult(ish) version of tots, and with fresh parsley they tasted fine alone. But I will also say that the 5:15 had an abundance of dipping potential, so there was some mix-and-match happening. Highly recommended.

I also had the good fortune to receive a few gaming cards pre-loaded with enough credits to play a significant amount of video games. I had Rounders style luck on one of them, but I won’t say which.

We headed back along the winding walkway – this place is humungous – and entered the ultimate fun center.

There is another bar back here, so fear not, your drinks can continue to flow.

The games go for days.

And so do the tickets... if you're good.

I definitely had a great time at Dave & Busters, (my beer tab certainly must have reflected that), and it had more to offer than I was expecting. The food was passable, but the environment for hanging out and watching the game was quite impressive. One of the issues with watching sports in Philly is that the places with nice TV’s are filled with people who suck, and the places you want to hang at and drink for cheap have shitty TV’s. Dave and Buster’s has enough space to not be crammed in with a few thousand frat boys, and the TV’s are nice enough to make curling interesting. Not to mention, as we were informed by the bartender, they routinely have local professional athletes show up of their own accord, so who knows, you could be watching the Sixers with Jason Peters.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Guest Post: Twin Anchors

1655 N. Sedgwick St.
Chicago, IL 60614

Twin Anchors makes ribs. I'm sure there's other stuff on the menu, maybe even good stuff, but I'd never even bother. The sides are really good too but I don't even usually make it to them. It's like saying "hey, I can see that you're driving that really nice Ferrari there but care to take this Corvette for a spin?" Maybe even a Ferrari covered in bbq sauce. I can only dream.

I've tried to make ribs on my own but they're capable of some kind of magic there that I can't replicate. It's possible that they've had some time to work out the kinks since opening in 1932.

Aside from the ribs being cooked to perfection, the variety of available sauces really tops it off.

Here's a breakdown of each:

Original - A fantastic base-line mild, tomato based sauce. This one was good enough to hold up on its own for the first nearly 50 years of the TA being around.
Zesty - Introduced 30 years ago, it's a tangy twist on the original.
Prohibition - The newest edition, a fiery variant with a lingering burn. I buy a bottle of this stuff to take home every time I visit.

The bottom line is that this place does ribs right. If it was good enough for Sinatra, it's good enough for you. Next time you're in the windy city make the effort. But show up early. The line stretches down the street on most nights.