Friday, August 30, 2013

The Plumstead Inn

26 W State St.
Media, PA 19063
(610) 566-2212
Website

If you know me, you know that I love a good dive bar. Cheap domestic drafts and crispy wings are what I crave from a local watering hole. Unfortunately, this is like a needle in a haystack in the city, where you generally have to pick one or the other. Enter the suburbs. The Plum is an anchor of Main Street in Media, where you will find a WIDE variety of people, ready to sit in silence and watch the game, or enter into a heated discussion on the topic of your (or their) choosing.


They always have a $2 draft special of the day (2 buck Chuck special), and the wings are just killer. They are simple. Just like they should be. And at $8 a dozen, not too hard on the wallet either.


The sauce is a simple Franks and butter mixture. You know, buffalo wing sauce. The pieces themselves are extremely crispy, moist inside, and come out the same way, every time. These are the way wings are supposed to be. Not brined in the tears of a widow from Buffalo for ten days and smothered in exotic spices – just great, simple wings.


They really do a fantastic job of rendering the fat to make the skin crispy as hell. These are among my current favorites.


Did I mention the cheesesteaks? How could I forget.


It turns out that downtown Media is flooded with choice cheesesteak spots. I mean, to get them this good at multiple establishments within a 3 block radius is almost unheard of. That's right, unheard of. (See: John's)


And at $6.50 a pop, I've got no complaints on the expense. Finely chopped, tender steak meat and caramelized fried onions lay on a generous bed of American. The rolls are perfectly soft, chewy and fresh. No gristle. Plenty of black pepper seasoning. These things are pretty close to perfect.


As if the wings weren't enough to fill my desire for poultry, I decided to try a chicken cheesesteak too.


Now, on top of that (literally), I still hadn't quenched my thirst for buffalo flavor, so I asked for a side of sauce and blue cheese to make my own DIY buffalo chicken cheesesteak.


I highly suggest you do the same. All of the things that were said of the Philly can be said of the chicken cheesesteak sandwich here. And I want to note that, buffalo toppers aside, the chopped chicken was anything but dry. Delicious.


Go sit outside, swill some 33's, and people-watch while your wings and cheesesteaks are cooked with love. It is one of my best finds of the summer.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Heirloom Tomato Festival

Hosted by Terrain
914 Baltimore Pike
Glen Mills, PA 19342
(610) 459-2400
Website

Because I was recently vacationing in Canada, I sent my field reporter, Dulceviv, out to cover this event, read on...

To be honest, when Philly Phoodie asked me to cover the Heirloom Tomato Festival at Terrain I had no idea what I was in for.


Upon arrival, I was greeted with the bloody mary table and then I knew I was in the right place. How can you go wrong with a choose-your-own garnish station? Not only were there perfectly seasoned bloody marys, but also a deliciously light and summery heirloom tomato tart to sample.

In addition to the the aforementioned bloody mary stand at hand, also the Happy Cat Farm was on site for insightful and thoughtful information about different types of tomatoes.


When we got to the salsa tasting table we knew we were on to something good. There were many types of salsas to try but most notably in my opinion was the pina verde. It had such a robust flavor with nice heat. The sweetness of the pineapple mellowed the hotness of the jalapeño. There was something for every taste on that table. Ranging from extremely hot to the less intense. The tomatoes were fresh and bursting with summer goodness.


The salsa station in all of its glory did nothing to prepare us for what came next. Chef Keith Rudolf (of Terrain Cafe) prepared an heirloom tomato tasting menu that was more than a mouthful. Who would have known that beginning the meal, the amuse (our “mouth amuser”): a shot of tomato/jalapeño water with halibut ceviche and a side rice cracker, could enliven the taste buds in such a way to prepare us for the following courses.

Our server whose name was never revealed, but whose smile and graciousness will live on in memory was just as excited about our meal as we were. He described the menu in a way that kept us on the edge of our seats between courses. We were presented with the summer panzanella. I cannot state how light and perfectly fresh every part of this dish was. The burrata had a bit of sweetness, which made the saltiness of the crouton a perfect experience for the tongue.


Second came the soft poached eggs with crunchy pole beans and smoked tomato oatmeal that held a creaminess that lingered after the perfectly cooked egg exploded on top of the smoked tomato oatmeal.

Next came the lobster tail with corn tomato pudding and house lardons and corn cream. I would be hard pressed to say that you can ever go wrong with lobster and house made lardons. Top that with corn tomato pudding and you have a sweet creamy, rich mouthful that will leave you wanting more.

And just when you couldn’t shake the thought of that delicious lingering lobster sensation, out came the bourbon glazed pork loin with summer ratatouille. Sometimes when you are expecting a pork to be delicious and moist and it comes out like shoe leather, this was not the case.

Lastly, the summer inspired peach, tomato cobbler with basil ice cream was a veritable dessert adventure. It was sweet, but not over the top. It was a perfect end to an incredible meal.


Chef Keith and his kitchen crew have a handle on flavors, textures and taste - making this experience one that will live on in my memory. I can say with full enthusiasm I look forward to next years Heirloom Festival.

Feel free to follow me on Instagram @dulceviv and look for an upcoming blog by the same name!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

...On A Roll

11 S Orange St.
Media, PA 19063
(610) 892-7979
Website


I love a good family owned business, so I was pretty excited to try On ARoll. . .  located just off the "main strip" in Media. This place features a quaint little storefront, and from what I had heard, some delicious food to boot.

There are a couple of stools inside if you want to belly up, as well as some indoor and outdoor tables.


After seeing the Italian hoagie tray, I decided to stick to sandwiches on a roll.


As their featured product is "On A Roll", I decided to try two sandwiches featuring the rolls. A caprese, and a chicken cutlet.


The chicken cutlet featured provolone, peppers, mushrooms, and marinara.


Unfortunately, the roll was a bit overwhelming, and the marinara was bland. The cutlet itself was pretty decent, but overall, it was not something I would order again.



The caprese was like eating a hamburger bun with some lettuce, tomato, pesto, and some bland mozzarella.


Again, it wasn't BAD it just wasn't done that well. Too much bread made for a very substantial, but not very fulfilling sandwich.


It actually looks pretty good in these pictures, but it was not executed like it could have been. It lacked flavor, and the roll was too much. It tells you the state of sandwiches in our city where this gets a big "meh" while somewhere like Pittsburgh, it would probably have 530 Yelp! reviews and five stars.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Luke's Lobster

11 Water St.
Brooklyn, NY 11201 ‎
(917) 882-7516
Website

I was in Brooklyn for work, a continuing trend these days, and I had a craving for lobster. And butter. So I had to check out the DUMBO branch of Luke's Lobster. They have one in Rittenhouse now as well, so I am going to say that they are probably nearly identical in output. With no factual basis for that bold assertion.


The view from the one in Brooklyn is slightly better. Okay, this is like 20 feet from the stand. Close enough.


The building is a small outpost, one half being a "sub" shop (ahem, hoagie) and the other half is Luke's.


It's not cheap. Mostly because it's a hot dog bun filled with lobster. Just "shell out" fifteen "clams", and this non-native regional delicacy can be imported to your stomach.


I first made my offering to the East River, then I began to dine.


I loved the tender claw meat, lightly tossed with mayo, lemon, and a shake of celery seed. The meat was perfectly cooked, the bread nicely buttered and toasted. This cool crustacean made for an appropriate rich man's hot dog.



A walk back downtown made for a great evening.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Smashburger

St. David's Square
550 E. Lancaster Ave.
Radnor/Wayne, PA 19087
(610) 200-5225
Website

With over 200+ stores worldwide, Smashburger is a new-fangled chain that's finally making an appearance on the Philly burger scene. And it's about time. What are we, chopped liver?


Now, when I say "Philly scene," I really mean the main-line scene. I'd probably go where there's lots of money and hungry rich families too. But don't get your panties in a bunch - the managing partners are already talking about bringing a few Smashburger stores closer in to the city proper.


It's your typical fast-but-not-too-fast food joint inside, with standard benches, tables, drink fountain, etc. But at last night's preview, we were greeted right at the door by Dr. Tom Ryan - the inventor of stuffed crust pizza and the McGriddle, to name a few. That's right, he started his career at Pizza Hut, moved on to Long John Silver's, next McDonald's, finally Quizno's and only after all of that accumulated knowledge of the fast food world, he decided to conceptualize the Smashburger chain.


Alton who? I mean, this guy's nothing short of a genius. He's a food scientist to the highest degree, with a Ph.D. in Flavor and Fragrance Chemistry and his Masters in Lipid Toxicology, both from Michigan State. Oh, did I mention that he also invented THE DOLLAR MENU? I love this guy.


He took us back into the kitchen, where the magic happens. They use only 100% Certified Black Angus beef and it's ground chuck that's not pressed through a grinding plate, but chopped in a large, open chopping machine that's basically a big bowl with a bunch of blades circulating on the bottom. Like a glorified meat blender. So the meat comes out like it's been freshly chopped with knives instead of being pressed to death.


They ball it up each morning and store the meatballs in these awesome refrigerated drawers right under the flat top griddle. What a dream. Here's Dr. Tom giving his demo.

video

Here's what he made me eat.


But before getting too dirty, they started us off with the sides. Now, they do offer salads, but this crew doesn't have time for that sort of thing. Do that on your own time. The fries are awesome. Thin, shoestrings that are cooked to perfection. The Smashfries variety has them tossed with rosemary, garlic and olive oil. Simply delicious.


They also offer sweet potato fries, another simply delicious item, again, cooked just right.


Just when I thought I'd had enough, they brought out the fried pickles. These were okay. They're served with a ranch dressing dipping sauce, but you should ask for the chipotle aioli dipping sauce with everything. They were just a little bit too salty and sliced a little too thin for my liking. I really want to taste the pickle, not the batter.


And then came the haystack onion rings. Yum. These babies were sliced paper thin and dipped in a chicken fried steak batter, which is so perfect to get the thin & crunchy coating they should have. Now, I would never order these as a side because you can add them to your burger, which is where they belong. That being said, the spicy brown mustard mayo that came along is not to be missed.


He got me close to a salad with the other 'health' side option - veggie frites. It's just a fancy name for deep fried carrots and green beans. They were still crisp and fresh tasting, even after their par-cooking, quick dip in the fryer. Pardon the sparsity here, my table mates attacked the basket before I could get a handle on what was happening.


And just when I thought the burgers would never come, they seemed to be never ending.


The Classic came out first and was probably my favorite (until the next one came out) burger of the night. It was your basic cheeseburger with American, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles and Smash Sauce (mayo, mustard and relish).


This one was cooked to perfection, a beautiful medium rare with a hard sear on the top and bottom. I really liked the simplicity here because the flavors in the well-seasoned beef patty were the most prevalent. Not too greasy, not too dry. This was perfect.


All right, second place goes to the BBQ bacon cheddar.


Applewood smoked bacon, cheddar and aforementioned haystack onions come on this one. The burger is smashed into a dollop of BBQ sauce on the griddle, then finished with another generous smear. The flavor profile here was balanced and every ingredient had an impact with each bite. Apparently they use regional BBQ sauces where they can: Carolina style, Texas, Tennessee, etc. Too bad we don't have a Philly style BBQ sauce, I guess that's where the next one comes in...


Now, I don't know if I was getting tired of eating burgers (yeah right) or if the quality of preparation and assembly took a minor turn, but the rest of the samples sort of fell off for me. Especially this one.


They're calling this the "Philly Smashburger," or something to that effect. They took a soft pretzel, smashed it with cheesesteak toppings and then threw a burger into the middle.


Not very good. The pretzel roll is too hard for a burger, everything slipped out. They use spicy mustard instead of yellow and it just failed on all levels. Enough said.


The truffle mushroom Swiss burger was overcooked and boring. With a drizzle of truffle oil, that's all you taste. Ever.


I'm not even going to talk about the (mushy) black bean burger. But I will mention the chipotle bun it was served on. It was a spicy delight. All of the buns here are light, fluffy and the perfect vessel for any burger. Yet another amazing production feat we can attribute to the incredible Dr. Tom Ryan.


And in case you're more of a poultry person, they offer fried eggs to top any and all of their burgers.


Oh yeah, and they serve chicken breast sandwiches too.


Smashburger is an all around delicious and gourmet alternative to the junk we're so used to eating at the big 3 fast food joints. They don't have a drive-through, so get out of your car and order inside. It won't kill you to take the extra steps, lord knows I needed them. They open tomorrow, so get out to Wayne and see for yourself.