Thursday, July 31, 2014

Billy Burger & Bakery

2 N 5 Points Rd #4
West Chester, PA 19380
(610) 431-3100

A couple of friends had told me I needed to get out to Billy Burger in West Chester, and it admittedly took me much longer than it should have.

Billy Burger (and Bakery) is a busy operation, with staff members all happily buzzing about, keeping things moving. They also offer an extensive baked goods section, and I was blown away at how good the baked goods at this burger bar were.

Husband and wife duo Bill and Sally are the heart and soul of the operation. Bill has cooked every single burger that the place has put out since opening three years ago. Every. Single. Burger. His attention to detail and love are what make the burgers fantastic. Sally, on the other hand, is the mad genius behind the baking end of things. My god, can she bake.

The burgers are cooked on a gas fired indoor grill, and it gets hot enough to char the burgers perfectly.

Billy working his burger magic below.

I was informed that they were prepping for a local burger competition (hosted the next day) while I was there, and was asked if I would like to try their offering. Obviously. The below burger is topped with Mermaid BBQ sauce (a personal favorite), pineapple sambal, grilled ham, shredded lettuce, and cheese. Unfortunately, the slow roasted pork that was going on the official entry instead of the ham was still in the oven. The charred ham was so good, I don't think I missed the pork!

This burger was sloppy. Up to your elbows in pineapple teriyaki goodness, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I absolutely loved the sweetness of the sauce and sambal mixed with the smoky flavor that both the charred burger and ham contributed. This one was a winner in my book.

The waffle fries were also delicious, fried crispy and well seasoned. Billy Burger has true soul, something lacking in a lot of new restaurants, and you could certainly do worse than to go in there and order anything on the menu (try the chili dog). The owners were incredibly cool, and I have to say, this place rules.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Cho Cho San

2018 Hamilton St,
Philadelphia, PA 19130
215) 557-1919

In a moment of weakness, while I was hitting Rite Aid for some Claritin, I decided to get some Japanese food because I didn't feel like doing the Whole Foods thing and I had just had a Wawa the night before...

Enter Cho Cho San. I'm going to keep this one short and sweet, even though nothing about the experience was sweet, save for the salad. And that's saying A LOT.

The lunch specials are severely overpriced and I should have walked away when I noticed page after page of the menu changing cuisines. From American-Chinese, to sushi, to Korean, to Japanese and then some, this place just needs to pick an identity.

The salad was by far the highlight of this sad, depressing meal. Your standard ginger-sesame dressing on iceberg with shredded carrots is sometimes just what the doctor ordered. If anyone has a recipe for this stuff, please do share. I try to replicate it at home, but it's never as good as the real thing. I'm pretty sure it's miso paste that gives it the umami, but I've yet to try it - this stuff is like crack.

And then there was beef teriyaki. Listed at $9.95 with tax $10.75. I received 7 bite-sized pieces of mediocre beef, not even thinly sliced. 2 pieces were so chewy I had to spit them out. See those udon noodles under there? I thought it was a pleasant surprise too! Oh, I'm sorry, did I say noodles? I meant one-thousand raw onions.

No thank you. Terrible on so many levels. Forget I ever went here.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Coop's Place

1109 Decatur Street
New Orleans, LA 70116
(504) 525-9053

Although I usually stay off the beaten path, sometimes you get a couple of recommendations for a place that is as touristy as they come, and you must investigate. Enter Coop's Place, a hole-in-the-wall French Quarter spot that has been around for ages.

Coop's showed promise, as the "kitchen" is shown here. Seriously. All questions of vermin aside, this looks like a down and dirty type place that would crank out some amazing fried chicken.

The fried chicken comes with a starch, and I chose my favorite, red beans and rice.

The chicken was not as crispy as I had expected, and lacked any kind of punch of flavor. Although it was passable, it left a lot to be desired. The red beans and rice were pretty tasty, but nothing better than average for the city.

The fried chicken with jambalaya presented the same chicken issue, but the rice side was also much better than the main.

The seafood gumbo, however, was the biggest loser of the bunch. A vapid broth, save for a tinge of fish, this was some of the worst gumbo I have had. Anywhere.

It was not helped by the large and way overcooked oysters milling about. Gross.

I can't really recommend you come here, what with the entire city teeming with delicious Cajun delights, but if you do, get a beer and some red beans and rice or jambalaya, and stay far away from the gumbo (and the kitchen).

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Reader Submission: Chubby's vs Dalessandro’s

5826 Henry Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19128
(215) 487-2575

600 Wendover St
Philadelphia, PA 19128
(215) 482-5407

This review by reader/blogger Tasty Tripod. For more reviews, recipes, food stuff and general nonsense, visit and follow them @tastytripod.

If you live in the city of Brotherly Love, it’s probably happened to you before: you tell someone you’ve just met where you’re from, and they immediately exclaim some version of “You’re from Philadelphia? CHEESESTEAKS!!!!” then proceed to ask you who makes the best sandwich. Yeah, it’s a stereotype, but as much as you and I hate to admit it, if someone asks for your opinion on steaks, you’re going to have one.

Fortunately, we have a lot of options. Besides the tourist trap nonsense of Pat’s and Geno’s that true Philly residents avoid (unless it’s 3 a.m. and you’re too drunk to care), there’s Jim’s, Tony Luke’s, and John’s Roast Pork, among others. Each has its virtues and its legions of ardent supporters, but we can’t forget two of the best options, even if they’re a little further away.  If you make it out to Roxborough, which is about a 15 minute drive from downtown, you’ll see them right off Henry Ave, directly across the street from each other. Trust me, it’s worth the drive.

Chubby’s has been in business since 1987 and offers up a full menu of steak sandwiches (or chicken), hoagies, finger foods like cheese fries and onion rings and a pretty good selection of bottled beers and beverages to go. They also have a decent amount of seating where you can enjoy some beers on tap at the full bar and watch the game. For convenience, Chubby’s has it in the bag – they’re open until 2 a.m. on weekends and take credit cards, plus they have a small parking lot.

Dalessandro’s, on the other hand, is cash only although there is an ATM on premises.

A neighborhood fixture, their menu is also a little more limited – the focus here is on the sandwiches. You won’t find appetizers or sides on the menu, so if you want fries with your steak, you’ll have to get them elsewhere. Don’t let this deter you, though, because what they offer is phenomenal. During peak hours, there’s a line out the door but service is fast and efficient so you won’t be waiting long – which is good, because parking is street only and limited.

So who serves up the better steak sandwich? It’s a close call. Both use rib-eye on an Amaroso roll. Both come standard with American, although you can add on provolone, whiz, and various toppings. It’s a matter of personal preference, of course, but the general consensus seems to indicate that the difference is in the chop. While Dalessandro’s gives you a generous portion of finely chopped meat – some would say it resembles ground beef – Chubby’s give you a smaller portion that’s less chopped, giving you the more “traditional” steak presentation and, some would argue, more flavor. That’s not the final verdict, though, because there’s a wild card: Dalessandro’s buffalo chicken cheesesteak.

I can say with certainty that once you have the buff chx at Dalessandro’s, anyone else’s version of the sandwich will pale in comparison. It’s that good. It comes with Bleu Cheese and American – add fried onions and hot peppers and you’ll succumb to a pleasant food coma like no other.

Which steak shop is your favorite – Chubby’s or Dalessandro’s?