Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Classic Diner

352 Lancaster Ave.
Malvern, PA 19355
(610) 725-0515

I don't want to say I'm not a breakfast person, because that would be a lie (a buttery, over-easy fried egg between 2 slices of white with mayo and hot sauce is pretty much the best thing on the planet), but I will say that I'm definitely not a brunch person. I hate going out for late breakfast, standing around for an hour waiting to eat fancy eggs and potatoes and then pay handsomely for something I could have cooked & eaten in 20 minutes for $1 or less. That said, I had a friend visiting from out of town and being the early riser that I am, we were up and ready to head out by 8am on Sunday, so we knew we could beat the mainline crowds at The Classic Diner.

On the way to our seats at the bar (food bar only, no alcoholic bevs here), I was sure to take account of what other diners were having and it was your usual range from eggs benedict to oversized waffles piled high with sugary fruits and syrups. And then I saw a guy with a side of bacon that stopped me dead in my tracks. It was like 6 slices of thick cut, perfectly browned bacon on a regular sized dinner plate and I knew I had to try it.

But then I saw the menu and realized a side of that mouthwatering meat was $6.50. My dining partner wasn't into sharing (the cost, mostly) so I was resigned to saving money and getting 2 eggs over-easy with toast, homefries and bacon built right into the dish for only $11.50, which seemed pretty reasonable to me.

I was glad that I did because it came with 4 hugely thick pieces of deliciously salty slab bacon. I mean, the eggs were fine, the toast was fine, the homefries were good too – especially the smaller ones that crunched nearly all the way through – but like I said earlier, I could do that at home.

My mate was even cheaper than I (we had no idea the 'diner' would be so posh) and seriously ordered a cheese omelet. I mean, there was eggs and a couple of slices of American in there and that's it. I think it cost $7.50 or something. Likely the most basic item on the menu and was in need of some S & P love.

Same well-cooked homefries and toast with a side of jam, not much to say there.

I will also mention that the coffee was pretty delicious, it was fresh ground and not your usual diner-style Folgers or Maxwell House variation. They care about their coffee here.

All in all, it's above my price point, but a nice place for out-of-town visitors, so on my next visit, I'm throwing caution to the wind and going for the full-sized side plate of slab and not sharing it with anyone.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Ye Old Coventry Pub

1440 S Hanover St.
Pottstown, PA 19465
(610) 323-5790

There are a LOT of beef and beer type places in the Philly area, especially the burbs. I was on a weekend drive and happened to stop by a place I had heard was one of the good ones, and decided to grab a Sunday lunch and beer.

In a place like this, a cheap domestic just seems right.

The best part is always watching the meat master at work. This was no exception. He painstakingly sliced and dipped each piece of beef off of what can only be described as a quarter cow. It was one of the largest pieces of beef I have seen in this type of setting. I was worried that might lead to tough meat, but was happy to be wrong.

As usual, they were served on a kaiser roll.

The beef was perfectly medium, and meltingly tender. You can see the au jus on the bread just helping lube things up so they can slide down. Double slices of prov were a welcome sight.

If you look through the beef crevice, you will see the layers of uniformly hand sliced meat. Just enough salt and juice to keep it moist and flavorful.

They certainly don't skimp either.

The fries were blah, but I was not here to eat fries (though now that I think of it, I should have gone for gravy fries on the side).

While this place isn't something I would leave the city looking for (it's about an hour away), it certainly adds to the charm and allure of the western suburbs. Now if only there was a way around having to take the Schuylkill expressway and 422 to get there.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

PDQ Deli at Tahoma Market

6937 W Lake Blvd.
Tahoma, CA 96142
(Lake Tahoe-ish)
(530) 525-7411

When anyone tells you that you can't get a good sandwich outside of the Philadelphia area, you should believe them. Time and time again, I am let down by poor imitations and this is just another example of why you should NOT ever go into a sandwich shop outside of the Northeast corridor with high expectations. Unless you're setting the bar at Subway.

I hadn't realized this before setting out to eat at PDQ, but it's a Wisconsin-based chain with shops mostly in and around Madison and Milwaukee with one outpost in California - right on Lake Tahoe. I guess that's why the locals are none the wiser - it looks and feels like a good old fashioned mom-n-pop deli.

It's deceiving, yes. But when the views are this breathtaking, who really cares what you're eating, right?

Wrong. I always care what I'm eating. I took my two sandwiches up to the top of the peak and by the time I sweat out most of the previous night's booze, I was ravenous and couldn't wait to get down on some mouth-watering pesto bread filled with turkey and cheese.

But the bread was bland and the thick slices of turkey must have been sitting out for who knows how long. If your deli meats aren't sliced fresh to order (and you don't see a deli slicer on premises - hindsight is always 20/20) then there's no reason to ingest it.

They are big sandwiches, so it's a pretty good value, but when you can't even taste the cheese, mayonnaise or the pesto in a pesto themed bread, you're better off chewing on some cardboard for free. The bread was soft, almost like white Italian sandwich bread, which is probably why they're getting a one cheesesteak rating (I was hesitant in giving any).

Everything I mentioned above goes for their jalapeƱo cheese bread and roast beef. More thick-cut, old and flavorless deli slices surrounded by regular white bread and some old tomatoes and romaine.

I really wanted to like it, but after discovering the PDQ convenience store chain, it's nearly impossible to say anything good about these sandwiches. Yes, I may have made a mistake in choosing this as a blog site...

Obviously it's a long way from Wawa (and even Sheetz), so until the rest of the country can figure out how to combine gas stations and fresh & tasty sandwiches, I'll just stick to what I know.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Los Dos Mexican Cuisine

2251 Maple Ave.
Downers Grove, IL 60515
(630) 297-8337

On a visit to Chicago, I was kicking around the burbs looking for some Mexican food. Was it a great plan? Certainly not. But I DID have the opportunity to sample this little joint tucked away in a strip mall, and it did not disappoint.

Free chips, as they should be. Ahem, Chipotle, take note.

Serve yourself? Right again. This salsa was so good I nearly drained both containers.

A torta and a quesadilla seemed about right, so I went for the chicken tinga.

It was nothing fancy, but everything was executed with perfection. Fresh ingredients, nothing that was the newest trend in fusion (fusion is overrated), just a solid torta.

Crisp shredded lettuce, thin but sturdy and soft bread with ripe tomatoes – which have been deathly hard to find this year.

Obviously the chorizo tacos had to be tried, and came out perfect yet again. Everything you need, nothing you don't.

The carne asada was a pretty tasty as well, with half a skirt steak grilled to a nice medium, and served with the usual rice, beans and some warm tortillas.

The flan was also a nice touch, as it was brought out on the house (my dining partners were regulars). Light, wobbly, and just sweet enough.

Pretty solid for a strip mall Mexican experience in the Chicago burbs.