Wednesday, December 30, 2015

DCity Smokehouse

8 Florida Ave NW
Washington, DC 20002
(202) 733-1919

I had a chance to hit up the DCity Smokehouse on a recent trip to . . . DC. It is a hole in the wall that cranks out some amazing BBQ. Definitely a breath of fresh air from the usual DC eateries (Ben's Chili Bowl aside).

This place gets packed. You get in line, order, and shuffle aside to wait for your food.

It smells so good in there.

The "Tommy Gun" comes packed with house smoked turkey, crispy fried onions, melted cheese, BBQ sauce, and cilantro ranch on buttery, griddled Texas toast.

The turkey was very moist, and the sweet BBQ mingled with the creamy ranch just about perfectly. I was surprised I liked this sandwich so much, as getting turkey at a smokehouse seems like sacrilege. Let's just say there might have been someone else involved in that ordering process...

Look at the beautiful onion rings.

The "Brisket Champ" comes with onion straws and house made pickles, with a healthy serving of brisket. The meat was very tender, the pickles gave some crispy snap, and the fried onions added to the salty deliciousness.

Very well cooked brisket with a nice smoke ring. It was almost a shame to eat on a sandwich.

Perhaps my favorite was the fried brussel sprouts. These were shredded and deep fried to a crispy, paper thin result.

Even if you don't like brussel sprouts, you would probably devour these without a second thought. It is like a fried salad. Finally, someone made a salad that actually tasted good. All it took was a bath in hot oil and generous seasoning of salt.

House made pickles were another side. These were quite good as well.

A side of hush puppies erased any doubt that this was a glutton-fest. I will just finish with some fried dough please. Again - well salted, nicely cooked and they were oh-so tender inside. Highly recommend checking this place out if you are in DC looking for something that doesn't suck for lunch.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


1821 Chestnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
(215) 665-9710

I recently was asked to attend the grand opening of Sweetgreen on Chestnut. I had never heard of it, but figured I would mosey over and see what it was all about.

They are like a cross between Chiptole and Wholefoods. An impressive collection of fresh veggies stored behind the counter let you know that whatever you are eating is going to be healthy.

They handed out a "beets don't kale my vibe" bag to stay hip to the current slang.

The veggie tray was full of . . . veggies. There was also falafel. Hands down my favorite thing was the spicy cashew dressing. I was filling endives with it like it was cream cheese in a jalapeno popper. I can even make vegetables unhealthy!

The roasted butternut squash toast was pretty tasty as well. The parm on top really helped give it some fatty flavor.

The butternut squash "shooters" were unlike any shot I have done. Mostly because instead of cheap whiskey they were filled with organic vegetable puree.

"Falafel" shown below.

The Executive chef came all the way up from DC to welcome everyone and explain the meal. In the picture below he looks to be saying "who let you in"? I assure you, he was merely thinking that while explaining the ethos behind the company.

They serve beer here, which is great if you just want to pop in for a quick lunch salad and beer. I am sure people do that, right?

Here is a pear salad. It tasted fresh, but was missing lard.

This quinoa salad was also very fresh and healthy. I would have prefered some chicken cracklings or lardons, but this would probably NOT take a year off of my life like the things I typically eat.

The below pescatore delight might look like salmon. But it is actually Steelhead. Which is like salmon, but a sort of trout.

It tasted like a cross between salmon and trout.

The charred brussel sprouts with cranberry glaze were one of the crowd pleasers. The tart sauce helped the bitter greens down the gullet. I bet healthy eaters LOVE these things. They were pretty good in hindsight.

This place is perfect for office folks looking for a healthy alternative for lunch, and to be honest, I don't think there are a lot of places in Philly that specialize in local ingredient salads in a fast-casual environment. If you are on a diet or looking to make up for that late night cheesesteak, you should definitely give them a try.  

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Perky

400 Brower Avenue
Phoenixville, PA 19460
(610) 666-6600

The Perky is one of those neighborhood bars that would be in a rowhome if it were located in Philly. However, as it is out in P-ville, it is located on the entire bottom floor of a rather large house.

I was told the wings were a go-to, and as I have rarely met a deep fried piece of chicken I didn't like, I had to try them out. Whether or not I had eaten wings within the last twenty-four hours was besides the point. I went with the hot garlic butter, extra crispy. They did not disappoint. Spicy, with a depth of flavor that was exponentially increased with the addition of garlic. The chicken was rendered and the skin was crispy. These are great wings.

Next up was the cheesesteak hoagie. This one was a bit of a disappointment. The steak was AWESOME, the roll was terrific, the cheese well portioned and melted. However look at the "hoagie" part of this. It was thick sliced tomato, and huge slices of raw onion. It was way overkill, and was impossible to eat in the way it was served. I pulled the salad off of the top (don't know what I was thinking ordering it) and enjoyed the hell out of the cheesesteak just as it should have been in the first place.

Look at the cheesy goodness. The meat was very well seasoned, and the roll was just crusty, and just fluffy enough. The fries were very good, and the dipping sauce was killer. It was just the veggies that had me hung up. Maybe I thought I could call it a "balanced meal" with some fresh greens...

Next up on the agenda was the fried bologna. This was a nod to the good old days, with thick sliced encased meat, mustard, American cheese, and sweet pickles on a grilled bun. The sweet potato fries were a nice sub, and the creole dipping sauce was smokey, spicy, and delicious.

The fried bologna was like a SPAM sandwich. I loved the throwback nature of it, like a childhood favorite with a barroom upgrade. It was definitely something out of the norm, and although certainly not refined, it was beautiful in its simplicity.

Look at the char on the bottom of this meat. Nice and crispy, full of fatty flavor. The roll somewhat disintegrated under the onslaught of grease, but I powered through.

The Perky is the type of neighborhood bar everyone should have. Period.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Double Edge Sports Grille

4803 West Chester Pike
Newtown Square, PA 19073
(610) 356-7666

Never mind the blurry picture, the Double Edge is a great spot to grab wings and a beer. Especially in the bar desert that is Newtown Square. Sure, it's in a strip mall next to my grocery store, but hey, maybe I needed some ice cream afterward. Don't judge.

They have wing night on Wednesday's, with $.50 wings and $4 craft brew special. I obviously had to give the wings a try. And a beer or two . . . not to mention it happened to break into bingo night, which added some extra stay-after-dinner-for-a-few-more-drinks flair.

The brown sugar diablo was first on the agenda. I liked the traditional sweet with heat approach. Not too spicy, but overall a solid wing. I asked for them "well done" and they were rendered and crisped appropriately. I love when I can split my orders and get all the flavors I could want.

The cajun dry rub wing was even better. Dry rubs tend to produce a crispier end product, because of the lack of sauce. I would hope you already knew that. I have been on a bit of a dry-rub kick recently, and these were no exception. Full of flavor and long on crunch, they were definitely a well executed fried wing.

The porchetta sandwich was said to be a crowd pleaser by the bartender. I couldn't disagree. Tender Italian style pork, sharp provolone, bitter broccoli rabe, and a fresh seeded roll.

The pork was juicy, tender, and had a nice salty pork flavor. The texture was not the dried out, then re-hydrated type you often get at places that let their swine sit too long. A lot of the folks were eating pork, so it stands to reason you are getting a fresh serving. The only weird part was the gravy. I was thinking it would be an au jus, but it was a thick, roux based version, not what I would generally associate with porchetta. It didn't even need it.

The fries, although frozen and much larger than I would generally prefer, were fried quite well. The batter helped them maintain their crunch, the salty seasoning kept me coming back for more. Not a bad sports bar by any means, the fact that there are not a lot of options in the immediate area made it that much better.

Monday, November 23, 2015

1st Ward Sandwich

100 Morris Street
Philadelphia, PA 19148
(215) 551-8000

Only 4 years after I moved out of Pennsport, the neighborhood starts to look more appealing. Don't get me wrong, I prefer the old school Philly neighborhoods before gentrification, but there's something to be said for that stretch of time in-between when the mix of old and new struggle to find balance. The 1st Ward is one of those newcomers who has all the appeal of an up-and-coming neighborhood joint and so I went in with high hopes.

The decor is pretty basic, but it's tastefully bright and welcoming for being on Front Street right under 95. They have a clean presentation style and serve the sandwiches on cutting boards. Everything seems pretty good so far. Their menu is small, think of a pseudo-Paesano's style set of options, but fresher; well, not fresher but maybe healthier?

I went with the fried oyster po'boy and my friend tried the schnitzel. I was somewhat surprised to see my po'boy come out on an Italian seeded roll. I understand the 'fusion' they're going for here, but I think maybe this was taking it too far.

It comes served with "fried Chesapeake Bay's, spicy mayo and lettuce-tomato slaw." This sounds good but the execution definitely fell short. The slaw wasn't a slaw at all, it was more of a large-chop which made it sort of difficult to eat. The oysters were small, sort of heavy on the breading, but the flavor was there. Actually, for looking so wet, the whole thing was kind of dry and literally had no resemblance to a po'boy (and believe me, I've eaten my way around New Orleans enough to know the truth).

I mean, just call it an Oyster sandwich.

My buddy's schnitzel boasts, "thinly pounded pork loin, greens, fried egg, grain mustard on a butter roll." First off, there was no butter roll in sight. It was the same long seeded Italian roll. Which is fine, but again, let's just call it like it is. Another very dry sandwich. Weakly seasoned all around. Meh. I don't need to say more.

But hey, the fries were awesome. I asked if they had any aoili sauces for dipping and the cook said, "you mean like mayonnaise?" and I sadly replied, "I guess." She proceeded to spoon mayo out of the jar into a little cup for me. What about that spicy mayo that was on my oyster sandwich? Throw me a bone here people. Maybe they've worked out the kinks, but I don't expect I'll ever go back to find out.