Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Frankie's on Fairview

604 Fairview Road
Woodlyn, PA 19094
(610) 543-2300

I am not inherently a breakfast person. Although I do love a hearty weekend breakfast, lunch is my favorite meal of the day, and in that regard, I don't cover a lot of greasy spoons. Frankie's was not on my radar as I don't frequent Woodlyn, but last Saturday I hopped on the motorcycle and decided on a breakfast ride. I found myself near Frankie's, and hot damn, I am glad I stopped in. Frank the owner is a food service veteran, and it shows. I heard rumors of him expanding, and if he keeps the product consistent, I think a lot of folks will be saying "Sabrina's USED to be the best" (I for one have NEVER been impressed with Sabrina's).

They have a rather large menu, with breakfast and lunch offerings. They even offer some vegan options if you don't like real food.

The coffee was Lavazza, and it was a huge step up from typical diner coffee. One of my biggest pet peeves with breakfast spots is when they have gourmet food and crappy coffee; that's an automatic cheesesteak off the rating. Not at Frankie's though.

The "Ultimate Biscuit" was a must order. One plate, containing at least 3 meals' worth of food. It housed buttermilk fried chicken, applewood smoked bacon & two sunny side up eggs, served open face on a biscuit with sausage gravy. Yes, all of those things rolled into one pile of savory flavor.

The chicken was prepared Japanese Katsu style, thinly pounded and panko fried; it was tender, juicy and the outer shell stayed very crispy throughout the time it took me to down this entire load. The gravy had a hint of maple, and was filled with chunks of sausage. 2 perfectly sunny side up eggs doused with some drops of sriracha, usually something I would complain about as it tends to overpower, but the heat cut through the richness of this dish and the sparse application was just right.

The bacon hid underneath, and I was so happy to dig into a slice as I cut into the fried chicken. Perhaps my favorite part is that I was JUST about to complain about the lack of bread, as I had completely forgot about that delicious biscuit resting underneath this mountain of calories. And then there it was. In all its crumbly, buttermilk glory.

Nicely seasoned/peppery gravy and well fried bacon.

Look at that biscuit hiding under the pile of dreams.

Never one for moderation when heavy dairy-based sauces are involved, I also tried the creamed chipped beef (or SOS). This iteration was served over Texas toast. I absolutely LOVE SOS, and this certainly did not disappoint. The dried beef was tender and salty, the bechamel was creamy and well spiced. To further the indulgence, the Texas toast acted as a carb-centric vessel to deliver indulgence to my overwhelmed taste buds. I was basically like this when the dish hit my lips.

The crispy potatoes were fried very well, and as had been the standard for all other things throughout this meal, very well seasoned. To perfection.

This is a perfect breakfast spot. Hands down one of the best I've ever experienced. As I waddled back to my motorcycle, I was already planning a return trip to try out their lunch menu. I have to recommend this as somewhere that could stand against any of the famous breakfast/brunch spots in the area. Every dish I saw served would have been a winner, though ordering something other than my staples is going to take some effort.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Qdoba (of Conshohocken)

200 West Ridge Pike #108
Conshohocken, PA 19428
(484) 243-6118

While it may not be my typical fare, I have some love for fast food. In particular, new "fast casual" chains where they are serving actual food, and not the garbage you get at the Golden Arches. Qdoba is a weakness of mine, especially with all of the new spicy options. I get so tired of "hot" not actually being hot. They put the heat into some spicy queso dips, and it has improved my love of burrito-bar chains. Oh, and they invited me to come "roll my own" at a grand opening in Conshy which was a perfect fit for an April twentieth posting. See below for video.

The new interior is much sleeker than what I was used to. ¡Qué color! They're officially opening tomorrow and are having a DJ with some free foods tonight. If you can't make that, then click here to get a coupon for free chips and salsa tomorrow only.

I was brought some of the new quesos to sample. The spicy version was called "el Diablo" and it brought the heat. Plus, it was spicy cheese. So it was obviously a winner. The three cheese blend was a mixture of cheese thinned with tortilla soup. A good use of resources. It certainly had more complexity than the capsaicin version.

The next sample was "Mexican Gumbo" which was really just the burrito ingredients served over rice and tortilla soup. Still, it showed some creativity, and let you create the stew you want.

We were also treated to a handmade guac tutorial. where they took 87 (appx) avocados, and smashed them using a giant masher. It was pretty impressive for a burrito chain, Especially if you have ever had WAWA's guac, which tastes like citric acid mixed with unripe bananas.

The guacamole was good, could have used a bit more salt, but the acidity was there, and I was more than happy to eat well over my fair share.

Now for the moment of truth. Qdoba - behind the glass. I strapped on my gloves and showed my dinner mates how the rolling was done.

My personal trainer was very knowledgeable (as was all of the staff we encountered) and anxious to help.

I used almost everything on the line.

Including their bacon jalapeño queso. That's right, they have 3 different kinds and I put a bit of each on my pile. The bacon jalapeño is amazing.

See a video below if you want to waste a minute watching me roll a giant burrito and struggle to atone for my glutenous choices on the line.

Now that was just the roll, you can waste 6 more minutes of your life and watch me down the entire line if you want. CLICK HERE to do so.

My dining mates were convinced they rolled a better burrito. But I disagree.

Guess which one is mine?

So anyway, check out the new menu at Qboda, they have a whole bunch of new menu items, and possibly win a card for a free entree... Come back tomorrow and enter to win.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Bob's Haven Deli

1442 Charlestown Road
Phoenixville, PA 19460
(610) 933-8788

Bob's Haven Deli is a local joint in Phoenixville that has been around for ages (over 63 years according their website). They also have the most amazing pizza .gif on there that I have ever seen (see above).

There is a LOT of prep space here, with a large enough waiting area. I was trying to get a picture for a friend who recommended the place and was yelled at by who I can only assume was Bob himself.

They have "Zep's" instead of hoagies. While Zep's are usually a Norristown sandwich, they do pop up sometimes in the surrounding area. As is typical, the Zep is a hoagie with extra raw onions, tomatoes, and NO LETTUCE.

This was not a small sandwich by any stretch. At about $8, it was reasonably priced. I was hoping the hot pepper request would yield hoagie spread, which is the standard for Zep's. Unfortunately, it consisted of a few cherry pepper slices hidden along the bottom of the roll. There were also a load of onions on this. More than even an allium-lover like myself would typically have the pallet for.

Look at the girth of the onion pile. This was a spicy meatball. All in all, the bread was good, the meat was freshly sliced, and the sandwich was pretty well constructed. I would say the combination of onions being a bit much, the lack of hoagie spread on a Zep, and the fact I was yelled at resulted in a three cheesesteak rating. For Phoenixville, not too bad. Of course, this place is also just a hop, skip, and jump away from Foresta's, so I would be hard pressed to forgo the reigning champ for a Zep.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

320 Market Cafe

211 West State Street
Media, PA 19063
(610) 565-8320

The 320 Market (originally written about here) has an outpost in Media that recently moved into nicer, larger digs. It may not look to pretty from the outside, but inside is a nice market, cafe, and full liquor license hangout.

The prepared foods here are always the best. This is still the case.

Pre-made sandwiches and re-heat items available below.

Although the sandwiches were never anything to write home about, the one constant is the chips and pico. Holy hell. The salsa is approximately 50% avocado, and the rest is tomato, red onions, and some sort of voodoo that makes the ingredients stay tart, fresh tasting, and utterly addictive. Some of my favorite anywhere. PP tip: get the to-go version for about $10 over the $6 menu offering. You will get 3 times the salsa and chips, and can take the extra to go.

I am sad to say, the third best thing I had here was a salad. Yes, a salad. The Misto has all kinds of green leaves, nuts, figs, blue cheese, and a house dressing. (the second best thing was the beer)

You can go ahead and skip the Italian. The bread was good, the meat was quality, but the sandwich was tiny, dry, loaded with red onion (?), and subbed basil instead of lettuce. Sometimes things are better left alone. Italian hoagies in the Philadelphia area are one of those things.

Sparsely filled sandwich below.

Compare this with a recent gold standard Italian hoagie and you will understand my tears of sadness.

The meatball looked good in theory, but was another item weak in practice. The sandwich was dry (again), although they did microwave some extra gravy from a container of meatballs in the to-go case for me upon request. The balls themselves were bland, dense, and tended to fall out the back of the roll. After having ricotta meatballs recently, I have developed a palate for fleshy, tender spheres with some zing. These were not they.

Also, meatballs need a supple rolls to avoid the aforementioned "loose rear" issue, and these rolls were better suited to a wetter job.

The market is a great place to get some beer (they have 20 great, reasonably priced drafts) or chips and salsa. But my money is better spent on sandwiches with some soul. And ingredients.