Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Taproom on 19th

2400 S 19th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19145
(267) 687-7817

The Taproom on 19th has been around for a while, but given its location in deep South Philly, it maybe hasn't gotten the hysteria that many more accessible (but inferior) places have. But that is okay by me, as it means I don't have to wait in line behind some new Fishtown resident that I would hate anyway.

The menu here is perfectly sized, and pretty much everything on it is a win. A couple of stand-outs that I very much enjoyed recently were the fried cheese curds and the Japanese fried chicken sandwich. Don't overlook the burger or cheesesteak, however. If fried curds or chicken are on a menu, I am almost always ordering them. These two were no disappointment.

The curds, sourced from "The Cow and the Curd" are little gooey sticks of magic. The breading is a light cornmeal-ish coating, and the salty stringy cheese takes me back to Wisconsin when I discovered these regional delicacies over a decade ago (along with New Glarus beer). In both cases, beer + fried curds = happiness. I would venture to say these are better than anything I have had in the Badger State. A taste of the chipotle lime dipping sauce actually gave a sharp kick of acidity and late smokey burn. Too often these aiolis are bland town. Not here.

The Japanese fried chicken sandwich was just out of this world. The shishito pepper aioli and the ginger pickles were just icing on the cake.

The brioche, which I am generally not hugely into, was the perfect vessel for this fried manna from heaven.

The chicken thighs were battered with a slightly sweet, shatteringly crunchy shell. The flavor on its batter reminded me ever so slightly of eating a corn dog. Yes, a corn dog. The sweet cornmeal flavor was the perfect bit of sass to match the tender meat inside. This was the best fried chicken sandwich I have had in recent memory. Simple perfection.

The juicy thigh was just right for the application. And there was plenty of salt to get my taste buds dancing. I am pretty sure I contemplated having Uber drop me back off here towards the end of the night for a sequel.

Although they didn't look like much, the fries were addictive as well. Sure, they might have come out of a freezer but I'm not a hater of pre-cut fries, I quite like them! The inner potato was fluffy, while the outside was crunchy and salty. Not much else you could ask for. All around, the Taproom on 19th blew away expectations.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Split Rail Tavern

15 N Walnut Street
West Chester, PA 19380
(484) 999-8805

Split Rail is a good place to stop in West Chester for a decent beer selection, and so I decided to try the "Split Rail Commonwealth Burger" that was talked up by the bartenders the last couple of visits I made.

On the menu, it had all of the right components. "All burgers are 6oz Dutch Meadow Farms 100% Organic Grass-fed Beef accompanied by a Russian dressing, shredded lettuce, tomato, red onion, choice of sharp cheddar, American or Swiss, a spicy pickle and house-cut french fries, served on a Big Marty's sesame seed bun." Sounds like a high-end fast food burger to me. Lovely. I ordered it with sharp cheddar, and caramelized onions ($1.50 up-charge on the onions). Which put it at $13.50. Still, when it arrived, it looked quite good, and the fries were tantalizingly golden brown.

The problem with the burger was flavor. It was bland city, the burger meat tasted like watery beef juice that had never heard of salt (and there was a hair on my vegetable toppings served on the side). The hair, well that sometimes happens, but the woeful under-seasoning, that should never happen.

I really wanted this to be awesome, look how good it looks, and is a nice medium (strong medium) which was close enough (I guess) to the medium rare I ordered so as not to offend. But I truly tasted nothing. I asked a dining mate to try it (having given no indication of my thoughts), and the immediate response- "wow, that is incredibly bland" followed by- "is that a hair?". I have been back and tried it again to be sure it was not a one off experience. And it was the same conclusion. Great components, poor execution.

Not to mention the unexpectedly dry bun. Usually these babies are soft and supple, but this bad boy was D-R-Y and crunchy, but not because it may have been toasted (it wasn't), it was stale. Even if the burger had come out medium rare and potentially dripping with jus, the crumbly bun still would have been noticeable.

The fries were the saving grace (I think they mistakenly used the burger salt on THEM). Perfectly fried, nicely seasoned, and pillowy inside, I loved them. Next time I would steer away from the burger, but perhaps try something else that was accompanied by these crispy potato dreams. That is if I venture back during dining time.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Tröegs Brewery

200 East Hershey Park Drive
Hershey, PA 17033
(717) 534-1297

Brewery trips are rarely about the food. Except it sure does sweeten the deal. Tröegs makes some of my favorite beers in the area, and coming home from a recent camping trip in the Pennsylvania Wilds, I stopped in for lunch. This is a huge facility, and even on a scorching hot Sunday, it was packed.

They have what they call a "snack bar" with an abundant menu that goes well above and beyond what you would usually expect from a little league field's snack bar offerings. I went for a couple beers and a couple of sandwiches and it wasn't easy to make my decision. Everything on the menu had my mouthwatering and so at the last minute, I made a snap decision with the order and couldn't have been more pleased with the results.

The braised brisket is served on brioche, with mustard slaw, house steak sauce, and fries. I was also intrigued by the lamb falafel on sesame naan, green tomato and cucumber chutney, harissa, and tahini yogurt. Also shown, cheese sauce.

The brisket was fantastic. It was shredded beef style, very peppery, and extremely tender. I am usually not a huge brioche fan, but the buttery roll worked well on this substantial sandwich. The mustard slaw was perfectly creamy with a tang that cut through the aforementioned rich and succulent meat.

There was a solid ratio of ingredients to carbs, something often overlooked on brioche. This was one of my favorite brisket sandwiches I have had – possibly ever *gasp*.

The lamb falafel was a really interesting twist. I like lamb. I like falafel. Mixed together they were a great pair. It was essentially a falafel-y spiced chickpea and ground lamb meatball, no complaints here. Green tomato and cucumber chutney provided some acidity to the sandwich, and the harissa with tahini yogurt helped moisten what could have otherwise been a dry flatbread.

Harissa is such an underrated condiment. It blends the right heat with sweet and smoky balance.

The lamb-falafel mix was fried crispy, and had plenty of glorious herbs.

The hop fries with spicy ketchup (and let's not forget that side of beer-cheese sauce for dippin') were another favorite. They were larger than I generally prefer my fries, but they were perfectly fried and had a creamy interior to complement the crunchy exterior.

All in all, this was some of the best brewery food I have ever had. And the beer, oh god that beer. Totally worth the trip into Hershey.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Philly Phoodie T-SHIRTS!!! GIVEAWAY!!! WINNER- Molly Pitcher


UPDATE: Molly Pitcher you won via a random drawing. Please email me with you contact details and shirt size!

It's been a long time coming, but they are finally here. Get your own Philly Phoodie shirt by entering our giveaway. These are printed on extremely soft shirts with thin ink and feel broken in from the get-go. Leave a comment on this post letting us know what the best thing you ate in 2016 was (home cooked or out to eat) and make sure to email your contact info so when you hit it big on the random drawing you can tell us where to send it (and what color/size)! Contest will run until Tuesday, August 9th at 9AM ET. One winner will be chosen at random.