Thursday, July 27, 2017

Taco Shop

1288 Hornet Road
Rio Grande, NJ 08242
(609) 600-2961

Cape May Brewing is a fantastic off-the-beach shore stop. A wide selection of good beer, the only thing missing was something to eat. Until Taco Shop opened next door, that is. In the same industrial area that the brewery operates, a number of small shops have taken root.

Taco Shop has a small menu, with standard burrito, bowl, quesadilla, taco options and then a choice of protein for each. When I saw they were hand making the tortillas for the tacos, I figured a sampler was in order.

Place an order, step next door to the brewery and have a beer while you wait, then pop back in, pick it up, and head back to the bar.

I got some tacos, a special shrimp tostada, and some street corn.

From left are the mole chicken, the carne asada, and the chorizo.

The "De Chorizo Casero" consists of housemade chorizo, salsa roja, and xni-pec (pronounced shneee pec) has Mayan roots, and refers to a wet dogs nose, a reference to the runny nose you will have from this spicy habanero hot sauce. While I didn't find this particularly hot, I did rather enjoy the chorizo. While I generally like my chorizo rendered down and grilled hard, this had lots of flavor and a great texture.

"De Carne Asada" taco was garnished with cherry tomato, avocado, pickled red onion, and creamy chimichurri. The brisket was nicely crisped, and well rendered, but it was lacking a strong punch of flavor. The topping worked well together, but I was looking for a deeper, more beefy experience (perhaps adding some stock or boullion to the braise mixture would work). Certainly it was still good, but the flavor was a bit subdued as opposed to what I expected.

Meanwhile, "De Pollo" was well shredded chicken, simply garnished with mole poblano. pickled red onion, and queso fresco. Again, everything was fresh, well thought out, and assembled with care, but it was lacked the depth of flavor I expect from mole. It had no distinct, characteristic flavor, such as nutty, chocolaty, etc.

The shrimp tostada was my favorite of the protein (a special), because of the chiptole mayo. That stuff was like crack. A crisp tostada flat topped with avocado, tender shrimp, queso, and crema. The stuff dreams are made of.

Finally the street corn. Chipotle mayo (fantastic), crema, queso, El Muerto salt (red flakes below, absolutely delicious, you can buy it here), lime, and cilantro. I loved this street corn. The spicy mayo and El Muerto made it stand out from the dozens of variations I have tried, and numerous versions made myself. They might bump the flavor up a bit on some of the offerings (though I imagine they are catering to a specific niche, but overall, this is a SOLID place to eat when quaffing some delicious Cape May Brewery beers.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Roy Pitz Barrel House

990 Spring Garden Street
Philadelphia, PA 19123
(215) 995-6792

I stopped by Roy Pitz for an after work drink with some friends. While I was not initially thrilled with the menu options, as they were rather run of the mill, I was pleasantly surprised by the execution.

The large interior space and proximity to Union Transfer makes it convenient for pre/post show drinks.

Roy Pitz started in Chambersburg, PA and then moved to Philly as an expansion. The focus is on barrel aged and sour beer, with other local spirits and wines available as well.

The Bavarian soft pretzel was quite a sleeper (I ordered a second after quickly polishing off the first), and the house mustard paired with Old Jail beer cheese sauce made for buttery carb-dipping bliss.

Golden brown, airy and with a generous salting, I enjoyed this much more than I had thought I might.

The Barrel House wings were another highlight, fried crispy and rendered down quite nicely, the Dutch Honey IPA Hot Sauce was a tasty play on traditional wing sauce, and the chunky blue cheese was a very welcome and chunky complement.

You can see the rendering of the skin, and the ample sauce. Very nice wings.

The Barrel House Burger boasts a blend of short rib and brisket burger with porter caramelized onions, pickles, sharp cheddar and Liquid Art sauce.

The burger was solid, with just enough bacon, cheese and grease.

I liked the thick pickles, and although past my requested medium rare, there was still pink in the middle.

The fries were fresh, crisp, and well seasoned.

To keep things light, I went with the Barleywine smoked brisket mac and cheese on the side. The roasted mushrooms were a nice touch. There was a significant amount of sauce on this mac, making for maximum cheesiness.

I liked all of the food options, and it was good, hearty beer drinking fare. I would certainly not hesitate to return.