Peking Duck at Sang Kee, multiple locations
Sang Kee’s Peking Duck dinner for two has to be the perfect weeknight dinner! Tim and I gobbled down tender wontons floating in hearty broth, assembled countless pancakes with duck meat, hoisin sauce, and shredded onions, and glommed downfried rice and more duck, shredded and fried with green beans. And there was this impossibly cute little girl at the next table over, loved her chubby cheeks.
Green Curry Summer Rolls from Blue Sage Vegetarian Grille, Southhampton
Mike Klein and my awesome brother Brian conducted a highly sophisticated maneuver that Jason Bourne might call a “drop”. Every girl should have such great friends! And the summer rolls are smoky, rich, and really stick to your ribs—hard to believe they’re meatless, I can’t wait to pay Blue Sage a visit.
Blackened Green Beans at Grace Tavern, 23rd and Gray’s Ferry Ave
Fried Chicken at Resurrection Ale House, 24th and Gray’s Ferry Ave
Grilled Cheese at Royal Tavern, Passyunk between Montrose and Carpenter
Yes, these tastings occurred on two separate nights. Resurrection is the bar for people who aren’t into lurking in bars. It’s well lit, the music isn’t too loud, there’s only one television, and everyone inside the bar appears to have showered within the past 24 hours. The prices are reasonable and the food is refined. It’s rather pleasant. Oh, and they don’t serve the fried chicken any more. It was wildly popular and drew lots of customers, so the management drew a SWOT chart and concluded that the chef’s ennui far outweighed profit. Wait, what?
Around the block from Resurrection, you have Grace, and all the way across town, you have it’s brother from another mother, Royal Tavern. Am I missing something? Are these the same owners? Grace and Royal are dead ringers for one another, both narrow, one-floor arenas of brew, slightly raised in the back section; tin ceilings and red votive holders lend ambiance to the conversations held by edgy people with legit occupations. And the food, MWAH! (Picture me kissing my fingertips and gesturing emphatically.) Those blackened green beans are inspired. They could get little kids excited about veggies, they’re that good. And the grilled cheese is nothing to sneeze at.
Schmitter at McNally’s Tavern, Chestnut Hill
Just as Philly Mag promised, this sandwich is loaded up with a truly unholy blend of luncheon meats, cheeses, and fried onions, and yet, it is lighter than an Olsen twin before a runway show. Defies explanation.
Hanger Steak at Alba, Malvern
As a teenager might say, “idk, I was kinda eh”. The hanger steak is no longer on the menu, and the skirt steak that has replaced it—just doesn’t feel like it’s worth eating. Brian and Tim both liked it, but I thought the cinnamon rub on the meat tried too hard, and that the cabbage was bitter. Perhaps it was simply the bitterness of my cold heart, grumpy that it had to trek to The Outer Main Line (Perish the thought!) for a mediocre steak. Alba itself looks supercute, though, and I’m sure I’d love it if I lived in that town.
Tiramisu at Caffe Valentino, 3rd and Titan
Polla Torta at Taco Loco, 4th and Washington
… and maybe a slice of Pumpple Cake for dessert, from Flying Monkey in Reading Terminal Market. I was expecting to have to forfeit Taco Loco, because it didn’t seem possible to coordinate visiting a food truck on the other side of town, while I commute out to the Main Line for work. And yet, en route to Caffe Valentino, TL rose from the dusk, glowing like a jalapeno waiting for an unsuspecting Irishman. Wonderful, wonderful surprise, and unforgettable torta.
If you are good at math, you are probably wondering why I’m not sweating profusely at the thought of fitting all of these dishes into the remaining three weeks. That is because we have SEVEN remaining morally objectionable dishes! And here they go:
Stuffed Veal Chop at Catelli, Voorhees
Robatayaki at Izakaya, Atlantic City
Veal sweetbreads at Modo Mio, Hancock and Girard
Lamb Chops at Salt and Pepper, 6th and Fitzwater
Foie gras pastrami at Vetri, 13th and Spruce
Sweetbreads at Majolica, Phoenixville
Gustaio Sandwich at Paesano’s Philly Style, multiple locations
Yes, not trying these dishes means that I have not literally sampled every dish on the official list, but let’s be honest, this is a blog, not a white paper for the UN. So no reason to toss my morals to the wind on this occasion.
House made brats at Brauhaus Schmitz, Christmas Village location
Sorry sorry sorry for going without you, but it was right there, and I was so hungry, and it was crispy on the outside and just a little spicy. The bun was fluffy, the kraut was plentiful—I’m sorry, we’ll go again. Ugh, I’m such a bad friend.
Chicken parm at Scannicchio’s, 2500 South Broad
They definitely do NOT make this with chicken, or at least no chicken I have ever seen. The slab of meat consumed most of the takeout container, the size of a dinner plate. You had to have been talking a 30 or 40 pound chicken to get a piece of meat like that. I don’t want to know, don’t tell me; just like back in North Jersey. Plus I ran into Snooki and her mom on my way out, and they had adorable matching fur vests, love it.
Molletes at Café Con Chocolate, 22nd and Snyder
Unfortunately, CCC changed their hours to Thursday through Sunday from their website, which reads Tuesday through Sunday—so yes, I trekked six blocks solidly into the hood just to find the metal cage pulled down. In any case, molletes are delicious, and rather than endanger my life a second time, I’ll just give you Hess’s fantastic recipe. Envision garlic bread slathered with refried beans and cheddar:
1 loaf baguette
1 can refried beans
Turn oven to 375. Cut loaf in half horizontally. Butter it, and sprinkle on garlic powder. Spread on a thick layer of beans, and sprinkle with cheese. Heat until cheese is bubbly and it all smells good.
Fried Calamari at Novita Bistro, 16th and South
In the vein of the chicken parm at Scannicchio’s, the calamari from Novita is gigantic! It’s only the suckers, and they are about the size of a silver dollar, dipped in batter and fried until chestnut brown. Beautiful, sweet, and an unexpected but welcome change of pace from the regular calamari.
33 DISHES REMAIN. 23 DAYS AND COUNTING.