I never told you about my trip to Osteria. I had a delicious dinner there back in March and only had dim iPhone photos to illustrate. Which leaves me with a quandry…do I piece together that long-ago meal, or make a promise to myself to go back to Osteria and take better pictures? Hm. We’ll see.

While it’s fresh, I’m going to tell you about brunch at Amis (really, Vetri? No web page?).

We were dining with a Vetri organization employee, which prompted the kitchen to send out a few extras. They started with a plate of melon with the most velvety, buttery-smooth proscuitto and egg salad with grilled sesame-seeded bread.



Oh, the bread. This was fantastic. Lightly brushed with olive oil, chewy and crunchy, slightly charred from the grill. Oh, the bread.

Our first round of plates came out shortly after.

Potato frittata:

Pecorino trio:

Buffala Ricotta with fava and english peas:

This was so delicious – the ricotta was whipped lighter than air and the favas and peas were bright, little pops of flavor.

Grilled Scamorza with pickled vegetables:

Ask any of my cousins on my Mom’s side – we all thought “scamutz” was a Hazleton-only cheese. I’m always excited to see it elsewhere.

Clam Cockles Scallions And Scrambled Eggs On Toast: DSC_0275

Whoa, Nelly. Clams and eggs? Why have I not had this before? Heavenly.

Raviolo All’uovo:

When the waitress described this dish, I swear her eyes lit up. And for good reason – take a sheet of pasta, place a scoop of polenta in the middle and put a little indentation in the middle. Into this indentation, place an egg yolk. Place another sheet of pasta on top, cook for two minutes (precisely TWO minutes). This was spectacular. The sauce was just a little brown butter and was perfect.

Spring Onion Lasagna with stracciatella:

Very tasty.

Tonnarelli Carbonara:

Carbonara is delicious, but part of its deliciousness stems from its simplicity. I think the only improvement you can really make comes from the quality of the few ingredients that are called for. So, obviously, the ingredients were good, so this dish was good.

Grilled Asparagus with poached egg in a bag and olive oil zabaione:

How pretty is this?

Bufala Ricotta Ravioli with asparagus:

Such lovely Springy colors.


Ooooh, the BREAD.

Cookie plate:

Awesome with the coffee.

Olive oil torta with whipped cream and marmellata:

My love for olive oil cakes has been documented before. This was fabulous.




April 28, 2010. Philly, Uncategorized. 6 comments.

Friday Night at Race Street Cafe

Scene: Race Street Cafe, after a long week for everyone. Our players are Miriam, who has been hungry since 3pm, and Shawn, who has been hungry since 11:30am. And me, Sarah. I really, really wanted a beer and some nachos. Beers in hand, menus merely glanced at. We all know what we came here for.

Fran: What can I get you guys?

Miriam: Chili nachos.

Sarah: Pork nachos.

Shawn: Pork nachos.

Fran: …that’s a lot of nachos.

Chris, dropping off three plates of nachos: That’s a lot of nachos.


Yes. Yes it is.

April 25, 2010. Philly, Uncategorized. 2 comments.

Brief Review: Kisso

After a networking event at Kong (warning: loud noises automatically play when you click) that included a few dumplings, Linda and I walked to Kisso to round out the night.


I got the Mix & Match sushi platter because I couldn’t decide on what I wanted! The platter came with salmon with ikura, ika with emura & wasabi tobiko, super white tuna with sichimi chopped yellow tail with black tobiko, spicy tuna with Inari, 3pcs spicy salmon & eel maki.

Everything was delicious, but the two standout pieces were these:

Fish with quail egg – this was roll-your-eyes-back good. The yolk created this pop of flavor that was completely superb.

The other was a cool piece because the salmon was wrapped around the rice, instead of the opposite, but the reason it stood out so much was the deliciousness of the fish. Mmm, tasty salmon.

Also, sigh:


FOILED AGAIN. Even with Linda coaching me along, I still bungled the chopstick holder origami. One of these days…

April 22, 2010. Philly. Leave a comment.

Han Dynasty, 2/23/10

Handy Nasty!

I’d been hearing about Han Dynasty’s excellence from tales of the other two restaurants and thought it would make an excellent place to go whenever I managed to find myself out in the Royersford/Exton area.

But laziness pays off! Han has created an outpost, not just in Philly, but SO close to me!

It’s one of my new favorite places, especially because they also do takeout, which is quite convenient.

Coworker and friend Linda first blew my mind with this little piece of chopstick wrapper origami:


I’ve already forgotten how to do it.

We started off with the cold sesame noodles:


Linda likes these because they’re overly peanutty. I like them because they had a surprising kick from the chili oil. I think I’ll like them even more when it’s 100 degrees outside.

Then, duck soup, which apparently was a special dish for the Chinese New Year and thus is no longer available.


Which is a damn shame, because it was spectacular. I would have been fine with just a dish of the broth. I would have been fine with a plate of just the duck meat or just the pickled vegetables. The three combined? Mmmm….This was the one dish we completely polished off.

Entrees were beef with scallions:


And pea shoots:


Mm greens.

The noodles had such a kick that it was nice to have the super savory beef and the lovely bright greens after.

March 24, 2010. Philly. 2 comments.

Sabrina’s, 1/24/10

Holy Hannah, people…I had pictures languishing on my camera from JANUARY.

Oh February, you were terrible.

This trip to Sabrina’s Cafe in South Philly was to celebrate Danielle’s birthday. Before we went, Miriam told us that the huevos were not to be missed.

Yes, we had to wait, but we were ready for that. And this was late January, when we had that period of “hey, it’s not that cold out!” I think total wait-time was an hour. We hung outside for a while and eventually made our way into the next-door waiting area.

Things moved SUPER fast once we sat down. Coffee arrived quickly, with our dishes coming soon after. Danielle got the breakfast burrito with sweet potato fries:


Very tasty. The spicy tomato sauce was fantastic.

I got the huevos with the sweet potato fries:


First, the fries were AWESOME. Exactly what I want from sweet potato fries – thick enough that you can taste the sweet potato, but not so thick that they stay mushy. I will totally judge all other sweet potato fries against these.

Second, the fries came with a little surprise – an odd little ball of what looked like wool sweater fuzz and steel wool. I’m not really one to send food back, but this was a little beyond what I’m prepared to deal with. This is, obviously, where the service fumbled.

Getting our server’s attention proved more than difficult, so I eventually snagged another server and pointed out the fuzz. He quickly whisked my plate away and a guy who I took to be the manager came over to apologize – on the whole, everyone was SUPER apologetic about the fuzz. Our server also came over to apologize and let us know that the huevos would be taken off our check. We waited a while for the plate to come back – I had figured they’d just sweep the fries off the plate and put new ones on, but turned out to mean that they were recooking the entire plate.

Once the new plate arrived, it was delicious. Miriam was right, the huevos are fantastic. And the fries, as mentioned above, are even better.

Once our plates were cleared, the check arrived, with the huevos still on it. Getting our server’s attention to rectify this was again difficult. Normally I’d just pay the whole check, but seriously – this was a BIG piece of fuzz.

When we left, Danielle and I tried to talk through the brunch. We’d felt rushed at almost every time except when we were waiting for them to correct a misstep, but the food was delicious. Is it worth the rest of the hassle? The waiting outside, the tight spaces, the rush? I’m not sure. But then again, how different is that from the majority of other brunch places?

The day concluded with a trip to the Italian Market for a whole chicken, unbelievably thick cut bacon, ricotta, and Sarcone’s rolls.

March 18, 2010. Philly, Uncategorized. 4 comments.

Brief Review: Fork

The brussels were a little too al dente, and didn’t need all that bacon grease, the beet salad would have benefited from a sprinkle of sea salt for taste and texture, but the waiter was cool and didn’t give our four-top any sass for only ordering one drink each and a few small plates.

The convo with the girls, post-viewing of A Single Man, was the best part, but Fork would have had to of done something spectaular to top that. Kudos to the waiter again for not hustling us out.

March 6, 2010. Philly. 2 comments.

Chloe, 1/7/10

Chloe is a BYO that doesn’t take reservations and I feel a sense of smug superiority every time I walk by and see people hanging out outside on Friday and Saturday nights with their brown-bagged bottles of wine, waiting for a table to open up.

I feel said sense of smug superiority because Chloe is in my neighborhood and weekday visits where we can waltz right in are completely reasonable and often unplanned. Like a few Thursdays ago, when Miriam suggested we go there for dinner.


I started with the Beet Salad. Roasted beets, mandarin oranges, buttermilk blue cheese, mixed greens, toasted pecans, reduced balsamic dressing. I could have done with more beets, but that’s because I love beets and will always want more.


Before I get to the next dish, check out this silverware! Love the little fork, which came in handy…


With the mussels! So, I had actually managed to squeeze in a trip to the gym before dinner and I thought I’d get something lighter for my entree, so as not to undo that half-hour on the elliptical. Mussels seemed like a good choice, seafood in a nice broth.


Let me tell you why these are now my favorite mussels in the city.


Lovely, creamy, rich butter.

So they were probably not the lightest dish on the menu, but daaaaaaaaaaang y’all. These were bigger mussels, which I think means they were from New Zealand? If so, that’s another reason to go to New Zealand (first reason: find and stay in a hobbit house). Deliciousness of the mussels aside, the buttery sauce was ridiculous. I was using the shells as a vehicle to scoop it up and at the end used the bread to soak up the remaining sauce.

Even though I’m full from my dinner of sardines on toast (consider me a brisling-convert) and just ate a few freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies, I could totally go for some more of these mussels right now.

January 23, 2010. Philly. 1 comment.

Pizzeria Stella, 1/2/10


Stephen Starr.

While trying to write this review, I thought I’d flesh out my feelings about the Stephen Starr Empire. But I found myself unable to put it all together coherently. While talking to Miriam about it, she summed it up with “It’s complicated,” which is a pretty accurate assessment.

I feel fairly ambivalent towards his restaurant empire. I like that they’ve all played a part in revitalizing the city, but I don’t think one will ever be my favorite restaurant in Philly (current fav: Sang Kee, specifically for the Peking duck meal). I was still trying to resolve my feelings about these restaurants while reviewing a draft of this post when it all suddenly made sense – I’d used the phrase “nothing spectacular, but tasty” twice.

But I do like their presence in the city. You’re not going to have a bad meal at a Starr restaurant, and you’re most likely going to enjoy the pageantry.

Anyway. Pizzeria Stella.

Miriam and I met Jordan and Dr. Lindsay there on a freezing Saturday night. We had about a 40 minute wait (I think?) that we spent at the Dark Horse Pub. Once the hostess called us, we bundled back up (it was so flippin cold that night) and walked across 2nd Street.

I was a little thrown off by the communal tables, but the spacing was ample enough that I didn’t feel like I was a part of the group next to us.


We started with the broccoli rabe. It was waaaay overcooked, but I didn’t want to say anything for fear of being all critiquey during the meal. Turns out, everyone else felt the same way.

Dear friends, please do not hesitate to judge food with me.

Look at that broccoli rabe though…it just looks exhausted.

The pizza! We ordered three pies, the Finnochio, the Bianca, and the Pistachio.

In order of deliciousness:


The Bianca, with mozzarella, tallegio and oregano. This was tasty, but nothing spectacular. Just a standard white pizza.


The Finnochio with black olive, caramelized fennel, mozzarella, and tomato. This was delicious. I’m not the biggest fan of licorice and therefore not a fan of raw fennel. I’d heard that roasting it draws out its natural sweetness, which sounds more like something I’d be interested in. I didn’t have a chance to test it out before this night, but I’m planning on getting a bulb of fennel and doing some home experimenting soon.

And who doesn’t love olives?

Seriously, what’s wrong with you olive haters?


Aaah, the Pistachio, with red onion, pistachio, fontina, and extra virgin olive oil. Bright slivers of onion, crunchy pistachios, creamy fontina. Jordan and Dr. Lindsay had eaten at Stella before and raved about the Pistachio, and not just to Miriam and I while we were deciding which pies to order. Dr. Lindsay had overheard someone in the Dark Horse pondering what pies to order at Stella and had told them as well that they needed to order the Pistachio.

I hope they did.

I know what you’re thinking – nuts? On a pizza? Dude, just go for it. As much as I love a slice of plain pizza, or pepperoni, or buffalo chicken, sometimes you just need to be adventurous with your pizza.

Dessert was gelato!


Hazelnut and olive oil. Nothing spectacular, but tasty nonetheless. I’m getting slightly obsessed with oddly flavored gelatos. I blame the avocado gelato I had while out in CA during my last law school spring break and Capogiro.

In retrospect, it was probably foolish to eat something cold before leaving the warmth of the giant pizza oven. But we thought we were just headed to Southwark for a nightcap. Alas, they were closed, so we had to venture further to Beaumonde. It was not the night for aimless wandering, but we made it with faces slightly frozen.

I can’t wait for spring.

January 13, 2010. Philly. 2 comments.

Oyster House, 12/30

Here’s another restaurant that I was so excited about this summer…and then never went. But! Soon-to-be-PhD Emma was in town for the holiday and we met her sister Victoria there for dinner.

First up, drinks. I started with the Oyster House punch. I read about it when Oyster House first reopened and thought it sounded like a great summertime drink. I knew they tweaked the recipe with the season, but wasn’t sure if a winter recipe would really be that good.


I shouldn’t have worried. This was awesome. Truthfully, I can’t add much more to the description beyond what Foodzings has said, so just check that out. It totally tastes like fall, but not in that spice-heavy way that a lot of “fall drinks” taste.

Please note: I don’t even LIKE gin. But I’ll drink it when it’s mixed with a bunch of other stuff.

Next up: oysters! Emma, as a current West Coaster, suggested the Mystics, which have a deeper shell, as opposed to the Wellfleets and Chincoteagues, East Coast oysters, which have a flatter shell.


All were delicious, and it was neat to compare the different types. The Mystics tasted much more of brine and were meatier. Unfortunately, that’s where my notes ended, hampered by the distractions of conversation and my lack of knowledge about oysters. Clearly, more research is in order.

(Philadelphia friends who read this: Do you like oysters? If so, want to go to a OH happy hour sometime and “learn”?)

For dinner, we ordered three of the small plates to share.


Here we have fried calamari in the front, which was pretty standard calamari, with fried onions, jalapenos and lemon as well. I’m still swooning over Christmas Eve’s calamari and cod salad, so there was a pretty high bar set. The calamari was a little tough, as calamari can be. I liked the fried jalapenos more.

Behind it is what I’m told is a Philadelphia tradition – fried oysters and chicken salad. It was decent chicken salad and standard fried oysters and I really enjoyed the combo of the two. Something about the cool creaminess of the salad with the deep-friedness of the oyster…kind of like an amped up version of dipping fried fish into tartar sauce.


The smoked trout salad was my favorite. Light and fresh salad, with the smoky trout permeating each bite. Totally awesome.

Dessert was the lime semifreddo with duche de leche sauce.


Mm. I like ending meals with a citrus dessert, it doesn’t seem to weigh me down like a giant piece of cake. Granted, I did try a bite of the brownie sundae, which was ordered by Emma and Victoria. It was a really, really good brownie, if you prefer to end with chocolate.

January 11, 2010. Philly, Uncategorized. Leave a comment.

Burger Club Meating #10

I’ve been following the founding and general awesomeness of Burger Club Philly, but could NOT manage to get to one of the “meatings.” They usually started at 6pm and I couldn’t get out of work early enough. Then I found out that the 10th one would be at National Mechanics, which was pretty perfect.

I rounded up some friends to join me, but got there before they arrived. The slight awkwardness of being there by my lonesome was helped by my tweeting about it (don’t lie, you play with your phone when it happens to you) AND by Jess being unbelievably nice. She did a superb job putting the event together. There were scorecards and even more amazingly, only TWO CHECKS that were paid for with minimum angst. There were multiple tables of people! Honestly, I’ve seen two people almost come to blows over one check and (from what I saw when I dropped off my portion) this one was just…managed.

It. Was. Beautiful.

On to the burger!


I’ve never eaten at National Mechanics before. Apparently the veggie burger is a thing of gloriousness, but I went with the regular burger. And wasn’t that impressed. The bun was overly chewy and the meat was pretty bland. However, the fries and pickle were delicious. I probably wouldn’t order this again, but I will definitely back to try the veggie burger.

December 16, 2009. Philly. 2 comments.

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