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While in Pittsburgh for a family wedding we managed to swing by the original Primanti Bros which was a stop by Adam Richman on Man vs Food. This place is known for it’s sandwiches stuffed with french fries and coleslaw just like the fat sandwiches from my college days. It is not known for it’s ambiance, so let’s get that out of the way and talk about the food. Primanti Bros has grown into a chain but I imagine all the stores look similar. It is a wood table and chair place with a nice old school looking bar. The menu is plastered all over the walls and you can only pay with cash. We grabbed a seat in the second section of the restaurant and waited to place our order.
After a few minutes our waiter came by and we ordered. I decided to check out their #2 best seller, the Pitts-Burgher Cheese Steak, and a cup of their almost famous chili. Everything came out together and ready to eat. The chili was a seriously tomato based with a smattering of beans and meat throughout. I love chili and I love tomato soup and in my opinion this was a very good tomato soup. Don’t get me wrong, it was a good soup but in the end I am privy to the texas style chili with heavy amounts of spicy peppers and a lot more meat.
My sandwich was also pretty good, some serious after drinking food. The bread was nice and thick which held up pretty well to the wet slaw and cheese. So here is when I admit my failure to read menus carefully. I thought that this would be a real cheese steak but I neglected to recognized the play on words in the name Pitts-Burgher. Instead of thinly shaved meat I actually got a burger on this sandwich. I was not expecting that and honestly didn’t want it so my review is a little skewed. While the sandwich tasted good I was thrown off by the burger texture with the cole slaw and the non bun bread. The burger was also cooked all the way through which is not to my liking, as I am a rare kind of guy. I found myself wishing I had read more carefully and ordered the pastrami because this sandwich was not for me. Next time we are back in town I will try it again and order the meat I really like and judge it more fairly. I will say though that I have and always will love adding cole slaw and french fries to my sandwiches!
In the end this was a good restaurant with a strong following and I can see why. Cheap and sizable sandwiches for people going on or off shift or stumbling in after a long night of drinking. Pretty much the same reason why the grease trucks at Rutgers do so well but I will take my Fat Darryl over the Pitts-Burgher every time.
Overall Review: 6/10
Find one of the many locations of Primanti Bros here
This a shorter review of Parc Restaurant in Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia. I swung by this place after eating my fill of Turducken and since only the mashed potatoes for on the list I figured I could find a place for them in my stomach. When I walked in I was surprised by how big the restaurant was. It looked like a corner bistro from the outside but the inside was huge. Since I was alone and not overly hungry, I sat at the bar and ordered a beer. I asked the bartender if I could get the mashed potatoes and though a little odd to just order a side dish, he asked in the back and the mashed potatoes that are usually for dinner were ready. Score! After ordering I headed to the restroom which I wouldn’t usually talk about but the decor was very interesting. Basically, it was a showcase of picture of naked women from years past. I guess it’s a French restaurant thing, but I wonder what the women’s restroom looked like.
The bartender asked if I wanted to have some bread with my potatoes and though I did not need it of course I said yes anyway. Thank god I did because the bread was fresh and delicious. I got a few different kinds in my basket, a raisin, a white, and a focaccia. The bread was hot and chewy with my favorite being the raisin with a touch of butter. I actually think I liked the bread more than the potatoes but that’s not to say the potatoes were good also.
|Delicious creamy potatoes!|
As you can see to the right, the mashed potatoes or the Pomme Puree came out freshly made with a little chive on the top. These potatoes were everything you could want in a traditional mashed potato dish. The skins were off and they were pureed to a creamy texture. Lightly salted and made with what I am sure was heavy cream they were quite delectable. The chives were a great addition and added a slightly different flavor and texture to a dish that could have been a bit monotonous. I really enjoyed the Pomme Puree and would come back to get it again when back in Philly.
Parc is a very nice restaurant with some enticing dishes on the menu. Definitely a place I will come back to for a complete meal. The pomme puree was really good, some of the best traditional mashed potatoes I’ve had. Personally, I like them with the skins on and some cheese but I guess I am not a purest. Oh well. I am giving them a lower score because I really need to go here for a full meal but for a single appetizer still think it was a success. Check out Parc the next time you are in town.
Overall Review: 6/10
Find Parc Restaurant, Bistro & Cafe online here
Article first published as Restaurant Review (Philadelphia): Smokin Betty’s on Blogcritics.
I took a trip to Philadelphia for a wedding and was extremely excited to stop by Smokin Betty’s for their famous Turduken Burger. I took the train into center city and walked the few blocks from the market to the restaurant. Upon my arrival I noticed how nice the interior of the restaurant looked. For a comfort food place it looked rustic but upscale. The wait staff was very polite though my waiter did take a while to come talk to me for the first time. I was also excited by the large craft beer selection and quickly ordered a nice Blonde Ale. A few minutes later I ordered my turduken burger with a side of sweet potato fries.
After about ten minutes my glorious burger arrived and I just took a few seconds to look at it lovingly. Maybe you should do the same:
|Who needs a pickle, really?|
After staring at the burger for a bit I cut it in half and dug right in. So for those who do not know, a turduken is a turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with a chicken filled with stuffing, so a turduken burger has all the meats cooked together and the rest of Thanksgiving as toppings. I will say that I have not eaten many turkey burgers in my day, usually I am beef all the way, but I would imagine that this patty tasted very similar to a normal turkey burger. I would say that the difference would be a richer flavor because of the duck fat but if I hadn’t known I would have just thought it was a traditional turkey burger. Did this make a difference? Absolutely not! The burger patty was full of flavor and dripped juices right down my arm.
Now, as you can see by the picture there is much more to this burger than a patty. This burger was a Thanksgiving meal on a bun. A fluffy and flavorful bun, just like the rolls you normally get on the big day. Beneath the patty was a layer of stuffing and gravy topped with melted cheese. Generally I find stuffing pretty dry and boring but add gravy and cheese to it and you’ve got a party! Now I know a new stuffing recipe to try out. On top of the patty was a wonderful cranberry chutney. Adding the tang and sweetness to cut through all the rich flavorings of the dish. Truly a perfect addition to the burger and definitely not what you get from the can. Last but certainly not least, fried sweet potato chips, adding the final delicious crunch to the meal. Take a look at the burger from the inside, but first you might want to grab a bib to catch the drool.
|AJ Bombers can take some advice about buns from this place|
There is only one word to describe this burger…epic. I kept cutting it down to make it last longer because I didn’t want it to end. So many flavors dancing around on my palette and all in harmony. It really was Thanksgiving in each and every bite! The most prominent flavor was the cranberry chutney so if you don’t like cranberries you may not like this dish but then again you may love it. All in all a really well designed entree and one that I would go back to again and again over some of my favorite beef burgers.
You probably are thinking, what about the fries. Well no need to worry, they were also pretty great. I have never eaten thick cut sweet potato fries but I was not disappointed. These fries were crunchy on the outside but soft on the inside like potato wedges. Not too greasy but with just enough to add the needed flavor. A really great side dish to a Thanksgiving burger. I will say though that every time I get sweet potato fries I am hoping for a dipping sauce. A brown sugar and cinnamon aioli to be specific, but I never seem to get it. I just can’t get behind dipping them in ketchup.
Next time you are in Philly, check out Smokin Betty’s, get the Turduken burger, and plan to be full for a long time. Probably not the best idea right before a wedding but I toughed it out.
Overall Review: 8/10
Check out Smokin Betty’s here
This post is a few days late but on my last day in Philadelphia I grabbed some ice cream from Bassett’s in the Reading Terminal Market. The location was nothing special, a counter and some stools just like most places in the market but the home made ice cream was awesome. I tried the Gadzooks, chocolate ice cream with peanut butter brownies and caramel swirl.
This flavor was right up my alley with many favorite flavors. It was smooth and creamy but chewy and crunchy from the brownies and nuts. I could have eaten a gallon of the ice cream but a few scoops on a well made waffle cone was perfect. There is not much more to say about the ice cream, it was great!
I would go back and try other flavors but the wonderful thing is that you can ship the ice cream anywhere in the country. Bassetts has partnered with the Page General Store at http://www.pageneralstore.com/ to ship a 6 pint case for $45. Fully worth it, I will be ordering some Gadzooks and a few others next month.
Last night, I went to Buddakan not one but twice. Each time was completely worth it but I will only touch on my first trip because that is when I ate the most. First off the restaurant was beautifully set up with a great ambiance. We sat in the back in a booth that was a bit cozy for eight people. The waiter informed us that the restaurant has a sharing atmosphere so we should plan to pass the food around the table. This was a plan that was completely ok with me until I got the braised short rib entree which we will talk about in a little bit. Since we ordered so much food I will just list the items and my thoughts on each.
1. Steamed Edamame: These were very tasty with a good amount of sea salt on them for flavoring. Not much else to say aside from we got a huge order for $7
2. Wasabi Mashed Potatoes: Since the waiter at Marathon Grill a few days ago convinced me not to order these, I had to have them here at an Asian Fusion restaurant. At first taste they were just well made mashed potatoes but then the wasabi entered the party from the back of your throat. Everyone that tasted them had the same reaction “Hmm these are good potatoes….oh wait, wow there’s the wasabi!”. This was a well made dish.
3. Edamame Ravioli: This comes as an order of four raviolis so you should probably double the order. I was very intrigued to find out what pureed edamame tasted like in a ravioli shell and was floored. These were some of the best ravioli I had ever eaten. Rich and creamy with a wonderful sauce. One or two of these is all you need because they so full of flavor but you can not go to Buddakan as skip them.
4. Duck Buns: These come as an order of three mini buns but wow what a dish. These were my favorite appetizer just for the duck. Cooked in a soy glaze with some garlic, ginger, and flavors that I could not pinpoint, that duck was soft and delicious. To be honest, there was no reason for the buns, they took away from the dish. It would be interesting to have this duck in a pasta or just alone on a plate.
5. Pad Thai: Probably the best Pad Thai I have had in a long time. It tasted like a traditional Pad Thai just more flavorful. In my opinion this was the best deal on the menu as well. Only $18 and it could serve two as an entree.
6. Dungeness crab sticky rice: This dish was good and was a little more substantial, but not my favorite. The only fun part was that it was served inside a hollowed out crab shell. You can pass on this one.
7. Tuna Pizza: Another dish that you do not need to order. It was interesting to eat tuna on pizza be definitely not my favorite.
I am only going to talk about my entree which was where the sharing concept broke down. This dish completely overwhelmed me as possibly the best dish I ate all week if not this year so far. I will try to describe it here but I will not do it justice so you just have to go and order the braised short ribs.
These ribs were unreal. First, the bone came out clean from the meat with a slight tug from a chopstick. Very good sign. Second, the meat could be picked apart with that same chopstick, these ribs we cooked for a long time. Now it was time to taste and my god what a taste it was. I had to sit back and close my eyes for a minute, the flavor profile was just incredible. It was sweet from the sugar and ginger and a little salty from the soy. What a wonderful combination of flavor. Next I moved to the three mushrooms that were beckoning me. The glaze transformed the mushrooms into something that I would need everyday if I was a vegetarian. That goes double for what it did to the bok choy.
This dish ended my willingness to share, I became a gorilla guarding its food. No one was getting a piece of this meat, they will just have to come back and order it themselves. The funny thing is what Danny ordered it later he had the same reaction so I know I’m not crazy. Though a small plate, the flavors made it seem like just I ate a 24 ounce steak. This dish is worth the $28, honestly they could charge double and I wouldn’t blink.
The list item was the Dip Sum Doughnuts so even though I was full, we had to order them. I am so glad we did. The doughnuts were presented in a chinese food take out box and you got five to an order (Secret: you can add doughnuts to the order for 75 cents each). Each dipping sauce, Blackberry, Cream, and Chocolate was unique in its own right but the blackberry was my favorite. The doughnuts were soft and flaky and tossed in sugar. Such a great way to end a meal.
Final thoughts (What to order):
Apps: Edamame Ravioli, Duck Buns
Entree: Do I have to repeat it? Order the short ribs!
Dessert: Dip Sum Doughnuts.
This will run you about $75 so this place is not cheap but I assure you that you will hand over your money without complaint. Buddakan was by FAR the best place I ate at in Philly for the overall ambiance, design, menu, and creative flavors. If you come to Philly and do not eat here we can no longer be friends.
(Note: Buddkan is very accommodating with both a gluten free and shellfish allergy free menu. One thing to know is that they use oyster sauce in a lot of their dishes so a shellfish allergy will severely reduce the menu options but you can still get the some of the aforementioned dishes.
This morning I woke up a little late and decided to take my run to Sam’s Morning Glory Diner. This location was definitely a diner; small, quiet, and full of lighthearted employees. I sat at a booth and ordered some fresh squeezed orange juice. Looking at the menu I was drawn to the make your own fritattas but I knew what I was ordering when I walked in…the monkey french toast.
Two slices of challah bread cut in half with cooked bananas and mangoes mixed with caramel inside. Next to the french toast was a huge pile of home made whipped cream which was thick, sweet, and creamy. I’ve never had mango inside french toast so I was a little weary but surprisingly it worked. All of the flavors melted together into a perfect breakfast marriage. The depth of flavor in each bite was astounding for a french toast dish and I finished the entire plate in a mere five minutes. I know now why they give you a spoon with your meal; you just can’t resist the urge to scoop up the caramel and melted whipped cream left on the plate after the french toast is gone. What a wonderful start to a chilly March morning in Philadelphia!
I would recommend this location as a fun breakfast spot. Nothing special in the aesthetics but a serious menu with some serious flavors. Just remember, cash only.
As I get ready for bed I will chat quickly about my last restaurant of the day. Danny and I went to Good Dog to try the cheesesteak empanadas and duck pot pie. The restaurant was a nice bar and grill, cozy and definitely a local hang out. The waitstaff was friendly and quickly cleaned off a table for us in the back of the restaurant. I figured a beer was important when hanging out at Good Dogs so I ordered one while we waited for our food.
Truffle Cheesesteak Empanadas: After reflecting on this appetizer I still don’t know what was in the dipping sauce. I was waiting for something to pop in this dish, but it never really did. The truffles were sorely understated and the cheesesteak was lacking a little flavor. I think Guy was a little off on this one.
Duck Pot Pie: When you come to a bar that seats maybe 40 people, you wouldn’t think that they would serve a Duck Confi is a pot pie, well Good Dog does. When the pot pie arrived with it’s pallet cleansing side salad my mouth started watering. Just the look of it was enticing. The crust looked perfectly cooked and obviously flaky.
The first test, steam. Did steam escape when I broke through the shell you ask. Would you expect anything else? The stew inside was wonderful, even better after I added a little pepper but I do love my pepper. The carrots, celery, and potatoes were soft and delicious and even without a larger helping of duck (which would have been nice) the dish was a joy to eat. The pleasant surprise were the mushrooms that married to the flavor profile perfectly. I could have licked the bowl if it wasn’t too hot to pick up.
I would recommend the Good Dog Bar and Restaurant to you as a fun place to hang out at and watch a game. The bonus is that they a have a fun and unique menu that you would never expect from such a place. I tip my hat to the chef for a job well done. Next time I will take the waiters advice and order the Good Dog Burger
Well I had a break from 3:30 to 5:15 today and decided to make the two mile walk out to Paesanos. What was the draw you ask? None other than a fried lasagna sandwich! Upon my arrival it was confirmed that this place was a dive, but a friendly and welcoming dive at that. The owner was there and cooking with his head chef fully tattooed with sleeves on both arms. I sat down at one of the eight seats at the counter and prepared to be wowed. One thing that stuck out to me was that they knew almost every person who walked into the restaurant. That level of committed customer is what I look for in a corner shop.
One thing to note is that I love the concept of an open kitchen. For me it is a wonderful thing to watch them make my food and I think that they pay closer attention because they know you are watching. This favorite of mine was realized at Paesanos because it was so small that the oven and grill were right behind the counter.
So let’s talk fried, yes, fried lasagna. Not only do they have a lasagna that would make me lick the plate with its perfectly cooked noodles and stringy melted cheese but they pan fry it in just a little bit of oil. Next they toss it on a toasted bun with melted provolone, creamy, creamy provolone and then top it with a perfectly fried and delicious egg. At some restaurants it may stop there but not at Paesanos. The chef then took some heavy cream and tomato paste and made me a sauce just for my sandwich. That was when I knew I was in for something special. In what world does an eight seat dive make a pan sauce from scratch for every order? My mouth was watering and I was ready to down this sandwich.
First bite, creamy and sweet, crunchy and rich, with sauce running all over my hands in reckless abandon. One bite and I could sit back in my seat and take a nap. One bite and I knew that it was a good thing that I do not live in Philadelphia. Wow, this was a sandwich, why doesn’t everyone fry their lasagna and put it on a bun? I finished my sandwich faster than I thought I could and was thankful that my stomach wouldn’t listen to my brain when it asked for another.
I left Paesanos with a full and happy stomach and with a desire to go back tomorrow. This makes me thankful that it is two miles from my hotel and I am too cheap to rent a cab. If not I may camp out there for the next few days and try everything they have to offer. I am also thankful that I walked the four mile round trip because my caloric intake may have been enough for an entire day but it was so worth it.
My final thought to anyone in Philly – go to Paesanos, order the “Bolognese”, and tip well. They earned it.
1. Miller’s Twists: I purchased a soft pretzel from this vendor and was not disappointed. The pretzel was everything you could want from a hot pretzel. It was salty from the coating but then a hint of sweetness from the dough. It was a little crunchy on top but then smooth and chewy on the inside. Basically the epitome of a pretzel in any city across America. My only sad comment was that I asked for spicy mustard and received honey mustard. I don’t like honey mustard. This meant that the pretzel was missing the most important element so next time I will make sure to insist on the spicy mustard. This was not a sit down location so my rating is based strictly on the food, but for $2.38 you can’t do much better.
2. Dinic’s Roast Beef and Pork: You know you are in a good spot when the line for take out has to be managed by a security guard. Luckily, when we were waiting in line, three seats opened at the counter. Again, the aesthetics were not the highlight since we were in the market but I love sitting down and looking at the roast pork that will be carved to order. The waitress was very polite and worked with us non locals like it was all she does.
I ordered a roast pork sandwich with provolone and broccoli rabe. With the pork ready to be cut the food came out quickly which I always love. The sandwich was really good but the pork was a little dry so the au jus at the bottom made all the difference. I wish I could have gotten some au jus on the side and made it into a french dip, that would have been wonderful. The provolone added a creaminess that helped with the dry pork as you got to the base of the bread. The broccoli rabe was an extremely important addition and some needed bitterness to the sandwich. All in all, it was a good lunch and one that I would recommend to a friend.
I would definitely go back to Dinic’s but next time I will order the brisket. I saw an order come by me as we were finishing and wow, it looked juicy and covered in sauce, just how I like my brisket. Come to think of it, I may just go back on Wednesday!
Tonight we went to the Marathon Grill on south 6th street. We were a party of 15 and were managed fairly well by the wait staff. I ordered a refreshingly bitter IPA at 7.2% alcohol and settled into deciding what to order of their apparently American comfort food based menu. I was struggling between their 18 hour brisket and their meatloaf which both came with a different type of mashed potatoes. After some discussion with the waiter I decided to go for the meatloaf topped with a homemade BBQ sauce with roasted garlic mashed potatoes and spinach. In true me style I also ordered a side of parmesan topped grilled brussel sprouts because I can not resist some sprouts.
I was pleasantly surprised that even with a group of fifteen people, our food came out quickly and as a group. As you will see from my picture the plating and presentation was modern and clean. Some of the other plates were really nice, some that I would like to have in my home. But now for the food.
Though, the meatloaf was good but nothing special, the BBQ sauce lingered nicely on the tongue and had a bit off a back end kick that made up for the lack of taste in the meat. The spinach was cooked well if not a little oily. The biggest disappointment in the main dish was the mashed potatoes. When the waiter insisted on me keeping the garlic potatoes over substituting the horseradish potatoes I was really excited. Unfortunately the sweet flavor of roasted garlic did not come through in any way on the dish. I may be that it was overpowered by the layering of spinach and meatloaf on top or a complete lack of seasoning but for a mashed potato fanatic, it was extremely unfortunate. Lastly, the brussel sprouts were cooked well but they needed some additional flavoring aside from the cheese. Some fresh cracked pepper or even some bacon would have made all the difference.
All in all, it was a mediocre meal at a well put together restaurant with a friendly and very attentive waitstaff. I will say though that the beer was great! I would go back again but I would definitely try the brisket or the braised pork nachos that Renee ordered.