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Bobby Chez – Collingswood, NJ

Bobby Chez – Collingswood, NJ

Their are so many dining options in Collingswood, New Jersey I always found it amazing how long and poplar a take-out restaurant could be there. That take-out restaurant is Bobby Chez (BC). I have seen the advertisements of how famous and great his crab cakes are supposed to be, but for some reason I would either forget about BC when I was in or around Collingswood, or it was because I wanted to dine-in and not eat at home. Well the time finally came for me to give BC a try. I got their around 5pm and they were sold out of nearly all their sides. Being my first time at BC I was asking a few simple questions, but the gentleman behind the counter seemed to become very irritated with my questions, answered them quickly and rudely, and huffed and puffed the entire time. I did not realize that BC was a re-heating operation. You order what you would like, and then you are handed a list of temperatures and times to reheat the food for at home. I would go with crab cake, chicken croquette, butterfly shrimp, mac and cheese, and spinach.

bobby

I had high hopes for BC, but I soon turned as agitated as their employee. The spinach was as salty as his demeanor. The mac and cheese had such a strong flavor of mustard it almost seemed like they forgot to add the cheese and just used mustard instead. It did not have a cheesy element to it at all. The chicken croquette was adequate, but again the salt was very heavy handed. Things started to get better with the butterfly shrimp. It was a really nice size for the price, but it lost a little something with the reheat as it was a tad chewy. I am sure fresh it would have been amazing. What about the famous crab cakes? Well, they must have been great at one point or another, but something was missing in mine. They provided a decent amount of crab meat in it, but the one I had, the meat took on the look and taste of freezer burnt seafood. All of the usual juicy and sweet notes of crab meat that I love were missing completely. The meat was dry, chewy, and the filling did nothing to enhance the dish at all. Again, maybe eating their product fresh, BC would have something to brag about to me. It took me a long time to visit BC, and it may be even longer until I go back. I just wish I had the chance to taste what made BC so famous in the first place.

Overall

One out of Five Stars

*(Update on 05-28-2015)

Just got off the phone with Bobby Chez and we had a very nice conversation regarding my review of Bobby Chez Inc in Collingswood. He apologized for my experience and stated he will take corrective actions on the things I mentioned and he strives everyday for every customer to have nothing but an outstanding experience and meal. FYI, unlike I was told, they will cook your food for you instead of you having to go home and heat it yourself. GOOD TO KNOW and after the talk, I will have to give them another chance. Kudos Mr. Chez for being a professional.

 

Audabon Bakeshop – Philadelphia, PA

Audabon Bakeshop – Philadelphia, PA

I must admit that I am a beginner at Macarons. After stopping in Aubabon Bakeshop (AB) I am willing to learn more, much more about them.  AB is very cozy and relaxing unlike the hectic convention center and Chinatown streets surrounding them. The woman behind the counter somehow I sensed could feel my newness to the macaron game and instantly offered me a free sample. There is no better way for a business to set you at ease then to know they have so much confidence in their product, they are willing to let you try it first. AB had me hooked after the first bite. I went on a shopping spree.

audabon

I ordered bourbon, banana, blueberry, and peach macarons as well as a cup of old-fashioned banana pudding. Every single macaron was a delectable delight, with the bourbon and blueberry truly being the shining stars to me. They are very affordable and bite sized wonders, and I cannot wait to go back to try even more flavors. My only gripe would be the cup of banana pudding. The bananas were very nice in the pudding, but it was SUPER sweet and a little too pasty and not creamy enough for my personal tastes. I would rather buy four-five for more macarons for the price I paid for the pudding. I was hesitant to try AB, but next time I will be running through the door for more.

Overall

Three and Three Fourth stars out of Five

Square 1682

(The following is a special series on Bluejeanfoodcritic.com written by guest contributing writer William Knowles. He highlights his passions of of trying something new whenever the opportunity presents itself, or possibly something old, but new again since it has been a while. I hope you enjoy his very special perspective that I am sure many of you can relate to. Follow him on his exciting journey “Around Town”)

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Square 1682, located in the lobby of Philadelphia’s Hotel Palomar at 17th and Sansom Streets, celebrated the return of spring with an outdoor party that featured food, drink and games.

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The head chef, Caitlin Mateo, unveiled her seasonal menu with hors d’oeuvres for everyone to enjoy.  Among the items on the menu were deviled duck eggs, crab and avocado toast, calamari and mushroom pate.  Head bartender Daniel Kulisek enjoyed making an eclectic group of cocktails for the attendees, and there were numerous wine offerings for us to sample.  Larger than life sized versions of our favorite games that we played as kids also were onsite to keep the crowd entertained.

Square 1682 seems to lean towards fresher and healthier foods, as well as having steak, poultry and seafood.  Brunch and breakfast choices, such as the omelette of the day and chicken and waffles, will attract the early crowd and hotel patrons.  Some of the more unique selections for lunch and dinner include a vegan chili, black bean chickpea burgers, mushroom ravioli and even a raw juice selection.

This location is becoming an increasingly popular area within the city and  I would recommend trying Square 1682 to experience something new and hip, as the just the menu in itself is very intriguing.  See you soon “around town”…

IMunch Café – Philadelphia, PA

IMunch Café – Philadelphia, PA

On the outskirts of Philly in the Brewerytown Section sits Imunch Café (IC). They are a nice break in between North and West Philly and at the perfect location for a quick meal or drink before reaching the Philadelphia Zoo, Fairmount Park, or Please Teach Museum destinations. I needed something to munch, so where better to stop then a place that calls itself just that IC. IC is two stories and very warm and cozy. The staff was welcoming and efficient in helping everyone. I would start out with the crab bisque.

crab

I must say I was pleasantly surprised at the flavor, generous amount, and decent sized chunks of crab throughout the bisque. I did not have any hopes for quality bisque here, but I was proven wrong and I will certainly keep in mind to try whatever soup of the day is at IC again. After a grand beginning I would then try their Ruben.

ruben

The Ruben was your standard cornbeef, swiss cheese, and sauerkraut on ciabatta bread, but they executed exceptionally. I walked into IC with thoughts of just getting a quick bite with low expectations on my way to somewhere else. I left thinking I would be back to IC with them being my sole reason for going. They are a shining star in a less than bright area.

Overall

Three and half stars out of Five

 

Bites of Brigantine

Bites of Brigantine

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I was fortunate enough to stay in an oceanfront suite in the tiny town of Brigantine, New Jersey with my two year old son for a few days. I really enjoyed their pristine beaches and figured what better way to find out about a town then to eat my way around it. Each stop had not only my critiques, but also my son’s as well. This is why you see two entrees in each picture. It was my first visit to this tiny beach destination and I have a feeling after enjoying my time there, it will not be my last.

 

Yuki Hana

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They claim “Best Food in Town” on their menu. I wouldn’t go that far. What they did provide was better than average “Americanized Chinese Food”, a cozy dining atmosphere, very friendly service and a really nice looking sushi bar that I would not mind to try the next time I stop in.

 

The Pirate’s Den

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Very eclectic with decorations from a variety of different themes. The place is dated, but has that nostalgic dining beachy feel to it that resonates warmly in my heart from my youth. They served a really great breakfast. A for sale sign outside the restaurant so they may not be there much longer, which would be a sad day in my opinion.

 

Yianni’s Cafe

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The service here was outstanding. The food was slightly better than average and I liked the fresh fruit brought out for my son’s platter. They have the word “fresh” on their sign. I would have enjoyed the meal more if the fries were indeed fresh-cut fries and the roasted peppers in my sandwich not of the canned variety and fresh instead. Food was good, just not great.

 

Andres Italian Restaurant & Wine Bar

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One of the worst meals I have been served in a long time. I should have known better and leave immediately when I asked if they had any specials for the night and the waitress told me that main chef who does the specials was not in yet even though it was five o’clock at night. I think they may not have had any chef at all back in the kitchen. I took a bite out of two different pieces of veal and they both literally tasted rotten. The only saving grace was that I was able to eat the mushrooms and sliced onions if that is any consolation for spending twenty some odd dollars on this dish. I was also able to eat the bread that they served with the meal. The bread was warm and perfect for soaking up the sauce that sadly did not seem homemade either. I am sure the server knew something was up with not a single piece of veal was eaten from the plate when she took it away.

 

Mad Dog Morgan’s

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One of the best retrofits of what looks like a former Wawa to me. Also, there must be something with breakfast joints and pirates on this island. Again another outstanding breakfast, with service that was just above and beyond personable and efficient. They even gave my son a little pirate cloth bag as a present for stopping by.

 

St. George’s Pub

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A really nice, tasty, and affordable lunch with a phenomenal clams casino appetizer. The clams casino wasn hands down a reason to drive down to Brigantine alone if they are this good every time there. The restaurant is connected to a bar that was hopping with patrons and music was pumping. If the little guy was not with me, I could see enjoying a decent meal with a couple cold adult beverages here.

 

Red Owl Tavern

(The following is a special series on Bluejeanfoodcritic.com written by guest contributing writer William Knowles. He highlights his passions of of trying something new whenever the opportunity presents itself, or possibly something old, but new again since it has been a while. I hope you enjoy his very special perspective that I am sure many of you can relate to. Follow him on his exciting journey “Around Town”)

red owl sign

On Wednesday evening, April 22nd, I attended an open house at the Red Owl Tavern at 433 Chestnut Street in Philadelphia,  spotlighting the debut of new menus by Chef Jorge Chicas.  The new establishment situated at the Hotel Monaco in the heart of Independence Mall featured live music, samplings of numerous dishes and drink for those attending.

red owl

The food offerings at Red Owl are across the board, from seafood options, steaks and burgers to finger foods and standard pub fare.  The restaurant opens early and serves breakfast from 7-11 AM, with a unique menu offering that is refreshing to see.  The ambiance is one of the main selling points – with large dining and bar space downstairs, more quaint seating on a balcony upstairs, and outdoor seating when the season permits.  Whether it’s a party to watch a game, or just a quiet date night, you can find either at this locale…

The Red Owl will soon find its niche in the city with its fantastic location and casual approach to fine dining.  Stop in to try their new menu items, have a craft beer, or enjoy a happy hour after leaving the office after a hard day.  I will see you soon “Around Town”…

The Happy Rooster – Philadelphia, PA

The Happy Rooster – Philadelphia, PA

A person can become ravenously hungry while walking the streets of Philadelphia. When it strikes, it needs to be addressed. Such an event happened to me not so long ago and I took refuge at The Happy Rooster (HR) to quell my hunger. HR has a lot of character the minute you step inside which I like. I came for food though, not the ambiance or chit-chat. The food train would get rolling with an order of wings.

rost wings

They were called chicken wing confit in a maple bacon chili sauce. The wings were of decent size, but were slightly over cooked and chewy.  The sauce, while good for the first few bites, was much too overpowering in the sweet department. Maybe a little less maple and a little more chili would have helped. Next up was the rooster burger and hand cut fries.

roost burger

The rooster burger consisted of American cheese, bacon, caramelized onion puree, and a fried egg on top. Where HR fell flat in the wings, they picked the pace right up with the burger. Burger was cooked to perfection, bacon was beautifully crispy, caramelized onion puree was fantastical, and the egg was done just right to top it all off. The fries were nice as well, but a little on the dry side for my personal tastes.

roost fries

HR had its shares of ups and downs, but overall I was a Happy Rooster after my visit and able to go along with the rest of my day. A little more focus on the wings and fries, and HR could not just have a happy rooster, they could have the entire farm pleased.

Overall

Three out Five Stars

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