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Author Archives: Bluejeanfoodcritic

The Boyler Room – Philadelphia, PA

The Boyler Room – Philadelphia, PA

Sitting in the spot where the former spot to catch a soccer game on TV, Blarney Bar, is now The Boyler Room (BR). It does not seem like a very large renovation was done and I would consider BR still in the dive bar category. BR does have many drink specials like a shot and beer for five dollars or have lunch there and your second beer is free. The food selection is very limited, which is fine, provided it is good. I would go with the burger with mushrooms, onions, bacon, and American cheese to go along with an order of gravy fries.

boyler

The burger was a tad over well done and the bacon was WAY over done and mostly burnt. The bun was your standard variety and the fries were a very nice shoestring variety and cooked nicely, but I was very disappointed to only get two tiny weeny baby cups of gravy for my order. I would have rather had them drenched in gravy to begin with or give me a much larger cup. By the looks of things, BR is more of a spot to visit for a beverage as opposed to something to eat as I was the only patron with food. With that being said those drinking seemed to be having a good time with some good deals to go along with their drinks. Now only if they can give as much attention to their food then maybe next time I will not be the only person there for a meal.

Overall

Two out of Five Stars

 

Rochester’s Barbecue and Grill – Lawnside, NJ

Rochester’s Barbecue and Grill – Lawnside, NJ

I swear that good barbecue is in people’s genes and that it takes generations to perfect. With that being said, I am happy that I do not have to wait generations to eat perfected recipes and techniques which brought me to Rochester’s Barbecue and Grill (RBG). Ernestine Rochester in the late 1950’s felt she had created the best barbecue sauce she had ever tasted. Well fast forward some years and now her sons Vincent and Vernon took what they had learned from her and with a little mixing and matching of their own went a little further and set out for the world to taste their creations by opening RBG. RBG has a warm and welcoming décor, but the feel is slightly outdated. The staff was very friendly and a decent crowd was dining and I saw an electric piano set up in the rear so I assume they must have live music at times. It was time to order, and my heart was set on beef ribs. Sadly, I was told they would not be ready for another two to three hours from when I stopped in. Wanting to eat immediately I went with plan B.

rochester

My order would consist of pork ribs, Ollie’s triple beans, and collard greens. I will go with the fabulous first. The Ollie’s triple beans were bar none one of the better bean dishes I have had in a long time. I could have eaten a whole bowl of them alone by themselves. Stepping down from such a high would be the ribs. They were a very good incarnation of “Southern Style” pork ribs with a nice sauce that I wonder is Ernestine’s creation, but were a tad chewy and tough, and I have had better. The low point of the meal would be the collard greens which were very bland. It just seemed like they forgot to season them at all. RBG had some great, good, and bad all in one meal. I enjoyed RBG enough to certainly warrant another visit, recommend for you to try, and hopefully next time I will get to try those beef ribs I wanted to begin with.

Overall

Three out of Five Stars

 

GC Train Station Café – Gloucester City, NJ

GC Train Station Café – Gloucester City, NJ

gc sign

The town of Gloucester City, New Jersey had a big year in 2014. After being named one of the top ten communities on the rise by NerdWallet.com and taking the number eight slot as one of the happiest cities to live in New Jersey by CreditDonkey.com Gloucester City has some bragging rights. To a foodie like me, none of these are as exciting as the restaurant renaissance happening in Gloucester City. A Chubby’s Steak House with an anticipated opening in Spring 2015 is in the works as is the Ott’s on the Waterfront restaurant and development on schedule to break ground May 1st, 2015. There are some of big things on the horizon. That is the future, and the day I was there I was hungry for breakfast. So a visit to the GC Train Station Café was in order.

gc scrap

It is a tiny, modest, and cozy café. The employees were very nice and a crowd of regulars was evident by everyone being welcomed and served by on a first name basis. I went with the scrapple, three eggs, rye bread, and home fries. It was your standard variety cooked nicely and delivered to my table quickly. I do not rate breakfast, but what I can tell you is that Gloucester City has high hopes for a nice place to get dinner. No hope is needed for breakfast, as GC Train Station Café has them covered.

MeltKraft – Reading Terminal Market – Philadelphia, PA

MeltKraft – Reading Terminal Market – Philadelphia, PA

The Reading Terminal Market seems to have one gem after another around every turn. Almost hidden in the back with a display case of fresh cheeses to choose from to buy along with many other goodies MeltKraft (MK) is delivering one yummy grilled cheese. The day I visited the gentleman behind the counter could not have been more helpful to a novice cheese eater. I would not only buy some delicious cheese to take home, I would order their Valley Thunder Grilled Cheese.

meltkraft

The grilled cheese consisted of valley thunder twelve month aged cheddar and Bubbe’s brisket topped with baked macaroni mixed with valley shepherd cheese and a side of Covered Bridge Kettle Chips. The sandwich hit almost every note a meat and cheese lover such as myself looks for, while being able to enjoy a childhood favorite meal with a twist. The only problem was I would consider this sandwich something I would only have once in a while, as the cheese consistency was a little thicker than expected, the macaroni gave the texture more of a meal feeling then I what was looking for, and I missed the taste and feel of the sandwich coming off a griddle as opposed the press MK uses. The brisket was spot on though. Even with my slight criticism it was a treat of a sandwich and you should at least give it a try for yourself. While waiting get a sample or two of some Valley Sheppard Creamery cheeses and buy some to take home and enjoy.

Overall

Three and Three-Fourth Stars out of Five

 

2015 Philadelphia Inquirer’s annual Travel & Culinary Expo

(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”)

vsign

I had the good fortune to attend the Philadelphia Inquirer’s annual Travel & Culinary Expo on Sunday, February 21st.  This year’s event was held at the Valley Forge Casino Resort, located right off the Schuylkill Expressway near the King of Prussia Mall.

expo sign

The festival contained a wide variety of events and expos that are intended to entice you to try some new ideas and exotic locales while planning your travel.  On site travel agencies enabled those interested in booking vacations right away the convenience of doing so.  For those who are new to international travel, a passport station was on hand to provide detailed information on how to apply.

jersey cape

Themed food stations included New England based Cabot Cheese (tied into vacationing in Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York), Passanante’s Home Food Services, chain restaurants such as Bahama Breeze, Godshall’s Meats (with delicious turkey bacon fried on the spot), and some local favorites like Tony Luke’s and Fat Jack’s BBQ. 2 Chicks with Chocolate, previously featured in the Around Town segment, provided some fantastic desert.

fat jacks
To wash all of this wonderful food down, our next stop was the Mid-Atlantic Craft Beer Pavilion.  Joe Sixpack, a beer expert and columnist featured regularly in the Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News and philly.com, was on hand to offer insight and opinion as well as Tara Nurin.  Local and old favorites were well represented, with Lancaster Brewing Co., Prism Brewing Co., Yards, Neshaminy Creek, Ballantine Ale and the Conshohocken Brewing Co. all setting up shop.
joe six
Additionally, food seminars like the one put on by Hell’s Kitchen Season 10 Finalist Barbie Marshall and guest speakers entertained the gathering crowds who were taking a break from visiting the many exhibits.  All said and done, the Philadelphia Inquirer sponsors a fun and lively event each year that will surely make you look at planning your next vacation differently.  Be sure to check out next year’s event, and I will be seeing you “around town”…

 

Georgetti’s Pasta & Sauce Market – Cinnaminson, NJ

Georgetti’s Pasta & Sauce Market – Cinnaminson, NJ

Sometimes you want dinner, but do not feel like cooking a full meal. Sometimes you want dinner, but do not feel like leaving your house. We Georgetti’s Pasta & Sauce Market (GPS) was just the perfect place to be able to do both. The only question was how it would taste. Immediately stepping foot into GPS you know you are not in your normal take-out market where you have a fifty-fifty chance of even finding something that resemble a decent meal. They have almost everything your heart could desire if you are seeking Italian food to take home. The prices were very reasonable, selection was fresh, and staff friendly. My selection would be chicken parmesan, linguini with a vodka sauce, and fresh roll.

georgetti

I put the chicken in oven and warmed the linguini and the vodka sauce on the stove top, and it was as simple as one-two-three dinner done with the looks of a restaurant quality meal. Lucky for me, it tasted as good as it looked. I could not have been happier with the turnout and the ease of preparation. GPS had hundreds of items I want to go back and try even more specialties of theirs. They even have frozen selections to choose from so you can have a few things on hand at any given time. Put some candles on the table; get yourself a bottle of wine, and with GPS you too can have fine dining in the comfort of your own home.

Overall

Four out of Five Stars

 

Rockhill – Cherry Hill, NJ

Rockhill – Cherry Hill, NJ

Cruising down Route 70 West in Cherry Hill, New Jersey I spotted a building that did not look like a restaurant, but had plenty of signs on the lawn screaming the destination had food there. Once I pulled into the parking lot, you could see indeed Rockhill (RH) is a full-fledged restaurant, but roadside it was tough to tell. The interior of RH is very bright, modern, and slick. The staff was upbeat, friendly, and professional. I started things out with what the menu stated was a soft pretzel with white cheddar beer sauce.

prez bite

I was imagining a large soft pretzel, but what appeared were pretzel bites. The sauce was very nice and warm with a good consistency and decent beer flavor to it. Sadly, the pretzels lacked any sort of pretzel texture, consistency or flavor. Instead they tasted too much like bread bites and plain ones at that. They should update the menu to state they are bites and may want to work on the recipe for the pretzels or outsource for them. Moving on I would go with a cheesesteak.

hill steak

I ordered the Kennett Cheesesteak which was supposed to come with Swiss cheese, gravy, caramelized onions, and topped with fresh sautéed Kennett Square mushrooms. What arrived was a cheesesteak with American cheese sauce, onions, and mushrooms. Whether the mushrooms were of the Kennett Square variety I do not know, but what I do know is that I ordered was not what I received. Not wanting to wait for another or cause a ruckus, I decided to eat. I must admit that what was brought was tasty and better than your average cheesesteak, and the mushrooms were fabulous. One thing that was very noticeable though was the meat was chopped up so much it immediately fell out of the roll as it turned more into ground beef instead.

RH has a little bit of a rock to move and hill to climb. Many aspects of RH confused me on their missteps. The service was so friendly and seemed efficient so where did the order mix up happen. Did the kitchen not read the ticket properly as there was no one else to blame for the extremely chopped steak, or was it a system error. Either way, RH has a beautiful place to dine in at, a staff that seems willing and ready to provide outstanding service, and a unique and higher end twist on the tried and true pizza shop menu. Now if they can get a little better signage out front to let drivers know about RH and a refresher course on techniques in the kitchen, RH is posed to go from a rock to a mountain for the competition.

Overall

Two and One-Fourth Stars out of Five

 

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