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Author Archives: Bluejeanfoodcritic

Pamcakes a Philly Cupcakery – Philadelphia, PA

Pamcakes a Philly Cupcakery – Philadelphia, PA

pamcake box

Sitting in a tiny storefront on South 20th Street is Pamcakes a Philly Cupcakery (PAM). The store is tiny and cute with the interior giving just the right amount space between display and standing around. The service was friendly and upbeat. Asking for recommendation of something little and sweet, I was directed to the strawberry cupcake, so that is what I went with.

pamcake cup

PAM’s variety of strawberry cupcake was strawberry cream cheese filled strawberry and butter cream topped. It was good, but did not wow me. It was better than your standard variety of cupcakes and was reasonably priced, but after the height of the cupcake trend when Philadelphia sported a lot more cupcake stores that have long gone out of business, I have had better. Even though I have had better, PAM most be doing something right to remain around with so many places having closed they seem to have weathered the storm. That alone shows they are better than the rest in a way all their own and I will gladly return to try a different flavor.

Overall

Three out of Five Stars

The Kibitz Room – Cherry Hill, NJ

By: Angela Timm

The day I ate at The Kibitz Room in Cherry Hill I was enjoying a rare luxury, a lunch alone. There were no two year olds picking food from my plate and no 3rd graders with lunch detention. I was traveling for a workshop. I knew I was going to eat at The Kibitz Room as soon as I drove into town that morning. I knew what I was going to order as soon as I saw the  truck in the parking lot.

kib truck

The atmosphere was busy and fast paced at noon on a Monday. I felt as if I might be turned away for hesitating with my order. The employees are charismatic and the mood of the man behind the counter changed from near-impatience to delight when I asked for his advice on which meat to choose and explained that this was my first time….ordering a reuben.  He suggested corned beef and I went with it, because when you’re in Rome, you do as the Romans.

pickle bar

This meal started with a trip to the pickle bar. The selection was delightful, truly. I chose pickle chips, hot cherry peppers and sweet mixed pickles imagining that I’d go back to try the cucumber and onion salad, pickled tomatoes, and health salad. I never made it back because my lunch arrived. To say that the portions were generous would be an understatement. Thank goodness I ordered the half reuben because the whole sandwich would have fed my family lunch for a week.

pickle plate

The buttery grilled rye bread was stuffed with a mountain of freshly cut corned beef. The sauerkraut was warm and plentiful, but not overwhelming. The swiss cheese was melting and the Russian dressing was light. Except for the rye bread, I’m not a fan of any of these ingredients on its own, but surely this is what Aristotle meant when he said, “The whole is better than the sum of the parts.” It all came together like magic. Served with fresh cut thick crinkle fries, it was by far the largest, messiest, and one of the most delicious sandwiches I have ever eaten.

kib sandwich

My only disappointment was that I couldn’t eat more, more pickles, more matzo ball soup, more sweet desserts. Go there, eat, be full and happy.

Prime Time Beef and Ale

Press Release:

Outside signage

Prime Time Beef and Ale “Hand-Carves” New Life from Former Neighborhood Watering Hole; Celebrates the Spirit of 19th Century American Protectionism

Roslyn, PA…When Roslyn native and Abington High School graduate Kimberly Shire used to pass by Carney’s Tavern in 2005, then a dark and smoke-filled local watering hole at 1139 Easton Road, she never dreamed that one day she would be co-owner of a revitalized and welcoming spot for hand carved sandwiches and domestically brewed and distilled beers and liquors in the same location.

Newly renovated and now open for business, Prime Time Beef and Ale is redefining the term “neighborhood-corner bar” by providing a family-friendly corner pub with a twist. The twist comes in the form of an open carvery kitchen, where beef, pork and turkey are roasted on-site and served with aged provolone, broccoli rabe and specialty rolls. Carveries can be wet (with gravy), dry (without gravy), extra wet (dunked in gravy), or scooped (bread scooped out so that only shell is left), all tender and piled high on a Liscio’s fresh baked roll. Folks looking for other menu options will enjoy homemade fried chicken, baby back ribs, entree salads and more.

Customers watch their meals being prepared from a dining and bar area designed to pay homage to America’s proud past as an industrial leader via corrugated metal walls, handcrafted cast iron chairs, and a curved stainless steel bar.

But the American spirit does not stop there with the establishment’s design and decor. Co-owner Zac Hulayev is committed to reinvigorating the concept of American protectionism and achieves this by running a bar which features 12 American-made draft beers, and alcohol distilled in the domestic United States only.  “There are no imports here; this is a bar rooted in America, and I wanted our bar offerings to be rooted in America as well,” stresses Hulayev who also owns the Drake and King’s Corner in Jenkintown.  Hulayev did his homework to identify such outstanding U.S. distillers as Five Wives from Utah; Rouge from Oregon which makes Dead Guy beer, whiskey, and rum; Anchor Brewing from San Francisco, famous for Anchor Steam Beer, as well as a unique hop-vodka; Philadelphia based Bluecoat Gin, and several others.

His homework assignment did not stop there. In developing the perfect carved sandwich, Hulayev spent many a day eating sandwiches at famous carvery institutions located in such places as 20th and Jackson, Passyunk Avenue, and Reading Terminal Market. “Let’s just say I ate a lot of roast beef sandwiches,” he laughs. “But that enabled me to perfect the 8-hour roasting process and the gooseneck cut which results in the thick top round sandwiches we offer at Prime Time Beef and Ale.”

Shire and Hulayev share the same goals for their new restaurant. “This is place where people are able to relax and unwind after a hectic day in today’s world with good food, good beer and spirits, and good company,” Shire says.

Prime Time Beef and Ale is located at 1139 Easton Road in Roslyn. Restaurant hours are 11 am – 2 am seven days a week. Sandwich specials are offered daily.  Pick-up and delivery services are available and the bar sells growlers of beer to go.  For more information, visit www.ptbeefandale.com.

 

Wong Wong (Chinatown) – Philadelphia, PA

Wong Wong (Chinatown) – Philadelphia, PA

There is a certain element to a restaurant mostly surrounded by glass. It makes me feel as though they have nothing to hide and do not feel ashamed of what they have going on inside their establishment. Well that is exactly how Wong Wong (WW) is setup. Walking or driving through Philadelphia’s Chinatown district you cannot help, but to notice WW with their corner building having panes of glass with various animals hanging from hooks showcased in the windows. I would stop in for a quick, cheap, and basic lunch special of Chicken Peking Style with Fried Rice.

wong wong

This was one of the less adventurous choices at WW, but sometimes you just want the basics and WW provided just that. The chicken’s exterior was nice and crisp, but unfortunately was dried out on the inside showing it was overcooked which was a shame as the sauce had a nice tangy sweet flavor to it. The fried rice was decent, but not by far the best being served in Chinatown. WW excelled at giving me a very affordable lunch served quickly after my order was placed and for that I was pleased. They have plenty of other things that caught my eye on the menu and I will not hesitate to go back there again.

Overall

Two and Three-Fourths out of Five Stars

Rustica Unusual Pizza and Sandwiches (Northern Liberties) – Philadelphia, PA

Rustica Unusual Pizza and Sandwiches (Northern Liberties) – Philadelphia, PA

The Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia has really grown into its own. From shops, to restaurants, to housing it has become one of the “cool” places to be around. With wanting to stay fresh and hip as all my friends think I am, but I just put on a good façade, I figured I would hang around and have lunch while in the area at Rustica (RUS). RUS is a tiny little place on the inside, but they somehow figured how to squeeze in a few tables and chairs. They have a counter showing many of their “Unusual Pizzas” that some seem like a good idea to eat and others not so much, but my order of the day would be the Daskul Panini.

rustica

The Daskul Panini consisted of house smoked brisket with brown gravy, roasted long hots, and sharp provolone. It was a nice combination and nice change of pace of sandwich on the menu then you normally see at places that mostly serve pizza. It could have been better possibly if the brisket was chopped as having it pulled style the meat was a little too stringy and created lumps of meat to be pulled out with each bite and could have used a little flavor. The brown gravy gave it liquid to moisten it up a bit, but did little to add any flavor. The long hots were nice, but overpowered the sandwich. Maybe if they added crispy bacon or another powerful ingredient it would balance it out.

RUS indeed has a lineup of unusual pizzas and sandwiches to spice things up whenever you want a little something more than the normal. They could use a little more lighting as the ambiance was so dark even though it was midday and sunny outside. The service was friendly and efficient and I would not hesitate to give RUS another try next time in the area.

Overall

Three out of Five Stars

Ho Sai GaiRestaurant – Chinatown – Philadelphia, PA

Ho Sai GaiRestaurant – Philadelphia, PA

The now closed Polly Ester’s disco nightclub that sat on Race Street in Chinatown is what would bring me to Ho Sai Gai’s (HSG) original location around 10th and Cherry Streets. After a club induced trance from a full night of partying, I found no better treat to fill my empty belly than HSG’s cheesesteak Egg Rolls which were all the rage and a new phenomenon twenty some odd years ago. Flash forward to current day, HSG has moved to beautiful new digs on the corner of 10th and Race, the building that was Polly Ester’s is now condos, and those cheesesteak egg rolls just do not seem as delicious sober. I visited HSG for some take-out and I would go with the poplar General Tso Chicken.

general tso

I will assume that everyone is familiar with General Tso Chicken as it is a staple of Chinese Take-out joints and restaurants. HSG used mostly white meat and just the right amount of sauce. The chicken was crisp, but not dried out. While the sauce provided a nice tang, it had just the slightest touch of spice, but not too much, which was nice. The fried rice was cooked well and not that dried out yellow stuff. The service was friendly, quick, and efficient. HSG is not offering authentic Chinese cuisine, but what they do offer is Americanized Chinese with an upgrade from what you are used to. If you are looking for authentic, look elsewhere in Chinatown, but if you are looking for what the average person thinks Chinese food is, then you would really enjoy HSG and would be impressed with what you are served there.

Overall

Three and Half out of Five Stars

Luigi’s Pizza Fresca, Philadelphia, PA

Luigi’s Pizza Fresca, Philadelphia, PA

The Fairmount area of Philadelphia is really a nice area to spend an evening. With the skyline of the city to view, the amazing Eastern State Penitentiary to visit, and many dining options available there is a little bit of everything for everyone. While the options are many for restaurants, sometimes you just want something a little lighter and quick and that is why I visited Luigi’s Pizza Fresca (LPF). This is one of three locations for LPF with the other two in New Jersey, and if the crowd at this location is any indicator, they are very poplar and I would not be surprised to see more locations in the very near future. My order would be for a Chicken Parmigiana Panini.

luigi

What I really enjoyed about LPF was the dishes of free pizza slices sitting on the counter available to eat while you waited for your order. This is a nice touch and wish more places were as accommodating and welcoming. What I did not like, was the decibel level of the music playing felt more like I was in a night club then a dining establishment. The décor is basic with many articles in different media outlets about LPF adjourning the walls, but overall gave the place a comfortable atmosphere provided the music is not blaring. The Chicken Parmigiana Panini was basic your variety, but good and a decent sized portion. The Panini added an element above a normal sandwich and it was a nice change of pace. LPF is a step above your normal pizza parlor in terms of ambiance and food offerings and a perfect fit for what I was looking for that day and I would not hesitate to go back and try some of their other selections as well.

Overall

Three and a half stars out of Five

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