Wednesday, April 27, 2011

El Sitio

Dinner with the parentals in New Jersey usually means limited options (Chotchkies, Flingers, etc.) and lots of flare on the servers. Surprisingly enough though, there is a vibrant and developing dining scene in downtown Collingswood, of all places. There's a number of good restaurants to check out, a steadily rebuilding main street, and it's easy walking distance from the Patco high speed line. Just a 10 minute train ride from center city. Who knew? 

We stopped in at El Sitio, which my parents had been to once already and gave them high marks. They specialize in South American cuisine, with a slant towards Ecuador, Argentina & Peru (a special place in my heart since we hiked Machu Picchu last year). The thoughts of those wonderful flavors from Lima & Cusco floated thru my head on the ride over the bridge. Hand made empanadas, incredible civiche, fresh river trout and a hundred colors of potatoes now make me weak in the knees weak.  *Side note - did you know that potatoes originated in Peru?  Fun fact for the day! 

El Sitio delivers on all the above. It's byo, and they will even make you an authentic pisco sour if you bring the pisco brandy - assuming you can find it. The empanadas were crispy and flaky and delicious - stuffed with your choice of white corn, chicken or plantains. How do you say delicious in spanish? Empanadas, that's how.  

The peruvian civiche was spot on.  Big hunks of delicately citrus cooked fish (think it was tuna) served along side sliced potatoes and huge kernels of maize - god only knows where they got that. I was expecting normal corn as it says on the menu, but there it was on the plate; authentic south american maize. So much better than it's American cousin. 

Shrimp cakes covered with an avocado/chimichurri puree and topped with hunks of crab meat were the hit of the meal. The fiancee doesn't even like shrimp, and she thought these were fantastic.  It's not on the normal menu, but hopefully a frequent special.

A boring chicken breast is livened up with great curry-like sauce and sauteed greens with garlic. The chicken was fork tender and the sauce reminded me of a great korma sauce from the Girard Indian take out joints.  

We were too full for desert, but an espresso picked me up after the big meal. Looking forward to returning for more tastes of South America, right in little old Collingswood.  

Food Baby Rating:  It's a Boy!! 

El Sitio
729 Haddon Ave.Collingswood, NJ 08108
Open through: M - Sa: 12 - 9 pm / Su: 12 - 7 pm 
Reservations: (856) 240 - 1217 

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Famous 4th Street Deli

Being engaged to a Jewish girl has it's perks. One of the best is the wealth of food and culture I was rarely exposed to in my formative years growing up catholic in south jersey. She has brought to me a love of bagels (not the frozen Lenders crap from shoprite), knishes, matzo ball soup, hamantaschen & brisket (her grandmom makes it best).  
The metaphorical cherry on top of all that savory goodness though, is the pastrami sandwich. Immitation is the highest form of flattery, and you see "pastrami" sandwiches on almost every deli and diner menu. Take a ride on the Megabus up to NY, and you'll see what the real thing is all about. It must be served hot, and has to have been carved just before assembly on fresh rye bread. The juices from the meat should be messy and worth sopping up with extra bread.  Famous 4th Street Deli has the best in the city that I've tasted thus far - although I've got a lot of work to do on checking out other offerings. Koch's deli at 43rd & Locust, and Delicatessen at 7th & Chestnut are on my list.   
Famous 4th Street serves theirs with about a 1-1/2 lbs of hot pastrami, some spicy mustard and those free pickles that get you warmed up for the meal. The fiancee orders extra bread, so she can have another sandwich with the extra meat later on. Food baby doesn't roll that way - it's all or nothing. So put on your eatin' pants and prepare for a nap afterwards. If you knock this thing out in one sitting, you've earned a rest. Enjoy.  
Food Baby Rating:
Famous Fourth Street Delicatessen
700 South 4th Street (4th & Bainbridge)
Philadelphia, PA
(215) 922-3274
Open 7 Days a week - 8am - 9pm

Friday, April 15, 2011

Bridget Foy's

Haven't eaten at Bridget Foy's in quite some time. Last time we were there was well before my blogging days for brunch after shopping the headhouse market on a Sunday morning. I do remember brunch being very good, and the bloody mary's spicy. This time was just for a quick meal and a drink while running errands.

Server was friendly - "My mom call's me Michael, but you can call me Shazam" and everything came out quickly. The menu is stocked with burgers, bar snacks & appetizers but with a decidedly Asian influence. Crab & scallop dumplings, pork belly spring rolls and Korean BBQ duck tacos litter the appetizer menu. I ordered a remarkably good bahn mi from the sandwich list. Filled with sesame braised pork, pickled veggies, bean sprouts and some slap you in the face spicy siracha mayo. The hoagie roll was soft and chewy, perfectly fresh. The fries were hand cut, with skins left on and nicely seasoned. She got the hummus plate that seemed to be house made, garnished with olives, tomato & cucumber and nicely toasted pita for dipping.

Small but decent selection of wines by the glass on hand. The same goes for the draught beer list. I had a very good Donnybrook stout from Victory that helped cool the burn from that siracha mayo. Now that the weather is warming up (finally), definitely looking forward to some good South Street people watching from the little patio outside and of course checking out the rest of the menu.


Food Baby Rating:  It's a Boy!

Bridget Foy's
200 South Street
Philadelphia, PA 19147

Weekdays 11am-11pm
Saturday 9am-Midnight
Sunday 9am-10pm

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Food Baby via Email!

Many thanks to the readers who's been checking out this blog and reassuring me that my fiancee is not the only one reading my drivel.  I recently enhanced the site with an email list for those of you that prefer to get the posts that way.  Just enter your email in the "Follow by Email" box on the right hand side of the page.



Gunner's Run

Taking over for short lived Swift Half in the Piazza at Schmidt's is newly opened Gunners Run. For lack of a better way to describe it, it's basically Swift Half with some new wall paper and a more limited, but better menu. If you didn't notice the new sign out front, or if you've had a few already across the way at PYT, you probably wouldn't realize the place had changed owners. 

One very cool addition is an 6'x10' map of Philadelphia from the mid 1800's that covers an entire section of the wall. It shows off the original Gunners Run, a creek that ran thru the city before it became a canal,  and eventually Aramingo Ave. 

We stopped in for lunch on a Thursday - we happened to have the day off and were running errands in the neighborhood. The menu is much more concise than the offerings from the former owners, and everything we tried was spot on. It's not fine dining, but it is a great menu for a local bar. I went with the vegan sloppy joe - a pretty good imitation on the real thing with a spicy tomato sauce and vegan "beef" whatever that is. They serve it on a potato roll (mine was still a little chilled from being defrosted) with fries and some unbelievably good homemade garlic pickles. I have a thing for good pickles, and these are some of the best I've had lately.

She had the grilled chicken sandwich - served on a seeded hoagie role with arugula, red onion, provolone, and a slathering of olive tapenade. The tapenade is an inspired addition to an already good sandwich. A surprisingly good contrast of salty olivey goodness to the sweet onion and savory chicken.

Sandwiches are all under $10 - very reasonable given the going rates lately in NoLibs. They do have a few more substantial entree type items on the menu (steak, clambake) that are well above the $20 menu, but honestly who's going here for dinner? More intriguing is the bloody mary bar, promising that for $10 you can make your own Mary with unlimited fixings. The brunch menu is limited for now, but might be worth stopping in just for the bloody's, and those pickles.


Food Baby Rating: It's a Boy!

Gunners Run
1001 North 2nd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19123
11:30 AM - 2:00 AM Monday - Friday
11:00 AM - 2:00 AM Saturday - Sunday, with brunch served 11:00 AM - 3:00 PM

Serving lunch, dinner, late night. Brunch on weekends
No reservations required
Visa, Mastercard, American Express, cash