Tuesday, October 9, 2007

McGillin's Olde Ale House

McGillin's is a Philadelphia staple - the oldest tavern in the city. It's the warm, cozy place you go to hang out and drink beer (by the pitcher) with good friends, especially when it's cold and wet outside. This is not where you go dressed up to have a frou-frou cocktail or sip good wine. My favorite time to come here is during a mid-afternoon, winter day, preferably while it's snowing outside and the kids are at grandma's for a sleepover. There isn't much better than kicking back in front of that fireplace. There is an upstairs level for crowd spillover, but the atmosphere doesn't compare to downstairs.

As far as food goes, it's pretty much what you would expect from a tavern. Good pub grub. There is karaoke one or two nights if you're into volunteering yourself for public humiliation (unless you can really sing). I couldn't tell you which nights because I have zero tolerance for anything karaoke-esque. And, I'm being polite. It gets packed, so get there early to score a table, settle in and get comfy.

Monday, October 8, 2007


This is by far my all-time favorite restaurant. I really think I could eat here every week if it was feasible. It has yet to disappoint on any level.

The flamenco dancing on Wednesday and Friday evenings is phenomenal - it gives me goosebumps. I was mesmerized and was disappointed when it ended, especially since it only lasted 30 minutes. Make reservations on these nights at least two months in advance. And try as you can to get a table near the stage. Otherwise, you'll be leaving your delicious food to see the show. You simply can't miss it.

Go with a group - there is so much on the menu it's the only way to really experiment. If you really can't decide what to order, go with the chef's selection. Tell them of any aversions and they'll customize it.

Wine recommendations from the bartender were on point.

Make reservations early - this place rocks!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Iron Hill Brewery, Wilmington, DE

I can't rate the beers. I go here occasionally with co-workers for lunch. While I would have a beer, no one else does so I don't want to be the lush. I recently had the turkey burger with guacamole and aioli (no bacon) and it was way too greasy. Fries were okay, but dry. Unfortunately, two days later and I'm still feeling the repercussions. I've been told the Asian wrap is excellent. I'll try that next time.

La Lupe, South Philly

I have never actually eaten in this place, but we ordered delivery from it nearly every Friday night. It was that good. I had to have my La Lupe fix. This is real Mexican. You know it's real when you call and it's easier to pronounce your phone number in Spanish.

My favorite was first the quesadilla pollo, then I took a chance and tried the enchiladas verdes. I didn't need to try anything else. My feeling was that if I didn't order the enchiladas verdes than it was an opportunity missed. We almost always had the pico de gallo with chips. That would prove to have surprise ingredients every time. Sometimes there would be avocado, sometimes not. Sometimes a lot of onions, sometimes radishes. Sometimes the container would be half empty... always exciting. The chips, more often than not, would be delivered warm. You just can't beat that. Jeff would almost always order the bistek burrito. It was huge. Easily enough food for two meals.

Marigold Kitchen, University City

New American cuisine in a restored Victorian twin. Decor was sparse, semi-dimly lit, votive on the table. Intimate. BYOB. Good service. Some parts of the meal were great others, not so. B+

If you're expecting to bring home a doggy-bag, you will be disappointed. Portions are perfectly sized. Although, when my appetizer of Tuna Carpaccio with Poached Tuna Salad and Tabouleh arrived I thought for sure I would need to find a McDonald's after this meal. Fortunately, that wasn't the case. I was able to enjoy the hot breads (sourdough, raisin and nut, and crusty French) with olives and oil. The Tuna Carpaccio was very tasty, fresh, sushi grade but definitely a teaser, not a meal unto itself, which is fine with me because reheating leftovers of this nature can never recapture the full essence of the dish. Then came the Poached Salmon with Potato Pancake and Pickled Wax Beans: three mini cuts of perfectly cooked salmon, topped with a sprig of dill and accompanied by a potato pancake which resembled more of an overcooked latke. Dessert followed with a Cardamom Creme Brulee with Pistachio Tuile which wasn't as crusty on top as I would expect, but had a nice flavor. And surprisingly, by the end of the meal, I was completely satisfied. Would I return? If someone else was paying, then yes; but probably not until I tried every other restaurant on my list.

Peace a Pizza, Ardmore

Review in a nutshell: Good for kids - there is a TV with a kid-friendly movie on; crayons and paper and a kid-size table (only 1). Pizza is pretty good although occasionally overcooked. There are a ton of pizza options, plus salads. You can order by the slice or whole pie. So far the only negative is that it does get that overcooked-pizza-crust smell that makes it a little hard to breathe, and it sticks to your clothes. Staff is friendly. Friday early evening gets busy, but they do deliver. When we had delivery it came sooner than they said, which is always nice.
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