Saturday, April 26, 2008

J.R. Monaghan's Pub & Grill

34 E. Lancaster Ave., Ardmore 484-416-3547

We have been anxiously waiting for any smoke-free, family-friendly restaurant in walking distance to open, crossing our fingers it wouldn't be horribly cheesy with tasteless food, and finally we got J.R. Monaghan's Pub & Grill from the owner of Brownie's, a sports pub with plasmas visible from wherever you sit.

Apparently, every other family in a 5-mile radius was also waiting. It hasn't even been open a whole week and by 6:15 pm on a Friday it was jam packed with families. (So, if you're without children and aren't into that chaotic atmosphere, wait until after 8pm to go when all the kids are getting ready for bed.) A line out the door. Smoke-free, people. This is huge!

Since it has been open only a few days, our expectations we're low. They've got kinks to work out, after all. We arrived just in time to grab a table; booths were gone by this point. Did I mention it was only 6:15?! Our server was really friendly and helpful. Beers on tap were above average and included Hoegaarden and Yards.

They provide crayons and activity placemats for the kids. No kid-cups though, which was disappointing but we survived. The kids menu included all the standards, including fish and chips. But beware, it's not what you expect (if you're expecting fish sticks). It was really french fries and a breaded fillet of something. Fortunately, it was flavorful and the girls ate it. That's all that matters in my book. I had the Southwestern Salad with grilled chicken, black beans and jalapenos. It had a nice kick to it. Husband had the Roast Beef sandwich. It wasn't dry and better than the one he had recently at McCloskey's.

We also split the Triple Chocolate Mousse which was agreed by everyone delicious. Overall, we thought the food was better than expected, but not great. It has a chain restaurant vibe: bright, bad carpeting, generic furniture, standard menu. Nothing exciting. BUT IT'S SMOKE-FREE!

For a dinner out with the kids, it's perfect. To grab a beer and watch a game, we'll take it!

Thursday, April 24, 2008


408 South Second St., Philadelphia 215.238.7280

You won't find burritos or tacos at this hip Mexican on Headhouse Square, but you will find an overwhelming list of tequila to chose from and a lot of really good food (but no chicken either!) If it's worth anything to you, Xochitl recently landed at #20 on Philadelphia magazine's 50 Best Restaurants list.

Xochitl has plenty of ambiance: loud, red and dark enough to be romantic, but hard to read the menu if your eyes aren't what they used to be. If that's a problem, let the server know and they'll bring you a mini-flashlight. I swear.

A girls night out Mexican-style can only be kicked off with margaritas. I can't handle lists of liquor, so I decided not to decide and opted for the house tequila. I know nothing about tequila, and quite frankly, don't care. As long as it's not going to give me a hangover, then pour away. The margarita was yummy, but if you love Copabananas tart margarita, then this ain't it.

We started with the guacamole ($7) made to order at the table. YUM. We all agreed that if this was the only thing we ate for dinner, we would have been happy. It was that good. And, we also tried one of the ceviches... Vuelve a la Vida “Return to Life” ($15) with shrimp, octopus, scallop, oyster and onion, cilantro, jalapeƱo, tomato and avocado. It was served in an oversized martini glass. Personally, I didn't like that it was all thrown together, but I'm weird about my ceviche. I like to taste each piece separately. Regardless, the flavor was nice.

Both girlfriends had the pork shank because they were out of the pork chop. It came on the bone for gnawing, which they were too graceful to do. I don't know what else it came with because it was too dark to see. I had the Salmon con Mole Verde ($20), roasted salmon with green mole, roasted potatoes and cabbage, mushrooms and figs. Again, too dark to see what the sides were. I don't recall potatoes though. It was all slimey, but the salmon was prepared medium rare after all. I know slimey isn't an attractive description, but it was and it still tasted good.

Dessert was simple. Just a couple of churros ($7) with Mexican chocolate and cajeta dipping sauces. They were hot and sugary. Wished there were more.

We'd go back.

Read other reviews here.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Radicchio Cafe

314 York Ave, Philadelphia, PA 215.627.6850

On a recent date night, we rushed into the city to trusty BYOB Radicchio Cafe for some tableside filleted fish. I love the drama. Because we also had theater tickets, we got there early so we had no problem being seated right away. Usually, there's a wait since they don't take reservations. Keep this in mind for the dog days of summer. You'll work up a sweat waiting outside. However, if you've BYO and you're outside, they've been known to open your bottle and hand out glasses to keep you busy while you wait.

Our server was good, if not a little too cool. At one point, as I lifted our wine bottle out of the cooler, he grabbed it from my hand and refilled our glasses. I laughed out loud at the timing of it. Like I said, too cool, without even a smirk. I asked him as he quickly filleted the Sole if they timed him on this feat, and he gave me (actually, he didn't really look away from the fish) this look like, "What a stupid fucking question." So, no they didn't time him.

On to the meal. Complimentary brushetta and obligatory bread arrived first. Not too garlicky as I find most brushetta to be. One per person. For appetizers, Husband had the Insalata di Campo ($7), a meschun salad, green olives, radishes, string beans vinegar and olive oil. Nice and fresh.

I started with the Ricchi e Poveri ($8), grilled shrimp, asparagus and cannellni beans served warm with lemon and olive oil. Two shrimp and a few asparagus tips. It was plain. I salted it. Always a bad sign.
But, we weren't there for the appetizers anyway. We wanted fish. And fish we had. Husband had the Dover Sole (photo) and I opted for the Branzino. Both ($22) were simply prepared with olive oil, lemon and some herbs. They come to the table as whole fish and are filleted before your very eyes. It's lovely. My husband swears by the Dover Sole. So, I asked our super cool server which one was better. Hands down, the Branzino. Yes! Points for the chick with the stupid question. The Dover Sole is thinner, firmer and crisper. To me, it's a very mild fish. The Branzino is thick and meaty. It also has a fishier taste to it. I couldn't even finish it. Both entrees came with side plates of veggies...broccoli, carrots, mashed potatoes. Good stuff. Crisp, not soggy. Everything is prepared to perfection!

Read other reviews:; Yelp; D'Bockol Review;
Blog Template by Delicious Design Studio