BRUNCH, Burger, Eating out, Food, Italian, Philadelphia suburb, Restaurant, Reviews

BRUNCH series! First review from Panache in Blue Bell, PA

Previously I reviewed Panache for dinner and it was a huge hit so I thought I’d start the BRUNCH series with this fab establishment and let me tell you this was no mistake.

It was Sunday morning at 10:30. We had a reservation but we certainly didn’t need one. It wasn’t like dinner when it is packed and always a wait. We started with a cocktail. I had a Ruby Red Spritzer for $7.00. It was champagne, pineapple infused vodka and a splash of pineapple juice. It was very fizzy and refreshing as well as STRONG my goodness! Dan had a Bloody Mary also for $7.00. I tasted it and it was fine for a regular Bloody Mary but for me, I prefer a Bloody with a little more pizzazz. Chuck a chunk of cheese and a pickle on a skewer and throw it in there! A crunchy piece of bacon or a fresh, crunchy piece of celery!

Brunchtails

Ummmmm can you say dang good mini croissant? I have never been a huge fan of the croissant but these complimentary mini croissants have changed me. They were still warm and buttery and oh-so-good. The picture does not do them justice. We were given 4 croissants for the two of us. I let out server know how delightful they were and she offered us more. I wanted to say yes but my thighs said no.

The menu had a nice variety of meal choices. It offered Belgian Waffels, steak and eggs with Béarnaise sauce and your regular ol’ eggs with bacon or chicken sausage. Or you could get something lunchy like the Panache Burger (that’s what I had). If you are feeling like you want something a little different maybe try the Sweet Potato Pancakes or what Dan enjoyed the Shakshuka Merguez.

The Shakshuka Merguez was served in a piping hot cast-iron pan. It was as delicious as it was beautiful to see. It was served with two sunny-side up eggs baked with spicy tomato sauce and lamb merguez sausage for $13.00. I tasted the “sausage” and the sauce and both were yummy, however, I don’t really know that you call call it sausage. Their was no casing and it reminded me of lamb kofta which for me is fine because kofta is exotically delicious. But overall it was a home run for a new and exciting brunch entree.

The Shakshuka Merguez

I had the Panache Burger. I am a lunch kinda girl rather than breakfast. I know I know, what is wrong with me? lol Anyway, presentation was just okay but that’s fine because the burger was cooked perfect and that my friends makes for the perfect burger. It was served on a soft brioche bun which frankly is the only way to serve a burger. The fries were….well fries. Nothing special. A little drizzle of truffle oil and a sprinkle of parmesan and parsley could really elevate this plate. Don’t get met wrong, it was good. I bet they would have let me substitute the fries for a side salad. Maybe next time I’ll ask. OH just so you know, they have 1/2 price burgers during Wednesday happy hour so you have no excuse not to give it a try.

Perfectly cooked burger in my book

Panache did it again my friends. The atmosphere like evening atmosphere was lovely with soft Italian music playing in the background. Our server was kind and attentive. I had a question about the menu and since she wasn’t sure of the answer she quickly went to the chef to find out for me. Everything was timely and delicious. I did notice though that it wasn’t crowded like the evening and maybe because people just don’t know how good their brunch menu is? Well thank goodness I’m here to tell you! I give Panache brunch 3.5 out of 4 forks. Thanks for reading my blog all! Their is more to eating out than just dinner. Try some BRUNCH!

Eating out, Food, Mexican, Philadelphia suburb, Restaurant, Reviews, Tropical drink

Plaza Azteca, Plymouth Meeting, PA

First know this is a Mexican chain restaurant but that’s okay. This place is great on so many levels. First starting with the atmosphere. It’s fun! Great music in the background and the colorful decor is sublime . It’s big enough for larger parties of say 10 or so, great for a girls night out, accommodating to families with small children and even suitable for couples looking for a date night. The prices are right, the drinks can be a-flowing and the food options are a-plenty.

Because it’s so inviting it’s usually busy. Disappointingly they don’t take reservations so if you are going on a Friday or Saturday night know you might have to wait a bit but it’ll be worth the wait. They offer some happy hour specials so you can always sip on a margarita while you wait. If you don’t mind the bar area, this area is “seat yourself” and there is usually a table that somehow isn’t seen by others that you can slip in quietly and avoid the long wait…but this is my secret so share that tip sparingly.

Once seated you are greeted with house made chips and house made salsa. We’ve been there so many times and notice that sometimes the salsa is spicy and other times not so much so be prepared either way. They also have a creamy white dip for the chips that is complimentary but you have to ask for it so be sure you do…it’s tasty.

Start with a cocktail

Happy hour Jumbo Margarita on the rocks…no salt (with a pretty flower accent) Haha just noticed the glass is chipped on the bottom but its ok, it’s not 5 star you will read below

Over the the last 6 years or so, I have had house margaritas, red and white sangria and beer. All have been served icy cold and swiftly regardless of how busy they are. I usually get the “house” margarita but they have soooo many different flavors so if you are daring give them a try.

I often order my favorite dish Enchiladas Rancheras which is two cheese enchiladas with shredded pork, cooked with onions and bell peppers, served with rice and beans for $14. Soooooooo good! This was actually recommended to me by a women I used to work with (CG you know who you are!). Ever since she recommended it to me and I tried it I could not go back. It’s honestly so good…heavy, cheesy, gluttonously fabulous. Now if you do get this don’t eat it right away. After they serve it just wait five minutes because they are so fast in the kitchen I think they just pour the hot delicious pork over the cheese filled enchiladas before the cheese is melted so the pork melts it perfectly. You just need patience. For the record I’ve I also love the shrimp quesadilla (big shrimp) and the Molcajeta for two which really feeds three. Just be sure to just order a few extra tortillas. Its fab and it’s also one of Dan’s favorites.

Enchiladas Rancheras!! MMMM

Dan had the El Pastor Tacos. Corn tortillas with grilled pork marinated in a pineapple adobo with cilantro and onion served with a side of rice and beans covered in cheese for $13. They were served on this really cool taco stand that I need to buy for home. Each taco was also served traditionally with two shells (not one like some cheapo places) so the sauce and delicious pork grease don’t split the shells. Dan liked it a lot. He’s had them before and has never been disappointed. I’m not a fan of fruit in my savory food so its not for me. Another recommendation from Dan would be the Burrito Chipotle.

El Pastor Tacos

By this point I have no room for dessert BUT we got it anyway. I am not a fan of Mexican desserts either but what the heck! We ordered the Flan. It was a little on the chunky side for me. It wasn’t smooth. Also the gelatinous texture of flan in general is not my style. But I have had churros there and they are amazing. They are stuffed with warm apples…OMG so good. Calories galore so I usually forgo dessert when we eat here.

Flan

We have been going to Plaza Azteca in Plymouth Meeting for years. It’s always good in a pinch. I don’t think there has ever been a time we left unsatisfied. Also they have salsa dancing on Saturday nights! I haven’t been there for it but I’ve heard it’s fun especially for a girls night out. They have Quizzo and karaoke on designated nights so check it out. Bang for your buck with this place. You usually go home with leftovers and leave full. It’s not 5 star dining but that’s not what this place is. It’s good food, reasonable price, fun atmosphere, and service with a smile. Oh be warned that not all of the staff speak English. The servers do but most of the runners don’t so when they drop off the food to the table and you ask for something like hot sauce or extra napkins, don’t expect to get it because they will say “okay” but never return. Be sure to ask for those things when you place your order with your server. Truth. Plaza Azteca gets 3.25 out of 4 forks. This place is consistently satisfying. Give it a try if you can. Thanks for reading and go eat out folks!!

duck, Eating out, Food, Philadelphia suburb, Restaurant, Reviews, scallops, steak

Blue Bell Inn, Blue Bell, PA

Busy so make a reservation if you plan to go. We started with an appetizer. We shared the Pan Seared Diver Scallops with Corn Puree, Summer Succotash and Bacon Jam for $17. This was very good however, it came with only two scallops. We suspected that it would have at least three for $17. Give me a break…what a rip-off. Sorry we devoured it before I took a picture because like I said, the scallops were delish.

I ordered the 14 oz. New York Strip with Potato Wedges, Creamed Corn and Black Garlic Butter for $39. Let’s be honest, for a steak to be good it has to be cooked properly. The steak I had was cooked perfect. 30 seconds more it would have been borderline over and 30 seconds less it would have been under BUT for $39 (please just make it $40 on the menu!!) the sides were VERY underwhelming. Come on…3 fried potatoes wedges!? That was literally 1/2 of a potato. And an obvious house-made creamed corn was very lose. Sadly I believe it was the same corn used in our appetizer. Boy that was a bummer. You can probably tell in the pic it was soupy. The flavor was there but it was more like a corn soup, not even worthy of the word chowder. And they must have just simply forgotten the black garlic butter. Oh and lastly, the 4 shavings of sea salt seen on the steak in the pic are not enough. Any chef will confirm you must season with salt and pepper…generously! What the heck! Boo on the sad presentation!

NY Strip

Dan had the Half Roasted Duck with Frisee Lettuce, Crispy Fingerling Potatoes, Pomegranate Seeds with a Grand Marnier Glaze for $32. Dan said it was good but I think he was being generous just to not get me going. He’s smart like that. I had a bite of the duck and the meat was dry. Sorry to say but it is true. Duck is supposed to be moist! The skin, however, was deliciously crispy as it should be. The potatoes were far from crispy and the lettuce was plain old boring. Presentation was nice but overall, I wasn’t impressed.

Half-a-duck dinner

Dessert was the cream brulee and a bull crap of a “cookie”. It was dry and tasteless. It was a disintegrating biscotti served on the side. The menu indicated that the cream brulee was to be served with a cookie of the “Chef’s Selection”. I said to Dan it’s probably a stale biscotti from a bulk Costco pick up. I know that seems harsh especially if someone there did bake it but it’s important that I am honest with my readers. And if by chance the person that did bake it reads this they will know the truth and maybe make it a little better or let it not get so stale before serving. The cream brûlée was okay. The sugar was a touch overdone but not ruined. The cream had a delicious flavor however the texture was a bit thick and not light in the least. Not terrible but definitely not award worthy.

Ehhh…Dessert

Drinks

Cocktails

The best part of the meal was the cocktails. Not really much more to say about this place. I am surprised and disappointed to say the least. They have such a good reputation but with the meal we were served, I’m not quite sure why. Now I have heard that the raw bar is very good so if that’s your thing, give it a try especially during their happy hour. A couple of people told me this was good. I don’t do raw so I won’t be back for that. Also a note that the clientele is of a more mature group so if you are looking for a good’ole hang out of a time, this isn’t your place. Its probably a good place to take your grandmother for her birthday. Sorry, not sorry. This place gets a 2 out of 4 forks. Thanks for reading and eat up folks!

Food, Mexican, Philadelphia suburb, Restaurant, Reviews

Coyote Crossing in Conshohocken, PA

Back to Conshi once again. Here in this little suburb of Philly you’ll find many quaint little nooks and crannies in the restaurant world. Many offer outdoor dining which is perfect this time of year. One such place is Coyote Crossing of Conshohocken where their outside dining is not like many others in the area.

While I have been here before, I was never really impressed so it’s been at least 5 years since I was last here. I decided to give it another try and I sure am glad I did. The restaurant’s decor is absolutely perfect. It’s so colorful and has just a great Mexican resort feel, especially on the outside patio. The music is appropriate, although quite loud in the outside bar area, which is where we chose to sit.

Coyote Crossing signature coyote you find throughout the restaurant

Okay the food…it was delicious. We were offered complimentary salsa (more like a pico de gallo) and house made chips. The chips were freshly made as they were warm and crunchy. The salsa was simple yet a perfect compliment to the delicious chips. Note I do find it a bit tacky how the menu reads “salsa and chips $5, “FIRST SERVING IS COMPLIMENTARY”. It’s supposed to be more of a high-end Mexican restaurant so either charge for it or not. I don’t like the restriction.

The complimentary salsa and chips

I ordered an appetizer as my main meal. The Quesadilla Crossing with tenderloin for $16.95. It was made with a hand made corn tortilla, a blend of Chihuahua, Oaxaca and Queso fresco, and fire roasted poblanos. The steak was made to order and still very juicy. You cold tell it wasn’t premade and waiting to be stuffed into a buritto or a fajita dish. The quesadilla was super flavorful and large enough to fill me up and to bring some home for later. It would be a fine appetizer to share for 2 people as well.

Quesadilla with tenderloin

Dan ordered Huarache with wild boar for $18.95!! His serving was an entree and it was HUGE. It reminded us of a sope which is a Spanish thick tortilla, only it was A LOT larger. It was the size of his plate. It was made a hand made corn crust, frijoles refritos, smoked tomatillo verde salsa and served with lettuce, queso fresco and crema. I tasted a small piece and it was tasty but it was a heavy dish. I almost ordered it but I’m glad I didn’t as I wouldn’t have made a dent in it. The meat had a hint of cinnamon which was a nice touch. I think this dish would make a fine appetizer for a party of 4 or more because it was good, but just a bit too heavy for one person. We also packaged half up for home later.

Huarache with wild boar

DRINK TIME!! They have a plethora of cocktails offered such as margaritas on the rocks (or frozen) which are offered by the glass or the pitcher and sangria (white or red) also offered by the glass or carafe. There are plenty of beer offerings in draft or bottle, and mezcals and other spirits so everyone should be able to find a special drink.

Dan had a traditional margarita which looked beautiful in a tall, thick cocktail glass. It lacked a salt rim (which Dan likes, not me) but he still said it was great. You could tell it was made with fresh juice and not just a margarita mix you get from your local market. I had a traditional Mexican draft beer, Dos Equis Lager, served with a lime. It was okay, that’s all I can say about that (I should have ordered a sangria).

Drinkies

All in all we had a nice experience and I will go back when I desire that outside, good weather vibe environment. The food was just fine, not the best I ever had, but nothing specific to complain about and the same goes for the drinks. I do believe its more of a good-time kinda place rather than a romantic evening event. The next time you have a girls night planned or you have a few couples that want to get together, give this place a try. Hang in the outside bar area and get some apps. I give Coyote Crossing a 3.25 out of 4 forks. Enjoy your meals folks and thanks for reading!

Eating out, Food, Philadelphia suburb, Restaurant, Reviews

The Best Donut I ever had at Founding Farmers First Bake and Creamery in King of Prussia, PA

Wow it was AWESOME! A MUST try. The Creme Brûlée filled donut.

We sat at the counter to ensure we ate the donut when it was fresh instead of taking it home. This donut does not sit well so be sure to eat it right away. You do not want to buy them and let them sit too long as the hard sugar shell loses its crunch.

The donuts were freshly prepared and filled with a generous Creme brûlée pudding. You could see lots of vanilla beans just as if it were an actual Creme brûlée. It was topped with a crunchy sugar shell and sprinkled with sea salt. That is all. It was perfect. You MUST have one.

OMG
Sweet Jesus
Beer, Eating out, Food, Philadelphia suburb, Restaurant, Reviews

City Works Eatery and Pour House in King of Prussia, PA

If you want a great beer with mediocre food this is your place. Sorry but the food was a real let down. The beer, however, was alright.

Beer first! You can ask for a sample (more like a sippy taste) of any beer you want before you order one of the two sizes offered. They are offered in full size or a 6 oz pour. You can also order a flight. The flight includes any 4 beers you want. The flight beers range individually in price from $3 to as high as $8 but most of them were between $3 to $4 so you are likely to spend about $12 to $16 a flight. Below is a picture of my flight. (Crunch was my favorite.)

Beer Flight

I ordered a Mushroom Flatbread made with mushrooms, chili oil, mozzarella, caramelized onions, goat cheese, baby arugula, and lemon truffle oil. Now come on man, these are the ingredients for a fantastic flatbread! Unfortunately, the cooking preparation fell short. Flatbread is supposed to be crispy, not soggy and this was soggy all the way around, especially the bottom. The caramelized onions were just plopped in a couple of places rather than being spread about the dough. This was a real disappointment.

Mushroom Flatbread

Dan ordered the fish tacos. They were made with cornmeal beer battered mahi-mahi, chipotle coleslaw, pico de gallo, cilantro lime cream, micro cilantro on white corn tortillas for $16. The portion was hearty with three tacos and a side corn and bean salad. (I was lucky! Dan shared and gave me a taco for the review!) The presentation was spot on and it could have been delicious if only the fish wasn’t overcooked and dry. There wasn’t enough condiments on the taco to make up for the dryness so it was difficult to eat.

Fish Tacos

Bonus food review! My Mom ordered the Baked Mac and Cheese made with smoked cheddar, grilled chicken, bacon lardons (basically fatty bacon chunks), smoked cheddar gratin, and cavatappi pasta. The best part of this dish was the chicken. It was very juicy and cooked to perfection. Sadly, the mac and cheese lacked the creamy, ooey, gooey cheesiness you crave with mac and cheese. Also if you aren’t a fan of smoke flavor, this is not the dish for you. The bacon coupled with the smoked cheese made for an intense smokiness I know I do not like, especially in mac and cheese.

Baked Mac and Cheese

Don’t get me wrong, City Works can be a great place to hang out and it’s large enough to accommodate large parties. On Saturday night it had a “place-to-be” vibe with the music playing from the strategically placed speakers. Keep in mind there are enough TV’s around so you can watch your favorite sporting event while enjoying your favorite brew. If you haven’t already guessed, the highlight of this establishment is the beer. You should be able to satisfy your growling tummy but be aware that the food compliments the beer or at least it will give you a good base in your belly for some beer drinking. If you are okay with that then you have to check this place out. It’s located in the King of Prussia Town Center which has a ton of restaurants and retail stores for the browsing so expect to see people of all ages roaming about and enjoying the elegant outdoor seating with fire pits and greenery all around. Make sure you make a reservation. I give City Works 3 out of 4 forks! Enjoy and thanks for reading.

Eating out, Food, Italian, Philadelphia suburb, Restaurant, Reviews

Pepperoncini Restaurant & Bar in Conshohocken, PA

Pros: (1) Great food and (2) Fantastic Service (3) Good value

Cons: (1) Dining area layout and (2) location/parking

Me, my Mom and Dan (the hubs) went for dinner on a Monday evening at 6 PM to celebrate Mother’s Day (a day late). We had made a reservation and good thing since this place filled up quick. I have dined here once before and appreciated the smaller room to the left upon entry and requested a table there, sadly I was told that wasn’t possible as it was being reserved for a large party coming in shortly (NOOOO!). We ended up being seated in the main dining room and the only thing wrong with this was that no matter where you are seated in the room, you can feel the cold air blow from the outside every time someone comes in or out and made it a bit uncomfortable. I noticed about half of the diners there had their coats on because of the chill however, it was an oddly cold and wet evening so we have to take that into consideration. Take my word for it, ask for one of the tables in the smaller area to the left and take it if you can. It’s a bit more intimate of space. Alternatively, you can dine in the bar area to the right which has an upbeat environment as you would expect.

Dan and I ordered a Caesar salad with anchovies for an appetizer. Not all restaurants will have anchovies available so for me this was a plus. The lettuce was cool and crisp. The croutons were crunchy (not stale like may places) with a delicious garlic herb blend covering them. The Caesar dressing was made in-house and it had a lovely hint of lemon that really made it stand out from other Caesar varieties. Lastly it was coated heavy with grated Parmesan cheese (but I like it heavy). The salad was a hearty serving and well worth the $11. My mother’s entree came with a house salad. It was very simply made with greens, onions and tomato. She enjoyed it and especially loved the light and fruity dressing. We also shared complimentary Italian bread (with seeds) served with “herb” olive oil (I believe it was just salt and pepper and to me it was a bit too salty).

My main dish was Gnoochi alla Sophia Loren! (Love the name). The menu indicates it is a signature dish made of gnoochi, baby spinach, toasted pine nuts all coated in a port wine gorgonzola cream sauce for $15. Personally, gnoochi is always quite heavy and this dish was not any different. For that reason, I could only eat about 1/3 of the serving provided but that is a good thing because I had leftovers! You could tell the spinach was cooked super quick right before serving because it was not mushy and still maintained some of its shape.

My gnoochi dish

Dan ordered the Pappardelle Bolognese for $15.50. He said he liked it! I’ll say, just look at the evidence below LOL!!

Dan’s dish Before
Dan’s dish after

My mother ordered Chicken Parmigiana served over a bed of linguini for $19. Now my mother isn’t a fan of pasta sauce that has chunks of tomatoes in it so whenever she asks and they say it is with marinara, she asks if they can substitute the sauce with their meat sauce. And sure enough this substitution was no problem at all! Her plate was huge. It was two thinly pounded pieces of chicken, breaded and fried perfectly and smothered in meat sauce with the perfect amount of melty cheese. Her linguinie was cooked al dente (although I’m not sure if it was made homemade in-house….I should have asked!! regret…).

Mom’s meal includes lots of leftovers!

The location is on a corner and the streets around are very steep which make it difficult to walk in heels so note this ladies when choosing your footwear. Parking is street parking so be ready to look for parking and walk a block or two. There was no valet the evening we were there so I am not sure if they offer it or not.

The menu is incredible. There is so much I have not tried so I plan to go back for sure. Personally I cannot wait to try the Cherry Pepper Chicken made with spicy cherry peppers, baby spinach, sharp provolone and white wine herb sauce for $19 (salivating…), or even something from their large list of thin crust pizzas, especially the Italian Stallion made with imported pepperoni and long hots for $12 (OMG). They have a full bar along with a wide variety of wine by the glass or bottle. Honestly, this place is suited for almost any type of group whether it’s a girls night out, a romantic meal with your special someone, or even a meal with co-workers. The modest prices coupled with delicious food are totally worth the ticket. I give Pepperoncini a 3.5 out of 4 forks. You have to give this place a try if you like Italian food.