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

Valley Forge Trattoria & Lounge, Phoenixville, PA

I had heard from two different people that this was the new place to be so I wanted to try it. We went on Sunday of Labor Day weekend with out neighbors and friends. They actually recommended it too as they heard it was good.

The decor was beautiful. It had a very fitting Mediterranean Tuscan decor. There was a lovely inside dining area with a beautiful and large bar as well as an outdoor patio. We sat outside since the weather was lovely. Note if you decide to eat outside, the patio is directly across the street from the newly renovated Valley Veterinary Hospital so be ready to hear some howling and barking dogs intermittently during your meal. It only happened a couple times so it wasn’t too distracting.

They have a very interesting cocktail list with drinks at an average cost of about $13. Below you will see two Manhattans, one gin and vodka martini with blue cheese olives, and a pomegranate martini. We all were very happy with our drinks. The waitress did have some difficulty serving them but that’s because they were filled to the brim which is fine by me!

Coctails

We shared a seafood stuffed egg roll appetizer. It was crispy and delicious. It was served with a sweet and tangy Asian style dipping sauce which complimented it nicely. It was a generous portion and perfectly prepared. Yummm I would order again.

Appetizer

Each of our meals started with either a house salad or a cesaer salad. I had the cesear and it was just okay. The dressing was a bit to vinegary for me. It needed more parm cheese I think and lose the tomatoes. I don’t think tomatoes should be in a cesaer. Other than that, the ingredients were crisp and fresh.

My cesaer

All tables are treated to complimentary garlic knots. They looked a lot better than they tasted. The knots were a bit chewy. It almost reminded me of the texture a roll gets after its been microwaved. I hope they don’t microwave their knots before serving. That would be so bad. I believe the sauce was their pizza sauce. It was sweet…just okay. I will pass on them next time. They are not worth the carbs or calories.

Complimentary garlic knots

I had linguini with mussels and clams in white sauce. The pasta, sauce and clams were devine. After a few bites the mussels became questionable. Some were nice but others were mushy. Also there was one mussel that was not cleaned properly (see the bottom left mussel in my picture). It had the hard hairs still attached to it. Please if you can’t remove them, toss it and don’t put it on the plate. It grossed me out. I don’t know that I would order mussels here again based on this experience. I want to know that each mussel I put in my mouth is going to be good, not take a gamble.

Mussels, clams and linguini with white sauce

So not to bore you too much I decided to put a collage together of the dishes my husband and neighbors enjoyed. No one complained and all said their food tasted good. Dan had the lobster ravioli (looks a little too saucy to me), my neighbors had the spaghetti with seafood and a chicken dish with a side of pasta. I try not to be too annoying to eat with so I didn’t ask too many questions so pics is all your gonna get regarding their dishes.

Everyone else’s food

Would I go back again? I don’t know. Probably I would but I won’t go out of my way for sure. If someone invites us I’d go. Hopefully the experience would be a bit better. I’ll surely avoid the mussels though.

As a side note I’ve decided to increase my forks to 5. It’s too difficult with only 4 so for this place, I give it 3.5 out of 5 forks.

Thanks for reading and be sure to eat out more often folks.

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, 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.