Sunday, December 17, 2017

#97 - Red Poke Express, #98 - Smoke's Poutinerie, and #99 La Bella Dolce Italia - Sandy's synopsis

Numismatists rejoice! COINS!

Reader, our one reader, we are united again, a year after we finished our epic South Street food journey. The moon was one shade away from a super moon and South Street felt the same. However, so much had changed. There are so many new places that have taken over the old over the past year. Like the "Coins" shop for example, in the photo above.

Super Moon!

It was difficult to pick just one place to go for our anniversary, and therefore, dear reader, we didn't. We picked three - Red Poke Express, Smoke's Poutinerie AND "Honey Love Juice". Yes, Honey Love Juice. Which we REALLY, REALLY, really wanted to be a new juice/smoothie place. A rival to the ridiculous Sip 'N Glo, right across the street. Who can make the bigger false claim about their juice?? But alas, it was not to be, as Honey Love Juice is not a real place (curse you Google Maps). So instead, we went to the very cozy La Bella Dolce Italia. 

Lets start with the Red Poke Express - formerly the OCF coffee house, formerly a frozen yoghurt place. 

The overall layout of the place hasn't changed, just the food being served. I am a fan of the latest iteration. Now, let me be clear, poke in Hawaii is better and has a lot more variety and creativity. Da Poke Shack, in Kailua-Kona, is fantastic if you are in the area. However, does raw fish with edamame, avocado a soy-sauce based...sauce and other fresh veggies taste good? 

Hell yes. The flavours just work and is a great affordable option for a healthy dinner in this area. (We ordered the "Red Poke Bowl"). I would also be remiss if I didn't mention that Red Poke Express sells sushi burritos. I love burritos (content and concept). I love raw fish. I love that you can marry those two things together. So overall, this place is a win. 

We continued our anniversary food tour by visiting a makeshift Canada - otherwise known as Smoke's Poutinerie.

So Canada is heaven? Makes sense.
Smoke's poutinerie is filled with fun, playful decor that keeps you distracted while you wait for your poutine to be made. 

I am assuming that is Mr. Smoke the Canadian.

Star Wars decor for the win
As with the poke, let me preface this with, I remember the poutine in Canada to be better. However, I should preface THAT with it was 3 am in the morning and I was most definitely drunk. Ergo, I do not think the experiences are comparable. Honestly though, can you really go wrong with french fries topped with gravy (and a Sammy for company)? 

Hell no. We ordered the traditional poutine, your plain gravy with cheese curds and fries which was delicious. There are also many different gravies yet to be tasted.  I am especially intrigued by the butter chicken poutine, the Korean poutine, and the prime beef/veggie deluxe poutine. 

Finally, to our last impromptu place that replaced Honey Love Juice - La Bella Dolce Italia. Its a cute little Italian cafe that replaced the longstanding Evil Eye Cafe (RIP). We figured we could do dessert here as we saw hot chocolate on the menu. 

The hot chocolate was....very rich...but good. I would've probably preferred it in a smaller size. The whipped cream on the top was heavenly! What I did find out while we were there was that the cafe makes bombolones. These are scrumptious italian donut-like pastries. They were out of them that day, but I would LOVE to come back to try them another time. The cafe also has coffee, smoothies, and other Italian pastries and food that I would also like to try sometime. 

So overall, our anniversary reunion was awesome. It was great being back on the blog trail with Sammy and re-connecting with you...our one reader. Until the next time...

Red Poke Express
135 South Street,
Philadelphia, PA 19147

Smoke's Poutinerie
411 South Street,
Philadelphia, PA 19147

La Bella Dolce Italia
628 South Street,
Philadelphia, PA 19147

Friday, December 15, 2017

#97 Red Poke Express, #98 Smoke's Poutinerie, and #99 La Bella Dolce Italia - Sam's synopsis

Well well well... do we have a surprise for you! One year ago today (SD = 1 day) we completed our saunter down South Street, and as I opened Blogger to write this post, I realized I have a completely unfinished post on my feelingz about the end and that's about it. So basically, we haven't written much in the past year, even though we did make a stop at Bahn Mi and Bottles with the intent of a new update to appease the masses. But, as some of you may or may not know, our partnership has continued as I have been using my expert driving abilities to teach Sandya how to drive and park a car. I am happy to report that Sandya has not crashed my car and will be taking her driving test relatively soon. But I digress. During one of our lessons, I floated the idea of hitting up a restaurant or two to celebrate our 1-year anniversary, and thus today's reviews were born.

The former Bridget Foy's
So here we are again, back in familiar territory. I miss our blog, and seeing as we are now at stop #99, we will certainly have to go to at least one more restaurant to hit #100. And walking along South Street, a lot has changed. Red Poke Express is where OCF Coffeehouse was once located. Bridget Foy's was destroyed in a devastating fire. Many restaurants we visited have changed, and many new ones have popped up. And this is just in the Front to ~8th Street span. South Street truly is a reflection of the ever-changing tastes of Philadelphia. But I digress again.

Back at it!
We decided to go to as many new places as possible in one go, so we split one poke bowl and one order of poutine. First stop, Red Poke Express. Poke, in my mind, is a relatively new food fad in the city and is described as a raw fish salad hailing from Hawaii. As a fan of sushi and ceviche, I had a feeling I would enjoy this. We ordered the Red Poke bowl, which consisted of tuna, red onion, seaweed, edamame, avocado, green onion, sesame seeds, and shoyu sauce. An excellent choice - all around nice consistency and a great umami flavor. That's right, I used a fancy food term. This blog has really matured in its time off. After commenting that we sat at the exact same table we did when the building was OCF Coffeehouse, we sauntered on over to Smoke's Poutinerie, which also seems to be a new food fad in the city. We are just trying to stay hip and current with the times, guys.

Fun fact: I used to live in Canada!
A few weeks ago I walked by this place, very late at night, on a quest for the one and only slice from Lorenzo's, and I considered going in to get some fries smothered in gravy and cheese curds. I ended up continuing down the street for what I set out for, but if I had gone in, I wouldn't have been disappointed. Poutine is the perfect drunk person food, full of salty delicious carbs and cheese (not unlike pizza). We ordered the classic poutine, and it was exactly that - salty, delicious carbs smothered in cheese curds. There were several additional options to choose from in case you want to be a bit more adventurous, but sometimes you can't pass up good ol' gravy and cheese curds on fries. I think my only complaint would be that it was a little too salty. And this is coming from the person who claims popcorn is her favorite food, mainly because it's a vehicle for salt. So it's a lot. But I think that's why it's doubly good as a drunk food - it's got electrolytes (what plants crave!). I also very much enjoyed the decor of this place, decidedly very Canadian and with lots of phrases and images to make you giggle.

You can see the Coin Store
lurking in the background..
This takes us to La Bella Dolce Italia. But, before we get there, let me tell you about the mysterious Honey Love Juice that appeared on our map. When Sandya and I were trying to decide where to go, she did a quick search of South Street in Google Maps to look up new places. Honey Love Juice popped up and we both immediately honed in on it, because how can you not go to a place called Honey Love Juice. Turns out Honey Love Juice is (not surprisingly) non-existent. It supposedly exists at the corner of where Supper used to be, but I don't think it's a "coming soon" location either. I think someone confused it with Sip-N-Glo, probably my least favorite stop on our entire saunter behind DELIcious Bites (fuck you and your mile high prosciutto sandwich DELIcious Bites. And fuck you Sip-N-Glo with your terrible overpriced health drinks and pseudo-science BS).

Dat moon tho
Not deterred by this, we took a nice stroll in the brilliant moonlight to La Bella Dolce Italia. It was closing in about 30 min, but we still were able to grab an Italian (see: extra thick and sweet) hot chocolate with whipped cream and sit and contemplate why there's a store just called COINS on South Street. This used to be Evil Eye Cafe, so yet another turnover in our time since visiting. The barista was very friendly and nice and didn't make us feel unwelcome even though she was getting ready to close up. The hot chocolate was decadent but too sweet, even for the girl who eats ice cream for breakfast sometimes. It must have been a day of extremes for me.

In any case, all three locations are nice additions to the more touristy end of South Street, providing niche (poke and poutine are pretty eclectic food choices) and essential (small coffee shop to stop into for a quick bite or a hot beverage) spots for those doing their own sauntering down South Street.

Red Poke Express
135 South Street
Philadelphia, PA
(215) 923-0800

Smoke's Poutinerie
411 South Street
Philadelphia, PA
(215) 351-0292

La Bella Dolce Italia
628 South Street
Philadelphia, PA
(267) 469-2385

Sunday, January 1, 2017

#95 - Paddy Whacks and 96 - South Street Diner - Sandy's synopsis

I don't think Paddy Whacks is a bar I would go into if it wasn't for the blog. It looked like your run-of-the-mill Irish pub, like New Deck. The reason we picked this rather hum-drum place for our last night on the blog was because it had a lot of space. 

Sam and I got there around 5:30 pm on that Friday and the place was pretty empty with a lot of free tables. We got a nice big booth and ordered some beer and appetizers while we waited for people to arrive. We ordered the appetizer sampler that contained your regular fried items - mozzarella sticks, wings, onion rings and potato skins. They surprisingly also had cheese curds from the cow and the curd on their menu. We ordered that as well could you not.

Appetizer sampler

Cheese curds
The cheese curds were undoubtedly awesome and the other appetizers were solid Irish pub fare - greasy and delicious. The onion rings and mozzarella sticks were my favorite. The potato skins were a little hard to eat.

Their beer selection was surprisingly decent with the inclusion of mad elf on tap. Which they served in pint glasses for part of the night. Suffice to say, they were lushing us up quite well for our final destination - South Street Diner. 

All in all, Paddy Whacks came through on both counts - it was indeed just another Irish bar but it suited our party very well because of the space and Mad Elf pints. 

Which brings us to the last spot for our blog. Number 96. The appropriately named South Street Diner. As I was hoping it would be, this place was the perfect end to a drunken night with some standard but fantastic diner food. I ordered the eggs (sunny-side up) with sausage and hash-browns accompanied by a vanilla milkshake. 

Drunken manna

Health potion - for the drunk
The eggs and hash-browns really hit the spot. The sausage, not so much. It was a link not a patty and I prefer patties. The milkshake was a little thinner than I like but still very yummy. Those eggs and hash-browns tho - just perfect. 

So, for the last time, I am happy to say I highly recommend South Street Diner for your diner needs. They will not disappoint. 

I have many things I would like to say about our journey leading up to South Street Diner, but I will save that for our next and final blog post. Until then, a big thank you to everyone who came out to finish the blog with us and happy new year!

Paddy Whacks
150 South Street
Philadelphia PA 19147

South Street Diner
140 South Street
Philadelphia PA 19147

Saturday, December 31, 2016

#95 Paddy Whacks & #96 South Street Diner - Sam's synopsis

Well, this is it. We've come to the end. I'm going to try and save most of my feelings for a separate, reflection post (because god knows I love ruminating on my feelings) and try and stick to the standards here, but this was a momentous occasion. 4 years and 96 restaurants later, what started out as a somewhat silly idea turned into something that will define my years spent in Philadelphia. Anyways, before this devolves too far, let me get to the reviews...

photos within photos
Sandya and I chose Paddy Whacks as one of our final stops because it is a large bar with a lot of room for people to come and celebrate with us. This was immediately evident when I walked in, as the downstairs was spacious with many booths and tables. Sandya had grabbed a booth and adjoining table in the far left corner downstairs, so we were set for space. We settled in, and people slowly started trickling in. There was a solid beer selection - nothing too fancy, but lots of local brews to choose from, which I have noticed is a theme for this section of South Street. And to follow our rule of eating something at every stop, we ordered an appetizer platter with onion rings, chicken fingers, wings, mozzarella sticks, and potato skins. Overall I thought it was a solid selection of finger food. Nothing was overly greasy or fried to the point that it made your stomach churn. Definitely a good selection of appetizers if you're craving that kind of food. 

fried goodness
As more and more people stopped by, I felt like the service was still very good and the waitstaff were friendly. There was some kind of holiday party going on adjacent to us, but it didn't really interfere with the celebrations (re: very spacious). And the best part? I ordered a Troegs Mad Elf (a local legend that is 11%) served in a pint glass. This is not a normal occurrence, and we're still not really sure why they served it to us in a pint glass, but I'll chalk it up to the South Street gods. Needless to say, things were getting very silly. At some point I took a shot of tequila. We had wanted to head next door at 11 pm, but we were having such a great time that I don't think we left until around midnight. Which means the night was already a success, and I want to thank everyone that made it out to celebrate with us.

deep in conversation
my saving grace
And then, in a drunken haze, we made our way next door. A special thanks to Erin, Chris, Shaun, and Mike, who all made it to the bitter end with us. And an even bigger thanks to South Street Diner, whose greasy diner food saved me from a terrible hangover the next day. We (or at least I) stumbled into the diner, hungry (and under the influence, obviously). Luckily it wasn't too busy, and we were seated and taken care of in a very efficient manner. I ordered a hot chocolate with whipped cream, and an omelette with home fries and toast. Everything hit the spot and tasted great. I can't say how much this would change if I were sober, but it's hard to fuck up diner food. Even terrible diner food is still good, because you're eating it at a diner. And this was an all-night diner to boot (the sign said triple X but they were talkin' 'bout root beer...). And what better way to end our adventure than a place with South Street in the name. So I can't think of a better way to end our blog, eating greasy diner food with friends after a night of celebrating with so many of the people I've come to know and love in Philadelphia.

Paddy Whacks
150 South Street
Philadelphia, PA
(215) 464-7544

South Street Diner
140 South Street
Philadelphia, PA
(215) 627-5258

Friday, December 16, 2016

#94 Tamarind - Sam's synopsis

love them titles
And so here we are, the last post before the end. Where has the time gone? It's been a wild ride, that's for sure. But I'll save my nostalgia and feelz for the final, final post. For now, here's my review of

I have to say, of all the Thai restaurants we've eaten at, I think Tamarind is the best. Save the best for last, right? Sorry, I only have so many more opportunities to litter my writing with terrible clich├ęs, so gotta take advantage of it. I arrived early (because it's me), and grabbed a table for 6. It's a smaller restaurant, but luckily the larger table was open table to accommodate us. I perused the menu (which had some pretty cute titles for food sections) while waiting for Sandya and co. to arrive from Science on Tap up the street. Luckily Matthew showed up a few minutes after me and we chatted for a bit until the whole gang arrived.

fish cakes
Tamarind is BYOB, so Sandya stopped by her place to bring us all back some beverages, which was much appreciated. For appetizers, we went with fish cakes, crispy angels (chicken and shredded cabbage in a fried wonton shell), and fried taro. The fishcakes were very flavorful but a little rubbery. I still really enjoyed them though. The crispy angels were also very nice, but a bit too much fried wonton and not much filling. I would have appreciated a little more substance, but I still liked them. The fried taro was good, but my least favorite of the appetizers. What is taro? It's a root vegetable, in case you didn't know. I vaguely knew that, but it isn't something I eat very often. I'm not a big fan of the flavor, which I can't accurately describe because I don't know how to pinpoint it. I've really learned a lot about writing about food these past 4 years, huh?

I went with chicken panang curry as my main course. It was sweet and savory and creamy all of those good things. There was a nice mix of vegetables and a proper amount of rice to get a good sauce-to-rice ratio. I had some leftovers that soaked up the flavor of the sauce very nicely, making for a good lunch the next day. Matthew got the highest level spice pad thai, which was a source of entertainment for everyone at the table. If you want real spicy, this is your place. I had to jet out a little early, so I don't know if dessert was acquired, but I would certainly have liked to try a Thai iced tea, assuming it was on the menu (I didn't see it but I also didn't see a drinks section). The food was great though, so all the more reason to go back and find out.

117 South Street
Philadelphia, PA
(215) 925-2764

#94 - Tamarind - Sandy's synopsis

I have history with Tamarind. Back in my young days, where pride ruled over common sense, I came here and ordered take out for lunch. I asked for it to be thai-hot and they warned me - they said it was going to be very, very hot and asked if I was sure. And I said to them, "Yes I'm sure" while thinking to myself, "I'm Indian. I know what hot means, psssshh". 

I was a stupid idiot. They were not kidding, it was very very hot, I did not know what hot meant and I was schooled that day. I was so stubborn and proud that I ate the entire dish and then kissed my partner and it burned her lips. She felt that burn. And then my butt felt that burn for the next two days. 

This is definitely not to discourage you from coming. Their food is very, very good. This is to warn you that they mean real business with their spice. 

Suffice to say I ordered everything at their normal spice level this time.

As per the norm, we ordered some appetizers for the table - fried taro, fish cakes and something called crispy angel.

Fried Taro

Fish cakes

Crispy angel
These appetizers were simply amazing. These were the highlight of my evening (besides the company ofcourse. And watching my friend eat Thai-spicy food. That was fun too). I will eventually tell you what I had for my main course, but really, relish these appetizers if you go here. The fish cakes were my favourite, but the fried taro was awesome and the crispy angel (fried wonton) coming a close third.

For my main course I got the noodles with tamarind sauce and shrimp.

It was okay - a little too sweet for me personally. Not terrible though and I would go back to eat more fish cakes and perhaps try one of the other noodles or curries.

In conclusion, please go to Tamarind and order some fish cakes and fried taro but do not order it thai-hot unless you are serious about spice. 

117 South Street
Philadelphia PA 19147

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

#93 - Pietros - Sandy's synopsis

Pietro's has always been this trusty choice, the Italian you can fall back on. Its got a large space, very affordable for the amount of food you get and always a satisfying meal (with some very stereotypical Italian music in the background, for ambiance I suppose). 

I can safely say everything we ordered that night was awesome. We started with a bottle of wine for the three of us, which is a great, financially sensible option in Pietro's.  

It was a sangiovese and it was yummy
Having started dinner in the best way possible, we ordered a couple of appetizers to accompany our wine - fried risotto balls and roasted Brussels sprouts.

Risotto Balls

Brussels Sprouts
They were both so very good - crunchy balls and perfectly roasted sprouts. 
Knowing that would be hard to top, we forged onward to the main course. I ordered the Fettuccine Carbonara -  the best kind of comfort food.

The sauce was perfectly creamy with mushrooms, cheese, peas and crispy prosciutto. The portions are so generous, that even after I had eaten to my utmost fullest, I had leftovers. You would think that would signal the end of dinner, but we didn't stop there. We decided to get one dessert, that we shared. How else do you end an awesome Italian meal, but with some Tiramisu.

It tasted as good as it looked and was a wonderful end to a wonderful night. I had a great time with friends and additionally, we all had leftovers for days. 

121 South Street
Philadelphia PA 19147