JunieB's Profile

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Philadelphia Bucket List

I don't know how many people in this thread recommended the Birchrunville Store Cafe, but thank you! Four of us had dinner there Saturday night and the food was sublime. I loved the atmosphere of the old general store and going into the post office for the bathrooms. It's a lovely drive. We allowed extra time and meandered around the back roads. Beautiful country.

It's a byob and cash only, but here's the funny thing. My husband and I always take cash because it makes it easier to split the tab but our friend handed the server a credit card at the end of the meal and she was so apologetic - she told him not to worry about a thing - that he could just send them a check! He ended up having the cash, but the offer of sending a check was a nice gesture and obviously something they do quite often with no hesitation.

Our reservation was for 8:30 which I recommend because the candlelight is nice. None of the food we had is on their online menu so I'm a little short on some of the details but I'll do my best.

I had the beet salad to start. The beets were sliced, very al dente and pickled. Served with mixed greens, feta and a delicious vinaigrette. My entree was a crab cake and branzino w/shaved veggies, a little potato rosette and potatoes kind of smashed with something green in them. The branzino was wrapped in a thin crepe and fried crisp. It was served on a bed of tomato confit or some such thing and it was delicious! For dessert I ordered the butterscotch cake with dulce de leche gelato and it was heavenly. Strawberries, blueberries, starfruit and a cherry rounded out the plate. My husband didn't want a dessert and said he would just have a "bite" of mine but he ended up gobbling up most of it, including the cherry! I told him next time he gets his own dessert.

Other dishes enjoyed by the group were asparagus gazpacho w/crab & roe garnish - baked figs stuffed with goat cheese and bacon w/mixed greens - veal tenderloin w/chanterelles, string beans, risotto & potato rosettes with a red wine reduction - sole stuffed with lobster and scallops served with a beurre blanc sauce and shaved vegetables and those smashed potatoes - and Grand Marnier creme brulee! There were no complaints from anyone.

If I had any complaints it would be about the dishes, of all things. Each item is served on a different modern white dish. My beet salad was served on what appeared to be a bowl as it had a narrow, fairly deep indention in the center. It made it hard to cut the hard beets. My entree was served on a very curvy plate and the edges of the plate kind of curled under. It was impossible to rest a fork or knife on the edge of the plate. The dessert was served on a flat dish, thank goodness. Not much to complain about.

Great spot - charming, intimate, and well prepared food. If you go, call early. It took a couple of months to get a reservation.

I'm going to share a photo of the beet salad, the figs and my entree.

Jul 14, 2014
JunieB in Philadelphia
1

Smith Road Produce Stand

Thanks! So the corn is finally in? We just took a trip up to MA this past weekend and I only saw corn at one stand. I'll definitely try to get out to Maple Acres this weekend.

BTW - not sure you were part of the discussion about the Birchrunville Store Cafe, but we have reservations this Saturday night. Really looking forward to it.

Jul 09, 2014
JunieB in Philadelphia

Steak in Montgomery County

Localgal, where did you end up?

Jun 24, 2014
JunieB in Philadelphia

Steak in Montgomery County

No argument about that but evidently Thrillist deemed them worthy of being included in a top 5 list. Personally I doubt that these are Philly's top 5 steakhouses but it doesn't mean that Buona Via doesn't serve a good steak.

http://www.thrillist.com/eat/philadel...

Jun 17, 2014
JunieB in Philadelphia

Steak in Montgomery County

I've never been, but I just saw that Thrillist named Buona VIa (in Horsham) in their top 5 Philly steakhouse list - also Creeds. If you try it I would love to hear how you like it!

http://www.buonavia.com/

Jun 17, 2014
JunieB in Philadelphia

Derek's in Manayunk

No doubt. We knew it was the tried and true one - just because of its longevity.

Jun 16, 2014
JunieB in Philadelphia

Derek's in Manayunk

Derek's was recommended as well. We have pretty good Thai and Chinese near us so we first picked Jake's, Goat's Beard, or Derek's. We decided Jake's had been there for a long time so maybe we would try one of the newer places. Derek's menu looked kind of interesting so we settled on it. You never know until you try. I had no idea that Derek's was the same guy that owned Sonoma. That would have put up a red flag.

Will definitely try Jake's next time.

Jun 16, 2014
JunieB in Philadelphia

Steak in Montgomery County

I thought Bridget's was okay but not the greatest steak house I've ever been to. I've never eaten at the Fireside Grille but I have friends who go there for the prime rib. I think they have several steak options.

Of course, there's always Sullivan's in KOP and Fleming's in Wayne.

Jun 16, 2014
JunieB in Philadelphia

Steak in Montgomery County

I hate to ask the obvious, but have you tried Bridget's or Fireside Bar & Grille?

Jun 16, 2014
JunieB in Philadelphia

Derek's in Manayunk

That's a lot of butter, although I'm not sure what Joel Robuchon has to do with Derek's. These potatoes were not pureed, they were actually dry despite all the butter. Just a big glob. Not in any way appealing.

I make a potato puree that I serve with David Tanis' braised beef that has 2 sticks of butter, whole milk, and creme fraiche and it's amazing.

The chef at Derek's is no Joel Robuchon.

Jun 16, 2014
JunieB in Philadelphia

Derek's in Manayunk

Last night 5 of us went to Derek's in Manayunk. I'm probably going to get some push back about this review but I was not impressed. It's not that it takes a lot to impress me but it felt to me like the food had been prepared with a very heavy hand. No delicate sauces here! All I ask for is good food that looks pretty on the plate. This was not that.

A friend and I had the "modern margarita" w/agave, lemon, lime, and orange. We asked for them on the rocks with salt. When they arrived (with no napkins!) both drinks were spilling over the sides, and the salt had washed away - not to mention the pool of sticky tequila left on the table. The server said Derek was pulling bar duty and that he gets a little carried away. My friend asked for new glasses with salt, which the server brought to the table but he was oblivious that our table was covered in tequila. I honestly had to ask for napkins and then had to clean the mess up myself. We also had to pour our drinks into the new glasses. The server should have taken them back to the bar to remedy the mess but he didn't. It didn't make us mad but it left us shaking our heads. The margaritas themselves were very strong and tasty, but the citrus had blemishes. It was not a very nice presentation all around.

My house salad was drowning in poppy seed dressing (the dressing was very good) and it totally overpowered the salad. When the server asked me how I liked it I told him it was too wet and he said that "so and so" was making the salads that night and he had a tendency to make them too wet. He said he would let the person know not to do that for the rest of the evening. I thought that was very odd. On the job training?

My husband had Derek's "secret recipe roasted chicken." He said the chicken was pretty good but his serving of mashed potatoes tasted like it had an entire stick of butter in it.

Other dishes consumed were sweet potato dumplings, tuna tartare, brisket, scallops, and steak salad - also creme brulee, raspberry bread pudding, and peach cobbler, which I will get to in a minute.

The scallops were 4 large scallops on 4 large slices of potato sitting in a large pool of a cream sauce with leeks, and then topped with caramelized fennel (I think). Maybe that's why they call it a Large Plate! Everything about it looked heavy.

About dessert - I don't know how the bread pudding tasted but the plate was decorated with a strawberry in each corner which looked kind of silly. The cookie stuck down in the creme brulee was ridiculously hard and over baked, and the peach cobbler was nothing like any cobbler I have ever had. It was inedible. The peaches were very soft and stringy. I couldn't cut them with my spoon and they had some nerve calling it a cobbler. There was no separate biscuit topping, just some bread like thing mixed in with the peaches. The strawberry garnishes had been warmed and added nothing to the dessert.

I'm attaching a few photos. I'm of the belief that it doesn't matter how your food tastes if it doesn't look good.

I won't be in a hurry to return to Derek's. The restaurant was only half full at 7:30 on a Saturday night, and that's probably a bad sign. Maybe it's headed in the same direction as Sonoma.

Jun 15, 2014
JunieB in Philadelphia

Manayunk

Thanks, everyone! We have a reservation at Derek's tonight.

Jun 14, 2014
JunieB in Philadelphia

Manayunk

Just yesterday someone mentioned Zachary's but never heard of Barbacoa. I don't mind a hike for good bbq and Ardmore is in my old stomping grounds. Thanks! They're both on my radar now.

Jun 14, 2014
JunieB in Philadelphia

Manayunk

Can anyone report on how LeBus is faring these days? I always thought it was pretty god, but that was over 15 years ago.

Jun 13, 2014
JunieB in Philadelphia

Manayunk

Hey, thanks for that!! I had been wondering if there was good bbq around these parts. Tried Fat Jack's in Jenkintown. It was okay but this looks better. Do you know anything about Phamous Phil's? I saw it mentioned somewhere the other day but didn't really get a good review.

Jun 12, 2014
JunieB in Philadelphia

Manayunk

Thank you! Nice, simple menu.

Jun 11, 2014
JunieB in Philadelphia

Manayunk

Interesting. So that's where Michael Nutter came from! Manayunk definitely has some hard boundaries. I sure miss the Smith and Hawken stores.

Jun 08, 2014
JunieB in Philadelphia

Manayunk

That seems like an odd thing to do. I don't think I have ever heard of that before. I sure hope they can make a comeback.

Jun 08, 2014
JunieB in Philadelphia

Manayunk

That sounds a little more promising. I was looking at LeBus online. It looks like it changed hands in 2003. I guess that's when it became Winnie's. Is it still good?

Jun 08, 2014
JunieB in Philadelphia

Manayunk

Very sorry to hear that. Poor planning? It's such a unique little place. I don't remember Jake's but I'll check it out.

Jun 08, 2014
JunieB in Philadelphia

Manayunk

Can we talk about the food scene in Manayunk? I couldn't find any recent threads on CH.

There wasn't much there when I lived here in the early 90's. Winnie's Le Bus was pretty good but I don't remember much else. I will rarely order meatloaf in a restaurant but I ordered it there a couple of times and I remember it being the best restaurant meatloaf I had ever had.

So what's going on there these days? Has it become a destination for food? Thinking of going there for an outing next weekend. Any advice on restaurants or other must-do things would be appreciated.

Jun 08, 2014
JunieB in Philadelphia

Romantic, Intimate Anniversary Dinner

That's funny that you didn't remove your comment. I got a kick out of it. Sometimes I think the moderators take their job a little too seriously.

Jun 07, 2014
JunieB in Philadelphia

Romantic, Intimate Anniversary Dinner

Deluccacheesemonger, this is for you, even if you deleted your comment calling me rude!

Sorry! We got a divorce so the anniversary was cancelled and it's hard to write with a broken heart.

Just kidding. We ended up at Mica for our anniversary and we are going to The Birchrunville Store Cafe with another couple in July.

To tell you the truth, I was not all that impressed with Mica and I took too long before writing about it and now many of the details have escaped me but so as not to be considered rude, here goes.......

I really liked the space - definitely small, intimate, and romantic. Cozy. We didn't care for our waiter at all. He was aloof and not helpful. It felt like we were putting him out just to refill our water glasses. My husband asked a question about a dish or an ingredient, and I can't remember now what it was, but the waitperson acted like my husband had said "what is this thing, asparagus, that's on your menu?" He seemed like a pretentious snob to me.

The food was good - it just wasn't anything I would hurry back for. I can't really put my finger on it as to why that's true. We've been to other upscale restaurants that use foams and exotic ingredients and we've loved them, and have returned often. For some reason we both agreed that we would not be in a hurry to return to Mica. Of course April is not a great month for fresh seasonal ingredients. We always run into that problem. But I think it was more about the preparation (and the waiter!).

The pretzel rolls were quite good. To start, my husband had raw fish but I don't remember what it was. He liked it. I had leek & potato soup w/roe and sorrel. The soup tasted a little too much like cream for my liking and I didn't care for the pop of the roe in my mouth, in this particular dish. I think the chef was going for a textural thing but it didn't work well for me. Others might have liked it just fine.

Next, my husband had the Burgundy snails with a foam and other things and I had white asparagus w/radish and a couple of different accompaniments on the plate. I liked the condiments but the asparagus was undercooked. I like crisp but this was ridiculous. I think it was intended to taste raw. My husband liked the snails.

For our entrees my husband had a pork duo - belly and shoulder. He said it was great. I had fresh gnocchi w/peas, watercress, and foam. The gnocchi was pretty good but the peas were raw. I think it would have improved the texture of the dish if the peas had been slightly blanched, but once again I think raw is what the chef intended. I think he likes contrasts.

We were pretty full but I talked my husband into sharing the ricotta doughnuts, and they were my favorite part of the meal! There were SIX and we couldn't eat them all but they were heavenly. If I remember correctly, they were served with a vanilla custard.

So there you have it. I shouldn't say I will never go back to Mica because they are very near where I live and upscale restaurants are few and far between in this neck of the woods. We'll see.

Jun 06, 2014
JunieB in Philadelphia

Yang Ming: Consistently Excellent

Thanks, I didn't know about Nectar.

Jun 05, 2014
JunieB in Philadelphia

El Limon - Ambler- Bravo!!

Sorry. It's in Abington. I don't know the borders around here very well yet! It will occupy the space where the Timber Wood-Fired Grill was on Old York Rd. I think that was across the street from the Abington Hospital - not positive though. A friend of mine told me about it. There's a short article on philly.com (from January) but it just says opening late spring.

Jun 04, 2014
JunieB in Philadelphia
1

El Limon - Ambler- Bravo!!

Just an FYI. There's a Mexican chain restaurant opening in Jenkintown. Not sure where you live but I'm hoping that even though it's a chain it might have something good to offer. It's called Senor Salsa and their headquartered in CT I think. Fingers crossed!

Jun 04, 2014
JunieB in Philadelphia

Any Update on Zina's in Ambler?

We live in Wyncote and we have a few good breakfast spots in our area but Ambler makes a nice outing for us on the weekend. Hopefully something new and just as good will open up.

It's hard to find good eggs benedict. Thanks for the rec.

Jun 04, 2014
JunieB in Philadelphia

Genevieve's Kitchen -Doylestown

I just had an early dinner there for the first time too. My overall impression was just, meh. I liked sitting on the patio even if there was a mop and mop bucket sharing the space with us. My feeling is that they don't pay enough attention to the details that give a really good restaurant its zing. None of the plates served to us were worthy of having a picture published on social media and the food for the most part was just okay.

I ordered the farro burger and when they brought it to me one side of the "burger" had fallen off. I thought that was a bad sign but the flavors were actually pretty good, but it didn't hold together at all. The fries that came with the sandwich, however, were soggy and greasy. I only ate one. It looked like they were trying the double-fry method, which I normally like a lot, but they just weren't able to pull it off. Maybe they didn't have their grease hot enough. I don't know, but the fries were terrible; no other word for it.

One of our diners ordered rare flank steak and they served it medium - not even medium rare. She should have sent it back but it would have put her out of sync with the rest of us. She said the sauce that was served with the steak was delicious, but the fries that came with it were like mine. She also had the grilled romaine and I didn't hear any complaints about that.

My husband had the ravioli of the day which was ravioli stuffed with, I think feta, but it could have been ricotta. He said the portion looked very small and not very appetizing but the flavor was pretty good and the size ended up being okay. I think the cost was over $20 though. Way too high for what he got. I took photos of the food and below is the pic of my husband's ravioli. That's just how it came to the table - on a messy plate with a sprig of watercress trying to hang on. All the plates were very unattractive.

I didn't have the bread but everyone else at the table agreed it was amazing. My husband said it was so good that he would like to go back and ask them where it came from.

The Spring Greens salad was very good, although there was a lot of pith left on the oranges (on my plate but not my husband's!). The Purple Haze Goat Cheese was outstanding.

The service was lazy and unattentive. The server kind of yelled out to us as she breezed by asking if everything was okay. We had to stop someone to ask for water. And it wasn't even busy. We were the only diners on the patio.

The tab for 4 of us without drinks of any kind or dessert was $115, sans tip.

I might eat there if I were in Doylestown and every other restaurant was booked but there was nothing that made me drool or dream about it. I wouldn't recommend it to a friend. If they want to be taken seriously they need to tweak their food and their service. It does have potential but it sure isn't there yet!

Jun 04, 2014
JunieB in Philadelphia
1

Any Update on Zina's in Ambler?

That's very sad news - for me. Just moved to the area and was really looking forward to them reopening the restaurant so I could see what everyone was talking about.

Jun 04, 2014
JunieB in Philadelphia

Yang Ming: Consistently Excellent

Glad to hear Yang Ming is still doing its thing! We ate there regularly when we lived on the Main Line back in the 90's. It was consistently good. Some very unique sauces, unlike some Chinese restaurants' food that tastes like they use the same sauce on every dish.

Now that we live north of the city (after 12 years away from Philly) we have their sister restaurant, CinCin, nearby in Chestnut Hill - also Mandarin Garden in Willow Grove. I still consider Yang Ming their gourmet restaurant but CinCin's food is pretty damn good. And Mandarin Garden is passable too.

Jun 04, 2014
JunieB in Philadelphia