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brescd01's Profile

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Wegman's prepared food

My experience precisely of those who replied.

But Delucacheesemonger, prepared foods may be baseline not so hot, but one can make distinctions between caterers and Whole Foods (and I don't think Whole Foods so fab) is much better than Wegmans. And NYC has far more choices at a higher overall quality.

BTW I tried Wegman's Mount Laurel and the foods are identical in every way. I agree about the whole versus mixed, underseasoned, thing. I had a steak dinner yesterday and besides the fact I couldn't cut it with the plastic knives supplied, it was fine. But the salad bar offerings were pretty bad. But not nearly as bad as items I tried elsewhere in the store, for example hummus or guacamole, probably the worst I have had.

Sep 14, 2013
brescd01 in Philadelphia

Wegman's prepared food

For the second time I have tried a selection of Wegman's prepared foods and found them barely edible. Am I on to something or de gustibus?

Sep 08, 2013
brescd01 in Philadelphia

So so Thanksgiving

Wow, I did not realize I was on anyone's radar as a "malcontent". I love Philly and Philly dining, perhaps I tend to post when a restaurant is so distant from my expectation.

Nov 27, 2011
brescd01 in Philadelphia

So so Thanksgiving

We ate at Moshulu for Thanksgiving my wife and me because she did not want to entertain this year. I had misgivings because of a paucity of information about this Philadelphia institution and mixed reviews on Yelp. Gayot rates it highly.

The service was good, our waiter extremely gracious. The environment was very comfortable. We had a view of the river though due to lighting inside the restaurant and lack of lighting outside, one can't enjoy this too much.

But the food was really mediocre. Our appetizer, salt and pepper shrimp, tasted okay I guess, but its presentation was crude enough that I would notice and it was nothing special.

I had the Thanksgiving special and the miniscule portion of turkey it contained was laughable and surprising, given how cheap turkey is. The turkey itself was nothing special, though I suppose I might have missed its subtleties simply because there was not enough, just two small pieces.

Beer selection was poor.

Dessert, a butterscotch pudding ("budino") was fine but again, nothing special. My wife tried to order a Dark and Stormy, which seems to me to be an appropriate drink in a nautically themed restaurant and the bartender did not know what it was and had none of its ingredients. At least he warned her and she hesitated and got a special cocktail with dinner that she enjoyed.

On the plus side, the portions were so small neither of us left the resto with that "stuffed" feeling that can be uncomfortable on Thanksgiving. And nothing made me sick, another problem I have had at many restos.

Nov 25, 2011
brescd01 in Philadelphia

where to find pot au feu pot pie and MSG-free pho

I am not even sure how to search for the answer so I post the question directly to the board: where can I find pot au feu in Philadelphia? Pot pie? MSG-free pho?

Mar 20, 2011
brescd01 in Philadelphia

horrible meal at Liberte

I had forgotten how bad food can be until I had a business dinner at the new Liberte restaurant and bar in the Sofitel, last night.

Service was fine though I have to admit I found the French greetings from people who clearly did not speak French to be kitsch.

But the food would have been bad for airplane food.

My salade nicoise was again this "deconstructed" trash I hated at Le Meridian: is serving a genuine salade nicoise so politically incorrect? Plus grilled salmon is just wrong. I had the coq au vin, and this was a cruel end for the chickens who gave their lives for this meal. Just awful with gloppy sauce that would have been what McDonalds would call "coq au vin" sauce if they had any. And the chocolate Dome dessert was just terrible, the usual supermarket mousse.

I cannot imagine a worse meal. Well, maybe the service could have been bad and it wasn't, everyone was nice, though they did get my companion's order wrong and after he ate his dish they brought him what he ordered but comped it.

What a disappointment! I had hoped that Sofitel HQ would supervise and make sure that the hotel restaurant would serve decent representations of French fair!

Feb 08, 2011
brescd01 in Philadelphia

The Saloon in Philly?

PattiCakes that is extremely well-put yet embittering because its virtues are so important to me (except the cleavage, I don't need that in my servers). Are there alternatives?

This place cries out for one of these countless celebrity refugee chefs to take over the kitchen and re-vamp it.

Sep 03, 2010
brescd01 in Philadelphia

The Saloon in Philly?

Every time I go to Saloon I think it looks more beautiful, the service seems warmer and more gracious, the waitresses' cleavage deeper, and the convenience of attended parking and no traffic more important.

And the food gets worse each time too. I just had a business dinner there with a colleague. I had a nice time but the food was awful.

Aug 28, 2010
brescd01 in Philadelphia

Dark Drinking Dens

I agree with many of the suggestions. I cannot recommend Varga for what you want. I think Barclay Prime, one of my favorite restaurants and bars, is not comfortable enough because the bar is so small and the tables are not comfortable to eat dinner from. Oyster Bar's seats at the bar are not that comfortable.

Prime Rib is overlooked. It is classy and quiet and there is plenty to enjoy. Also, I would recommend Devil's Den. Wishing Well is very comfortable. Their food is evolving, I have had good things and things I had to send back. Saloon is also very comfortable for a bar.

Aug 22, 2010
brescd01 in Philadelphia

My Experience In Buenos Aires

I know there have been a lot of posts about Buenos Aires, steak, etc and I wondered whether I should append a post to pre-existing threads or whether I should start a new one, which is what I opted for.

I just spent a week in BA. We stayed at the Alvear Palace, which we loved. Sticking to food, our room came with the most beautiful breakfast buffet one could imagine, with seemingly endless warm and cold options as well as a good selection of typical Argentine pastries like pastellitas.

The first night we tried Piegari. We found the food tasty though expensive ($44/person without tip). The second night we went to Plaza Asturias, a Spanish restaurant. We thought it was good though it did not blow us away, for example the pulpo a la galigo was not nearly as good as it had been when we had this wonderful dish in Madrid. A lomo I had was not cooked precisely as I requested, or evenly. The menu is enormous however, and i cannot say we necessarily tried their best dishes.

The third night we tried Fervor, a new and fancy parilla in Recoletta, This ended up being our favorite restaurant, as much for the service and comfort as for the food (more about that later), $43/person without tip.

The fourth night we tried the Peruvian restaurant Status in Montserrat. We loved this place though it is more of the "exciting authentic" variety of restaurant rather than the "comfortable luxurious" type. We had the best ceviche I ever had and the plates were enormous. I don't remember the exact cost but I think it might have been $20/person and we over-ordered.

The fifth night we went to two places, Sagardi, a basque tapas/pintxos place in San Telmo and then we went to La Brigada. I admit I should not have spoiled my appetite at Sagardi before going to La Brigada. Sagardi was excellent, or as excellent as a pintxos place can be and still be authentic, I don't think authentic pintxos are that remarkable but they are tasty. I did not like La Brigada. The people were nice and my steak was okay, though tough and over-cooked. But they put us on a special floor/concentration camp for foreigners and we felt isolated.

The sixth night we went to our least favorite place, a new "hot" "Peruvian" restaurant in Palermo Hollywood called Paru. We did not like it. First, we expected Peruvian and it is actually fusion. Second, the portions were really small. Third, we did not like the food. Fourth, they put us into a special uncomfortable place for foreigners, though they later to their credit offered to move us to more comfortable digs when they realized they had space.

Okay, steak. I realize now that the question "Where can I get the best steak in Buenos Aires" is a silly one. The majority of restaurants serve steak, including cafes, which are places people take coffee and light meals throughout the day. The problem, as other people have written, is that the Argentines are reluctant to serve steak rare. A second problem is that we Americans are used to expensive steakhouses that use technologically advanced ovens to prepare their steaks precisely and consistently. By contrast, Argentines use enormous parillas (grills) and esentially do what I do in my back yard, but better. So the Argentines cannot prepare the steaks precisely and they do not cut their steaks as carefully.

Nevertheless I prefer Argentine steak, despite my never getting it as I ordered it. I tried lomo at Plaza Asturias, ojo at Fervor, and chorizo at La Brigada and a no-name place we had an early dinner at before leaving BA. Argentine beef is completely different from American. It is extremely lean and flavorful, the opposite of American beef. One eats enormous steaks in Argentina and the feeling afterward is a sense of satisfaction, rather than the "I can't believe I ate the whole thing" feeling I get in America.

So that is my report.

20 Manning Grill

As a preamble, let me say I like everything I have ever eaten at Audrey Claire, and I thought everything at 20 Manning was tasty (though not to my taste, if you get the distinction). But I have now been to 20 Manning Grill, the reincarnation of 20 Manning and I have not had a single thing there that tasted good. Everything had a weird taste to it, was too bitter, or too salty. The noise is deafening, so that did not make swallowing the food easier. I am not down on the service or anything like that, the staff seems hard-working and free of attitude and that is all that is important to me. But the food: is there something weird going on? Do they use MSG? Can that happen, where everything at a restaurant tastes bad to some people? I had the same reaction to the deceased Chew Man Chu. One thing that highlighted the problem for me is that I have now gone to Devil's Den three times (last night, one night after going to Manning Grill), and again, I am not saying that everything is perfect or memorable but it all tastes good. Is this a genetic issue?

Jul 23, 2010
brescd01 in Philadelphia

R2L anybody been there for dinner

I took my wife there and we did not enjoy it. It does indeed have beautiful views of the city. The aesthetic was very classy, I especially liked the background music, which was not too loud, just the way I like it.

Unfortunately, the food and service were poor. The service was not poor because anyone misbehaved or did not try hard, just the opposite, everyone was well-meaning. But the timing to take our orders was all wrong, we waited long enough that it was an issue and the restaurant had very few covers, and virtually no one who was eating a full dinner like we were (most seemed to be having cocktails). We got labelled "difficult diners" early on because I ordered a gin fizz and my server, twice, brought me something else. I asked for my gin fizz and our server was "re-assigned" and we got the "extra attention" treatment, which actually made us feel terrible because it was so unnecessary.

Finally and most importantly, the food was lousy and the menu seemed limited. Everything was too salty (both my wife and I had seafood) and while presentation was fine, nothing tasted particularly good. My tuna was notably disappointing.

Mar 13, 2010
brescd01 in Philadelphia

The Four Worst Restaurant Etiquette Gaffes

My experience is so different from the testimony of previous posters. First, at some point due to my relative prosperity, I started routinely leaving 20% tips (as opposed to 15%). I never noticed any improvement in the service I received, which is not to say that I ever had a problem with service, I thought I was always treated pretty well.

I have frequently written messages thanking them after excellent meals or criticizing them for bad ones, and I have usually had a response, always gracious. I do post in on-line forums and I typically have been skewered by (I think) friends of the restaurant or people in the business, often for the most innocuous and factual criticisms, so not that something was too salty or cold, but that the restaurant did this or that. The irony is that I think I am the best of customers, a generous tipper, a big spender (within reason), I ask for very little, and I know people who are really, really vicious and will do far worse to a restaurant than write a nasty review.

I recently ate at a top restaurant and the service and food were lousy due to a series of mistakes and problems that no one person was responsible for. I was immediately tagged a difficult customer when I asked for the cocktail I ordered (not the one I was served, twice) and I think they actually arranged what Richard 16 described, including a visit by the owner. We felt really bad and won't be back.

Mar 13, 2010
brescd01 in Features


At the suggestion of the board we tried Valanni. We loved the paella, with several reservations. The vibe of the resto is odd, a mixture of gay and middle aged people. The music is thumping "I am so hot" music that makes talking or getting comfortable very hard, this after we asked them to lower it twice and changed our seat as well, and the design of the place with a large bar in the center, is oddly claustrophobic. My octopus tapas was lousy (and I love octopus, it might be my favorite food).

The paella was delicious though I suspect Valanni is "cheating" in several respects. First, the paella was ready way too quickly for it to have been freshly prepared. Second, I am not sure that its flavor is traditional paella-from-Valencia flavor since it was very spicy. That said, its seafood was wonderful (a first for me since seafood paella usually arrives with its seafood over-cooked) and we gobbled it down fast enough that the bartender who served us remarked about it.

Mar 07, 2010
brescd01 in Philadelphia

The Ultimate Philly Buffalo Wing String

I second Moriarty's (though I only know Center City) and though I have had plenty of wing disappointments (my last was Royal Tavern's), I was not aware Philadelphia was so weak in this department. I spent a year in Minnesota and all there is to do in the winter there is go to bars and eat bar food and I don't remember all the wings there to be to my taste, either. Aren't wings like pizza, each person has their own ideal based on the type they are used to?

Feb 13, 2010
brescd01 in Philadelphia

Village Whiskey

I have been there twice and despite several gaffes and disappointments I think the place is fabulous. The bar and staff ooze class and the service is first-rate and like the classiest of places, without a trace of snootiness or irony. There are numerous weak spots true; too small menu, sparce seating, several dishes I thought relatively mediocre (veggie burger, lobster roll). But this is quite simply the classiest bar outside a steakhouse or hotel, in Philly. I work hard and service like that just makes me relax and forget my problems. Smoking-hot servers who are not even slightly slutty, too.

Oct 04, 2009
brescd01 in Pennsylvania

Lobster in Philly

Where is the best place to order whole lobster in Philly? Cost is no object.

Sep 28, 2009
brescd01 in Pennsylvania

The Saloon in Philly?

My wife and I just had a lovely meal here last week. Miles and miles of cleavage that even my wife appreciated, really beautiful decor, excellent service, and tasty food. My steak was badly overcooked and I sent it back. While we waited, the chef sent out langoustines as a sort of apology. Until I had those, I thought I did not like langoustines (the ones at Exta too messy and not meaty enough). But these were spectacular. And the steak was fine on the second try. I thought it a very classy place. My steak at Union Trust was better, but the whole experience was so much classier at Saloon.

Apr 02, 2009
brescd01 in Philadelphia

Madrid, March, 8 days

I apologize for repeating what I have written before, but I would like up-dates on the following restaurant suggestions. We will stay at the Ritz and spend a lot of time at the museums and in Salamanca window shopping. We dine early by Spanish standards and I doubt we will be up for much nightlife.

Casa Lucio, Cava Baja 35 913658217*
Chocolatería San Ginés, Pasadizo San Ginés 5 913656546*
Maceiras, Huertas 66 914295818*
Taberna de la Daniela, General Pardinas 21 915752329 (cocido)
Ventorrillo Murciano, Tres Peces 20 915288309 (paella)

Casa Lucas, Cava Baja 30 913650804
Tempranillo, Cava Baja 38 913641532*
Txirimiri, Humilladero 6 914014345
Cervecería Cervantes, Plaza de Jesús 7 914296093

Casa Rafa, Narváez 68 915731087
Gran Barril, Goya 107 914312210
Naveira do Mar, Santa Juliana, 57 914594532
Taberna del Puerto, Fernán González 50 915046699
Telégrafo, Padre Damián 44 913506119

Ansorena, Capitán Haya 55 915796451
Casa Julián, Don Ramón De La Cruz 12 914313535
Frontón, Tirso De Molina 7 913691617
Imanol, General Díaz Porlier 97 913090859

Starred entries appear to be universally recommended. I listed a specialty if I knew it.

Two service stops I have heard about are

Burgos, Cedaceros 2 915211891 (shirts)
Moderna, Alcalá 121 914353749 or Ortega y Gasset 61 914015769 (barber shop)

Whatever locals can add or recommend, I would be very grateful.

Feb 02, 2009
brescd01 in Spain/Portugal

Table 31

A drug rep (actually an educator) took me there yesterday and I really enjoyed it, on several levels. First of all, I thought the service was warm and unpretentious, something I like about Brasserie Perrier. Second of all, I thought each of the sauces or preparations I had was wonderful. My steak for instance was beautifully flavored. The meat itself was not that tender, but it was cooked the way I ordered it (rare), perhaps if I had got it more cooked it would have been slightly more tender and less chewy. The dessert was beautifully presented though I did not think it tasted special: it was a complicated and elaborate pastry, though.

I think the thing I loved about Table 31 is that like Barclay Prime, it is a new take on the steak house, and I do not remember there being anything like this in NYC (I left there in 2000), so I feel as if Philadelphia is perfecting something new. Until Barclay Prime (and now Table 31), a steakhouse could just do the same thing better and better, like Capitol Grill, and thet gets old fast.

Oct 10, 2008
brescd01 in Pennsylvania

Madrid, March, 8 days

Thank you again for these suggestions. I visited a site called Trip Advisor and the reviews of most hotels is freaking me out so my hotel plans are in limbo....

Aug 12, 2008
brescd01 in Spain/Portugal

Madrid, March, 8 days

Thank you for your excellent and detailed reply. I think we will be staying in the area of the opera, at either the Hotel Opera or Meninas (sister hotels?): both have been well-reviewed in numerous places, seem reasonable, and I find hard to resist their booking web client, which makes the stay's cost so clear.

Aug 10, 2008
brescd01 in Spain/Portugal

Madrid, March, 8 days

We all have our particular tastes: mine is for rustic over refined, local over international, honest over precious. I would not mind spending money on grand meals if they made me happy, but overwhelmingly when I eat at the grand restaurants I long for the simpler local favorite. I hate restaurants frequented by tourists, which I know seems somewhat self-hating, but my experience is that tourists = bad food. With that preamble, let me ask the board where I should eat in Madrid in March.

I have divided the restaurants into seafood, meat, tapas and other. Amongst seafood places I would like to dine at the local favorites that are not too expensive. I am quite sure these will be good enough for my peasant tastes, with the Spaniard's emphasis on ingrediants that I have read so much about. So El Combarro is out:

El Telégrafo
La Taberna del Puerto
El Gran Barril (a chain?)
Casa Rafa

Do any of these places fill the bill?

In the second category, meat. Any of these places recommended?:

Casa Julián

Next, tapas. This is hard I know, people tend to recommend areas rather than specific places. I have scanned Chowhound and eGullet for recs. I have to add, we are not going to be drinking more than one glass of wine if that, and I am very unlkely to want to go to several places in an evening. We are probaly going to bed early and not keeping Spanish hours. Finally, we will probably spend a disproportionate time in the Prado and at Salamanca, because we both love window shopping and art. Can anyone propose a few starting points or some classic recs? Two I found were:

El Tempranillo
Txirimiri, General Díaz Porlier 91 914014345

Finally, other. These are some varied recs I have written down:

Chocolatería San Ginés, Pasadizo San Ginés 5 913656546
Taberna de la Daniela, General Pardinas 21 915752329
Casa Lucio, Cava Baja 35 913658217
Maceiras, Huertas 66 914295818
El Ventorrillo Murciano, Tres Peces 20 915288309

Aug 10, 2008
brescd01 in Spain/Portugal

Chung King Garden

Chung King is best, hands down, assuming they are as good as they were 2-3 months ago (the last time I was there). STH has a very limited menu of excellent dishes, and even these are way too greasy for my taste. Four Rivers is very good but I have never liked their restaurant's interior.

Jun 22, 2008
brescd01 in Pennsylvania

Hanzhou Dumpling

My wife and I went to Chinatown in search of interesting food and we found a new and fascinating restaurant, Hanzhou Dumpling House at 925 Race. The restaurant specializes in Hanzhou style cooking, which is a sub-type of the Zheijiang style of Chinese cuisine, one of the eight principle varieties of Chinese cooking.

The soup dumplings they served were as good as Joe's Shanghai in NYC, if slightly different. The menu is restricted: the restaurant is not even one month old and the owners trimmed the menu when no one ordered the elaborate dishes. They have to be ordered in advance now. We did not begin to explore the menu but the flavors are clearly differentiated from the kitchen's Cantonese neighbors.

I highly recommend this place, if only for the wonderful soup dumplings.

May 31, 2008
brescd01 in Pennsylvania

HELP Is there a real replacement for Lakeside Chinese Deli?

Dim Sum Garden is no replacement for Lakeside Deli not because Dim Sum Garden isn't any good, but because it does not really specialize in dim sum, but Shanghai-style food. Another thing no one ever addresses is that many people do not like eating dim sum for lunch, but for dinner, and Lakeside Deli was exceptional in that they prepared dim sum to order, which is unusual even in NYC. I think there are places that have dim sum to order, but not that many.

Mar 09, 2008
brescd01 in Pennsylvania

Dim Sum Garden

I agree with both your characterizations of the soup dumplings, they are not the best I have had (Joe's) but I find them tasty nevertheless, plus they are authentic. I saw the woman preparing the crab flavored ones near the register. the menu is indeed small and the journey to a larger menu, gas, and delivery, are clearly going to be more painful and protracted than the owner represented to me. We went there yesterday. Soup dumplings delicious. Noodles wonderful (these are home-made I think). Wonton soup not very interesting (though wonton were very good). One funny thing is that there is a steady parade of customers, many getting bus connections, who order same-old same-old and I want to scream at them "Get the soup dumplings for pity's sake!"

Feb 10, 2008
brescd01 in Philadelphia

Dim Sum Garden

Regarding their soup buns, your idea that they are not prepared fresh is ridiculous. I agree they are not as good as Joe's, but what is? The food to be enjoyed is Shanghainese style, which is impossible to find in Philadelphia otherwise. The menu is evolving, they are hampered by not having gas right now

Jan 31, 2008
brescd01 in Philadelphia

Dim Sum Garden

11th btw Filbert and Arch. Shanghainese. Go there. Trust me.

Jan 27, 2008
brescd01 in Philadelphia

Taiwanese food at Empress Garden

I printed out the original post and just ordered everything you recommended. All very good, exactly as described. We were in a grumpy mood and the food wasn't good enough to make us smile, but we enjoyed it. Except the dumplings, which are second-rate. Now we need similar reports from other restaurants' "secret" Chinese menus, what "they are having!"

Aug 12, 2007
brescd01 in Pennsylvania