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Best cakes in Center City or South Philly?

Thanks for the recommendations. After looking at their menus I was on the verge of calling Belle Cakery, but the guest of honor then expressed a preference for the Moka cake (sponge cake w/ butter cream) at Artisan Boulanger Patissier, so of course I went with that. It was wonderfully light and sweet, and devoured. Highly recommended if you want french pastry.

Dec 16, 2013
guanxi in Philadelphia
1

The Fat Ham (Kevin Sbraga's new restaurant in University City)

Well, I doubt Sbraga himself would be more enthusiastic ...

I'm looking forward to trying it. I did try to make a reservation for 12 but they said they couldn't yet handle anything over 8, having just opened. I appreciate they were thoughtful and honest about it .. much better than over-promising and under-delivering once we got there.

Dec 10, 2013
guanxi in Philadelphia

Han Dynasty Old City, New Digs Upscale!

I love Han Dynasty, mostly for its food, but I also enjoyed the quirky environment and service.

The new setting is upscale quirky: A general expense account feel with red velvet? curtains and a giant wine cabinet that waiters need a ladder to reach the top of; huge clocks showing time around the world, as if it is a bank (which also fits the expense account feel); Chinese scrolls; black-and-white graphic prints that look like something out of a graphic novel; large TVs showing sporting events like a sports bar; and a ceiling painted like an abstract pink-and-blue sky.

The service hasn't changed: The first time we were there, we waited around 10 minutes for someone to discover us at the front of the restaurant and seat us.

That may sound critical, but for me mostly it give them a unique personality. The food was as fantastic as ever.

Dec 10, 2013
guanxi in Philadelphia

Non Italian-American Italian Restaurants in Philadelphia?

I'll second Monsu's amazingly creative, wonderful food. Maybe my favorite restaurant in the city of any kind.

Dec 10, 2013
guanxi in Philadelphia
1

Best cakes in Center City or South Philly?

I'm looking for a birthday cake for a fellow foodie. I searched and found many bakery recommendations (e.g. Termini) but they usually they are for things other than cake (e.g., cannoli).

Where would you go for fantastic cakes in Center City or South Philly?

(I have a selfish interest too: Not only will I eat the cake, but probably my friend will find this post when my birthday comes around!)

Dec 10, 2013
guanxi in Philadelphia

Sunday Mexican specials?

Thanks caganger. What happened to Acapulco? New management? New chef/name/concept?

Right now we have a fall-back reservation at Alla Spina. I think I'm going to forgo the barbacoa for the guest of honor's birthday unless I can find something that is reliably great (like Vetri).

Maybe we'll make Sunday barbacoa day going forward and try out some of these places ...

Thanks again

Dec 16, 2012
guanxi in Philadelphia

Sunday Mexican specials?

Thank you! Barbacoa was the keyword I was looking for. I'm going to search around and see what is recommended, but I'm open any suggestions regarding the best barbacoa in Philly.

Edit: Wow, to my surprise there are no barbacoa threads on the Philly Chow board! So let's do this now: What is the best barbacoa? So far I see Los Amigos Meat Market (is that sit-down?) and Acapulco mentioned ...

Dec 15, 2012
guanxi in Philadelphia

Sunday Mexican specials?

I remember reading about some South Philly Mexican restaurants serving amazing specials on Sundays (or maybe weekends) of interesting, authentic dishes. I just searched the board and couldn't find a mention of them besides Los Amigos Meat Market, which I get the impression is not sit-down.

I'm looking for someplace to take 8 people for a foodie's birthday tomorrow (Sunday). Some will want more standard fare, some will want the interesting stuff. We need to sit down, but it doesn't need to be fancy; in fact, cheap would be good for some of our guests, as long as the food is excellent for all. The Sunday Mexican specials would serve very nicely.

Many thanks in advance!

Dec 15, 2012
guanxi in Philadelphia

Time for BBQ

Thank you everyone! I thought I would report back: In the end, we went to the Lockhart Smokehouse for lunch. To my surprise, it was only three-quarters full around 1pm on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend. Did all the natives leave town for the weekend?

We tried the brisket and the sausage, plus several sides. The brisket was very tender, about as fatty as I would eat, and had some good smokey flavor -- but not enough of it for my preferences. The sides (mac and cheese, baked beans, cole slaw, potato salad) were also good. But overall it was not exceptional. I enjoyed the meal and it was good food, but it wasn't a highlight of our visit to Dallas. I'd say that if you are nearby, definitely you will be happy you stopped by, but I wouldn't go far out of my way. I think next time we need to go to central TX.

(The next night I was in a northern city and, for comparison, went to a BBQ restaurant that advertised itself as Lockhart TX BBQ (with a friend who grew up near Lockhart). They served it with sauce, and needed it. It wasn't bad, but it made me appreciate Dallas BBQ a little more.)

Overall the people of Dallas were friendly and hospitable. Thank you all!

Sep 03, 2012
guanxi in Dallas - Fort Worth

Time for BBQ

Thanks LH. I'd love to try the ethnic options, but I'm not going to find one that will satisfy everyone in my crew. Potager might be a good option, though. Much appreciated!

Aug 23, 2012
guanxi in Dallas - Fort Worth

Time for BBQ

Thanks CocoaNut. Babes looks good, if we can get in. If someone could recommend a restaurant inside the stadium (I'm not hopeful, but you never know ...) or something nearby that is upscale enough to take a reservation? We're more concerned about time (and food) than cost.

Aug 20, 2012
guanxi in Dallas - Fort Worth

Time for BBQ

Thanks for the tips everyone (and I'd appreciate any other ideas that people have!). Sarah - thanks especially for the tip about OTB not answering the phone when busy and possibly selling out. I may try to call that morning with an order.

Any other restaurant suggestions for an early dinner near the stadium, in case BBQ logistics don't work out? Can we get a decent meal inside the stadium? North Main is a helpful idea. We'd probably want someplace we can make a reservation and that is not too slow or formal. Also, to please my companions, it would have to be a European or American cuisine (and not tex-mex).

Many thanks!

Aug 19, 2012
guanxi in Dallas - Fort Worth

Time for BBQ

Ah, takeout and 'tailgating' is an excellent idea. Considering traffic, is OTB much less travel time than the other options? It looks closer on the map, but traffic could make a big difference.

(And yes, we're near DFW airport and not Love Field.)

Aug 18, 2012
guanxi in Dallas - Fort Worth

Time for BBQ

I'll be in DFW for around 36 hours on Labor Day weekend, and would very much like to squeeze in some great BBQ. I'm an enthusiastic foodie -- I'm tempted to drive to Louie Mueller for lunch -- but some companions have other passions in life.

I did my homework and found Lockhart Smokehouse, Pecan Lodge, Sweet Georgia Brown, Off the Bone (near Arlington), and Longoria. The problem is, our only opportunity is Saturday, and we're staying at a hotel near the airport and going to a 7pm game at Cowboys Stadium.

How do I get great BBQ without my compatriots waiting on long lines (a risk at a restaurant on Labor Day Saturday) or enduring heavy traffic (if we don't eat near the stadium)? I'm hoping a local can advise. For example, perhaps the traffic from Off the Bone to the stadium won't be so bad?

Thanks very much in advance!

Aug 18, 2012
guanxi in Dallas - Fort Worth

Recession hits the restaurant industry

More news from the Inquirer: Discounts all around, Susanna Foo beginning delivery:

http://www.philly.com/inquirer/local/...

Jan 25, 2009
guanxi in Pennsylvania

Recession hits the restaurant industry

Sad news from the Wall Street Journal:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB12326...

They talk about Philly too, including a place called London Grill, which doesn't sound familiar to me. With a smaller customer base, I think the more unusual restaurants will need to become more mainstream to fill up. On the positive side, for the restaurants and customers that remain, the meals will be cheaper.

Jan 23, 2009
guanxi in Pennsylvania

It only needs to be new, exceptional, interesting, and New American or European

The party at Cochon was last night (Thu). The sight of the dining room reminded me that we had eaten there previously; the honored guest was happy to return; I remembered a good but forgettable meal. My guests were delighted by the menu, complaining that they couldn't eat all they desired.

My meal began with the french onion soup. It's not advanced cuisine, but I am choosy in that I want refined culinary art, not cheese and onions. It was a ok, but the cheese was too heavy and the onion too sweet. We opened a bottle of 2003 Chateau Margeaux Burgundy, a gift we'd saved for a special occasion. It made up for the soup.

But it was unnecessary.My entrees soon arrived, the sausage and pork, with (collared?) greens, fingerling potatoes, and a mustard. The sausage was the best I can remember tasting: A strong black-peppery spice, subtle (for a sausage) meaty flavor, and tender with a medium texture. The pork was perfect: Pink, tender, flavorful, and not too salty. The burgundy was no longer the highlight of the meal, though I recommend it with the sausage.

The service was, I think, overworked. The waitress was polite but tense, and seemed to busy to give us the attention you might expect. Two guests out of five complained that the room was too loud, and asked that we leave before coffee or dessert. To me it seemed like a typical loud, small restaurant, but not uncomfortably so.

I also tasted another guest's curried duck. It was also very good: exceptionally tender, and the curry was interesting but overwhelmed by the peppery sausage taste left over from the sausage. Other guests seemed to enjoy their meals nearly as much as I did. I'll see if the 'honored guest' will post their impressions.

Overall, I highly recommend the sausage and pork. What else at Cochon? My prior meal was forgotten, but this one won't be.

Dec 18, 2008
guanxi in Pennsylvania

Gift Certificate in Philadelphia

La Croix is fantastic. Upscale, but since you don't mention it I assume the exceptional prices are no object. Creative, exceptional food -- this (http://tinyurl.com/4axcr4) will give you an idea. Le Bec Fin is what most locals would associate with 'best restaurant', but I'm not sure it is; very good and very formal.

I'm not quite sure what 'senior appeal' means. Earlybird special?

Dec 15, 2008
guanxi in Pennsylvania

It only needs to be new, exceptional, interesting, and New American or European

I made my reservation at Cochon. As Buckethead says, the menu has likely changed even if the honored guest has been there. Also, the concept will appeal to the many foodies in the party. Many thanks everyone. I do want to try Blackbird (too far) and Distrito (wrong cuisine), but that will have wait for another day. Maybe Friday.

Dec 15, 2008
guanxi in Pennsylvania

It only needs to be new, exceptional, interesting, and New American or European

Been to Zahav. Was the music excessively loud when you went? It was like a dance club on our visit. The owner came by and was very friendly.

Dec 15, 2008
guanxi in Pennsylvania

It only needs to be new, exceptional, interesting, and New American or European

We love Kanella, so good call, but we've been several times. We've been to Ansill a few times too. Cochon -- I think we went once and liked it, though that was my choice unless I found something better.

Are you sure you aren't the guest of honor? :)

Dec 15, 2008
guanxi in Pennsylvania

It only needs to be new, exceptional, interesting, and New American or European

5 of us. What did you think of Meme? It appears to be a little more causal than what I'm looking for, but food takes priority over setting.

Dec 15, 2008
guanxi in Pennsylvania

Chinese for Christmas Eve?

Vietnam in Chinatown is excellent; I'd go there. For Chinese we like Szechuan Tasty House, though service isn't always great there. No idea which of them is open on xmas day.

Dec 15, 2008
guanxi in Pennsylvania

It only needs to be new, exceptional, interesting, and New American or European

Six months is relatively safe. A year might be pushing it.

Dec 15, 2008
guanxi in Pennsylvania

It only needs to be new, exceptional, interesting, and New American or European

I'm trying to arrange dinner around Center City for a demanding group of guests. The guest of honor, who will probably read this post some day, is a foodie and excellent cook, and wants something interesting and also new to them, which restricts us to recently opened or changed restaurants. Another member of the party enjoys only cuisine from that is American or European (or from parts thereof).

Of course, I want to find something extraordinary, but the above requirements reduce my options considerably. I've looked around, but nothing really sticks out as more than a little above ordinary. Cost is not an issue, as long as the meal is worth it, and we'd like to eat at a nice place, though we probably don't want too much of a 'scene'. But I'll take what I can get.

Thanks in advance!
guanxi

Dec 15, 2008
guanxi in Pennsylvania

Grass-fed beef

We buy grass-fed beef from Livengood (http://www.localharvest.org/farms/M12002), who sell at various farmer's markets and Reading Terminal. It's some of the best beef I've had -- it's spoiled me for everything else. The texture and flavor redefine meat. I haven't done a side-by-side comparisons of course, but it's better than or comparable to Peter Luger's in Brooklyn, and to the Kobe beef I've had at a few restaurants. Some time after we started eating Livengood, we went to the Capitol Grille for someone's birthday. Their steak seemed like a tasteless, textureless hunk of meat by comparison. (And no, I have no relationship to Livengood, other than being a very happy customer.)

Dec 14, 2008
guanxi in Philadelphia