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Category Archives: fast food

California Eatin’!


This place has been a little quiet lately due to some serious traveling on my part and then the holidays. I took 2 trips, one to Disneyworld, which will be an upcoming post, and then to Los Angeles, which is the subject of this post!

I’m just gonna come right out and say it: the food in LA is pretty great. From fast food to fancy food, they have it covered. So let’s get to it, shall we?

We (me and the gang (Aubrie Williams, Jess Ross, Kaitlin Thompson and Briana Kelly) from the sketch group ManiPedi) literally picked up the rental car and went directly to the shining star of fast food in LA (plus, it was a long 4 hour plane ride): In-N-Out Burger! For those of you hiding under a rock, In-N-Out Burger is THE west coast burger chain. It’s not franchised, they have serious control issues (they don’t freeze or reheat) and it makes every single outpost shine in deliciousness. If you had to compare the burgers to a national chain, the closest that comes is Wendy’s, but that’s like saying Florida is kind of close to Canada because they are both in North America. If I never was allowed to eat burgers again but could have 1 kind of burger, I would eat this. That’s how good it is.

a 3x4 and fries, both Animal Style, with Chocolate Shake

a 3×4 and fries, both Animal Style, with Chocolate Shake

They have your basics: burgers, fries and shakes. While I am not the biggest fan of thier fries (they do not double fry the fries like most burger places, just single fry, so that they tend to get a little…hard…if you don’t eat them right away), if you order them “well done” they are a lot better. You order the burgers by how many patties and how much cheese you’d like. I got a 3×4 (“3 by 4”) which was 3 patties and 4 slices of cheese and I got that (along with the fries) “Animal Style”. They have a not-so-secret secret menu, where you can order your burger Animal Style (If applied to a burger, the meat is grilled with mustard, with sauteed onions, pickles, and extra special spread added. If applied to fries, it comes with melted cheese, sauteed onions, and spread.) or Protein Style (wrapped in lettuce instead of a bun), along with a bunch of other stuff including a Grilled Cheese (two slices of melted American cheese, hand-leafed lettuce, tomato, spread with or without onions on a freshly baked bun). The shakes are chocolate, vanilla and strawberry and they are all 100% ice cream, not a powdered mix. The best shake I have ever had, hands down. It was an awesome kick off to a great trip!

IMG_5325

Avocado Benedict- 

Next up was brunch! We met up with JP Boudwin, a Philly comedy transplant, for brunch at the Sunset Junction Coffee Shop in Silver Lake. Silver Lake is like hipster central in LA so I knew there’d be some place with some great food, and JP didn’t let us down. SJCS is bright and airy, with high exposed beam ceilings and a big glass front. We all slid into the big booth in the front of the place and ordered up from the friendly waitress (did I mention the service was amazing? and we had 8 people with us, which is always a pain in the ass).

The menu had a few different kind of Eggs Benedict, which was cool, along with all kinds of pancakes, hashes, sandwiches and egg dishes. It was really hard to choose, everything looked so good. I knew I was going to be eating a lot of, shall we say, artery killer food soon so I went with something light: The Avocado Eggs Benedict. It included two poached eggs with sliced avocado and fresh tomatoes, on an English muffin topped with capers and Hollandaise sauce. I decided to not get breakfast meats and got tomatoes instead of that or hash browns. Then I got a little nervous. Would that be enough food? Could that get me to my next meal without me chewing my arm off? The answer was yes, yes it could. The poached eggs were a large size and done perfectly (I want runny yolk. GIVE ME RUNNY YOLK!), the tomatoes were deliciously juicy and they were not skimpy with the fresh, firm avocado. The best part was the Hollandaise. It wasn’t scooped out of a pot that’s been in a Bain Marie for 5 hours. No, they whipped it up and plated it, and you can tell how fresh it was. Could a simple brunch dish be delightful? Because, frankly, this was. I almost want to smack myself for typing that but yeah, it was great.

Disneyland Mac and Cheese Dog

Disneyland Mac and Cheese Dog

We took a side trip in our LA trip to go to Disneyland! How can you not visit the place where it all started? If you are used to Disneyworld and the overwhelming monstrosity that it is, Disneyland comes off as almost quaint. That’s ok tho, I like quaint. Also, if you are any sort of pop culture junkie like myself, it’s neat to see all the original stuff. At one point I found myself alone, waiting for my friends to get off Space Mountain, and I wandered over to The Refreshment Corner (which, if you are familiar with Casey’s Corner in Disneyworld, is right at the end of Main Street in the same spot), which is an old timey spot sponsored by Coca-Cola, with great stained glass Coke Lamps and whatnot.

Mickey Pretzel

Mickey Pretzel

They have a menu consisting of a mac and cheese dog, a chili dog (or you can get the chili in a sourdough bowl), some Mickey pretzels (stuffed with cream cheese or cheese and jalapeno!), and of course, Cokes. Since it’s sponsored by Coke, you know the mix for the soda is perfect! I got the Mac and Cheese dog, which comes with a big fist full of bacon bits and a bag of chips. I also got a Mickey pretzel because…why not?! The dog was really large and tasted great. They were not at all skimpy with the Mac and Cheese (yes, it tasted just like Stouffers Mac and Cheese and I am ok with that), to the point where I was sort of taken aback to how much was on there. Theme parks are not noted for their generosity with toppings, so this was a nice change. I actually ate it with the plastic knife and fork, it was so hefty. The pretzel was warm, chewy and hit the spot after walking a million miles around the park all day! That says a lot because I come from the Land of Soft Pretzels. Even the chips were quality kettle chips, not just a half filled bag of air with some potato dust, as happens sometimes. I could not have been happier with my choice, altho the Corn Dog cart is still in my “What if..?” file. Next time!

The Fairfax!

The Fairfax!

I went out to brunch with my friend Sean and his awesome fiancee Sarah at a place in the LA Grand Central Market called EggSlut. Yes, EggSlut. Sean suggested it and I was intrigued. It started as a food cart and now this is thier first brick and mortar place. It’s more of a stall in the giant market (which is like Reading Terminal Market or Grand Central Market in NYC). They specialize in, shockingly, eggs! I love good scrambled eggs but if there is a hint of brown on them, I can’t eat them. I like a loose scrambled egg made with milk not water. I ordered the Fairfax and it didn’t disappoint! It comes with scrambled eggs, chives, caramelized onions, Tillamook cheddar and sriracha mayo. It was warm with just a hint of spice from the sririacha and buttery carmelized goodness from the onions. It went quickly into my mouth and left only a smile. Just as the egg gods intended.

Strawberry Sweet Hand Pie from Valerie Confections

Strawberry Sweet Hand Pie from Valerie Confections

But I didn’t stop there! I also got a strawberry hand pie from Valerie’s Confections. it was just about the size of your hand (hence..the name…and stuff…) and this one was stuffed with strawberry. The dough was so flaky, but it didn’t crumble when you took a bite. No, it just showed you it’s inside goodness and invited you to go on and destroy it. Who am I to argue? I destroyed it like a a toddler domineering a bowl of spaghetti. This was easily one of the best things I had on the trip. If you live anywhere near Downtown LA, get ye to Valerie’s!

We wandered over to the La Brea Tar Pits (underwhelming) and saw a bunch of food trucks parked outside the LA Art Museum. One of which was the Bool BBQ Truck, a Korean Fusion BBQ truck. I could not resist, and got the Short Rib

Short Rib Burrito

Short Rib Burrito

Burrito (white rice, cabbage asian slaw, special sauce, hot sauce, pico de gallo and short rib meat). The burrito was excellent! It was just spicy enough, so that the tip of my tongue was a little lit up but I could still taste the sweetness and the delicious meat. The people working the truck were so nice and quick with the food, it stayed on my mind the whole ride home! I highly recommend them if you are over by the Art Museum or hit thier page on facebook and see where they are. Totally worth your time to look them up and more then worth the money!

Speaking of burritos, you can’t go to the west coast without eating some fantastic Mexican food. We happened to stumble upon a great place called Machos Tacos. It’s kind of a shack on the corner of Vermont Ave in Los Feliz, yet another hipster area, and it’s next to a car wash. Oddly enough, I got to look at thier kitchen. I know kitchens. I know dirty kitchens and clean kitchen and kitchens you should pretend don’t actually serve food. This one was cleaner then I’ve seen in awhile. It also serves some amazingly kick ass Mexican food!

Machos Tacos Chicken Mole and Chicken Tacos!

Machos Tacos Chicken Mole and Chicken Tacos!

First up they make thier own chips (and the salsa is hearty with a parade of flavor!) and aren’t skimpy about it (so don’t ask for extra for free, this isn’t the welfare tortilla chip line!). Secondly, they aren’t skimpy with ANYTHING! Here are 2 tacos: the Chicken Mole and the Regular Chicken. Yeah, no skimpiness! The Mole sauce was dark and hearty, it didn’t just pour right out of the tortilla. It had a job to do AND IT WAS GONNA DO IT! I appreciate hard work.

Machos Tacos Wet Machado Burrito

Machos Tacos Wet Machado Burrito

I also got the Machaca Beef Burrito,and I got it wet. Wet, for all you pervs out there, is

Inside the Burrito

Inside the Burrito

when the burrito is covered in sauce. First off, this thing was heavier then my first car. It was half covered in a green chile sauce and half covered in a red sauce but it was all covered in AWESOME! The meat was slow cooked and when it hit your tongue it blended with the rest of the sauce and did the Macarena the rest of the way down. There was very little talking while we ate at this place. There was a lot of dancing in seats tho. So very, very good!

Double Pier Burger

Double Pier Burger

As a tourist in the City of Angels, you have to take a trip to the Santa Monica Pier. It’s just one of those things. It’s a cute pier (that’s now 100 years old and they are really fixing it up) with rides and a fishing pier at the end. They also have a bunch of churro carts and other oddball food. Of course, I would find the burger place. Wouldn’t you know it? Pier Burger! They have burgers, fries, shakes, a fish sandwich that Jess and Kait really liked and other odds and ends. But I went for the burger. I was on a burger mission, and this burger did not disappoint! In fact, I found it to be a In-N-Out competitor! I know! Shut my mouth! But it’s the truth! It’s a burger that tastes really fresh and is seasoned just with some salt and pepper and grilled up on a flat top. It was flat out F-ing great! I got the Double Pier Burger and I am going to come out and say…I liked it better then the 3×4. I know I’ll burn for saying it but it was that good! All I need now is a Pier Burger shirt! (they only had mediums when I was there).

One of the things I did while out there was attend a taping of The Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson. I love him and his silly show, but I had gotten there so early, I had to eat before the almost 3 hours of being tied up in line and in the studio. So, on the corner of 3rd and Fairfax I found this big sandwich place called Mendocino Farms Sandwich Market. It’s an interesting place, where they give you a menu while you stand in line and order before you even get to the counter. Once you get to the counter, you also order sides. Perhaps you are not sure about the sides? You can try all of them! They encourage it! No one rolls an eye at you because you have trouble ordering! It’s pretty great. Oh, and grab a beer too. Not a shitty Miller Light, but one from a collection of accessible but delicious beers. Then you slide on down to the end of the counter and wait until your pager buzzes and BANG! Sandwich heaven!

Steak Bahn Mi

Steak Bahn Mi

I always have trouble ordering food. I can never make a decision and then when I do, I am always second guessing myself. It’s a horrible thing and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I couldn’t make a decision as to what to get so I asked the line order taker girl what she liked and she told me the Steak Bahn Mi. I flew blind and ordered it. Normally, I don’t like ciabatta bread because it’s so thick, I feel like it sucks up any kind of moisture in the ingredients. But they make the ciabatta fresh and it was still warm, so it absorbed some but it was soft, warm and chewy. All the Bahn Mi flavors (chili aioli, housemade sweet chili sauce, pickled daikon & carrots, cilantro, jalapenos and cucumbers). It was delightful and just enough to fill me up without making me feel like I just ate a lead weight. The girl who recommended the sandwich to me even came to find me as I was eating to make sure I liked her suggestion. I thought that was a nice touch.

Sushi in a boat

Sushi in a boat themed on Titanic.

Finally, one night we wanted to go to one place but it was full, so JP suggested we go to this sushi place that’s themed on the movie Titanic. It’s in the shape of a boat. Seriously. When I say they had a Japanese version of the Titanic theme playing, I’m not kidding. They even had sushi with cheesesteak in it. It was really good too!

This trip definitely was good times and I can’t wait to go out again and see what else is out there to eat and explore! Give my love to the Coffee Bean! I shall return! Here is a picture of all (well most of) the Philly Comedy people living in LA now with some of us who haven’t made it out yet. Keep an eye out!

Philly Comedy Goes West!

Philly Comedy Goes West!

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Clawtastic Luke’s Lobster


Living in a town like Philly, which is like an hour and a half from the Ocean, you’d think we would eat more lobster. I mean, we eat a lot of seafood in this town, but not really much lobster. Every person I know (sorry, not my kosher jews) has a favorite place for crabs but I never hear anyone say “that lobster place is my jawn”. I would think that it’s probably because of how expensive it is. I mean, in Maine they eat everything with a side of lobster claw (and knuckle) meat. I hear they have so much of it that they freeze it and use it as hockey pucks. This fever I have makes me think weird things, so I could be wrong…but I doubt it.

Anywho, next to the awesome Underdogs, is a brand new place. A new outpost of a small chain called Luke’s Lobster. What do they sell? Lobster rolls! The quick story is that Luke is from Maine and went to school in that other little town you may of heard of, New York City. He noticed he couldn’t get a decent lobster roll to save his life (kind of how I feel looking for a cheesesteak anywhere outside of Philly). On a side note, how hilarious is that, considering Manhattan, where he was, is an island. So he decided to ship lobster meat from Maine down to NYC and show those idiot city folk how it’s done. And you know what? HE DID.

Luke's Menu

Luke’s Menu

Let me just say first off that this place is not cheap. You aren’t bringing the kids here for lunch (unless you live in the rich people enclave of Rittenhouse Square, where this place is. Those people would consider it slumming to just pay 23 bucks for anything. They use $50 bills to clean thier cat’s litter boxes. If they weren’t already paying someone to do it for them, that is. You get my point.). But if you want to treat yourself, normal person, rock on!

As you can see, like I said, it’s not cheap. I got a lobster roll and a shrimp roll and it cost me $23. I am interested in the clam chowder and the crab roll, but hey, I had to make a car insurance payment that month. Lay off, moneybags.

The staff was super nice and while they did the usual spiel about trying upsell your meal, they weren’t dicks about it, so that was nice. And they have a little card that if you get it stamped around 8 times, you get a free lobster roll. So at least they are rewarding you for coming in. They also have a really cool collection of sodas form Maine to buy. I like supporting small businesses and I thought that was a nice touch.

The Lobster Roll

The Lobster Roll

The first thing I ate was the lobster roll. They keep it simple. The lobster isn’t hiding in mayo (You know my feelings for mayo, but I didn’t miss it here. Don’t tell mayo, I don’t want him to get mad at me.). The roll is a classic lobster roll, which is a hot dog bun split on the side instead of the top and then lightly grilled in butter (yum!). They just put a dab of mayo on the roll, load up the chilled claw and knuckle meat and hit it with some doctored old bay and some kind of lemon. That’s it. And it was AWESOME.

Eating this thing made me start wondering if maybe we are on the wrong track with things. Maybe the simpler things are better. Maybe we have taken things too far, that we need to scale back. Maybe 900 feet of snow in the winter and deadly seasonal depression is ok because you get to eat lobster rolls like that. I don’t know. I don’t know anything anymore! Rosebud! Rooosebuuud!

What I DO know is that a buttery bun with claw and knuckle meat that is as big as a golf ball will almost make you weep in your little cubicle that you are eating in as to avoid some jerkass coworkers who like to shit all over your dreams. And it’s salty tears of joy. The salt harkoning back to the sea, where the lobster comes from. It’s all circular, people! Circular! Or is that cyclical? Oh, I don’t know. What I’m saying is that, holy crap, that is worth every penny of the $15 bucks it cost.

More Shrimp Roll

More Shrimp Roll

Since I am a world class glutton (who needs to see 50, really?), I also jumped in and got myself a shrimp roll. No, not a $1 menu item from the corner chinese place. It’s the same roll, buttered and lightly fried and mayo’d, then jammed with chilled shrimp, that old bay secret seasoning mix and GO!

It was good, I’m not gonna lie. Was it as good as it’s big brother? No, sadly no. But this is like the Williams sisters. They are both good! Just one is more muscular, I mean, better, then the other.

So, summing it all up, YES! Go! Now! GO NOW! (check the hours first, duh) But go get the lobster roll. Or get the Taste of Maine, where you get a 1/2 of all three plus chips and a delightful soda for $20. It’s a pretty good deal. I will be back, Luke’s Lobster! Oh yes! I cannot wait, and I will be coming with small bills! *insert evil laugh here*

I wish Pinchy were here to see this!

Wawa’s In The Club!


Wawa’s In The Club! The club sandwich that is. Or, at least, thier version of it. I love a good club sandwich, preferably with extra mayo. Don’t bother putting it on the sandwich, just roll out the 5 gallon jug of Admiration mayo and put it on the table. That oughtta do it. Club sandwiches are a pleasant memory for me as well. My Grandmom (the dead one) used to really like them. I remember the frilly toothpicks she would remove before destroying that thing in a cloud of fingers, crumbs and stray lettuce. She was a real inspiration.

I rolled into the Bridesburg Wawa after getting the rundown on cat sitting for my friend MellieFlo on a rainy friday night. I had to eat, so I strolled over to the computer screen to order a classic hoagie (It IS Hoagiefest ya know!) when I see this new thing pop up…club sandwiches! WTF Wawa? I thought we were tighter then that, you didn’t even mention it before!

They now offer Roast Beef, Ham, Ham and Turkey and Straight Up Turkey on wheat, rye or white bread. Bacon is included, as it should be. An odd thing tho, they don’t offer to let you have extra mayo, which made the mayo beast MIGHTY ANGRY at the time. I got over it tho, don’t worry. You can’t really customize it like you can a hoagie, except for creamy horseradish sauce and adding extra meat, cheese or both (I go both. I mean, why wouldn’t you?). I also got the club on rye. I had to have it toasted even tho I don’t get toast when I order it out and about. That turned into a nonissue, as you will soon see.

Wawa Ham and Turkey Club

Wawa Ham and Turkey Club

So here it is, the Wawa Ham and Turkey with Pepper Jack Cheese Club. Cut in half and not quarters. I’m not gonna lie, it looked a little odd. It was a sloppy looking thing, but I was intrigued and gave it a go. I mean, why not?

And I have to say, it was pretty

Inside the club

Inside the club

good. Could it have used some pickles? Or extra mayo? Yes, indeed.   But it had the right amount of meat and cheese on it, probably because I ordered the extra meat and cheese. When you are dealing with a sandwich that has a lot of bread, you kind of need to bulk it up a bit.

Wawa does use some thin bacon for it’s sandwiches. It reminds me of the Oscar Meyer precooked bacon: tastes good but a stiff breeze would crumble it to the ground. It gets a little lost in the sandwich, which was a little bit of a bummer.

Toasted Bread?

Toasted Bread?

What was really bizarre was the toast. I normally do not order my club bread toasted. It rips up my mouth like Captain Crunch. It’s no good for me. But the Wawa computer gave no option for the bread not to be toasted, so I bit the bullet and rolled with the mouthroof punches. Except, when I got home, I opened it up and the bread must have just walked thru the toaster becasue it was barely toasted at all. Look at this picture! Does that look toasted to you? Very bizarre!

So, altho I did not like the lack of extra mayo and the lack of being able to customize my sandwich, did I like the club? You know what? I really did! It was just filling enough and left room for me to have a little dessert. Check it out, it wasn’t perfect but it was still pretty delicious!

Potbelly Positive


Ok, so if you read this food blog at all, you might have picked up that I enjoy a sandwich, but almost never, ever from a chain sandwich shop. Specifically, a nationwide sandwich shop. I try them, because I am not only a glutton, but a glutton for punishment, alas, it never goes well. The meat is gross or the bread tastes like recycled cardboard. Nasty. Granted, I live in the Capital of Sandwichland (aka Philly) and we do it right. But still, I keep looking. Hope, it spring eternal, or something.

That’s why I was knocked for a loop when I tried Potbelly Sandwiches. photo (10)

Potbelly is a company out of Chicago (a sister glutton city of Philly). They toast their bread before they make your sandwich. Actually, it isn’t so much toasted as it is thoroughly warmed through. This makes an unbelievable difference in the bread. Ever put your socks in the microwave? It’s like that. A warm hug. (Try it). It’s not toasted like a grinder, where you take a bite of literally toasted bread and it all falls apart and you scratch the roof of your mouth so bad that all you can eat is milkshakes for a few days and you get that one piece of roof skin that drives you nuts (I hate it when that happens. This is why I had to stop eating Captain Crunch.)

Potbelly Sandwich Board

Potbelly Sandwich Board

Anywho, there is a Potbelly close to my work, and the other day I ventured in. The place is kind of neat, with mismatched table sizes and they had a sign saying they even have local musicians come and play. I thought that was supportive for a chain restaurant. They have a hanging menu for all to peruse. They have 3 sizes for the sandwiches: Original, Skinny (less meat and cheese on thin cut bread) and the Big (with 30% more meat and cheese).  You can even get the sandwiches on “thin cut” bread, which is a nice wink to people watching thier carb intake. They will even make their sandwiches on a salad for you if you’d like. I didn’t try one but I saw a lady walk out with one and it was the size of a medium sized soccer ball.

Ordering is interesting. You walk up to the counter and tell them what sandwich you want, what size and what kind of roll (multigrain or regular). Then you scoot down, maybe pick up some chips and tell the next person how you’d like it: condiments, bacon, whatevs. Then they hand it to you and you get a fountain drink or just pay for what you have. They have plenty of snacky stuff too like brownies and cookies and whatnot.

Choices!!

Choices!!

A very cool thing this place has is in it’s fountain drink offerings. Usually, a chain will make a deal for either Coke products or Pepsi products. Very rarely will the two meet. I know people who will go to specific places and avoid others, just to be able to get the fountain drink of thier choice. I am happy to say that Potbelly gets you and your craving for fizzy beverages by offering BOTH. And also Dr. Pepper! And sugar free Minute Maid Lemonade! Two thumbs up for choices!

A Wreck

A Wreck

But seriously, let’s get down to business. We all know I got the biggest thing on the menu. In this case, it’s called A Wreck. It comes with: Salami, Roast Beef, Turkey, Ham & Swiss Cheese. I also got lettuce, tomato, onion (it’s almost a salad!) and sweet peppers along with extra mayo. And yes, in a Big size (please note the straw on the sandwich wrap for scale). This thing isn’t a monster but it’s warm and snuggly and delicious. 

Inside the Wreck

Inside the Wreck

Sometimes you order extra mayo and all you get is a head nod from whoever is making the thing. The girl who made mine knew what extra mayo is and gave it to me, like a Christmas present I hoped for all year (I can almost hear my cardiologist planning his next European getaway). As you can see here, even with the Big size, they aren’t crazy with the meat and cheese. In fact, the salami is kind of lost in there. They do give you the option of ordering extra meat and cheese, but the drink and the sandwich cost about 9 bucks total and that’s about as high as I’ll go for lunch. Ok, maybe 10 bucks. Still, this is it.

The Bread

The Bread

The bread is the real star here. Like I had said earlier, it is very close to amazing. With a hoagie roll, you want a chewy inside with a slightly more done outside. It also has to have depth of flavor or you end up with crap (I’m looking at you, Jimmy Johns). This bread made me do a little dance in my chair. It soaked up some of that mayo and sweet pepper juice with ease. You know you have a winner when you get to that last bite and it has soaked up all those things and has just a little bit of meat and cheese left with like 2 pieces of lettuce hanging on…and it is the absolute best bite ever.

The funny part is that I do not want to know the details of this bread. They say it’s a secret and I am ok with that. It’s an amazingly, delicious secret and Potbelly has made me think that perhaps someone outside of Sandwichland might have a sandwich clue.

Keep it up Potbelly! I can’t wait to go back!

Ps,

I went back and had the exact same delicious Wreck a few days later. So good! And the staff at the Potbelly on 17th between Market and JFK are super nice.

Tony Boloney Nails It


I first came across Tony Boloney’s in AC when I covered the AC Beer Fest. They blew me away with their Cheesesteak Ole’ and their Reuben Pizza. Unreal. Plus, I loved the fact that they understood marketing (see their blue truck (that will come and cater your event!) with the giant moustaches and their mascot, an old school chef with said handlebar moustache) and had fun with it as well. I swore I would get to their shop on Oriental Ave, 2 blocks up from the Revel, and I finally did!

Tony Boloney's

Tony Boloney’s

The Reuben Frio

The Reuben Frio

I tried to have a few things from the menu, starting with the Reuben Frio! Where to begin? Let’s start with the bread. When making fantastic, mind-blowing sandwiches, you need a good base to keep things from falling apart 3/4’s of the way in. Tony’s hits it out of the park with rolls from A. Rando’s Bakery, the oldest bakery in AC and the 3rd oldest Italian bakery in the country! And wow, what a roll! Chewy, crusty, lovely goodness! It’s had to find a roll that doesn’t feel like it is taking over the whole show, and Tony’s did.

Reuben Frio Sideshot

Reuben Frio Sideshot

Ok, so the sandwich. Whew! Beautifully thick-cut Pastrami, not skimpy on the kraut, thousand island dressing to keep it moist and just enough Muenster cheese to keep this puppy on track and I fell in love. A theme you’ll find in this article is “not skimpy”. In the times we live in here, which are recession times, food places try and cut corners by inching the prices up and lowering the amount of ingredients. This sandwich was brimming with meat and kraut! I feel like this thing was created in the 80’s when everything was overstuffed and then time traveled right to my table. And man, I am way ok with that!

Next up, was my absolute favorite: The Sh#tfaced!

The Sh#tfaced Sandwich!

The Sh#tfaced Sandwich!

The Sh#tfaced Sideview!

The Sh#tfaced Sideview!

This thing is a straight up knock out. I would eat this everyday for the rest of my life and not bat an eye, that’s how good it is! Beer battered chicken with a Stout Honey BBQ sauce. That’s so many flavors and textures working together, it actually short circuits your taste buds for a second. The beer batter (which is not very heavy at all) plus the sauce, which is just a little bit sweet and a little bit buttery and a whole lot heavenly. Oh, and it’s got melted Mozzarella and Cheddar on it too, just in case you needed some more awesome to go with it! You owe it to yourself to try this thing, it is absolutely mind-blowing. And if that’s not enough! You can also get it on a pizza!

Po' Doc Carver

Po’ Doc Carver

Moving on to another work of art, meet The Po’ Doc Carver! Deliciously fried chicken with a house made Chipotle sauce and covered in a smoked Mozzarella that’ll spoil you on regular mozz for life! Toss in some lettuce and tomato and you got yourself a rainbow of texture, aromas and deliciousness.

Now, Tony Boloney’s isn’t just sandwiches, they also make some unreal pizzas as well! When I popped in, I picked up a slice of the Carnival Freak. The pizza at Tony’s is unlike most, it’s a crispier crust and is nice and light but still have the cojones to carry whatever sick and twisted ideas that owner Mike Hauke has up his sleeve.

Carnival Freak

Carnival Freak

The Carnival Freak has breadcrumbs on the crust, herbs to keep that flavor palate hoppin’, Mozzarella, ricotta, parmesan and a marinara that bent my brain, it was that good! I know it sounds odd that there are breadcrumbs on the crust, but it adds to the impressive texture of the pizza as a whole.

What really impresses me about the pizzas at Tony’s is that they understand that not all of the toppings need to fill the entire slice. Don’t get me wrong, I completely enjoy an everything pie once in a while, where you get a bite of all the toppings in each bite, but that doesn’t work with a lot of different combos of pies. In this one, you get some marinara and some ricotta in one bite, then some mozz and herbage in another, and so on. It’s really a delight.

Crab Fries!

Crab Fries!

Finally, I also ordered The Crab Fries! Chickie and Pete’s serves frozen crinkle cut fries with some Old Bay and melty American cheese in the side. Tony’s serves Crab fries with CRAB on them, along with some butter, Old Bay and Mozzarella cheese! They were pretty kick ass, and again, NOT skimpy with the Crab!

The cheese went all he way thru and the butter gave it a delicious smoothness that combined with the Old Bay to dance around the fries and hug it with awesome. Seriously. Awesome.

So, you might be wondering, after reading this review of Tony Boloney’s, if there was anything I didn’t like about this place. The answer, honestly, is no. they even offer awesome sugar cane sodas like Boylan’s along with the usual suspect sodas. The tables were clean, and at the right heights so you don’t feel like you are sitting on the floor when you are eating. Don’t feel like sitting inside? Sit outside on the picnic tables and get some fresh air while ya eat.

This guy!

This guy!

Even the staff was awesome. I am a bad order-er in places. It takes me more time then it should to order (I think my brain shorts out when there is too much choice and my friends all make fun of me for it) and this guy, who was working himself behind the counter and juggling like 9 things at once, was super nice and didn’t at all try to hurry me along. In fact, he answered all my stupid questions with ease and didn’t bat an eye when I ordered enough food to feed 9 people “for here”. I was thinking he was the twin of that one guy from the show House, but he is not. What I am saying, is that this place has it covered: great food, great customer service, and a cool place to eat!

You would be cheating yourself if you didn’t check this place out on your next trip to AC! 300 Oriental Avenue, right on the corner! Look for the blue and the big moustache!

National Cheeseburger Day: Five Guys!


Philadelphia, where I am from, live and love, is a town known for cheesesteaks (And soft pretzels and other stuff. But the media focuses on cheesesteaks. Whatever). So when you can look forward to something as awesome as a cheesesteak, nothing else really compares. Chicago has hotdogs (big deal) and New England has lobster rolls (a little pinchy) but none of that stuff has ever really taken hold here. So when burger places started popping up, I was intrigued. All we have ever really had was the run of the mill chain places, and frankly, I love a good burger. The good folks at PYT do an awesome job, Bobby’s Burger Palace is pretty great and even Shake Shack became a favorite for me. I even visited the Holy Grail of Hamburgers, In and Out Burger (nine thumbs up!).

When people started telling me I HAD to go to Five Guys, I was a little skeptical. It looked, from the outside, kinda cheesy. They had giant 50 pound bags of potatoes stacked up with a sign telling you what farm and state they were from. They had boxes of peanuts for the people to munch on. But besides that, it was just a red and white place that was a little sparse. I had heard that you either liked it or hated it. I heard lots of things. I never got over there. On the last day at my old job, I ventured out with Brian and Jen to the Five Guys in Moorestown and, um, almost hurt myself.

First of all, let me say that if you have a peanut allergy, or are planning on taking anyone to this place with a peanut allergy, dont. They have a giant box of peanuts (altho not in a bathtub, oh I miss you Ground Round) for you to eat while waiting. Jen and Brian ordered like humans, and I was assured that one order of fries would be

Brian unloads the food

Brian unloads the food

enough for all 3 of us. I, on the other hand, not knowing anything about the menu, ordered like an animal. 2 burgers: a cheeseburger and a bacon cheeseburger. We self served our beverages and had a seat.

I was informed that the one order of fries would be enough and I figured they would have alot of fries. I’m not a huge fry fan so I shrugged it off…. then I saw the size of the order of fries.

Brian said there was a lot of fries but yeah, I was not prepared. The amount of fries came to the second band of red checkers on that cup. Holy portion control, Batman. Seriously. Wow. And they do come right in the brown paper bag. Before you say “Ew!”, brown paper absorbs oil and grease so that your food stays hot but it doesn’t swim in the residual grease form the fryer and get soggy. In the South, when people make fried chicken, they pop the finished product on folded brown paper bags as well. It’s almost an unspoken industry secret.

The Fries

The Fries

The fries themselves weren’t bad. They fry everything in Peanut Oil (and I am sure make a tidy profit selling the oil to a secondary market), so the fries aren’t exactly crunchy, but a little oily and chewy. Some people like fries like that and some, well, don’t. I am on the fence.

I had a fistful of fries but I didn’t go back for too many. But kudos for Five Guys offering malt vinegar for the fries! That was a surprising touch and all three of us enjoyed it.

The burgers on the other hand. Yeah, wow. First of all, here is a tip: if it doesn’t say “little” in front of it, it’s a double burger. I, like I had said, ordered 2 burgers and didn’t realize I’d be eating 2 double burgers. You see what I do for you people? This is what I do for journalism! And for my cardiologist (who apparently will be buying a new boat soon! Called “The DidjaEat?!”)!

Bacon Cheeseburger

Bacon Cheeseburger

The burgers are wrapped in a simple aluminum foil wrap (with stickers to tell them apart). That saves them big overhead on custom printed wrap (So far they have saved on things to put fries in, recycling oil and now burger wrap. Pretty crafty.). Opening this thing up, you have to grin. It’s got handmade written all over it. When you order, there is a laundry list of toppings you can get (for free!). I got mayo, lettuce, tomato, and pickles.

The pickles were thick, the tomatoes were thick cut and fresh and the iceberg lettuce was nice and crunchy. But I am sure you don’t care that much about the toppings, you care about the MEAT!

Inside the Bacon Cheeseburger

Inside the Bacon Cheeseburger

First off, the bacon was not skimpy and it was not cheap, crappy bacon. It was delicious and you could taste that it hadn’t been cooked too far behind the burger. The burger itself Jen said was juicy and I agree wholeheartedly. It was juicy and delicious. There wasn’t a whole bunch of crap mixed in, no pink slime, no trimmings, no cow meat (just steer and heifer meat, so says the website). Even the cheese was perfect. Needless to say, there was very little conversation while we were chewing.

Cheeseburger

Cheeseburger

The regular cheeseburger (the same as the bacon cheeseburger, but without the bacon and tomato) was pretty excellent as well. Jen and Brian gnawed on fries while I, again, complained about what I do for JOURNALISM! They nodded knowingly, with my Mom and Cardiologist on speed dial. They are good friends that way.

Also, a word about the bun. The bun is always the unsung hero of a good burger. Have a crappy one and halfway thru it’s in 9 pieces. Have a stale one and it falls apart. Too chewy and you end up ripping it when you take a bite. This bun was perfect. it stood up to the burger and kept the whole mess in place without ripping, falling apart or dissolving form the grease. Two thumbs up for the best bun I have had in awhile

If I would have had to reorder the food, I would not have had 2 double burgers, but frankly, that was my stupid fault for not checking it out before we got there. I did not have to eat for the rest of the day tho, so that’s something, right?

So, let’s talk about price. I wouldn’t exactly say the Five Guys was cheap. If you wanted to get the same thing at McDonald’s, it would have been about 10 bucks cheaper (in Meal form). But then again, the meat isn’t nearly as delicious. For 4 Double burgers (with as many free toppings as you can stuff on there), the giant vat of fries that they almost had to wheel out on a hand truck and 3 large (all you can drink) sodas, it cost about 40 bucks. I probably wouldn’t eat there everyday (because I’d like to live to 40), but I have to say it was worth the money. Jen and Brian, who had been there before, really liked it too.

I say, if you are looking for a quick lunch that is something a little different, hit them up! Fresh burgers, clean restaurant, and a small business instead of a giant conglomerate who puts god knows what in the burgers? If it’s not In and Out, the go Five Guys!

Hello Fall: The Wawa Gobbler Is Back!


This summer was ungodly hot and humid. At one point it even almost killed my car. At one point it almost killed me (100+ degree weather plus no ac in the car is no good for anyone, including an overweight jackass who has to drive to AC from Philly). While I am not looking forward to winter and all it’s bs that comes along with it, I do love fall. My birthday was this week and usually right after that (or after I recover from my hangover) Fall creeps in. I got my first look at it when my neighbor had a big bag of candy corn (that, much like Lewis Black says, tastes like crap but I eat it every year). My second look at Fall was that the Wawa Gobbler has returned!!

For those of you who don’t live within an hour of Philadelphia (or now in Florida!), Wawa is what some might call a convenience store. Using the word convenience store, you think of 7-11, which is correct and very, very wrong. Wawa has all the things a convenience store has, along with awesome freshly made food. A night out is not the same without stopping into the store to pick up a hoagie, and a morning after is usually soothed by a breakfast sandwich. Everyone has a favorite, and they have some awesome seasonal favorites, which brings us to The Gobbler!!

The Gobbler! Hello, Fall!

The Gobbler! Hello, Fall!

The Gobbler is a sandwich that we have all made: the Thanksgiving sandwich! Turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and gravy.

Most places make them with lunchmeat turkey that has just taken a quick dip in some kind of salty, gross neon gravy. Not this turkey! It is thicker cut for some bite and they aren’t skimpy with it!

 

Side View!

Side View!

The stuffing has some seasoning in it, and it tastes like it came off of someone’s kitchen table, as opposed to just slapped together. Now, I am not naive, I know there isn’t some little old lady in the back making turkeys and stuffing for all of us. But I like the fact that they try and don’t just make a tub of salt and slap it on a roll.

Anyway, the gravy is excellent too, and it is not, as some gravy bought in stores ca be, a salt bomb. it’s actually tasty and really pulls together the whole sandwich. It also seeps into the roll and makes a home within it, oozing in over, under and around the ingredients. My absolute favorite part is the cranberry sauce, which has real actual cranberries in it! See them in the picture? Oh yeah!

When you order a sandwich at Wawa, it’s all computerized, so you can customize it any way you want. I added pepperjack cheese and creamy horseradish sauce. Delish! The flavors mingled like a drunken wedding party at 2am. Strictly speaking, the sandwich is happiness on a roll. Get one if ya can!

The deliciousness!

The deliciousness!

 

The Shake Shack Shimmy!


Being a life long resident of Philly, I have to say I have a bit of a chip on my shoulder when it comes to New York. Besides the ridiculous NYC attitude, it is seriously irritating the way they seem to assume that the whole world revolves around them (ps nyc: your town smells like pee). So when I heard that the burger place that is all the rage up there was coming to Philly, I shrugged. Yes, I shrugged. I shrugged when someone said “You gotta check out Shake Shack“.

First of all, expensive burger places are nothing new around here. In fact, Jose Garces’s Village Whiskey was going to be right across the street from the proposed eatery, and they have expensive burgers as well, along with about 900 kinds of whiskey (true story). Plus, there is PYT in the Piazza, Bobby’s Burger Palace, Good Dog and a million other places. One more overrated burger joint wasn’t going to get me excited.

Aaaaand then I went there…twice.

One night after doing the open mic at Helium Comedy Club, my friend Hot Mess Jess mentioned to me that we should stop at Shake Shack. It would be an easy stop because it happens to be on the corner of the block where Helium lives. I mulled it over for about 6 seconds and off we went. Usually there is a giant line outside the place, but we got lucky and it was almost empty since it was around 10pm. We did get a pager, ala The Olive Garden, but the wait was only maybe 8 minutes or so.

The place is pretty standard as far as burger joints go. The menu is giant and bolted to the wall, like the one at Bobby’s Burger Palace. There are a few booths and some tables and some high tops to sit at as well. They have a liquor license so you can get a beer with your burger if you choose (they have outdoor seating but as of the day I went the second time, you still couldn’t take the booze outside yet. I think they are waiting for the permit).

I got the Double ShackBurger for $7.10. It comes with lettuce, tomato, cheese and ShackSauce. Hot Mess Jess got ShackStack, a burger with a fried Portobello mushroom on it. We also split some fries.

Double ShakeShack Burger

Double ShakeShack Burger

First off, let’s talk about the Double ShackBurger. Let’s start with the condiments. The lettuce was fresh, the tomato was juicy, the cheese was…cheesy. I still don’t really know what Shack Sauce is, but it’s a nice mild addition to anything. The bun was spongy enough to hold the mess of a burger but not over chewy. More on that in a bit.

The meat. Oh, the meat. The menu says that they use “100% Angus Beef without any added hormones or antibiotics.”. But is it good? The answer is an unequivical HELL YES.

Inside The Double Shack burger

Inside The Double Shack burger

For years, chefs on tv have been telling people that all you need is a little salt and a little pepper to season a burger. There is a reason for this! Let the flavor of the meat shine! The people at the Shack understand this. Grind it, lightly season it, patty it, flat top it (no pressing or squeezing please) and serve it up. If you looked up “kick ass juicy burger” on dictionary.com, this burger would be pictured prominently. With a big blinking frame around it. And a little band playing a jig. And possibly some fireworks. Yeah. It’s that good. Oh, and they cook all burgers to medium unless otherwise specified. Do yourself a favor and just take it the way it’s meant to be: Welcome to flavor country!

Shack Stack!

Shack Stack!

Hot Mess Jess also had an interesting burger. One patty of meat and one patty of Portobello mushroom. She loved it and said it was delicious! You can also order it without the meat (as The ‘Shroom Burger) and have a very fine vegetarian burger! If the bun is vegan (and I am not sure if it is), you could even have an awesome vegan shroom burger with the L&T and they also offer pickle and onion. As you can see, they are not skimpy with the sauce!

The Hinge!!

The Hinge!!

One incredibly smart thing I noticed while stuffing my face full of delicious meat was The Hinge. I don’t know if they do this on purpose, or if it just happens with the buns they use but it is GENIUS! You see, the burger is really juicy, the melty cheese is messy and it could end up being quite a mess. And overall, it is a bit messy (neat eaters need not apply). However! With a regular bun, things start sliding around (and sometimes right out the back, which is why you need to eat burgers without The Hinge with The Claw, which is something I will write about some other time) and then you end up with a a disproportionate bun to meat ratio. That makes me angry, like, Hulk angry. MUST SMASH BURGER! HULK SMASH MESSY BURGER!!…ahem…anyway…This bun has a hinge on the back. It keeps the top and bottom from sliding around and it also catches a lot of that juice and cheese so that when you are done, it’s like a sponge of deliciousness. It is also a sponge of genius-ness!

Fries!

Fries!

We also got some fries on the side. They were good…basically for crinkle fries that I am sure some kid in the back had to either cut or defrost. They don’t salt them, which I find odd and a little irritating because they come out right away (for the most part), and fresh out of the fryer fries are the best to hit with just a little bit of salt. But, at $2.65, they weren’t bad.

A few weeks later, I revisited Helium with my friend Jackie O to see some friends in a showcase show, and she suggested that we stop at Shake Shack as well after the show. Who am I to say no to my friends? Plus, Jackie is the best! We both got some burgers, but we also got something else they do at Shake Shack. Yeah, this place is not a one trick pony.

They offer something called a Concrete: dense frozen custard blended at high speed with things mixed in. You can make your own but they also have set ones they have that you can order. Jackie O and I both ordered The Center City Pretzel (Vanilla Custard, Philly Style Soft Pretzel, Caramel Sauce, Marshmallow Sauce and Banana).

This thing was pretty kick ass. The Caramel and Marshmallow Sauces kind of blend together, and the banana mingles around the middle, but it all somehow comes together and is dotted inside and out with pieces of pretzel. Be warned however, it is more of a Super Pretzel then a real Philly Soft Pretzel. There is a big difference, but in this case it does work. It would be cool if Shake Shack worked with a local vendor, like PYT does to make their pretzel rolls for the cheesesteak burger, but that’s up to them I suppose.

Anyway, the frozen custard is blended smoothly and each bite feels like you are mingling with all the ingredients. While doing a blend isn’t anything new (Dairy Queen’s been doing blizzards foreeeverrrr), they are doing it well. At $4.25 for a half and $6.50 for a regular, it might be a little high but worth every penny.

So, while I wouldn’t eat at Shake Shack every day (mostly because I’d be dead by the end of the month), it is on my list of places to visit if I am in the area. It might not be as internationally known like Capogiro or the Jose Garces’ place Village Whiskey across the street but it does what it does well! Try and hit it on an off hour and there won’t be much of a wait (I spontaneously combust if I wait in lines for too long for stupid things). I also found that the prices were in line with what they were offering, perhaps on the high side, but the flavors make it worth the trip and the lightening of your wallet.

Red Baron Feasts For One: Only For Doods


I didn’t grow up eating a lot of frozen food type stuff. I’m old enough to still remember Swanson dinners in the foil trays when I was really little, but only maybe a few times. I was, indeed intrigued at the idea of eating dessert first (or just dessert in general, we didn’t really do that). Besides that, it was mostly frozen waffles or frozen vegetables.

As I got older and microwave stuff started popping up, I ate some of that when I hung out with my friends at my friend Melissa’s Grandmom Floss’s house. She always stocked her fridge with cool stuff and when we stayed over to watch Headbanger’s Ball, we would eat frozen microwaved french fries, burgers and other assorted stuff. I never really liked it that much, but it was interesting to try it as the food science got closer to making microwaved food suck less. For those of you who are in your lower twenties, trust me, it used to be oh so much worse.

So after a movie the other night, I was driving home and didn’t feel like cooking, ordering out or eating fast food, so I popped into the local Target and decided to pick up a little pizza. What I found was a big selection, a lot bigger then I was thinking of having to choose from. It ranged from the Mama Celeste $1 pizzas (which are good but it freaks me out that the cheese is not cheese), to the “gourmet” frozen pizzas. I decided to go right in the middle and get a “Red Baron Feast For One”.

Red Baron Feast For One Meat Trio Pizza

Red Baron Feast For One Meat Trio Pizza

This thing intrigued me from the get-go. first of all, on the box there is a nice looking picture of the pizza, but there is also a picture of some guy.

I thought maybe the guy was a contest winner or maybe a member of a winning sports team that Red Baron had sponsored. It doesn’t really fit with the graphic design of the box, so I figured it had to be something, right?

I also liked the idea that they put “Exclusively Prepared, Microwave Ready” on the box. Since it is 2012 and not 1980, I would hope that a frozen pizza would be ok in the microwave. Maybe it’s just me. It’s like the guys in the graphics department were really high and decided that everyone needed to know…it’s ok to put in the microwave!

The back of the box

The back of the box

So when I turned the box over to check out the cooking instructions, I found out who the guy was…he was nobody. More specifically, he was someone, just not anyone.

You see, according to the box, this pizza was made for BIG APPETITES! The pictures were of dudes being dudes. Being goofy, licking sauce from a finger, riding a crazy bike, looking mischievous. These are all things you’d do before eating a frozen pizza! Of course! For a minute I wondered if I could eat this thing. I mean, I’m not a dude. I did just come back from seeing Batman. But otherwise, I didn’t do anything remotely dude like. Oh wait, I did spit my gum into the street on the way in because coughed and almost choked. Ok, so I guess that qualifies me. Score!

I wonder what a women’s pizza box would have the girls on the pictures doing. Well, first it would probably say something like “Hey Girls! Got PMS like a fiend and need a pizza that you can stuff in your face while watching Steel Magnolias in minutes? Well this pizza is just for you! Red Baron Feast For One is made just for YOUR HORMONES!”.

Dinner

Dinner

I took the pizza out of the box and of course it was sealed up tight in the plastic. They packaged it in the silver box tray that all microwaved pizzas have been cooked on since the beginning of time (around 1984). I wonder what is coated on that tray so that all food must be cooked on it. Soylent Silver? Silver crack? Cooked down silver dollars? I don’t know but I’m sure they’ll say it causes cancer in 10 years so eat up now, kids!

If you can see thru the plastic, you can see what it would be a Meat Trio. The pepperoni were equally distributed around the pizza, which was nice, and the ham and sausage were just dumped in the middle. I was ok with that tho. I had other plans for this thing….

All done...almost...

All done…almost…

The cooking instructions were pretty odd. Put the pizza on the tray and put it on the edge of the turntable in the microwave, then push it to the center and let it go for a little longer then let it sit before you take it out. I’m not sure that position on the turntable really makes any kind fo difference but whatever.

This is pizza when it’s done with the cooking. The cheese has cooked decently, the meat is hot and this puppy is seriously hot.

That’s why I decided to rip up 2 pieces of mozzarella string cheese and cover the top. There is never enough cheese on these things.

Added cheese!

Added cheese!

This is the finished product. NOW there’s enough cheese! Now if you decide to go ahead and buy one of these things, there is one thing you must know, understand and deal with: once you make this thing, you cannot eat it for at least a half hour. Why? Because it holds onto heat like nobodies business. Most pizzas, you take them out, let them sit for like 5 minutes and they are ok to eat. This thing is hot pocket lava level hot.

Spongey!

spongy!

You might think it’s like that because of the extra cheese. Noooope. You’d be mistaken. The reason this  thing stays so freakin’ hot is because the dough is like a giant sponge (hence “Thick Pan”). It almost reminds me of the big soft dough crust at Pizza Hut (only with a little less grease). It actually was pretty good, considering what it is. Would this thing have been the same if I had not added more cheese? Yeah pretty much. Honestly, I had one a little while back without the extra cheese and it doesn’t make too much of a difference, unless you like extra cheese. I’m a fan. Have a mentioned that?

So overall, what did I think of Red Baron’s Feast For One Meat Trio Frozen Pizza? I like dit, it wasn’t bad. The crust was spongy and flavorful (probably from oil), the sauce was punchy but not overdone and it wasn’t a giant salt bomb. I’d probably try it again, maybe if they had a mega pepperoni one, I’d be even more inclined. but yeah, not bad Red Baron, not bad at all.

Edited to add:

I just noticed that the box says that the pizza is actually 2 servings. Who eats half a frozen pizza and keeps the rest for later? That’s pretty sneaky, Red Baron, and I don’t like it.

AC Food & Wine Fest: Redefine Cheesesteak


In the parking lot of the Showboat Casino, the AC Food and Wine Fest trucked on with “Redefine Cheesesteak”. And redefine they did.

Cheesesteaks as far as the eye can see!

Cheesesteaks as far as the eye can see!

Massive tents were set up in the parking lot and cheesesteaks were aplenty. Being from Philly, I am really picky as to how my steaks are, specifically that they resemble a cheesesteak or change the name. By definition, a cheesesteak is thinly sliced ribeye fried up with or without onions and served on a long roll with cheese of the american, provolone or whiz variety. Is it something I need to get over? Indeed. But I was able to bend enough to enjoy some of the offerings.

Grey Lodge Lodge Steaks!

Grey Lodge Lodge Steaks!

First up was Mike Scoats of The Grey Lodge and his merry band of steak slingers. The Grey Lodge is located on Frankford Ave in the Mayfair section of Philly and has a ridiculous amount of oddball beers and even hosts a Friday The Firkinteenth event on every Friday The Thirteenth that has just won Best Beer Event in Philly Magazine’s Best of Philly 2012! Mike has a great calendar full of fun things they do and an interesting menu full of outstandingly delicious food! He brought along his Lodge Steak for the masses to try: Rib-eye, Genoa salami, roasted pepper mayo & house cheese sauce. They cut their own steak, use quality imported salami and you can taste the handcraftedness. I guarantee you will not find a more unique steak in town. They could barely keep up with the demand of the people who came by and then returned, time and time again!

Tony Boloney Cheesesteak Ole'

Tony Boloney Cheesesteak Ole’

Next up is my friends at Tony Boloney’s! They won the Guy Fieri’s Cheesesteak Battle at  The AC Food & Wine Fest in 2010 with their ridiculous Cheesesteak Ole’ and haven’t looked back since! If they sent Californian Fieri back home with the picture of the Ole’ in his head as to what a cheesesteak should be, then everyone is a winner! Their Cheesesteak Ole’ is actually a little more like a cheesesteak hoagie, but it’s still fantastic. It involves 10 spiced sirloin steak, pepperjack cheese & chipotle house sauce on top of lettuce and tomato. It all melds together to form what I like to call the Cheesesteak of Greatness. In all honesty, Tony Boloney’s, at 300 Oriental Ave and a stone’s throw fromt he Revel, is one solid reason to drive to AC. Keep an eye out for more of thier menu on this blog.

Community Foodbank Of NJ "Cheesesteak with a Twist"

Community Foodbank Of NJ “Cheesesteak with a Twist”

The Community Food Bank Of New Jersey had a stand and they weren’t messing around! A soft, buttery roll center stuffed with steak and perfectly cooked onions with a nice crumble of cheese of top made it one of my favorite steaks of the fest. I also love what they stand for: helping anyone who needs a hand in the area. They run a food service training academy, they run a whole kids division with a kids cafe (to feed kids who otherwise wouldn’t have anything to eat), a kids closet (clothing and coats), a backpack program and even a tools for schools program. They also distribute food, do catering and lots of other stuff. If you want to donate some money, sending them some cash would be a great move, or buy their new book “Cooking For Change: Tales from a Food Service Training Academy“. All proceeds benefit the Community Foodbank Of New Jersey! This is truly an organization that knows how to help people and help them move forward!

Percy Street BBQ

Percy Street BBQ

Percy Street BBQ come to the fight with their unreal take on the cheesesteak, which is not a cheesesteak at all. Frankly, I could care less because it blew my mind. Bercy Street BBQ sits on South Street in Philly between 9th and 10th streets, cranking out BBQ that, until recently, was only really available closer to the South. They understand what the ring is and they are dead serious about this fantastic meat.

The meat was carved in front of you and packed with delicious strips of it, and smothered with a creamy cheese sauce. Easily my favorite non-cheesesteak cheesesteak. Well, it’s actually a tie with..

delicious.

delicious.

This sandwich was unlike everything else at the fest! Definitely not a cheesesteak but definitely on my meat list! It was like juicy shredded potroast on a roll and I could not get enough of it. Unfortunately, I lost their business card and only remember that they were next to Tony Boloney.

I have to also mention that it was about 900 degrees that night. Eating cheesesteaks in that kind of heat does a number on your body. What helped was that there was plenty of beer, provided by Amstel Light, and plenty of booze, provided by Jameson, Jim Beam and Red Stag. Red Stag is a flavored whiskey that Beam is putting out. At first I found it to be a party foul of massive degrees to do such a thing, but after tasting it (the Black Cherry flavor), it’s actually kind of interesting.

Andrew Zimmern

Andrew Zimmern

Andrew Zimmern, of the Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods, was the host of this shindig, and he is really the nicest guy ever. After talking onstage for a little bit, he hung out at his booth, making sandwiches for people, answering questions, taking pictures and overall being a very personable and cool dude.

It was super crazy hot and humid, like I said above and he very easily could have disappeared into his tent/trailer/hotelroom and retired for the night. He didn’t and that was very cool of him.

Tongue Steak

Tongue Steak

His offering at his table was a cheesesteak made, of course, of tongue. I found that funny, because, well, us Philadelphians are known for having big mouths. As you can see, it looks like a typical cheesesteak, with nice carmelized onions and green pepper strips. I have not had tongue before but I figured if Andrew can stand in that heat and cook it, I can stand there and chew it. It was a little chewy but the flavors were nice and subtle. The tongue itself has a really weird aftertaste that I didn’t particularly like, but I applaud the effort!

Here are some more cheesesteaks that were pretty awesome!

Carmine's Italian Cheesesteak

Carmine’s Italian Cheesesteak

This steak from Carmine’s, the “Italian Cheesesteak” was pretty great, the meat was very juicy and the roll was deliciously chewy after it soaked up all the juices. two thumbs up!

Union Trust Cheesesteak

Union Trust Cheesesteak

Union Trust Steakhouse, at 7th and Chestnut in Center City Philly, was there too with thier very traditional but also awesome cheesesteak.

Square Steak from Square 1682

Square Steak from Square 1682

Square 1682 is a fancy pants restaurant in the also fancy Rittenhouse Square area of Center City. Thier little cheesesteak on a square bun (get it?) was amazing. It was like the big pot roast sandwich above but on a tiny little bun and covered with a delicious cheese sauce that was thick enough to stay on the meat but thin enough to roll around a little bit.

Cheesesteak Dumpling

Cheesesteak Dumpling

Lastly, but not leastly, was the Sammy D’s cheesesteak dumpling. As someone who used to make a cheesesteak pierogies, I have to say that these guys got it right. The meat was wrapped tight, with the cheese mixed in with the right proportions (too much and it’s cheese with a hint of meat, too little and it’s drier then a desert). Huzzah to Sammy D!

The event in general was pretty awesome: not too crowded but the chefs were all putting out top notch food for the crowds. My hat is off to Showboat and the organizers for putting together a fun event that clogged my arteries!

That brings the first half of Day 2 to rest. Stay tuned for the second half soon!

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