Thursday, September 6, 2012

Queen at Kings Oak

It was the day after my sisters bachelorette party. We were in the city, tired and hungry. We needed to find sustenance for our dehydrated bodies, and fast! No one knew of any good places, so we decided to do a drive by in Northern Liberties. My brother lives around this area and we made our way over there to drop off his fiance Chrissy. We passed a few restaurants located at The Piazza at Schmidts. So we found parking and walked over. As we passed by, Kings Oak had about 3 or 4 waiters call out to us  to come in and eat. They were screaming their specials at us! They weren't opening for another 15 minutes, but that didn't stop them from welcoming some potential customers. I guess they could see the look in our hung over faces that we needed to sit and eat ASAP. They were having an 80's themed brunch at 11 am, but we didn't feel like waiting an hour for an Olivia Newton-John Omelette. It was bright out and the sun felt nice so we decided to eat outside at one of their picnic tables. There were some really cool seating areas with couches and bistro tables that would be great for a happy hour.

The menu was different, but I liked it. It wasn't your typical diner type food you're used to shoveling in your mouth.The menu as a whole would not be categorized as inexpensive, but there are still some steals. Two eggs any style, home fries and toast for $5.
That's the typical price for a hefty breakfast and believe me, their portions are generous! They also have a pretty awesome deal with brunch, bottomless Mimosas or Bloody Marys until 3pm. If I was in any condition to even smell alcohol you can bet I would have been throwing back. I'm not sure how I feel about the Happy Pickle Shot. It is a shot of Jim Beam garnished with a spicy pickle. And to top it off, you can order a PBR to go with it for an extra $2. Weird, but a intriguing option. Since it is a brunch menu, there are some not so breakfast foods to choose from: 50 Cent Wings, Turkey Club, Ceasar Salad. I guess my favorite part about the menu is the size. Now, there isn't a lot to choose from but they do cover it all. Usually I have a hard time choosing between the eggs, creamed chip beef or lunch. Kings Oak had the perfect solution for me and it didn't take long to find: The Breakfast Burger! This baby was an 8 oz Angus beef burger topped with Canadian Bacon, Fried Egg, Lettuce, Tomato and Hollandaise Sauce with a side of Home Fries.

So it's not Cheap, and not very healthy, but how could I resist? Don't worry I didn't eat the whole thing, I split it with my sister Cate. We all ordered and while we waited the service was great. Constant refills on coffee and we had our own ice cold water pitcher for the table. Another plus was free juice refills which is unheard of. Even Granny's Dive Diner or the corner charges $3 for a small OJ, no refills! It took the food a little while to come out, but I think that had something to do with needing to cook my Burger. Now I like those babies raw, but I was sharing with Cate, so we decided to order it cooked. Finally the food arrived. Remember what I said about portions being generous? Understatement. The portions were huge in a never ending kind of way.  The Omelette Chirssy ordered weighed about the
same as a toddlers head. Everything was monstrous and no one finished. Not to worry, take home containers are available. Usually I wouldn't save my breakfast  leftovers, but there was so much left, and it was too good to trash. Luckily for me Brunch was on the house since Cate decided to treat us. Those are the best meals, a free one. It was also a nice change to be in the city and be able to eat outside in the morning. It's not too hot out and not over crowded. If you have never been down to Northern Liberties I highly recommend the trip. But you need to know where you are going or you could end up in a crack house. 

Sum It Up
Service: It was early on a Sunday, and we were the only people there so our waiter was very attentive. If the staff didn't flag us down as we walked by we might have never stopped! So I am very thankful they took the initiative to get us in their restaurant
Atmosphere: Lots of fun! How often do you get to sit at a picnic table in the middle of the city? It was a little ways off the street and at the height of Northern Liberties located at The Piazza at Schmidts. It's one of those younger trendy restaurants who focus on making it a "hip" place to be. 
Food: Breakfast food is usually standard across the board. But Kings Oak offers a different approach to the expected selection. There menu has it's limits, but still offers a lot. Taste and quality was superb. I was only able to taste a few but everyone raved about their meal. Their drink specials, although I did not indulge, seemed very promising.  
Extras: If you decide to sign up for the bottomless option, for drinks, you also get a one day pool pass for the Piazza at Schmidts. By the time I take advantage of the deal swimming might not be the extracurricular I partake in when I leave, but still it's an option. They also have Lunch and Dinner available and a drink list to die for. They offer crazy cocktail specials and a micro brew beer list accompanied by the usual suspects. 

I am definitely going back for more! And with my brother John in the area, I can take advantage of all the drink specials. I always see on TV or movies people drinking at an outside restaurant having the time of their lives. My previous experiences never ended up that way. I was either in the rain or choking on the fumes of a broken down trash truck. This experience, including the hang over, was wonderful. It's in the perfect location and exactly my style of food. Like I said, I am definitely returning and I am bringing an entourage for sure. I would love to hang all day on the patio, sip mimosas, and feel like a queen for the day.

Rating: 9 of 10

Kings Oak on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Two Tickets to the Titanic

There are certain restaurants I have to put on my bucket list either due to price, location or exclusivity. The Moshulu in Philadelphia was one of those restaurants. Built in 1904, it is one of the world's largest four-masted sailing ships still afloat. Located on Penns Landing in Philadelphia, it has been the object of my taste buds and I've been waiting for the chance to dine at such a high end and unconventional location. Unfortunately for me, I don't have the money to afford a $35 entree so who knows when I'll get to go....I WENT LAST THURSDAY!

I love and Living If you are not signed up for their emails you are crazy. They offer the opportunity to try new things you normally wouldn't be able to afford because they offer a discounted price. I received an email for the Moshulu offering a $50 dinner voucher for the price of $25. It's pretty much a free entree. It had to be used during a dinner for two, so Shawn lucked out and was invited again. I was so excited; I had the menu memorized and knew exactly what I wanted to try.  
After we ordered we were served gazpacho, compliments of the chef. Anytime you get something for free you must try it! It's an easy way to cross off your culinary conquests without spending cash. Gazpacho is a tomato based, veggie soup served cold. It was really sweet and I couldn't shake the taste after a glass of water. I'm glad I got to try it but I know now that I would never actually pay to eat it. We also received serious amounts of delicious bread to chew on, also free. On that note, our waitress was wonderful! She was very sweet, knowledgeable and always around to ask if we needed anything else. She knew about the Groupon deal and welcomed us to use it towards alcohol even though it said we couldn't. We decided no wine since our Groupon would bareley cover our  entrees, but it was a nice thought. 

So being on a ship and all, I figured it would be inappropriate not to order seafood. So I decided on the Barnegat Light Sea Scallops. It said it would be served with Yukon potatoes, crawfish and fava bean succotash and a sweet onion marmalade and lobster jus. Sounded amazing! When my order came out my potatoes did not taste like potatoes. Instead it was a creamed corn flan? My plate was already covered with corn and peas and I wanted some frigin' potatoes. The four scallops I got were tasty, but all in all not worth the $32 bucks. I've had better scallops in little Italian BYOB's off in an alley somewhere. Shawn got salmon, and the salmon tasted like salmon. He did get his potatoes though. I know it looks cool when your potatoes are in the shape of a sphere with dead trees 
sculptures on top, but what I am interested in is the quality and taste. Salmon with potatoes and 4 pieces of Asparagus again were, ok but not worth the $30. The best part about the experience was being on that old ship! It was really neat walking on the ship because you could feel the slant of the boat and bowed floor boards beneath you. The view from our table was beautiful looking out on the river. We arrived around dusk so we experienced a bright and very intimate setting. It felt like I was in a different city by being on the river. I hardly see water when I eat unless I am on the coast, so this was a real nice feature. It felt like I got two tickets to the Titanic and won a chance to experience a fine dining experience on the water meant for the big wigs and fancies.

Sum It Up
Service: Spectacular! We made a reservation and due to Philly bridge traffic, we arrived 40 minutes late. I called to change the time and they were very accommodating. Our waitress was amazing. She was very nice, cheerful and she knew a lot about the food and wine. 
Atmosphere: It was the reason I went. I can order salmon and scallops anywhere and pay half the price. I went for the atmosphere. I am a huge history buff so fine dining in what could have been the storage room for coal in 1904 was very appealing. Candle-lit tables, lights on the water, it was a very romantic and a fun experience. 
Food: Ehhhhhhhh.... it was decent. I was actually disappointed in the food considering the cost.
Extras: The wine list was pretty crazy. If I had the money I would've loved to have had a glass, especially since the waiters could recommend one. I love it when they know what they're talking about.  There was also a bar located on the deck with seating called the Bongo Bar. It could make for a fun night drinking on the sea, under the stars. Almost forgot parking. You have to pay $15 for the parking lot at the Moshulu which is outrageous!! So go early and find street meter parking.

All in all I'm glad I got the chance to go. Now I can say, "Hey, I ate there." The chance to be on the ship and read about it's history was pretty cool, but I would probably never return unless it was for free booze or free food. Just like the Titanic, its atmosphere did impress. And unfortunately my experience would also go down in history as a disappointment, but at least I wasn't frozen in the water.

Rating: 6 of 10

Moshulu on Urbanspoon

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Wasabi Was Worth It!

There are certain restaurants I have on my list I know I want to try and review. Mostly, they are places everyone has heard of which is how I know about them. So, I love when people give me suggestions of new restaurants to try. Ali from work knows I love sushi. Every time our office orders they know to put me down for my fav, a spicy tuna roll. So she suggested I try Wasabi. A Chinese & Japanese restaurant in West Chester; a little off the beaten path. It is a two minute drive off of Gay street in a shopping center on Rt 322. Ali highly recommends the sushi and emphasizes her love of their BYOB policy. So I decided to give it a go. I have very little money as you probably know, so I was worried when I perused their prices on their on-line menu. But just my luck, they have a lunch menu with some great deals! My husband Shawn and I decide to go on a Saturday afternoon for lunch.

The place was empty, a ghost town. It was Me, Shawn and about 8 waiters in a moderately sized restaurant. It was pretty swanky and I felt a little under dressed in my trusty Angry Birds tee and jeans. It was cool, dark, and did I say empty? It was noon on a Saturday so maybe people were still waking up from the festivities that ended their miserable mundane work week. And since it is a BYOB, they probably get a lot of business at night. This would explain the three workers wrapping fortune cookies like crazy at a table toward the back.

Obviously, we had phenomenal service since we're the only customers there. But judging by the troops dressed in black with aprons, I am guessing they could handle a busy Saturday night crowd just as easy. 

Menu & Food
We knew we had to try the sushi with their 2 for $7.50 lunch special. Who could pass it up? I ordered of course, the Spicy Tuna Roll so I could compare to the thousands I've consumed before. 
And feeling a little adventurous, we got the Negihamachi Roll which was yellow tail and scallions which we never had. After that it wasn't easy to order. The menu is so large it made actually deciding on something to eat difficult. Don't get me wrong, I love a menu with an extensive selection but this was almost ridiculous.  We spent 1/3 of our time reading their menu. Finally we chose the Pad Thai and the Four Season. We went with an entree which was a little more expensive, but they do have a great lunch specials available. For example they have a Japanese Lunch Box which contains either Chicken or Shrimp Teriyaki, Jasmine Rice, Chicken Satay, Salad in ginger dressing and Miso soup for only $8.95. Or everyone's favorite, General Tso's Chicken with your choice of Miso or Hot & Sour Soup and served with White or Brown Rice for only $6.95. The food we ordered was good, nothing that knocked my socks off. But we enjoyed it. Their portions were normal sized which I liked. Usually I end up with the "never ending noodles";  the meal you can eat for hours and it looks like you didn't even make a dent. It was nice not gorging myself to blotation and repeating my usual prayer of never having to smell Chinese food again.

Sum It Up
Service: Great service, lots of hands on deck helping out with clearing plates and bringing food.
Atmosphere: It had a really cool vibe. It looks like the inside of a hip Sushi restaurant you would see in Manhattan but without the price!
Food: Sushi = Awesome. Huge selection in both Chinese and Japanese Cuisine.
Extras: BYOB, need I say more. It's also not in the heart of town so you get a little extra privacy while eating some great food with a reasonable price. 

I'm glad Ali told me about this place. I hate noisy crowds, expensive prices and crappy food. Luckily Wasabi had none of the above. Also, it's always a different experience when you eat somewhere for lunch and then for dinner. So I plan on going back! But this time with a bottle of wine, maybe two, sit my ass at the sushi bar and go to town. 
Rating: 7 out of 10


Wasabi on Urbanspoon

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Your cooking can taste good!

My cooking usually consisted of heating up an Ellios pizza and pouring a side of ranch to dip. The pizza's would never fill me up which means there is usually a half a sandwich or bowl of cereal added to the meal. I would just keep going to the fridge and grabbing whatever I could pop in my mouth just to feel full. I calculated the weight watchers points used for those dinners and its embarrassing how much I would use. The things I grabbed were for bad for me, and used up some serious points. If your not familiar with the system, weight watchers gives you a certain amount of points a day you can use and everything you eat has points. It's serious amounts of fun believe me.

I needed a solution to my problem.  What I came up with was that I needed to learn to cook. But for me, it's not worth spending the time and money on something unless its mouth wateringly delicious. So I  needed to learn how to cook good food and cook it well. Cook books help and so does lots of practice and knowing what you like to eat.

You can find these in any grocery store
Since learning to cook, or should I say prepare food, I've discovered a few staples I love and that are easy to make.
Mrs. T's Pierogies are amazing and so easy to make! This is how I make them:
1. Heat up some Olive oil in a pan on the oven.
2. Slice up some mushrooms and onions and saute in the pan for a few minutes until they start to brown.
3. Add the pierogies and cover.
4. Flip and stir the pierogies every few minutes until all the way heated through.

Depending on what flavor pierogie you buy, it is also delicious when you add some garlic to the mix. It so easy and looks and tastes like something you could get at a restaurant. 

These go great with everything; chicken, steak, fish you name it! I cooked these babies up with some flank steak and steamed broccoli. Soooooo good!

The sauce on the steak was real simple too. All I did was chop up some olives and sun dried tomatoes and heat in some beef broth until the tomatoes become soft and your done!

I am so proud of myself for being able to prepare such a delicious meal. The best part is this dinner was about 12 weight watchers points and it fills you up good!

I am seriously one of the laziest people you will ever meet. That is why I hate to cook, mainly because I just don't feel like it. But believe me this meal was super easy and worth it because of how good it tasted!

I have a list of the ingredients below, just pick these items up and get to work!

Flank Steak
Garlic if you want
Beef Broth
Sun Dried Tomatoes

Below are pictures of some ingredients so you know what to look for.


Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Drafting Room Review

My 1st review at The Drafting Room
I decided to go to the drafting room for my first restaurant review. The main reason was because I pass it every day to work and I also had a $10 off coupon, which I ended up forgetting to bring. I brought Shawn along because he would have ended up eating an Ellios if I left him alone for dinner, but he ended up being a good source for a second opinion. We decided to sit at the bar so we could have a knowledgeable bar tender help suggest good beers to try since we are amateurs in that field. We told her we like IPA's, the hoppier the better, and she hooked us up!
Highly recommended, Hop Stoopid, 102 IBU

We had 2 large bottles to share and 2 drafts. The large bottles were pretty expensive but they had a deal on drafts. Something like $3 a pop, and its not your typical Miller Lite and junk, its the good stuff! I had a Sly Fox Route 1113 IPA that will definitely keep me coming back, at least for a while. Drafting Room rotates their kegs regularly; they have a "one and
done" policy. When the keg is kicked, they'll bring in a different brew. They will rotate some popular choices back in on tap once in a while; they are called the Usual Suspects. This was all very tasty and affordable! Now we had a buzz going. We decided to get a little crazy and order another big boy! Unfortunately this beer ended up being $16 and it also said it
 10 days expired
was expired! I'm new in the restaurant review business so I don't have the balls yet to say anything to the bartender. I also don't know if it's even that big of a deal. I know some beers don't even have expiration dates because they can age. But this one did, and I couldn't say anything. So we sipped quietly and ended up not liking it anyways. When you are on a budget, its not the best idea to get drunk because you are not thinking about how much money you have to spend. All you can think about is the next GOOD beer to order. This beer kind of had a sobering affect on us. It's time to order some food. 

Before 6:30pm, they offered a great deal on certain items costing only $5. We ordered the  Chicken Quesodillas, and Mussels at $5 a piece and splurged on some Fried Calamari.  The dillas were delicious; filled with pepper jack cheese and apple wood smoked chicken. They had a fresh house-made tomato salsa and sour cream covering the top. They were the first to go. The mussels were mussels, but the broth they were served in made all the difference. You have a few options to choose from, we chose the Belgian White Ale, Tomatoes, Garlic and Basil sauce. It was just our luck too that with the food you were also given a nice basket of bread that served as the lead dipper into our bowl of mussel residue deliciousness. As we slopped up what was left in front of us, and held our glasses to the light to see there was no more, we decided it was time to go. We would most definitely be back!

Sum It Up
Shawn sponging up the remaining mussel juice
Service: Great service, knowledgeable staff and very friendly. 
Atmosphere: Dinner time on a Thursday the scene was mellow at the bar. Soft jams in the background and sports shows on the flat screens. We were able to enjoy ourselves with no distractions. The dining room was divided into two sections, candles on tables and quiet. 
Food: Reasonably priced with lots to choose from. You can visit their website to view the menus.
Beer: Outstanding selection! So much to choose from and always changing. The reason for us to keep coming back.
Extras: You can sign up to receive special announcements and coupons by going to their website. Or you can text draft to 68856 and receive alerts through your phone. I got a free app with any entree sent to my phone! All you need to do is show the text and you are good to go. 
Rating: 8 out of 10

I know what your thinking, this didn't seem to healthy. True, if you over due it. I admit, I shouldn't have had that much to drink, but I couldn't help it. I was at The Drafting Room for Sasquatch Sake! You just need to learn self control and eat reasonable portions. It helped that we ordered a couple of appetizers instead of big entrees. We also got to try more this way, and spent less!

For more info on The Drafting Room visit their website:
The Drafting Room is located in Exton, PA on Route 100.


Drafting Room - Taproom and Grille on Urbanspoon

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Getting Started

What makes a good meal? Does it need to consist of the same qualities that define a great work of art: color, composition, creativity? Or does it just need to taste good?

I am a huge fan of food but it’s always been a habit of mine to just cram anything that looks or smells good into my mouth. But now that I’m over weight and poor I need to be more responsible with what I choose to eat, without compromising too much on taste and quality. It is my intention to find some great places to eat with reasonable costs and also learn to cook meals at a restaurant standard. Hopefully this will help others on a budget still be able to enjoy good food and good times! Anthony Bourdain wrote "That without experimentation, a willingness to ask questions and try new things, we shall surely become static, repetitive, moribund." Its time to make a move.