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Monthly Archives: January 2014

Sunnyside Up

I know I’ve had my issues with brunch in the past, but Sunday mornings are quickly becoming my favorite part of the week. I mean, what’s not to love about brunch?! A whole menu full of both sweet and savory foods plus a socially acceptable atmosphere in which to get completely wasted before noon? It’s a beautiful thing! This time, I decided to keep it local and check out Derek’s in Manayunk so I could sample their brunch burger: a 1/2 pound prime sirloin patty topped with a fried egg and bacon (plus the option to add cheese for $1 more; I went with cheddar).

In a rather bold move, I opted to order the burger mediumrareas I feared that dining outside of Center City might mean receiving a burger closer to well done if I ordered it medium (I was also splitting the burger with a friend who wanted to order the burger rare, so this was our middle ground). The burger did come out pleasantly pink inside, somewhere between medium-rare and medium, much to my surprise and delight. When the burger arrived, the bun was doing a little wiggle as it floated on top of the poached egg underneath. It was pretty cute; kind of like when Jell-o jiggles! The bacon was thick and crispy and the bun soaked up all the juices of both the meat and egg yolk quite nicely. It was a tasty burger, but nothing spectacular. And as far as burgers I’ve had that were topped with fried eggs & bacon, it was certainly no Cyclops from Sketch Burger. But if you happen to be in Manayunk during the Sunday brunching hour, I would definitely check it out. (Oh, and did I mention Derek’s offers $2.50 mimosas?)

Burger rating: “C+”

Oh, You Fancy, Huh? : Birthday Edition

I’ve finally awakened from my food coma so that I can recap the amazing dinner I had this past weekend at Zahav’s chef’s counter; a must-try culinary experience of 10-12 courses crafted by Chef Michael Solomonov himself. Here are the rules: The chef’s tasting is only offered on Friday & Saturday nights, there’s only one seating at 7:30 PM, and there’s only 4 seats available; you must purchase 2 seats at least a month in advance (It’s only $90/pp & they go like hot latkes!). You can also opt for a $50/pp beverage pairing when you arrive. DO THE BEVERAGE PAIRING! Trust me, you won’t regret it!

I apologize in advance for the lack of details on some of the dishes, as there was no written menu. But just sit back, relax & enjoy the food porn!

Course 1: Potato Chip starter, topped with chives & bottarga

Course 2: Zahav’s infamously delicious hummus, served with fluffy pita bread, lamb’s tongue & pickles

Course 3: Dried figs topped with feta

Course 4: Beet “tartare” with an Avocado crema & Salmon roe (I know lots of people are not keen on beets, but this was tasty & creative!)

Course 5: Lentil Soup with Bone marrow & Challah (This was featured on Zahav’s Instagram page earlier in the day before our dinner, so I was super psyched!)

Course 6: Lamb crudo with Eggplant & fried artichokes (One of our favorites of the night)

Course 7: Sage & brown butter “dumpling”

Course 8: Branzino sashimi with baba ganoush (Our least favorite dish of the night; it was incredibly salty.)

Course 9: The Entree – Short rib with brussel sprouts, radishes & carrots (The short rib cut like butter!)

Course 10: Dessert #1 – Poached apple & Quince

Course 11: Dessert #2 – Dates & Turkish coffee crema

The whole entire dining experience was amazing, start to finish. Chef Solomonov even came out halfway through service to check in on us and see how we were doing. I’m glad to finally add myself to the list of people who have lived through the Chef’s Counter and can now brag/rave about it to everyone else I know! Since there isn’t a pre-set menu, they do ask you in advance if you have any allergies or dietary restrictions. They also ask if you are down to eat anything; just say yes – don’t be a baby about it! I highly recommend it for your next big special occasion – or if you just feel like having a fancy, adventurous dinner. Just dress comfortably, reserve all  your daily calories and prepare to have one of the best meals of your life.

The Splatty Awards!

Welcome all to our 100th post! In honor of this milestone, I bring you a little something I like to call “The Splatty Awards!”: recapping the best things I have been eating, drinking & doing for the past year or so.

Best food item that comes in a jar: Tomato Conserva at In Riva 

Briefly removed from their winter menu for a few weeks in December (in which I cried into my pillow every night), the Tomato Conserva is back in action!

This sweet bruschetta will have you licking the jar clean & begging for more!

Best New York City to Philly transplant (other then myself): Shake Shack

Danny Meyer’s fast-casual burger joint quickly gained a fandom on Sansom Street in the summer of 2012, and expanded this year with outposts in University City & King of Prussia.

The Smoke Shack was initially conceived for the Philadelphia location, but has expanded to all Shacks globally.

Best food I used to be terrified of but now can’t stop eating: Oysters

Yeah, they’re slimy and salty and weird and jiggly, but they’re also delicious!

I’ve been making it my mission to hit every buck a shuck & half price oyster night in town.

Best pop-up: Lucky Old Souls’ Patty Melt Pop-up at Kennett

 When the LOS truck’s engine went kaput this fall, the team at Kennett lent them a hand – and their kitchen – for the evening to raise money for a new one.

And maybe I’m a little bit biased because it was my suggestion to turn out patty melts; a once in a blue moon burger special they were serving up on East Passyunk last spring.

Best Beer Drinking Event: Philly Beer Week Opening Tap

I’ve been partaking in Opening Tap for the past two years now, and seriously, if you’re not making this a priority during PBW, you’re missing out.

Opening Tap showcases the best and brightest of the local Philadelphia beer scene under one roof (the Independence Visitors Center, to be exact). But remember, it’s a marathon – not a sprint!

Best Beer Drinking Event Involving Animals: Summer Ale Fest at the Philadelphia Zoo

Great Beer + Local Food + Adorable Animals = One of the most awesome times you will ever have. Don’t forget to take a selfie of yourself “drinking a beer” with a tiger!

Most of the animals are actually awake compared to a day trip, and zoo docents are on hand to provide detailed information on your favorite critters.

Best Happy Hour (tie): Sampan and Alla Spina

Sampan gets the advantage as they have happy hour 7 days a week from 4-7 PM, but Alla Spina offers some great bar bites and their Victory Brewing beer collab, Novello, for only $3!

Don’t miss Sampan’s edamame dumplings or the pretzel bites with beer cheese at Alla Spina (they come in an adorable wooden piggy)!

Best Brunch: Jerry’s Bar

The Brunch crowd mourned the loss of Cafe Estelle for many months, but Marshall Green’s famous & delicious sticky buns have finally found a new home in Northern Liberties.

I hated Bloody Marys until I tried the one at Jerry’s and now I’m hooked. Seriously – best Bloody Mary ever!

Best Restaurant: Spot Burger

But isn’t Spot Burger a food truck?”, you’re probably asking yourself. Well, who says a restaurant needs to be defined by four brick walls?

 SpOt Owner/Grillmaster Josh Kim is the hardest working man in these streets right now, and he proves it on a weekly basis with his innovative specials (like a $10 Lobster Roll this summer), as well as his philanthropic efforts. He supports dozens of college organizations and local charities, frequently running specials and donating portions of his proceeds to these causes. He’s been a champion for food truck rights in Philadelphia, residing on the board of the Philly Mobile Food Association, and turned the corner of 33rd and Arch St into the “Food Truck Mecca”. So next time you see his yellow cart around, grab some grub; you won’t be disappointed! Spot serves up one of the best burgers in town.

And that concludes our awards ceremony! I hope you’ll at least check out some of the places and foods I love, in addition to the delicious burgers I recap for you guys each week. Got any great places and foods you think I should try? Post em up in the comments section and maybe they’ll wind up on my “best of” list next year!

Oh, You Fancy, huh? : Burger Edition

Happy 2014! It’s a new year and we are back in the burger eatin’ saddle. I’m really looking forward to this year because I’ve got a couple of big milestones coming up. Next week, A Side of Ketchup will hit its 100th post! I am promising to make it a super special, action packed (?), burgerlicious treat, so check back for that. Also, I am turning the big 3-0 this month as well! To celebrate, I’ll be dining at the Zahav chef’s counter and will (hopefully) be able to recap all 10 amazing courses for you guys, provided I don’t slip into a food coma first. Additionally, I’m heading to Las Vegas at the end of the month for some extra celebrating and will be recapping the best burgers & other delicious delights Sin City has to offer.

So we’ve already had our first big snow storm of 2014 and what better way to have spent my snow day then lunching at Butcher & Singer. Their elusive “lunch only” burger (Monday-Friday) is probably one of the best deals in town at a mere $10.95! (That’s steakhouse quality at Five Guys prices) The burger is a whopping 10 oz Filet Mignon patty on a brioche bun, topped with English cheddar and caramelized onions. You’ve also got a little iceberg lettuce, tomato, pickles and “secret sauce” on there as well, and they give you a ton of fries. (I couldn’t even finish them all!)

The burger came out cooked perfectly medium, as I would expect from a place that makes meat temperature their main business. I loved everything about this burger. The meat was juicy and bloody, with an amazing char on the outside. The bun was thick and soft, withstanding all the drippings (although I did have to take my time eating it to ensure that I wouldn’t run out of bottom bun first). It’s a good thing that the hostess seated me in a corner where no one else had to look at me because I was destroying this bad boy! I was kind of embarrassed about the way my napkin looked afterwards, but hey, that’s what you get for serving something this amazing at a fancy, white tablecloth place, right?

Look how massive this thing is!

It was an all around excellent burger (Stephen Starr is not messing around, folks!) and definitely the right way to kick off a new year of burger eating, especially at the price point. I highly suggest – nay, I demand! – taking a long lunch break to get the Butcher Burger. Both your stomach & your wallet will thank you!

Burger Rating: “A”

The Vulgar Chef

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