You know what I'm craving? A little perspective. That's it. I'd like some fresh, clear, well seasoned perspective. Can you suggest a good wine to go with that? --Ratatouille (Pixar, 2007)

Sunday, January 25, 2015

BURGER MADNESS: The search for the best burger in East Village

Burgers are a staple of American life; the classic American meal. I've always been on a passive search for the best burger near my East Village apartment, and it's possible I might have just found it. No, it's not from The Brindle Room, which the classically unreliable Guy Fieri raved about on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. You also won't have to go uptown for it, like I irrationally thought I would as I made a trek up to the old-fashioned P.J Clarke's in Lincoln Center for the great looking--but fairly average tasting and awfully expensive--swiss burger with a fried pickle on top, seen below.

In fact, my favorite burger is right in my own backyard: at Whitman's, on 9th st. between 1st Av. and Avenue A. Whitman's, a hole-in-the-wall burger bar with extra table seating downstairs, serves up a signature burger, called "The Juicy Lucy," which just can't be beat. Unlike traditional burgers, the Lucy has its cheese on the inside instead of on top. Although I had seen this done before, Whitman's executed it more effectively than I had seen before. The Juicy Lucy, seen below, is my favorite burger--that I've tasted so far--in the Village.

Additionally, Whitman's offers other delicious bites, such as their fried pickles! Fried pickles seem to be at every bar nowadays, once a a staple. Whitman's may not have had the absolute best, but they were awfully tasty. Easily in my top three.

Next time you're looking for a classic, hearty burger, forget about the press and the chatter from Food Network and try out Whitman's. You will not be disappointed!

Friday, January 16, 2015

TheCityThatIPromiseWasEating: LATE NIGHT in the village!

Dear Reader:

I know you're disappointed in me. I came out like a lightning bolt in October, promising that, with the changing of the TeenwithTaste name, there would also come new, exciting content. Well, if you've checked TheCityThatAlwaysEats, you've probably realized that such a promise wasn't kept. For that, I apologize, citing a busy first semester and other priorities that forced me to take a break from casual writing while I adjusted to being a college student for the first time. I hope that you all understand!

That being said....I'M BACK BABY! And, for my first post, I'm going to go over a few places I discovered first semester that epitomize dining well... while on a budget...late at night!

Like most college students, I don't have endless money to blow at the finest restaurants in New York, despite the fact there are many to see. So, I often have to make do by finding new and interesting places that don't break the bank. Below, I've laid out some of my favorite spots for one specific food need: LATE NIGHT CRAVINGS!

Every so often, when my friends and I are exhausted from our classes, we like to kick back, relax, and have a low-key guys' night. The night usually starts with videogames, someone DJ'ing some slow jamz, and one of us getting a little too realistic on Tinder. However, at some point, late in every hangout, we always seem to mutually agree that we're starving.

PIG OUT: CRIF DOGS, 113 St. Marks Place (St. Marks between Ave. A and 1st Ave.)

Crif Dogs is a go-to if you're looking to pig-out on...well...some piggies! Crif Dogs offers franks in nearly any way you can imagine. Served regularly or wrapped in bacon and deep fried, you can opt to either choose your toppings (from a heaping list of over 20) or order a predetermined dog. Below are two of the menu favorites, the Tsunami dog and the BLT. The Tsunami dog was absolutely delicious! The sweetness of the pineapples marries nicely with the saltiness of the bacon the dog was wrapped in!

If I have one criticism of Crif Dogs, it would be that they don't toast their buns. A quick fix, the toasted buns would really improve the overall experience. Nevertheless, you can't beat the price--most dogs are between $2-$5. Next time you're looking to pig out with your friends without emptying your wallet, give this spot a try. Also, in tune with the theme of the post, Crif Dogs is open till 2 AM Sunday-Thurs and 4 AM on Fridays and Saturdays--now THAT'S a late night eat!

TRENDY MUNCHIES: BAOHAUS, 238 E 14th St. (14th st. between 3rd and 2nd Ave)

Baohaus, the pork-bun-flinging hipster paradise adjacent to Union Square, is the creation of Taiwanese-American chef Eddie Huang. The restaurant is small but well-decorated, with an urban/industrial feel. The menu suits the restaurant (small) offering one simple decision: do you want buns or bowls? The answer is simple: buns!

Baohaus offers 5 different kinds of buns--or "baos" as they're properly titled-- the original pork, others with chicken, fish, tofu, and even fried chicken. All buns except those that are fried come well garnished and deliciously put together for under $5! Check out my original pork bun, cleverly dubbed the "Chaiman Bao," below.

Baohaus is open until 11:30 Sunday-Thursday and 3:30 AM on Fridays and Saturdays for all your late-night bun fixes!

INNOVATIVE EATS: STICKY'S FINGER JOINT, 31 W. 8th St. (@Macdougal, between 5th and 6th Ave)

One late night, my friends and I ran into one of our older friends as we were looking for something to eat. When our first few options were closed, he recommended Sticky's, where traditional chicken fingers are transformed into brilliant new creations with interesting new flavor combinations one wouldn't expect. Below is the Salted Caramel Finger, with, of course, delicious caramel sauce and some salty pretzel pieces.

If you don't have a sweet tooth after midnight like I do, Sticky's also has many savory combinations such as Wasabi, Fire Flame Curry, and Buffalo Balsamic Maple. Besides their menu fingers, they also serve bare fingers with 15 gourmet sauce options, from the "Mango Death Sauce" to the "Sunny Mustard." As long as you can stomach deliciously fried chicken fingers...well, I think you get the point. Sticky's is open 'till 11 Sunday-Wednesday, 1 AM on Thursdays, and 3 AM on Fridays and Saturdays. And, like most other eats I've mentioned, a fairly large finger goes for under $5.

I'll be back with more eats soon!

-Forever the TeenwithTaste

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Game Changing Name Change! Introducing...

Hi Everyone!

I know I haven't posted in a while, and I know you're craving some TeenwithTaste. While that's all well and good, I need to let you in on two constant problems I've been having.

As of September, I haven't been living in my hometown of Philadelphia, PA. If you've been following my Instagram (now: thecitythatalwayseats), you know that I am now a Freshman at New York University, in New York City. Sadly, not only is it less practical for me to be posting recipes and cooking--because my kitchen space/cooking supplies/ingredients are so limited--it is also a shame that my time in the Philadelphia restaurant scene is sort of coming to a close. I.e: It's not wholly practical for me to commute to Philadelphia just to eat.

Secondly, my "Teen" years are also coming to a close. Thus, I figured it was time for...basically...a complete overhaul. If I was going to change the city focus, the content focus, etc., I might as well also change the name. So, without complicating things any further, I give you: THE CITY THAT ALWAYS EATS!

A cute play on a class phrase, my new name was submitted by a big fan, and it just stuck. Just like the people of New York are constantly moving and resisting sleep, they're also constantly eating. New York is home to limitless restaurants, coffee shops, food trucks, and more. In fact, just this weekend I was casually walking near Madison Square Garden on the way to the Rangers game when I came upon this incredible pop up food festival below in Greeley Sq. Park (32-35th and Broadway) with ~20 gourmet vendors selling all kinds of savory foods, drinks, and desserts. Too bad we had to share the festival with Maple Leafs fans.
Additionally, in the past few weeks I've gotten to experience a ton of great food I'm excited to tell you all about! In the near future I'll be showing you the best places to find a New York bagel (with all my favorite shmears, of course), all my favorite brunch spots, where to take that girl you met at a bar (but decided you wanted to see again) on a classy first date, and more. Check back here for updates, friend me on Facebook (Andy Scolnic) to see when I post, or follow me on Instagram ("thecitythatalwayseats"). 

I hope you all are excited to see what I'm eating in the future! TeenwithTaste was just the appetizer, now we're on to the MAIN COURSE. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Tw/T Exclusive Review: MAD MEX, Wynnewood, PA

I'm going to keep this review semi-short because I'm still pretty burnt out from writing my lengthy last post on peach cake! This coming Monday (August 11th), famous tex-mex chain "Mad Mex" from Pittsburgh, PA, will officially open a brand new location in our very own Wynnewood shopping center. Last night, I was lucky enough to dine at the restaurant early at the soft opening with my good family friends the Russells (hi George!)!

Arguably the most exciting part of Mad Mex is the decor--the restaurant looks BEAUTIFUL. Decked out in not-too-cheesy Mexican dolls, masks, and pieces of artwork, the restaurant's colors are vibrant, the layout of the restaurant is physically appealing to walk through, and the central bar appeared well-stocked, showcasing colorful bottles and margarita machines extravagantly. Additionally, the restaurant is just spacious. Currently, it has seating for up to 300 people, including what appeared to be multiple sizes of private rooms set apart from the general dining room. Overall, the appearance of the restaurant was incredible; it just looked great.

Addressing drinks and the aforementioned bar, margaritas are churned out by the barrel they should be at any Mexican joint. The menu offers a plethora of flavors, like the three seen below that are (L to R) classic, mango, and peach. The drinks weren't exceptionally strong, but that may be a small issue to be worked out for future dinners. The salt rimmed onto my glass was stylishly dyed blue and the general flavor of the drinks was otherwise superior, disregarding liquor content.

Appetizers were, for the most part, tasty. Guacamole was a tad spicy for my liking, but the habanero-pineapple salsa was deliciously fierce and the tomatillo blend salsa was a perfectly cool medium. All three dips are below.

I also sampled the San Francisco Wings (below) and the Potato Taquitos. The sauce on the wings was sweet and spicy; I could've lapped it up by the bowlful. The wings themselves were fairly average--they had no fry on them (they were just seared/baked) the mark of a good--but not perfect-- wing. Sadly, the Taquitos were forgettable. The texture of the mashed potatoes, cheese, and the tortilla melded together in a less than ideal way.

Entreés came out looking great--plating was obviously stressed, with colorful purple radishes and milky white queso fresco galore. I had the Barbacoa Tacos, shown below. The tacos themselves were delicious: the meat was cooked well, the queso fresco blended nicely, and the tortilla was neither tough nor doughy. However, the sides lost me a little bit. Each plate came with a flat square of regular ol' rice and beans. My rice seemed a little overcooked and my beans were just kind of underwhelming. They had no frills, no "wow," they were just black beans. That being said, when I put both with my tacos they still played their parts adequately. Overall, the entreé was good--just good.

My mother ordered the Mole Enchilada seen below. The dish tasted fine, again, it was just missing a little bit of the strong flavor expected from a mole. A mole is generally a darker sauce than Mex's, packing a strong chocolate flavor but also hinting at the classic Mexican combination of spicy-sweet through some sort of pepper which counteracts the chocolate. Mex's mole was more of a one note feel--it didn't raise my eyebrows sweetly or spicily and I didn't get enough strong flavors. However, if you aren't expecting a classic mole, the dish is still worth ordering. All the flavors worked together even if they weren't strong enough and the meat was well cooked. Other dishes, like the steak fajitas (farther) below, were also hits with diners.

If you're curled up in a ball wondering if Wynnewood will ever get a good new restaurant at this point--stop worrying! To be clear, most of the problems I've recounted so far are small problems with easy fixes. Adding a few things here and there to jazz up plates, tossing another ounce of liquor into the drinks, etc. Mad Mex showed well for a restaurant still in its pre-opening stage. What's more, it still has some points to win in the dessert category...which it definitely won! Below is the dessert burrito, followed by the brownie sundae. The dessert burrito was as yummy as it was cute and definitely a nice way to end the meal.

As I said, Mad Mex only has a few kinks to work out for it to become a truly great spot. Hopefully all goes well when it opens on Monday. I wish all the best to Mad Mex and I'm sure I'll be back soon to see how things are coming along!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Scarfing Down Summer: Peach Loaf Cake with Brown Sugar Spice Filling

When I told my mom I was considering making devil's food cupcakes in our 80 degree household the other day, she basically barfed. I could hear the complaining coming a mile away. She pleaded with me, "Use the fruit in the fridge! Make cookies! Anything but chocolate cake!" I walked downstairs and caved--we had a few medium-fresh peaches from our CSA fruit-share we joined this summer that caught my eye. I started fishing through the internet for a recipe I could play with; adapt to my taste.

The recipe below is my own version of a recipe from "Taste of Home," an old magazine my mom used to get. I don't like to mess with baking (it really is a science) but I always have a hard time holding myself back...thus, a few changes were made to the batter and, of course, the filling was a creation of my own.


  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cubed/diced peeled peaches (Peel them as thoroughly as you want and dice them into a quite small cube to ensure your batter can cook through--too many big chunks will make your cake impossible to cook. Obviously you must mostly peel them because you don't want skin floating around your cake, but you also may enjoy some of the tart flavor the skin of a peach gives, like I do!)
  • 1-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • A few shakes of cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (Don't worry about this only being a small amount, you'll see walnuts again in the filling!) 

  • Heat your oven to 350 degrees. 

    In terms of the process, this isn't a difficult recipe. Simply cream the butter and sugar together, add in the eggs one by one, and then add in the other wet ingredients (water/vanilla/peaches). Next, combine the dry ingredients separately (everything except the nuts) and stir that into the wet ingredients. Incorporate it all together but try your best not to overmix. Finally, add in the walnuts and your batter is ready. Toss it into a greased/oiled loaf pan and let it settle for a few minutes while you prepare your filling! Doesn't that peachy color look delicious?

    The filling, like many culinary inventions, came to me by accident. What I really wanted was a delicious caramel-like topping...but my cooking process led me to a filling instead. Looking back, I'm glad this cake had a filling--it's what it really needed! The filling allows each bit of the cake to be moist, warm, and delicious. It adds a sweetness that the cake would've been disappointingly missing without it. 

    For the filling you'll need:

    2/3 cup of brown sugar (my blend wasn't too light, but you probably don't want the darkest of the dark)
    3.5 tablespoons of butter
    1/4 cup of your diced peaches (if you have some left over like I did...if not, not a huge deal)
    1/4 cup of chopped walnuts
    6 spiced wafer cookies, beaten to a rough grind in a Ziploc bag!

    I created the filling step by step--mistakes made followed with me trying to fix them! I first melted together the butter and brown sugar in a bowl in the microwave for only about 30 seconds (use a double boiler/stovetop if you want, you're just making it harder for yourself). Let everything just get soft and then stir it together, fully melting the butter. Then, before the sugary mixture solidifies, add the peaches and walnuts. 

    Finally, you get to use one of my favorite techniques. Place 6 spiced wafers in a sealed plastic bag and just smash them against the counter, beat them with your hand, etc, until you have a pretty solid grind of the cookie. A few pieces of wafer left in the mix aren't a problem, just as long as they aren't inedibly large. Dump this grind in with the wet brown sugar mix, stir together, and your filling is done! The spiced wafer will soak up all the delicious sugar mixture, making for a delicious center in your cake. 

    Here comes the last trick: place your loaf pan of batter in the oven WITHOUT the filling inside for about ten minutes. It's imperative that you let your batter get a head start on cooking or your filling might just fall out of the bottom of your cake. After ten minutes, open the oven and dump your filling atop the loaf batter that should start to be taking form. No need to push it into the batter, it will fall in on its own. 

    Cook the cake for about another 20-30 minutes, or until you can push a toothpick into the cake (the batter-filled part, not a filling filled area) and pull it out clean.

    At the end, hopefully your cake looks and tastes as good as mine did! This cake was refreshing and decadent at the same time--definitely a keeper in my recipe book. Happy baking!

    Thursday, July 10, 2014

    Fuji Mountain or Mt. Fuji? Try BOTH!

    Let it be clear upon reading these two reviews that sushi is not my thing. If you've read my blog before, you'll know I'm no sushi aficionado: I can't tell you half of what you'd need to know about it to be an expert and I really only eat it a few times a month. That being said, I know the difference between a good piece of fish and a bad one, and a great piece of unagi (eel) really warms my heart. After eating more sushi lately than I usually do, I've found that Philadelphia and Ardmore present two winning restaurants that sound and serve alike!

    Fuji Mountain (Website, 2030 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA) is a hidden gem amongst the high end restaurants scattered throughout nearby streets. Though it doesn't look similar to others of fame from the outside, the food inside is just as high quality. The menu is extensive, with an insane amount of appetizers to start. From classics like agedashi tofu (gently fried tofu found in nearly every Japanese restaurant) and edamame, to innovative dishes and entreés like onzukuri, a torch seared fish plate, and even a Japanese version of Mexican ceviche, Fuji Mountain knows how to begin a meal.

    From there, the fun escalates. Fuji Mountain has over a full page of what you really crave: Maki (the traditional white girl "sushi roll") and duos of sushi (single pieces of rice with fish sliced atop). Everything you could ask for, Fuji Mountain delivers. From more than a few kinds of everyone's favorite tuna to crab thrown at you 3 ways--only two of which are actual crab (one is just for the vegetarians to feel like they're eating crab without the misguided guilt)! Two pieces of hamachi sushi are shown in front of my father's specialty "pumpkin" maki roll below. How delicate, beautiful, and elegant do they look?

    In addition to the specials, like the pumpkin roll (check out that classy orange tint) above, the maki list is endless. In front of another special (the Inferno roll) seen below is one of their general maki selections, the crazy roll. While the crazy roll was delicious, the Inferno roll really crushed it. As you can see in the picture, the Inferno roll had a scrumptious spicy sauce coating it which added a completely different element to roll that the crazy roll really could have used too. So, sadly, I suppose you could say that, while all the rolls at Fuji Mountain are delicious, the specials are those worth devoting most of your stomach space to.

    But let's say you want this same quality of sushi at home in the 610...where do you go? I was told by a good friend a while back that there was a new restaurant in Ardmore called Mt. Fuji (36 Greenfield Ave, Ardmore PA, no website for the ardmore location yet, visit their Facebook page)...and I just laughed. Is there a hat that gets picked out of when restauranteurs are deciding on names for Japanese restaurants? Wondering if it could possibly top my enjoyable meal at its palindromic (sort of :/) cousin, I visited Mt. Fuji recently with my family.

    For Ardmore, Mt. Fuji is pretty darn classy. A BYOB nestled in next to a cut-rate modeling salon and a state liquor store, beyond the walls, the ownership has created quite an enticing ambiance...and the food matches the atmosphere. Food at Mt. Fuji is even more luxuriously presented than at Fuji Mountain. As you can see below, seemingly average foods (like grilled asparagus) are presented as if they're worth millions of dollars. This sort of precision and care not only makes the customer feel as though they're worth those millions too, but I truly believe it makes the food taste better. The asparagus below tasted like was soft yet crunch, sweet yet natural. It glowed on the plate.

    But once again, nothing could distract me from the true purpose of my visit: the fish. Another appetizer, the tuna salmon tower, was tasty but didn't wow me. The rice seemed a little too dry, and the fish stuck together in a rather awkward way. Nevertheless, it was seasoned well, tasted fair, and looked great--check it out below.

    The meal shot up from there. We ordered a few rolls, but the two winners, the "Three Musketeers" (Tuna, salmon, yellowtail, avocado, and tobiko) and the "Out of Control" (tuna, salmon, yellowtail, asparagus sprouts, and mayo miso eel sauce) are pictured below. Though the presentation of the Three Musketeers is obviously more delicate looking and more beautiful, both rolls were absolutely delightful. What the Out of Control lacked in presentation it won back in taste--it was soft yet its crunchy sprouts were pronounced and textured in a very different way.

    Overall, my dinners at both Fuji Mountain and Mt. Fuji were spectacular. Both restaurants served food with passion and grace, and are definitely deserving of a visit from any sushi lover. Hope you can all visit soon!

    Saturday, June 21, 2014

    Out of Wynnewood and into winning cuisine: Finding good eats semi-closeby! (The Kettle and Teresa's Next Door)

    Lately, I've gotten tired of settling for the same few restaurants within a few miles of my house. Everything feels boring and old; I can't find a menu I haven't already picked through at some point in my 18 year food marathon. Sadly, I'm also super lazy-- going all the way into the city is a pain. This post is a double feature (one brunch, one dinner) of restaurants I found in areas just a few minutes outside my bubble. 

    BRUNCH: The Kettle, (1 Brookline Boulevard, Havertown, PA)

    The Kettle has quickly risen through the ranks of my favorite places to eat on weekend mornings for a few reasons. Firstly, the menu really does accommodate those who want a true brunch. If you're caught in between wanting breakfast and lunch, you can scan the menu and find a fair array of omelettes and griddle offerings sitting next to soups and sandwiches. The menu isn't huge, but, as far as I know, everything printed is done well--and that's what counts. As far as breakfast, the corned beef hash and eggs never fails, as seen below with the eggs presented over easy (you pick your preparation) on top. 

    If you're leaning more towards the lunch side of things, the burgers and sandwiches can't be beat. Seen below, The Kettle Burger is a simple angus burger that can then be customized with a selection of cheese and toppings. Mine below had cheddar and fried onions--definitely a winning combination. Sandwiches also rotate on the menu, and there are usually a few specials. Farther below is the regular reuben sandwich, which always shows admirably. 

    If I have a complaint with The Kettle it would be that the service is often spotty. It's not really their fault, sometimes, the place is just packed and the staff kind of scrambles around doing their best to keep things moving. But, last breakfast, I sat on outdoor seating to skip the lengthy line of those waiting for the indoors tables...and I walked into a wall of said poor service. Our coffees were never refilled, it took a while to get our order taken, and getting water mid-meal was a pain. We were basically forgotten about. Nevertheless, if you can avoid sitting outside and still deal with the mediocre service, The Kettle can really put out some great meals. 

    DINNER: Teresa's Next Door, 124 N. Wayne Ave, Wayne, PA

    Teresa's is a large restaurant that's been effectively split into two smaller ones. Upon entering the front door, you're asked to choose between the higher end "Teresa's Cafe" (it's not really a cafe, it's a serious restaurant) and "Teresa's Next Door," which is cutely dubbed a bar, fits the billing of the trendy brewpub that is blowing up all over America. Don't think too hard--just walk into Next'll be happier in the slightly more casual setting. 

    Teresa's is the most elegant "bar" you'll see these days. With a humongous, elegant, and well stocked actual bar accompanied by booths and stand-alone tables, Next Door offers classic pub food (burgers, sandwiches, steaks, etc.) but with some outliers in between. Things like summer scallops and frenched pork chops elevate what would be a regular pub to the next level. Next Door even prides itself on having quite a few cheese offerings, allowing customers to create a cheese plate all their own. 

    Favorites can be found all across the menu, from the special game burger that rotates occasionally (when I dined it was the goat burger seen below) to the to die for thai-ginger wings farther below. All meats were cooked to perfection, and the pomme frites served alongside them are some of the best fries anywhere. 

    Finally, if you aren't full from all your cheese, pubby starters, and killer sandwiches or fancy plates, you can sample from the most surprisingly delicious section of the menu: the desserts! Below, a mini apple pie with ice cream wowed us all. How can Teresa's cover so many bases? By showing the ability to show restraint in appearance yet variety in flavor, Teresa's shoved it in my face that it is way more than a pub or bar--it's a whole new type of restaurant...and one that I'll need to go back to!