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, February 23, 2014

Breakfast in my own Backyard! Sabrina's Café--Wynnewood, PA

There's been a lot of buzz surrounding the brand spankin' new branch Sabrina's Café in scenic ol' Wynnewood. From when the word of the Philadelphia favorite coming to our small suburb was barely sprouting in the rumor mill of Tronceletti's Barbershop over a year ago to the past few months when all of us gossiping townsfolk were sneaking around watching as the kitchenware was loaded into the storefront-- and finally to the opening yesterday-- the journey to having a great breakfast place in our neighborhood has been a long one. I'm happy to say the road has come to a fresh and delicious culdesac with Sabrina's Café. 

If there's any major negative to Sabrina's, it's that you can't just waltz in and start stuffing your face. Because it built up so much hype, Sabrina's has (and will have) a constant line out the door. When I got there at a crisp 9 A.M (Jews trying to beat the post-church crowd time), we were met with a 45-minute wait. We waited, despite the dearth of seating for those who pile up waiting for tables, and were finally seated after what really was a true 45 minute wait. 

After that glum start, the meal was fabulous. The menu at Sabrina's was smaller than I'd imagined, an average sized amalgamation of omelettes, griddle products, and a medium sized lunch/dinner menu of sandwiches, salads, and burgers. 

The most famous item on the menu--to be seen on any given main-line teen's Instagram feed with a flood of likes-- is the stuffed french toast. Sabrina's lays out four humongous triangles of french toast (which they argue fit into two regular pieces of toast) and stuffs them with a cream cheese frosting mixture. No one I was dining with could stomach filling their body with that much richness in the morning--it was a wimpy Sunday--but, as you can see below, one of us did order the regular french toast. It was still delicious with a sugary crust on it and coated in Sabrina's signature vanilla bean syrup. 

Another one of us got mexi-special omelette (below). This would've been great, but it was outshined by the huevos rancheros (further below). The huevos rancheros were absolutely mind blowing. It's a mouthful: two fried eggs topped with house made spicy guacamole and lime sour cream sauce over a spicy chorizo-bean-salsa mixture, also served with pico de gallo, all on top of two crispy blue corn tortillas, served with a side of fried breakfast potatoes and topped with a fried jalepeño. The dish encompassed everything that is good about spicy food in the morning: it had heat, but no element overpowered any other. At any given time I could taste the smooth guacamole, the intensely spicy chorizo, and the natural flavor of the fried eggs. If I had any complaint it would've been that the breakfast potatoes weren't quite hot. They seemed as though they'd been sitting out of the fryer for a few minutes. I guess that's what you get when you deep fry your potatoes instead of letting them sit on an old flat top. Nevertheless, the actual dish itself was arguably flawless. 

I'm so excited to go back to Sabrina's soon! Time to work my way through the rest of the menu!

For more information visit

Saturday, February 15, 2014

New Local Café Falls Flat! The Tasting Room--Ardmore, PA

I like to think that I'm pretty easy to please. I like simple food that has a developed flavor to it. I rarely leave a restaurant with little positive to say about it because most types of foods appeal to me. Yesterday, I had the privilege of trying out a brand new restaurant in my own backyard, ready to make it an everyday favorite. Let's just say I'm still looking for that everyday favorite.

"The Tasting Room" had a meager setup, just a few tables cramped into a small storefront, but was well put together. A clean appearance with a glass case holding most dishes--you order your food at the counter and see it there before it arrives to your table--and the limited menu chalked onto the rustic blackboard seen below.
Our meal started off nicely as we talked with the co-owner of the restaurant. Joe Petrucci, the brains behind the operation, explained the restaurant's unusual style. As you can see on the board above, each dish can be ordered in any of three sizes: Taste, Entreé, or Family. My dining companion and I wanted to sample a few things, so we ordered various dishes in tasting and entreé sizes. The family size is really only ideal for picking up quick and large takeout dinners--it serves 3-4 people.

The premise had me. I was enthralled with the idea that I could split up my lunch (and its cost) between different mini-courses. It seemed like such a brilliant scheme that I couldn't believe anyone hadn't come up with it before. But I had yet to taste the food...
I first tasted the sweet potato fries (above), boasted by the owner to be healthily prepared in an oven and organic (not something I'm concerned with but never a detriment to the food), a big crowd pleaser. I had never tasted worse sweet potato fries in my life. They were completely overcooked, until the oven had sapped all the delicious potato flesh out of them. The disappointment of baking french fries (as opposed to frying them) is that they simply will not taste as good. Healthier, sadly, rarely is a synonym for "more delicious." Even so, there is little excuse for overcooking them.

I also tasted the lobster bisque (above), the soup of the day. The soup base itself was just average, it didn't have much body to it but the flavor wasn't terrible. The disappointment here was that the soup had little actual lobster in it. After I scooped out two small chunks, my soup bowl might as well have been empty.
Other dishes I sampled included the brussels sprouts and the "Twenty-Something-Spice Meatloaf" (above). I think my problem with the meatloaf adequately represented my overall gripe with the restaurant: why use twenty spices when you can use two? My first bite kicked me in the pants and out the door of the restaurant.  I looked at the board, saw the explanation that the meatloaf was a mix of beef and pork, and realized that I couldn't even feel the familiar taste pork gives my tongue because the meat had been pushed aside in favor of spices.
The final dish I tasted was the "Three Cheese Mac n' Cheese" (above). This was the only dish I enjoyed. The cheeses were tasty, well selected, and well blended, and the dish wasn't killed by too many obscure herbs. Additionally, it was topped with an adequate amount of adequately toasted breadcrumbs. Sadly, I can't see myself coming back to this restaurant for one decent dish.

Finally, for those whose first time it is reading this blog, let me be clear: I hate giving bad reviews, especially to local places. I really want Ardmore to be successful and welcome new and interesting restaurants. Still, I will not recommend a restaurant if I dislike it as much as this one. I left the restaurant feeling uncomfortable: the interesting idea for a restaurant that I had been so excited about not even an hour ago had already been dumped over my head. What could have been? We will never know, unless "The Tasting Room" makes some big changes.

For more information, visit:

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Simplicity and Authenticity ALWAYS Win. Lee How Fook-- Philadelphia, PA

Recently, after my mother saw a positive reference to a first review of it by Philly Inquirer food critic Craig Laban, my family traveled to a restaurant called Lee How Fook in Philadelphia's Chinatown. Naturally, we had to try the spot out.

Lee How Fook is the definition of modest. The storefront (above) is meager, with an unassuming sign out front.  The restaurant can't hold more than 30 or so, and the kitchen appears to occupy at least half of the total area of the store. Nevertheless, this modesty carries to the food. The food appears simple and unassuming. Just WAIT 'till you try it.

The simply presented food packs a flavor punch that's indescribable. The pork buns, below, absolutely blew my mind. The components of the dish were laid out simply in front of me. Pork, a simple celery looking vegetable I can't say I could identify for sure, green onion, a  soft mustard sauce, the perfectly put together pork, and the "buns." The plate looked plain, almost too plain. Then, I assembled a bun. The bun itself seemed undercooked--but it wasn't. It was a strange, puffy dough I had never seen before. But it made my mouth absolutely tingle. It's emptiness let the pork shine through, the sauce tickling my tongue and the meat itself melting in my mouth. The plate was one I will never forget.
Along with the buns, I tasted the vegetable dumplings (below) and the wonton soup (also below). The dumplings were good, but I can't say any different from many others I've had. The wonton soup was pretty much perfect, one of the best bowls I've seen. The wontons were crafted so particularly, packed tightly in a paper thin wrapper. 

The main courses rolled out of the kitchen and at this point I was nearly satisfied. The restaurant had begun to prove itself and all I needed was the nail in the coffin. I'd love to say the main courses did that--but they didn't quite. Across the board they were good, but not amazing. My father ordered a sort of tofu dish that he claimed to be quite good. My mother, conservatively, ordered the chicken lettuce wraps. These were good, but no better than at any other restaurant. Probably not the best thing to order if you were interested in finding out how skilled a chef is. Finally, I ordered the lemon duck, which was pretty delicious, if a little over-fried. As you can see, all the plates are fairly simple, coinciding with the style of the restaurant. All dishes are below: the duck, the tofu, and the chicken, in that order, from top to bottom.

Nevertheless, the restaurant blew me away. The straightforward and ordinary appearance of the place and the food initially tricked me into thinking it would just be a normal meal--but I couldn't have been more wrong. I highly recommend Lee How Fook for a great, honest meal next time you're in Philadelphia in search of some good Chinese food. 

For more information, visit the website by clicking here