Salem Beer Works

One rainy day in Massachusetts, we decided to take a trip to Salem to check out the history. My husband, who has known me for over eight years, learned of my fascination with witches and the Salem Witch Trials and agreed to take the 30-minute drive from Gloucester to explore the town. Once we mentioned that we were going to Salem, everyone said that we just HAD to go to Salem Beer Works and try their fried pickles. Fried pickles?! You had me at hello.

We made our way down 128 and settled in for a morning at the Peabody-Essex Museum, which had a fantastic exhibit on ManRay and Lee Miller (seriously, check it out if you’re in town) and a fun, interactive exhibit on water. After a little culture, we headed over to the big event: the Salem Witch Museum! I was so excited.

Following a lackluster, but slightly interesting tour of the museum, we headed to the Beer Works for a late lunch.

While we knew the fried pickles were a definite, we checked out the beer menu to select our beverages. We had heard chatter of a tasty watermelon beer but I was drawn towards a few different options and ended up with a pick-your-own flight while my husband opted for a 12oz pour of the Victory White. My flight ranged from Witch City Red and Watermelon Ale to a Bunker Hill Blueberry Ale (made and garnished with Maine blueberries) and a Cask IPA.

I’m no beer expert like this guy but I enjoyed each of them, especially the light and playful watermelon ale and the blueberry ale, which had some richer flavors. The cask IPA was mellow and more drinkable than I expected. Best of all, the 4 ounce pours were only $1.50 each so I got the whole flight for $6. What a deal!

We each ended up opting for two of their many burgers, after seeing the construction workers to the left of us devouring theirs with gusto. I went with the Charlestown Burger topped with bacon and cheddar and he went all out with the Fenway topped with chili, scallions and cheddar. The Beer Works has a ton of different french fry cuts and seasonings, any of which we could pick to accompany our burgers. I went with the potato sticks while he opted for the more traditional hand cut fries.

The pickles were actually whole spears battered and fried with a ranch dipping sauce. While I expected them to be sliced, I certainly wasn’t disappointed.

The creamy ranch, hot and crispy coating and warm, sour pickle all did a little dance in my mouth together. What great beer drinking food!

The burgers followed and were top notch. Mine was cooked to a perfect medium–something I’ve had trouble finding these days.

I didn’t care for the potato sticks, however. I was expecting matchstick fries and what came out were, quite literally, potato stix (remember them?)

My husband’s burger was messy but received two chili-smudged thumbs up from him. And I got over my fry disappointment by eating most of his.

Look at all that chili!!

After finishing lunch, we picked up to six-packs to go (for under $9 each!) They also offer growlers but we were walking around and they were a little less portable. We headed over to my tarot reading and I’ll find out in 4-7 months if any of the work, health, financial and travel predictions she made are true!

Beer Works has a number of locations around Massachusetts, including one across from Fenway Park. Stop in and check out the fried pickles if you’re ever in the neighborhood!

Pure Fare

Toward the end of the school year, I had a hankering for rotisserie chicken so my co-workers and I decided to check out Rotisseur.  Unfortunately, they’re not open for lunch. I was pretty bummed but we thought we’d make a detour to Pure Fare, the new healthy eatery on 21st Street between Sansom and Walnut.

We walked in and made our way to the wall-mounted iPads.

I thought we were supposed to order from the iPads. Instead, you could peruse the menu and view all of the nutritional information for each item (you can do the same on their website.)

The place is cute, with a smoothie and coffee bar on one side of the room and a hot foods register on the opposite side. In the middle is a large, wooden communal table.

All of the sandwiches and salads are pre-made for a quick and easy grab and go.

I opted for the goat brie and fig sandwich which had arugula, roasted pepper and a caramelized onion fig spread. It sounded like it was packed with flavor!

Unfortunately, the sandwich was a bit heavy on the arugula and light on everything else. I enjoyed the flavors that were present, yet there were not nearly enough of them. I guess that’s what I get from 361 calories.

The only other item I sampled was the tandoori chicken sandwich on raisin bread. The tandoori flavor was spot on and the raisin bread complemented it nicely.

My friend, Alexa’s, salad looked fun but I didn’t get a chance to taste it.

Pure Fare is a decent option for those of us who are trying to watch our waistlines. I’d like to go back and try some of the other items such as their soups and smoothies. Although the sandwich was a bust, I’m sure there are better options for me. I also have my Pure card that allows me to gain points and keep track of what I’m eating.

Far From Home Cafe

Ever since I stumbled across Far From Home Cafe food truck (“your favorite comfort foods from all around the world”) I knew I had to check it out. I love comfort food! I was intrigued by the menu containing a variety of burgers, tacos and enchiladas. Hmm…this could either be very good or very, very bad. Unfortunately, my work schedule does not often allow a long, leisurely lunch hour and I never knew where the truck would be. Lucky for me, Far From Home Cafe has a new home, along with Guapos Tacos and a variety of cupcake trucks. Also lucky for me was the fact that my co-worker was in possession of a car for the day (most of us bike or take Septa.) Because it was a busy birthday week, we had taken my co-worker to a Thai lunch the previous day and opted to check out the truck on Friday.

As we headed out, I tweeted out that we were heading over for some birthday lunch.  When we got to the truck (as my other co-worker circled Love Park in fear of a parking citation,) the super friendly staff recognized us–perhaps when my co-worker mentioned it was my birthday–and asked who we were on Twitter. I’m still getting used to introducing myself by my real name and then my Twitter name. It’s funny to meet people in the Twitter world who respond “oh you’re Row Home Eats.” We chatted for a bit before placing our massive order of chicken tacos, black bean tacos, curly fries, the Mighty Moo burger and the Mighty Euro burger. We wanted to try the empanadas but they were all sold out. I’m thinking that it’s a pretty popular item. Because it was our birthday, we got  a special dessert on the house! I cannot, for the life of me, remember what exactly my dessert was but it was some sort of blondie with chocolate chunks (or something like that.) It was pretty tasty and I love the packaging!

After we placed our order, the owner came out from inside the truck and chatted with us for a bit before introducing us to the friendly city employee who spearheaded the “lunch at LOVE” program, bringing city folks back into the park during the lunch hours with food truck, entertainment and more.

Check me out in front of the festive truck.

We finally got back to work and got down to business.

The curly fries were a great accompaniment to the burgers, although I certainly didn’t need them with my Vetri birthday dinner fast approaching. Curly fries are my fave.

Next, we opened our burgers. These juicy burgers (yes, I tried my co-worker’s burger too. All in the name of blogging) were just my style. They were cooked on the flattop with a little char ,which provided a nice crunch, and lots and lots of flavor. My “Mighty Moo” had the basic toppings–lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles, American cheese and “mighty sauce.” I fluctuate between wanting the simplicity of a burger like this one, with all the “normal” toppings and wanting something a little more far out. I went traditional this time, but my co-worker went all out with the “Mighty Euro” with bleu cheese, crispy bacon, sauteed onions, tomato, pickles and, once again, “mighty sauce.” I actually preferred the Mighty Euro. While the toppings added a ton of flavor, they didn’t overwhelm the patty tucked between the buns.

The Mighty Moo from the top.

The Mighty Euro–check out those fixins!

I only tried the black bean tacos and they were light and refreshing.

Far From Home Cafe fills a perfect niche in the Philadelphia food truck scene.  They’re not trying to do anything spectacular beyond cooking tasty, straightforward food which is welcome in my city any time.

Meme Fried Chicken Lunch

About two years ago, Chef David Katz opened Meme Restaurant and started a quirky lunch special. Each Thursday, and Thursday only, Meme serves a fried chicken lunch. The fixed price meal ($11) includes a thigh, drumstick, cornbread and a glass of iced tea or Miller High Life. For an extra $2 you can get the side of the day. Want something besides fried chicken? Sorry, Charlie. That’s the only option. There’s something about the whole situation that creates and allure and that allure has had me intrigued for the past two years. Unfortunately, I’m rarely able to enjoy a sit down lunch mid-week and when I’m available, my husband is usually working.

This past Thursday, the husband had off and I took a (much needed) mental health day. We planned on grabbing lunch at Meme before watching NCAA basketball that afternoon. We arrived at Meme around 1pm and were seated immediately. The room is small–it seems even smaller than when the restaurant’s former resident, Melograno, was there but Melograno packed that place with a bunch of tiny tables. Meme was a little more comfortable.

Our friendly waitress took our order (fried chicken, duh. All she had to do was find out what type of drink we wanted and whether or not we wanted a side) while I surveyed the restaurant. The diverse clientele ranged from business lunchers to contractors enjoying an end-of-day meal.  It was a beautiful and two women sat outside with young children and a large, large dog. I enjoyed seeing this unique conglomerate of Philadelphians all seeking the same thing–a decent plate of fried chicken.

And decent it was. The chicken arrived in a jiffy (my research tells me he cooks it in advance so it’s not piping hot and the flavors have time to settle.) I usually tend towards the crispier skinned bird but Katz’s chicken has a thinner crust.

The chicken was perfectly crispy with moist and juicy meat under the crackle of skin.  My husband was a fan of the smoky dipping sauce but I didn’t want to compromise the simple, salty deliciousness of the meat. Instead, I dipped my crumbly corn bread into the dip and washed it down with an icy cold Miller High Life. Life is grand.

The macaroni salad was decent–not too heavy on the mayo–but the star of the meal was, of course, the chicken. Now I see what all the buzz is about.  All in all, we were in and out of the restaurant in well under an hour (probably closer to 30 minutes.) My husband said it would probably be the shortest blog post ever. Chef Katz is doing great things at Meme and I love that he’s made himself accessible to more than just the typical foodie. If you’re in Center City West and have 30 minutes to spare, be sure to check it out!