LOS Burger Truck Breakfast Edition

I remember the first time I heard about Lucky Old Souls Burger Truck. I was pumped to hear of a food truck selling burgers with grass-fed Lancaster County beef and unique milkshake flavors like maple, black pepper. Yeah! Unfortunately, it took too long to get the opportunity to check them out.

Luckily, Headhouse Square opened back up a couple of weekends ago. Yay, Headhouse! I’ve written tons about our Sundays at Headhouse and it’s finally back in business for the season!

Previously, we’ve gotten Renaissance Sausages, but Lucky Old Souls Burger Truck has taken their spot for the first few weeks, at least. I follow LOS Burger Truck on twitter and have been mesmerized by exciting milkshakes and crazy interesting burgers. Unfortunately, as I’ve mentioned in the past, my lunchtime flexibility  is minimal due to my job. When we heard LOS Burger Truck would be at Headhouse, my husband and I gave an enthusiastic “hell yeah!”

On our way over to the truck, with the dog of course, we ran into some friends who had just ordered their food. They told us that we just had to order the breakfast burger. The breakfast burger consists of a whopping grass-fed beef patty, bacon, habanero cheddar and local blueberry jam, all topped with a fried egg. Oh yes. How could we resist? In an attempt not to be completely piggy, we opted to split the massive burger, contained in a buttery brioche bun. But then I added fries. Of course I did.

Check the fried egg nestled under the grilled bun.

Now check the cross section.

I think Guy Fieri would call this the money shot. For those of you wondering what’s up with the blueberry jam?? It worked. It totally worked.  The sweetness of the jam paired beautifully with the savory burger and the slight heat from the habanero cheddar. And the bacon. Well, bacon obviously makes everything better. And then there were tasty little morsels of fried egg–a little cooked, a little runny–just the way I like it. You have to taste it to try it, but these weird and slightly discombobulated ingredients just worked. LOS knows what they’re doing. So if you thought a maple and black pepper milkshake sounded weird, think again, my friend.

Oh, and the fries?

Handcut fries fried in 100% peanut oil with an optional (but let’s be clear here, there was no optional about it) garlic mayo dipping sauce…these bad boys were extra crunchy and just popped with flavor and saltiness. While the burger is the star, don’t leave without trying these guys.

Guacamole Mex-Grill

Having grown up in the neighborhood, West Philly remains one of my favorite places in the city. It’s amazing to see the transformation that has taken place outside of just the Baltimore Avenue corridor. Four Worlds Bakery, for example, on 46th and Woodland, has one of the best olive rosemary loaves I’ve ever tasted and it makes people walk south of Baltimore or even, gasp, south of Chester Avenue!

I was recently at my parents’ and wanted to grab a bite to eat with my husband and sister. My parents recommended this new little place that had just opened at 46th and Woodland called “Guacamole.” 46th and Woodland?? I thought. My parents said they hadn’t been there yet but had heard good things and I figured this could turn into a little blogging adventure. I was ready to hop into the car when my sister said “why don’t we just walk?” I guess I’m turning into a South Philly suburbanite. I never would have thought to walk to 46th and Woodland, which is all of 4 blocks away from my parents.

We strolled down a sun-kissed 47th street. West Philadelphia is just so perfect sometimes. When we arrived at Guacamole, its color stood out admidst the otherwise drab homes and businesses on the block.

We stepped inside the bright and cheery looking space and stepped up to the counter. Guacamole is small, with only about 15-20 seats. You order at the counter and they bring your food to the table.

My husband and I couldn’t decide which two burritos to get so we went with carne asada (beef) and al pastor (pork.) The Row Home Eats family has high standards for burritos as we order from our beloved Los Jalapenos 3-4 times a month. Every burrito we eat is always compared to “3 Jalas” as we call it for short. I also ordered a side of tortilla soup because, well, I wanted to try as much as possible. My sister opted for the simple chips and guacamole.

The guacamole came out first and I only had a small bite. It was decent–not the best, not the worst. I prefer mine a bit chunkier with less tang to the tongue.

I love how colorful the place is, from the outside facade to the paint choices and even the brightly colored baskets that the food is served in.

The soup came up next and boy was it a disappointment.

The thing that just makes a perfect tortilla soup is the broth and this was bland and underseasoned to the point of me not wanting to finish it, EVEN with the crispy tortilla strips as accompaniments.

I had high hopes for the burritos.

The burritos were decent-sized. Probably a bit smaller than “3 Jalas” or your local burrito chain. Good new is that the flavor that was missing in the soup was evident in the meat. Both the carne asada and al pastor were flavorful and sweet. My only complaint (and I think it’s legit, don’t think I was being piggy) is that I wish there was a bit more meat, less filling. My parents went to  Guacamole recently and raved about their dishes. If I went back, I think the way to go would be to order one of their platters that highlights the meat a little more. I’m ok with paying $8.50 for a burrito but I want that burrito to be meat forward. You can’t fault for me that!

If the owners spend some time tinkering with some of the flavors and ratios, this place could be a great quick lunch option for those of you who happen to find yourselves in the neighborhood. Oh, and if you do, make sure you swing by Four Worlds Bakery on your way home for a fresh soft pretzel. That’s what we did.

Stateside

Green Eggs Cafe and I had a love/hate relationship from the start. I’ve discussed it elsewhere so I’ll leave it to that but let’s just say I was tentative upon hearing of the owner’s new venture, Stateside, just a few blocks from our house. All I knew was that Stateside’s aim was to focus on local ingredients in their small whiskey and small-plates bar overlooking the Passyunk Avenue fountain. I was interested in checking it out but only cautiously optimistic about this new addition to the “Avenue.”

A few weeks after they opened, I had heard some positive buzz about their food on Twitter and decided to finally check it out. It was a chilly Saturday night and I had just put duck legs in the oven. We planned on grabbing a martini and possibly a bite or two while the duck braised.

From the time we stepped through the door, we were treated to nothing but smiles and friendly staff members going above and beyond in order to please. As we settled into two recently vacated bar seats and ordered our martinis, our bartender informed us that all of their alcohol was local to the United States as well. What a novel concept. However, have no fear! The bartender, Jen, asked us what brand of booze we usually take in our martinis and patiently offered up other options. It was obvious then and at many repeat visits that she has a strong knowledge and command of her bar. Jen has also created their custom cocktail menu which contains unique (and seasonal) offering such as the recently added “hot buttered rye.”

Zach and I both opted for Death’s Door in our martinis–gin for him and vodka for me, of course. We perused the menu and chatted with Jen as she mixed our drinks. I, not unusually, wanted pretty much everything on their menu which is divided into meats, pickles, cheeses, small plates and large plates. We decided on a cheese and a small plate. We were immediately drawn to the Bayley Hazen Blue cheese with SMOKED BACON CARAMEL. I mean, I love blue cheese but add bacon AND caramel. I was sold. It was a little tougher to pick just one small plate but we ended up agreeing on the beer braised beef cheeks with cauliflower puree, radish and pickled mustard seeds.

Our cheese arrived first.

Look closely and you will see a little chunk of smoky bacon swimming in the caramel atop the cheese. Smoky, sweet, tangy, creamy…what a fantastic flavor collaboration. This is a great nibble for just $4 and bacon + caramel + blue cheese is really a winning combination. I may or may not have been tempted to lick my plate…

Next came the beef cheeks.

Don’t you just love their menu font, by the way? These beef cheeks are perhaps the favorite thing I’ve eaten at Stateside thus far. While the meat was good (and it was damn good and buttery soft,) it was the accompaniments that shone. The cauliflower puree was rich and creamy and I could only imagine what it was doing to my arteries while the pickled mustard seeds popped at just the right moments. The best bite was a piece of meat and a dollop of puree swirled in the braising liquid. This was a memorable dish.

Unfortunately, our braise beckoned and we begrudgingly walked home, happy to have found our perfect neighborhood gem for that night when we just want a well-mixed drink and tasty bite at the bar.

We went back the next weekend, of course. When we stepped through the door, the general manager, Anthony, greeted us with “good to see you again.” This was the neighbor-friendly service that was always lacking for me at Green Eggs. That visit and future ones gave us gems like the crunchy house made goat cheese.

We have also enjoyed charred broccolini (great sleeper dish) and duck sausage with sweet potato, sour cherry mustard and frisee.

Our friend, who wasn’t sure about the duck sausage, was an immediate convert. This dish even turned my husband into a sweet potato aficionado (for the moment, at least.)

More recently, we finally got a chance to try the crispy maple glazed pork belly over fried nora nora grits, gala apples and spiced cider jus.

Everything about this dish was phenomenal. Duh. I don’t have to tell you that though–just look at it. The pork belly followed the beef cheeks in highlighting and focusing on not just the main protein but every component of the dish.

As a special treat, Anthony brought out the rabbitt rillettes with pear preserves. This is something I never would have ordered but that’s what made it especially neat to taste.
This dish was subtle, yet robust. While the flavor was not overwhelming, it had an easy “eatability” to it. Another perfect bar snack to share with some of your favorite people. Besides, the jar they serve it in is just so darn cute.

Executive Chef, George Sabatino, is obviously having a blast pushing out fun and unique dishes comprised of all local ingredients. If you’re on twitter, check him out. He tweets out specials and other fun kitchen pics. Most recently, the bartender told us about their new seafood purveyor who offers only line caught fish. In fact, customers will soon be able to receive a code that will allow them to track the fisherman and boat that caught the dish they’re eating in this food-forward little restaurant in South Philadelphia. Talk about Stateside…

I cannot say enough good things about this place. From the front of the house to the back of the house, this restaurant aims to please and achieves on so, so many levels. I just hope, for our sake, that it doesn’t get too popular and will be able remain our neighborhood gem where we can always snag two seats at the bar. I won’t hold my breath though. If you haven’t eaten at Stateside, get there now. Seriously.

Renaissance Sausage Truck 2.0

Any reader of this little blog knows how much I adore the Renaissance Sausage Truck and just how heartbroken I was when they shut down. For me, every Sunday between May and December meant a sausage sandwich from their truck at the Headhouse Square Farmers Market. I often opted for the hearty vegetarian sausage with caramelized onions and a vegan chipotle mayo. Ever since they closed, our Sundays haven’t quite been the same.

Recently, I heard news that the Sausage Truck was re-imaging itself as a Sausage “cart.” Cart, truck, makes no difference to me. I couldn’t wait to wrap my mouth around one of those tasty sausages again.

When we first approached the cart, everything looked kind of like a mini-me of the original truck.

I love the “Made in South Philly” logo.

Talk about hyper-local eating.

I scoped the good-looking menu, albeit smaller due to obvious space constraints.

I had actually eaten the breakfast sandwich once before and it was probably the best breakfast sandwich I’ve ever eaten. I obviously ordered that again. Pork sausage, organic egg and local american cheese. Can’t quite beat that. Luckily, the breakfast sandwiches come pre-made and I was able to eat immediately.

I don’t love a breakfast sandwich that’s heavy on the egg and these folks got it just right. Rather than using it as an add-on, the focal point of the sandwich is actually the meat. How can you possibly beat that?

While I’m sure my father will be aghast, this porky sausage is inimitable. The sage and thyme flavor mingle perfectly with the tiniest bit of a spicy kick. Bottom line: eat this sandwich now.

Philly Food & Drink Writer Meet-Up

One of the most special aspects of food and eating is that it brings people together. Family meals, dinner or drinks with friends–sharing food with others is an intimate way to connect and create memories that can last for years. Oftentimes, people ask me why I started this blog. My answer is simply that I like food and found that I was always taking pictures of what I ate. Once I started blogging, I slowly began meeting people in the food community who were just like me. It was liberating to discover that I wasn’t the only weirdo who had to take photos of any and everything food-related before it went into my mouth. I began to gather a consortium of friends who had one prominent, similar interest: food.

One of those friends is Wendy of the fabulous La Phemme Phoodie. A lawyer by day, Wendy has taken to organizing area food bloggers meet-ups. The first was at Supper earlier this year, another was a food photography class and the most recent was a joint effort between Wendy, R2L Restaurant, VisitPhilly.Com and local photographer Eric Mencher.

As we stepped off the elevator at the 37th floor and into R2L for the first time, we were greeted with glasses of bubbly. We sipped and mingled, meeting and greeting friends old and new. As we chatted, we were treated to a variety of passed h’ors d’oeuvres such as steak tartare on a potato chip with beef butter (my first time eating tartare,) skewered tuna au poivre, truffled flatbread, crisp risotto balls with truffle soy (the server told me not to be shy with sopping up the truffle soy. I wasn’t,) and smoked salmon with mustard cream cheese on a pretzel crisp. An unmentioned surprise was this take on the chicken cheesesteak.

The hungry bloggers pounced on these delicious offerings.

Just as we started to get sated, out came the drinks. The R2L-Evation with gin, parfait amour, luxardo, fresh lemon, cherry

and the Sidecar with hennessy vs, pallini limoncello, cointreau, fresh lemon.

I didn’t try the R2L-Evation because my body has had a no gin mandate since high school, but those Sidecars certainly were tasty–and potentially dangerous–cocktails.

After some intial mingling, we made our way to the photography workshop conducted by Eric Mencher, a former Inquirer photographer who spent many years eating with Inky food critic, Craig LaBan. Before the workshop began, Chef Daniel Stern spoke to the crowd of excited bloggers and food enthusiasts, thanking us for “keeping the food conversation going.”

La Phemme Phoodie introduces Chef Dan

We were then greeted by Caroline and Alethia of VisitPhilly.com and Philly Homegrown, co-sponsors of the event, who spoke about local food and gastronomy.

Once Eric began, he regaled us with stories and jokes. Rather than discussing detailed camera function, he spoke more to the art of taking a photo and the eye with which we view our subjects. After his brief, yet informative talk, we were set free to take photos of all the beautifully plated dishes that Chef Dan created for the event. Between my husband and I, we have over one hundred photos which you can view on our Flickr page here and here. We were lucky enough to have two cameras thanks to my co-worker and extremely talented photographer, Doug Herman.

Here’s a snapshot (no pun intended) of our lovely Saturday afternoon.

Sushi sampler

Variations of Chocolate

Variations of Chocolate

Row Home Eats in action

Our stunning view

Blueberry lemon tarts with lavender marshmallows

Donut ice cream sandwich

Steak tartare

Lobster macaroni and cheese

Smoked salmon brunch pizza

Roasted Rabbit, fresh + pickled squash, eggplant, yellow steuben gravy + basil

Everyone wants to get a great shot

Mr. Row Home Eats is pretty handy with the camera too

Blogger buddies (L-R In Search of Beer; Apples and Cheese, Please; Row Home Eats; Bridges, Burgers & Beer)

HUGE thanks go to host R2L and Chef Daniel Stern for hosting the event and providing us with phenomenal food for tasting and shooting (can’t beat the view either,) Caroline and Alethia from Visit Philly and Philly Homegrown for helping promote local food initiatives and for the neat swag bag–including a beer koozie and “Who’s Your Farmer?” apron and Eric Mencher for his sharing his expansive knowledge with a group of crazy food lovers like us. Last, but certainly not least, MAJOR love to La Phemme Phoodie for, as Chef Dan put it, helping us to “keep the food conversation going.”

If you’d like to check out what some of the other attendees had to say, check out La Phemme Phoodie’s blog roll. So far, the list includes:

The Palate Princess

A Culinary Journey with Chef Dennis

Zen and Potatoes

My Life On A Plate

Bridges, Burgers & Beer

Cleanliness is Next to Godliness

Asian In America

I Can Cook That

From Graduate to Gourmet

Pass the Sushi

Feed Me Lee

South Jersey Locavore

Eric spoke about things we can do to make food look more appealing in photographs. One tip he mentioned was the use of a fork or spoon so that the eye follows its curves. After the restaurant let us loose on the gorgeous dessert cart, all that was left was this.

The End

Rotisseur

Finally! After one failed attempt and a summer away from Center City lunches, I finally made it to Rotisseur, the new(ish) rotisserie chicken joint in Rittenhouse. It was actually kind of destiny. My husband happened to call me, just as my meeting ended, to see if I wanted to meet for lunch. YES, YES, YES! Let’s meet at Rotisseur in ten. 

We wandered in and scoped the chalkboard menu.

The inside is very simple, with clean lines and a focus on the food. I admired the sides but drooled over the rotisserie.

Zach and I ended up splitting the 1/2 chicken meal with two sides and added a third side, just for fun. We knew we wanted mac and cheese (if you’ve spent enough time reading this blog, you know I’ll always order mac and cheese when it’s offered) and the watermelon orzo salad but had trouble deciding on a third. The sides rotate seasonally and we opted for the hyper-seasonal succotash to round out our lunch.

We ordered at the counter but the counter-woman delivered our food and real silverware to our table (my dad would love this place!) This was a little awkward as I didn’t know what to do about tipping when we left.

The chicken was super moist and packed with lots of flavor. However, I’m more of a side gal and I quickly attacked all three of them with equal gusto. The succotash was definitely the sleeper–the fresh corn highlighted the otherwise simple dish and made me keep coming back for more. The mac and cheese was delish, as always, but the watermelon orzo salad was another winner. Let’s get a closer look at that.

Yum!

Rotisseur is quick, tasty and affordable lunch option in Center City. I can’t wait to get back to try their pesto chicken salad sandwich and chicken banh mi. At $6, these sandwiches are a steal.

Hot Diggity

I love a good hot dog. I mean, who doesn’t? I was ecstatic a few years back when Moe’s Hot Dogs opened up on Gray’s Ferry Avenue, conveniently located between my then apartment and my parents’ house. Then there’s Top Dog in Rockport, MA, one of our go-to vacation spots, that has an extensive variety of  dogs all named after, you guessed it, dogs! The only local place I have yet to try is THE authentic Philly hot dog place, Texas Wieners, on Snyder Ave. which is, ironically, just a few blocks from my house.

But then came Hot Diggity. After hearing glowing reviews from folks such as this guy, who’s just a tad obsessed, we put it on our long list of places we wanted to visit. But 6th and South is kind of random. When are we ever in that neck of the woods???

That question was answered one Sunday after a late morning visit to Headhouse Farmers Market. We were both famished, having skipped breakfast for the market and were just not in the mood for any of the offerings there. A-ha, this was the perfect time for Hot Diggity. I pulled up the menu on my iPhone and started excitedly reading it aloud to my husband. I know I’ve got a keeper because not once did he interrupt me or tell me to be quiet. In fact, he was just as excited as I was for exciting offerings such as Cincinnati Skyline with chili, nacho cheese and other fun stuff.

Luckily, after rolling down South Street, we found a spot right out front. He waited in the car with the dog while I hopped in line and checked out our options.

We had decided to split three dogs and he let me pick, woo hoo, knowing that the Cincy Skyline would definitely be one of the choices. The line was short but the wait just to order was a little longer than expected. Meanwhile, I scoped the awesome illustrated menu by local artist and food lover, Hawk Krall.

I was pretty set on our hot dogs, but I also decided to get fries and had to pick from the looong list of dipping sauces. Fun! I love me a good dipping sauce!

Decisions, decisions!!! Eek, I just didn’t know what to do. I ended up going with the bacon aioli, chipotle malt vinegar and roasted garlic rosemary.

Luckily, despite the wait to order, my food came up very quickly, even though I had to bag the last of it myself because things seemed a little hectic. We could barely wait to get home and demolish our dogs.

Cincinnati Skyline with chili, white onion, scallions and nacho cheese.

Look how long the dog is! This one was the hands down favorite. There was a nice smothering of chili made in-house and the nacho cheese, well, I have a serious affinity for that stuff and a conviction that processed cheese makes almost anything taste better.

The Bronx Bomber with sauerkraut, spicy brown mustard and New York style red onion sauce (whatever that means.)

This dog had a serious tang that hit your taste buds in the back and brought water to your mouth. What a mouthful of flavor. Then again, sauerkraut is up there with processed cheese, although I’m a little more picky about its use.

The Southern Comfort with creamy coleslaw and creole mustard.

This was the only one that left me slightly disappointed. While it was still one of the better hot dogs I’ve had, I was hoping for a creamier coleslaw. But have no fear, Hot Diggity has absolutely mastered the topping: hot dog: roll ratio. I still enjoyed a little bit of everything in each and every bite and my very lucky dog (real dog, that is) got a taste of the end. She was a happy pup.

Oh, the fries. I just love that they’re served in paper cones and when you have you order “for here,” they have cute little holes in the table for propping up your fries.

These salty, hand cut fries were the best fries I’ve had in a long time. I loved the option of different dipping sauces but have to say that the bacon one was straight up disgusting. My husband thought that roasted rosemary garlic had too strong of a rosemary flavor but I loved the creaminess and the chipotle malt vinegar lacked spice but all I really cared about was the vinegar which is just SO darn good with fries. We should eat like the British more often.

Bottom line. Eat at Hot Diggity. Like, now-ish. Besides, I heard they’re starting a delivery service. As my friend, Mellody Brewing,said, this could be very good for me. And very bad for me.

The Latin Farmer

What is it with me and food trucks? I seriously can’t get enough of them! In the Row Home Eats household, our Sunday tradition (at least between the months of May-November) involve waking up and heading over to the Headhouse Square Farmers Market while listening to brunch with the Beatles. Dog in tow, of course. We used to do our shopping for the day then hit the Renaissance Sausage Truck and munch our sandwiches on the cement stairs adjacent to the shambles. My favorite was the vegetarian while my husband usually opted for the Mediterranean. But alas, a few months ago I stumbled across some alarming news. The Sausage Truck would be closing! We were sure to visit Headhouse on their last official Sunday and split a kielbasa in sadness as we wondered who could possibly fill their big, big shoes.

Around this time, another truck began to make a name for itself in the Philadelphia area. The Latin Farmer debuted at the stupid Mt. Airy Night Market where I couldn’t find a stupid parking spot after driving all the way up there in rush hour traffic. Nah, I’m not still bitter. The Latin Farmer promoted healthy, local eating and had an eco-conscious truck to boot. I had to check this place out.

Unfortunately, my day job (i.e. my only job) does not allow me the leisure to take long lunch jaunts to Love Park, where the truck set up shop, so I was pleasantly surprised when I learned that it would be replacing The Sausage Truck on Sundays. The first time we spotted the truck there, we just knew we had to try it. I love the shiny green truck (get it, the “Green” truck is green?)

We checked out the menu and I was drawn to the chicken salad but couldn’t quite wrap my head around the collard wraps. I do love me some bread.

My adventurous husband chose the steak collard wrap while I ended up with the braised beef sandwich, the bocadillo.

The collard wraps were pretty adorable, I must admit. For $8, however, it was a bit shrimpy. Luckily, reports were glowing. The steak inside was well-seasoned and the salsa was the perfect sweet accompaniment.

The bocadillo looked pretty hearty in comparison.

Surprisingly, the highlight of this sandwich was the crunchy apple slaw that sat atop the braised meat. The crunch played well with the soft and chewy meat and gave it a great tang. I must say, and it’s funny that I’m complaining after whining that the collard wraps had no bread, that the bread to filling ratio in the bocadillo was a bit off. There was just too much  bread for this sandwich and it overwhelmed the filling, which should have been the star.

While I miss the Sausage Truck, who will always remain near and dear to my heart, I’m happy to say the The Latin Farmer has found a home. Unfortunately, since that Sunday, the Latin Farmer has temporarily ceased operations. Hopefully we’ll see them back in business in the near future.

A Full Plate

It’s so hard to find outdoor seating around here. Are you kidding me? You say. Nope. It’s hard to find outdoor seating at a place where there’s not an interminable wait. Oh, and if you have your very cute and adorable dog with you, you don’t even have the option to take an inside table. Every weekend, my husband and I struggle with this as we ponder our brunch options. We often end up munching on something at Headhouse Farmers Market but other days we’re in the mood for more of a sit down thang. One recent weekend, we decided to head up to A Full Plate Cafe in Northern Liberties after learning that yes, they did have outdoor seating. However, once we got dressed and ready to go, the sky looked ominous and we kept the pooch home.

A Full Plate is a cute little place with a simple outside that doesn’t match its bright, colorful decor on the inside.

I was a little freaked out that the place was completely empty at prime brunch hour. Was that a sign of what was to come? I decided not to let it bother me and checked out the specials instead.

As we were deciding what to eat, our waiter brought over our drinks. In Mason jars. In large Mason jars. I can’t stand when places have little water glasses, especially for brunch. Don’t they know that everyone was out drinking the night before? This place is just so darn cute!

As usual, Mr. Row Home Eats went healthy with the Darren Salad ($7.50) of grilled chicken, grilled asparagus, roasted red peppers, cucumbers and tomato.

I, on the other hand, totally pigged out with the Toads in a Hole ($10) of multigrain bread filled with scrambled eggs, turkey sausage, veggies and cheddar cheese.

Unfortunately, while I appreciated the concept of the dish, the overall implementation didn’t quite add up. It was too dry and the flavors were hidden by all the bread. The sweet potatoes homefries, on the other hand, were spot on. A perfect balance of crisp to chewy potato, I could have eaten these homefries all day long.

Oh, I forgot to mention what else I ordered.

I’ll admit it. I am a sneak. I often tell my husband what I’m planning on ordering and then add a last minute additional dish like macaroni and cheese. OK, it’s often macaroni and cheese, which is my favorite food and I have a LOT of trouble not ordering it. Besides, I convince him that we can split it. This mac and cheese was one of the better ones I’ve had recently. It maintained its ultra creaminess while packing a bit of a crunch on top and the cheesey flavor lingered in my mouth with each bite. This is certainly a dish to savor.

While A Full Plate didn’t knock it out of the park on every dish, I would return again and again for the mac and cheese. If they picked up a little speed in the kitchen (our food took a while to come out, despite being two of the only people in the place. I guess it was being made very fresh?) and tinkered with some dishes, this place has the potential to be top notch. Besides, how can you not love a place that hosts vegetarian friendly rib cook-offs?

Chicken Ricotta Meatballs

A few weeks ago, Slow Food USA put out a “$5 Challenge,” encouraging people to come up with home cooked meals for under $5/person. Joy Manning over at The Oyster Evangelist took up the challenge and shared her results with the Inquirer. When I saw that she had made chicken ricotta meatballs, I knew I had to check them out. We are constantly trying to eat healthier and I was interested in exploring this meatball alternative (not to mention the last chicken meatball I had from Marabella Meatball Co. was the bomb.)

Chicken Ricotta Meatballs (adapted from Joy Manning)

2 lbs. ground chicken (Manning suggests purchasing chicken thighs and running them through your food processor)

2 cups ricotta cheese (get fresh ricotta if you’re able. I got mine from Salumeria in the Reading Terminal)

1/2 cup dried bread crumbs

1/3 cup minced onion (or to taste)

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

-Combine the ground chicken, ricotta cheese, bread crumbs, onion, garlic, egg, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Mix gently until well combined.

-Form into meatballs the size of ping pong balls. They will seem very wet and gooey but have no fear.  Arrange on a silcone mat or parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes, turning after about 15 minutes, until golden brown in spots.

Before baking

After baking

See those crispy black bits on the silpat? Scrape them off and snack before dinner. I promise they’re divine.

-Transfer to a pot of tomato sauce and simmer until serving. I was planning on have a low-carb meal and serving them over zucchini noodles but ALAS, we had no zukes. This carboholic was just fine with spaghetti.

 

I was amazed by how light and fluffy the meatballs were and the ricotta seriously salvaged the dryness that is often prevalent in ground poultry. I made an abundant amount of meatballs but we somehow tore through them in just a few days. They were that good and absolutely packed with flavor. Next time I’m at the Reading Terminal, I’m hitting up Godshall’s to buy some ground chicken in bulk as this would be a great freezer meal.