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.

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?

Cuba Libre: Brunch Without Borders

When I was invited to a bloggers’ lunch at to check out Cuba Libre’s new Brunch Without Borders menu, I jumped at the opportunity. I had never been to Cuba Libre and am not as familiar with Cuban food as I am with other cuisine. I dragged my very willing (all you can eat brunch!) husband along to check things out.

We walked in and the decor looked exactly like a Cuban garden cafe (or at least what I would imagine it to look like.) It was bright, lush and airy.

I skimmed the broad range of offerings and began to plot my meal. There were so many tasty looking offerings.

As we discussed our options, a bread basket was delivered to our table with a churro, muffin, banana bread and a guava cream cheese “hojaldre” pastry with mango butter and guava preserves. Oh my.

We decided to order a handful of items to start and we held onto the menu for later rounds of ordering.

First up was the cuban style shrimp cocktail. For someone who doesn’t normally love shrimp, this was one of my favorite dishes of the day. It was swimming in a tangy cocktail-style sauce slash  gazpacho that left me clamoring for more.

Continuing on our seafood tour, we had the truffle and citrus marinated grilled baby octopus over eggplant salad. This dish was surprisingly cold and refreshing but didn’t have quite enough of that charred flavor as I would have liked.

Next up was their version of Eggs Benedict. A crabmeat and potato cake topped with a poached egg, avocado and a tomato hollandaise. I love crab and I love eggs benedict, so this dish was a no-brainer to me. While it was good, the potato-crabcake had a little too much potato and not as much crab, which took away from the subtle sweet flavor I enjoy in crab.

We moved on to land with the beef, pork and pine nut meatballs. This was probably my least favorite dish of the day. Nothing quite wrong with it, the flavors just didn’t stand out like the other dishes did.

Now we’re getting to the good stuff! The meatballs came with what my husband described as the “ultimate stoner food.” Papas con chorizo are smashed potatoes with chorizo, sour cream and monterrey jack cheese. Mmmmm…extra points for an adorable serving vessel!

To accompany the stoner food, we had to try the beef, pork and chorizo burger slider. I let my husband eat most of the slider as I was completely enamored by the shoestring fries. I really dig an authentic (read: super thin) salty shoestring fry. And they put them ON the burger.

After a few heavier dishes, we lightened things up with the house-cured smoked duck with huitlacoche vinaigrette. I had to Google huitlacoche to make sure I spelled it right. I’m always a sucker for a smoky flavor and this meat did not disappoint. The vinaigrette added a nice tang to the rich smokiness of the meat.

The adobo-rubbed charred tuna was up next. This dish seemed kind of random for a Cuban restaurant, but my mouth didn’t seem to mind. I wish there was just a touch more of the avocado salsa that topped the fish.

The next dish was a disappointment, not because it wasn’t tasty but because I had REALLY high hopes for it. I expected the spinach and manchego cheese puffs to be crispier and gooier. Instead, they were more on the doughy side of things. Again, this was a solid dish but just not what I expected.

It was around that time we thought we were done. I then, as I’ve been wont to do in the 8 years we’ve been together, surprised my husband by ordering two more dishes.

I had been eyeing up the sopa levanta muerto. This coconut-based broth was “swimming” with (ooh, that’s a bad pun) crabmeat, mussels, scallops and shrimp. My husband and I did what we do best–I happily slurped the rich and tasty broth while he chomped contentedly on the seafood.

And we couldn’t leave Cuba Libre without trying the Guacamole Cubano with PINEAPPLE (!) in it, served with wavy strips of fried plantains (interesting info about me. I hate bananas with a passion and even hate regular plantains. I love me some friend plantains, though. Always have.) This dish was a light and citrusy end to our meal.

The End.

Just kidding, just kidding. Executive Chef Jasper Alivia–a very nice guy–came by to chat with us and convinced us to try the ropa vieja hash. Our friends, Ryan and LeeAnne, were sitting at a nearby table and I think they sent him over to twist our arms. My husband tried to resist but Chef Jasper said it was his favorite too and besides, it was brisket. You can never pass up brisket!

So we ordered our last and really final dish of the day–beef brisket stewed with tomatoes atop a potato hash, topped off with a fried egg. OK fine, everyone. It was delicious. The tomato brought out the sweetness in the brisket and it was my kind of dish; the one where each bite gives you a little bit of everything. What a beautiful way to end our meal.

Overall, this meal was a smashing success. While there were no real lowlight, highlights were definitely the shrimp cocktail, potatoes and ropa vieja. For $25/person, this would be a great place to bring a group to celebrate a certain occasion. Check their website as our waitress told us that they sometimes have live music or DJs to accompany brunch. Chef Guillermo Pernot travelled to Cuba and spent a great deal of time researching and rewriting the menu and that energy was certainly evident in this meal. I look forward to going back (when I’m done this silly diet, that is.)

Dos Segundos

What a way to spend a lazy Saturday. Complimentary nachos with two different salsas.

Yummy eggs with YUCA TOTS!! (lose the white bread though, dudes)


And, of course, the biggest, fattest burrito you could possibly imagine.

I abstained (save for a small sip–for research, of course) but there were also phenomenal margaritas including cinnamon-GINGER. Yes, it was even more delicious than it sounds.

What a great 2.5 hour brunch with new friends!

Green Eggs Cafe

My in-laws came to South Philly to help around the house once again (this may become a recurring theme on the blog.) By help, I generally mean my mother-in-law and I hanging out and my father-in-law and husband painting, tiling, spackling and/or sanding.  When they come down, we usually “do work around the house” for a few hours and then head out to lunch. Last time they were here, we tried to go to Green Eggs Cafe, but didn’t want to wait and happily ended up at Stogie Joe’s instead.

Green Eggs Cafe is a relatively new bruncherie at 13th & Dickinson with a second location in Northern Liberties. My husband and I visited a few times when it first opened and always enjoyed the food but the service was just…off.  You know, we had to ask for utensils, ask for drink refills, ask for our toast, etc. And we always sat at the counter. The thing that burned me up the most was that the owner was always there, but was he working? No. He was always just sitting around, hanging out. It’s important for me, especially in neighborhood establishments, to feel welcomed. Why do I like Green Aisle and Fond and Black and Brew so much? The owners are present and friendly and accommodating. I just wish he wouldn’t rest entirely on the fact that a place like Green Eggs was sorely needed in the neighborhood. Take the extra step, dude.

Stepping off of my soapbox.

Anyway, the in-laws, husband and I headed over there for a very late lunch (around 3pm) on a recent weekend and was told there would be a brief wait. No problem. It seems as if they took ownership of the space next door which was being turned into a comfy little “waiting room” while the space where these couches previously were is now occupied by tables.

There’s still a little work to be done but Green Eggs is definitely making better use of their space by adding tables to what was previously a pretty open area–and the previous resting place for the couches.

We were seated within ten minutes and briefly perused the menu (although I had already checked it out at home, of course.) From previous visits, I knew that I was a fan of their meaty, thick-cut turkey bacon, and thought that I’d be ordering from the breakfast side of things. Instead, a special caught my eye–beef bacon reuben. I like beef, for sure, and I like everything about a reuben. That was a winner for sure. It looked awful tasty when it came out.

Look at that carrot-flecked slaw! The sandwich was as good as I expected, if not better. The beef bacon wasn’t really bacon at all. It was kind of just corned beef (or something like that) but I didn’t really care. It was awesome. The sandwich was pressed so all of the flavors were melded together and each bite was simply delightful.

My father-in-law got the BLT with sweet potato fries. I didn’t get a photo of it because the poor guy was so hungry I figured I’d just let him eat. My husband and mother-in-law both got the club with “off the bone” turkey and smoked ham. Check this bad boy out.

We’re talking Koch’s sizes here, folks! With two kinds of meat (there were special raves for the carved, non-lunchmeat turkey,) this sandwich is a bang for your buck at $8.50. My husband hadn’t eaten all day so he managed to finish off most of the sandwich and my father-in-law helped my mother-in-law with hers.

Overall, this was the best experience, and certainly the best food I’ve had at Green Eggs. I look forward to going back and hope that my expectations continue to be exceeded.

Chhaya Cafe

Almost a year ago, I heard about a new cafe opening on Passyunk Avenue. Since we live just a few blocks from “the Avenue,” we’re always excited to hear about a new shop, bar or restaurant. [Side note: some of my favorite spots are Green Aisle Grocery, Fond, Salt & Pepper, Izumi and Nice Things Handmade, although I could spend–and have!–hours strolling with my dog, husband and a La Colombe cafe au lait from Capogiro and chatting with locals and shop owners alike.] In October, The Food Trust hosted the first ever Night Market on the Avenue and we (along with hundreds of others) checked out local food merchants, including Chhaya, a new cafe that served a variety of food on waffles.  My friend, Farish, and I got something that was either chicken or chick pea curry on a waffle (I’m still not sure why we couldn’t figure it out–I think the guy said one thing but it tasted like the other.)  We enjoyed the little taste and made a note to check it out.

Fast forward to last weekend. My husband and I slept in and were ready for a hearty Sunday brunch. He wanted pho but was overruled–I wanted a place where I could relax with a leisurely cup of coffee and Nam Phuong isn’t quite that place (don’t worry, he got what he wanted later in the day!)  I had been eyeing up Chhaya’s reviews on Yelp for the past week or so and figured it would be a great time to check it out.  We headed over there with empty bellies and high hopes.

Chhaya is adorable. I walked in and noted immediately that it had more of a coffee shop vibe than cafe. We were greeted immediately by the friendly waiter (who also served us during the Night Market) and gave our drink orders. Chhaya has four different types of coffee that can be served three ways–siphon, pour over or french press. This is my kind of place! I’ve recently become obsessed with “pour over” or Chemex style of coffee thanks to Bodhi Coffee (love that place!) Chemex is an hourglass-shaped glass vessel in which you pour hot water over a special filter. It’s very streamlined and simple and I am absolutely in love (hint, hint, my birthday is coming up!) I went with the Honduras coffee and was very ok with the forewarning that the pour over style would take some time. As the gentleman behind the counter prepared my drink, I walked over to get a photo. He was a bit perplexed and had some difficulty understanding what I wanted but this was my drink in progress.

When it finally came to the table, I had about a cup and a half of coffee. It was a pretty light roast and notably SMOOTH.

We perused the brief but comprehensive menu and I went with one of the waffle specials–their version of Huevos rancheros with black beans, tomato salsa, avocado and chorizo topped with a fried egg and hollandaise. I remarked that the Hollandaise was an interesting addition and the server explained that some folks had complained that the dish was too dry so they figured they’d add a little sauce. Hollandaise makes everything better, right?  My husband went with the bagel sandwich with cream cheese, bacon, avocado and tomato with an optional egg. He added the egg but never received it. Oh well.  The sandwich was good but pretty straightforward.

Then came my waffle. Take a look at the picture and tell me if anything looks strange to you…

It’s a little harder to tell in this picture but the waffles are all served on plates that are just a bit larger than the waffles themselves. This caused quite a dilemma for me. Because the dish was slightly deconstructed–the beans, tomato, chorizo were all in separate areas rather than mixed together–I had a hell of a time trying to get a good bite. Besides, every time I tried to cut into the waffle, the whole thing would slide around a bit and, inevitably, something would fall onto the table. It was a messy meal. I need a little space, folks! Taste-wise, the waffle was still pretty dry, even with the addition of Hollandaise that is evident in the picture but I barely tasted it. Each of the flavors was good on its own, but the plating made it impossible to mix them.

Final verdict–great concept, implementation needs work. Give me a bigger plate and double the toppings so that each bite is not overwhelmed with dry waffle and we can talk.  I will definitely return to Chhaya for a cup of coffee and perhaps a smaller bite, but I’m not sure about this whole waffle thing anymore.

Cafe Estelle

On Sunday, my best friend and I planned a brunch double date with our husbands. When I woke up, a texting session commenced regarding where we would be eating. We each threw out a few options and settled on Cafe Estelle. Cafe Estelle, on North 4th Street, is one of their favorite spots, but we hadn’t been there yet so I was eager to check it out.  When we got to 4th street, we weren’t exactly sure where it was located until I called my friend, Farish. As it turns out, Cafe Estelle is actually inside a large condo building on 4th street (which is apparently quite pet-friendly due to the large number of dogs I saw coming in and out.) We parked and went inside for a table, yet were told that we had to wait for our entire party.

Once they arrived, we were seated quickly and I began perusing the menu. I was immediately intrigued by the unique offerings like a gorgonzola, bacon and apple breakfast pizza (!) and shirred eggs with mushroom, spinach, cream and truffle oil. As we were checking out the menu, our waitress came up to take our drink order. My friends, who eat there often, mentioned that she was new and we definitely saw a few service glitches including a lack of cup for my coffee–I used to waitress in high school and coffee is the one thing you CANNOT forget on a weekend morning! Once I got my cup, I walked up to the cute, DIY coffee bar.  They had four different types of coffee, including one decaf. I was impressed by the various offerings including a Costa Rican blend and the detailed descriptions of all the varieties.  I opted for the Costa Rican blend due to many enjoyable cups of during our trip to Costa Rica a few years ago.

I had some difficulty deciding what to order. Did I want to stay simple and get the 2 eggs poached, homefries and breakfast meat option for $6.50 (I love poached eggs!) or did I want to go with something a little fancier. I ended up opting for the shirred eggs as I kept eyeing them up on the menu. I also got a side order of turkey sausage as I’ve heard great things about Cafe Estelle’s meats from my friends at Green Aisle Grocery who stock their bacon and scrapple. My husband got a version of Eggs Benedict (I want to say it was called Eggs Estelle…) with artichoke and prosciutto, Farish got the fruit, yogurt and granola platter with a side of one scrambled eggs and wait till you hear what Tre got…apparently Cafe Estelle has BACON PANCAKES. It’s not on the menu, but you can order their buttermilk pancakes with big chunks of bacon in them! That is one of Tre’s favorite menu items there so he thought he’d go with the old standby.

While we were waiting for the meal, our waitress dropped off a little dish of ketchup. I don’t know why I found this so adorable.

Our food came out pretty quickly. Check out Farish’s granola. I didn’t taste it but doesn’t it just look so pretty?

My husband enjoyed his egg dish, although I didn’t taste that either. He was a member of the clean plate club, so I’m assuming it had to be good.

I got a quick bite of Tre’s bacon-laced pancakes–making sure the bite was soaked with maple syrup and had a chunk of bacon. These pancakes were really, really good. I’m not normally a pancake eater because I like a little more variety on my place (i.e. an egg dish has eggs, potatoes, toast, etc.) but I would definitely order the bacon pancakes in the future. The pancake was light and fluffy with the sweet and chewy bacon. Bacon pancakes? Best idea EVER! Check out the little piece of bacon sticking out from the pancake on the left.

Finally, the shirred eggs! When I ordered them, the waitress made sure to explain what shirred eggs were. While I was familiar with them, I’m guessing she did that because past guests were surprised or turned off by the runny yolk. I love runny yolks! The dish that arrived at the table was a sigh to behold. In general, all of Cafe Estelle’s food looked really, really good and I appreciated their attention to detail when it came to plating.

What’s the verdict? I liked the dish. It was good. Unfortunately, it did not reach the high hopes that I had for it. One major issue was that it sounded so flavorful and yummy on the menu but it really lacked flavor including the highly anticipated truffle oil. Have you ever had a dish that was good and fine when you were hoping for great? That’s exactly what this was. In addition, the homefries (which are one of my favorite breakfast items) were soft and flavorless. I like a good, crunchy potato dish OR at least one that is chock full of flavor. Last, and this is just me being whiny, but I prefer a traditional piece of toast with my breakfast while Cafe Estelle serves cute little pieces of baguette. With a dish like this, I would have liked a little more square footage with which to sop up my eggs.

And the turkey sausage. The turkey sausage came as two small patties that looked almost like turkey sliders. While they were good, they tasted more like turkey burger than turkey sausage. I was kind of bummed because I had a different idea of what the sausage would taste like.

In short, it sounds like I had a poor meal at Cafe Estelle, but overall I quite enjoyed myself. I think that I may have mis-ordered but would be happy to visit the bruncherie again. We got a table quickly, which is almost impossible in Philadelphia, the service was pleasant and the food was obviously fresh and made to order.  My favorite part of the whole brunch was the fact that everyone who orders a coffee with their meal gets a coffee cup to go. This idea is GENIUS! I was able to fill up a to-go up with a fresh, steaming-hot cup of coffee as we braved the cold to walk back to our cars.

Hair o’the Dog Brunch at Supper

A few weeks ago, Mitch Prensky, the Chef-Owner of Supper Restaurant (@supperphilly) tweeted out some interested news. Supper, which happens to be one of my favorite restaurants, was planning on having a New Year’s Day “Hair o’the Dog” Brunch. What is so interesting about that, one may ask. Well, he and his wife, Jennifer, were holding the brunch as a fundraiser for PAWS Animal Rescue…and we could bring our dog!!! Now, if I haven’t mentioned it before, my husband and I have a four-year old English bulldog named Jewels and she is the light of our lives. We rescued her from HeavenSent Bulldog Rescue, an amazing, volunteer-run, breed-specific rescue, and are big advocates of pet adoption/rescue. We love going to brunch during the warmer months because we can sit outside with Jewels and have a leisurely meal. Somehow, winter brunch isn’t quite as fun without our little bulldog so we were SUPER excited at the opportunity. Brunch with Jewels AND an awesome meal??? Yes, please!

We woke up late on New Year’s Day and headed up to 9th & South ready for a tasty meal. We found a parking spot right away (this is a big deal!) and made sure Jewels peed before we entered the restaurant because we didn’t want to be “those people” whose dog peed in the middle of Supper. When we got to the door, we were greeted with this sign.

Once we entered the restaurant there were fresh cloth napkins for paw cleaning. After a quick wipe down, we walked up to the hostess stand and were greeted with overwhelming love and rubs for Jewels. They also gave her a squeaky toy!  Jewels was visibly excited about the opportunity to eat inside with us. She obviously knew that something special was going on and relished in the excitement AND extra attention. She tends to be a bit of an attention whore sometimes, but I’m ok with that. We headed over to our seats and perused the menu. My order went as follows: water, coffee, bloody mary, food. I was torn between the traditional bloody mary and the bloody maria, Supper’s spicier version, but I kept things simple and was pleased with the result.

There was still a nice bite and plenty of chewy horseradish. I LOVE horseradish. My husband got something similar with bourbon instead of vodka–he can’t quite recall but remembers that it had Kentucky in the name. On another note, check out the little milk bottle behind my bloody mary–they served the milk for my coffee in that container. Too cute!

Even though there were tons of tasty sounding things on the menu, the best post-New Year’s Eve (and pre-parade) meal for us both was the traditional Supper burger.

The burger had caramelized onions, smoked bacon, gruyere and  roasted tomatoes with a side of duckfat fries and house made pickles. Need I say more? Literally, no words could describe this better than looking at the picture and ingredients. Well, maybe they could, but none of MY words could…Meanwhile, Jewels was playing with her toy and licking her lips after tastes of burger.

While we were dining, we ran into a Twitter “friend” of mine and her pug, Meatball. Meatball and Jewels sniffed each other a bit, but each of them seemed more interested in the surrounding people–and food, of course.  Meatball is a cutie though!

As we were waiting for the check, Jewels looked up at me–“any burger left, Mom?”

It was a successful brunch for all and hopefully Supper was able to give a nice donation to PAWS for all of their hard work and dedication.  Thank you to Supper for helping kick off our 2011 with a smile.

Cafe Lutecia

When my husband and I lived in the Graduate Hospital neighborhood (or whatever trendy names folks are giving it these days,) we spent many a Sunday morning at Cafe Lutecia, a charming french cafe on 23rd & Lombard. We recently woke up on a Sunday morning with our minds and stomachs in the mood for something a little different for brunch. I forget who suggested Cafe Lutecia (these things happen when you’ve been with someone long enough) but the other happily agreed.

We found a quick parking spot along Lombard Street and walked into small, packed room with yuppies young and old sipping lattes, chatting and reading the paper. We had to wait awkwardly for a table (there’s no real good spot to wait without feeling like you’re hovering) but were seated quickly.

Cafe Lutecia has a sizeable menu of sandwiches, salads and croissants and always has a number of soup and quiche specials. My husband and I were hoping they had the tomato bisque, our old favorite. They always list it as a special but I think it’s a regular menu item. Anyway, who knows.

I started with a latte and the husband got his favorite, Orangina. There were a number of appealing options but we both decided on the tomato bisque and sandwiches. Although they have soup and half-sandwich options, we were both pretty hungry.  The bisque came pretty quickly with a nice hunk of their chewy baguette for dipping.

I literally cannot say enough good things about this soup. The bisque has a nice creaminess with miniscule, but perfectly placed chunks of tomato and something else–garlic, perhaps? It also has a subtle kick that you don’t taste until your mouth is empty again. It comes steaming hot and you just want to pick up the bowl and drink it. This soup is SO. GOOD.

After the soup came our sandwiches. I got brie and tomato and my husband got one of their french-named sandwiches whose name I cannot recall. He also pulled the perfect point and order because neither of us knew how to pronounce the name of his sandwich!

My tomato and brie. Simplicity.

His “name forgotten” french sandwich with olives, lettuce tomato, herbes de provence and capicola or some other porky meat.

OK, my mind was bigger than my stomach but that allowed for a tasty snack later that day. Cafe Lutecia is a tiny little french gem that never fails to deliver. And they have the best tomato bisque in the whole wide world. This makes me love them.

Sidecar Brunch

Last Sunday was a gorgeous November day. It was sunny and hovering near the low 6os. Due to the stunning and unseasonable weather, my husband and I thought we’d jump on the opportunity to have one last al fresco brunch with our dog, Jewels.  We hopped in the car with intentions of Hawthorne’s but, upon driving up 11th street, noticed that they had done away with their outdoor seats for the season. We racked our brains for another spot that would be open before 11am and thought we’d check out Sidecar on 22nd & Christian. Now, I like Sidecar and all, but I don’t get there that often because it’s not as Septa-accessible as I would like. Luckily we had our own wheels and noticed that Sidecar was just opening its doors as we walked up at 10:30am. There were already a few people waiting around for outdoor seats but we snagged a two-top located conveniently next to a dirt patch (perfect opportunity for our alpha dog to pee/mark her territory.)

Sidecar has an interesting and diverse brunch menu–I was torn  between crab benedict, the oyster po’boy and a breakfast burrito. They even had some great looking salads. But who wants salad for brunch?

I got my coffee pretty quickly and it came with a small, quarter-sized sugar cookie. Perfect for dipping!

We ended up settling on the breakfast burrito wrap for me and the huevos rancheros for him (with a side of turkey bacon for me/the dog.) Because of the opening rush, our food took a little while to come out. The waitstaff was friendly and accommodating, pouring water for our dog, encouraging my husband to add chorizo to his dish and telling me to “take it AND like it” when I said that I’d take some more coffee. I love it when they keep things interesting. Luckily we got there at the right time, though, because there was a quick flood of people and a wait for outdoor tables. I guess everyone was thinking like us.

Finally our food came.

I really enjoyed my wrap. It wasn’t your traditional, overstuffed breakfast burrito just pouring with eggy-ness.  I’m not the biggest fan of eggs–to me they’re more of a carrier food like tofu. The burrito had a nice balance of eggs, potato and cheese with a nice smoky mayo on the side. My potatoes were nicely crisped, although they could have used a bit more salt and I like a lot of crisp. The salad was a nice touch–made me feel as if I was eating healthy after that heavy meal. It had a light, tangy vinaigrette and that was poured with a light hand. There’s nothing as unappetizing as an overly dressed salad.

My husband enjoyed his version of huevos rancheros with chorizo.

Again, it was a lighter take of the traditional dish. I didn’t taste it, but he certainly enjoyed it and the chorizo turned out to be a great addition. Look at his potatoes though–they are CRISPIER THAN MINE! In a prime example of personal taste, he asked me “why did I get all the crispy bit?” I responded my scooping them onto my plate with a quickness.

Overall, Sidecar is a solid brunch spot in the city and the outdoor seats are great for people watching (and eavesdropping, of course!)