Khmer Kitchen: From Cambodia with Love

My brother is the nomad of the family. He’s lived in Salt Lake City, London, Ohio and myriad cities in the Middle East, just to name a few. Recently, he fell victim to the death of paper journalism and was hit in a round of layoffs at a newspaper in Florida. He quickly began to freelance (which was aligned with the unfortunate events of the Trayvon Martin case just a few miles from Orlando) in hopes of eventually writing longer pieces for The New Yorker and other fancy rags. Amidst a flurry of writing, he submitted an application to the Phnom Penh Post in Cambodia. A few months later he was packing up, selling his car and moving to Cambodia. Sure, why not.

When he’s abroad, conversations with my brother (thank you, Skype) often involve food. In Cairo I heard about the falafel cart by his apartment, in Jordan it was the tea. Ironically, even though he’s in Cambodia, he hasn’t eaten much Cambodian food. Because there is such a large Vietnamese population, he’s enjoyed enough pho to last a lifetime. Regardless, when I drove past Khmer Kitchen on 6th and Morris a few weeks ago, I was excited to share a gastronomical experience with my brother across the globe. I pulled over, grabbed a menu and impatiently waited for him on Skype. I then proceeded to read much of the menu to him as he could bear (while holding it up to the camera too, of course.) He pointed out lok-lak, sauteed meat over lettuce tomatoes and onions with lime sauce, as a popular Cambodian dish. Then he asked if any dishes had prah-hok in them. I scanned the menu, finding prah-hok kahteeh under the “Traditional Khmer Dish” section.

“What’s that?” I asked him.

He proceeded to describe the dish as little fish being fermented in large buckets. It sounded disgusting…but also kind of intriguing.

The following week, my husband had off from work on a weekday and we decided to check out Khmer Kitchen. We were joined by my father and his friend–Dad was delighted to go to a Cambodian restaurant as he and my mother will be visiting my brother in November.

We walked into the colorful store and sat down. There are about eight tables, two or three of which were filled. The waiter walked over to our table and immediately told us “the only appetizer we have is the meatballs.” Um, ok. Guess we won’t be getting the grilled meat skewers or spring rolls. Boo. The meatballs were priced at $1.50 so I asked if that was per meatball. He responded affirmatively so I ordered one for each of us, with the exception of my father who eschews pork. We also got the bok la-haong (papaya salad) so there was something for Dad.

The salad came out quickly.

Papaya salad is a staple in many Asian cuisines and this one wasn’t earth-shatteringly different than others I’ve had. Fresh and cool with a bit of a kick for the hot, summer day.

The meatballs arrived next. For $1.50 per skewer, we actually got four hearty pork meatballs with a mild chili dipping sauce.

The ordering of the entrees was a complicated affair. My father, husband and father’s friend planned on ordering the same thing (two with beef, one with chicken,) but the waiter convinced us that the portions were “very, very big” and another gentleman walked by to let us know that “Cambodian food is meant for sharing.” We ended up deciding on the same dish–one of chicken, one of beef; fried calamari and the pra-hok that I was just dying to try. It was a confusing interaction and I was intrigued to see what we would actually end up with.

Khmer Kitchen seems to be a family affair, with the older parents cooking in the kitchen, younger folks waiting tables and youngest children hanging out, playing games behind the counter. The dishes are all cooked to order which can mean hurry up and wait. Finally, the first dish came out.

Whoops, miscommunication. We got two of the sauteed beef with celery and peppers.

The dish was simple yet tasty. The tender beef had a bit of heat and a slight curry flavor. I don’t know that I would order two of the exact same dish next time, but it was certainly a solid option.

Next up was my pra-hok. Yes!

The waiter told me that I could pick up the veggies and spoon a little pra-hok on them all fancy “like caviar” or I could do it “like we do it” and load a bunch of veggies together with a huge dollop of the ground pork. I think I hit those two somewhere in between. When I initially ordered the pra-hok, the waiter perked up, mentioning that it was a Cambodian special. The dish did not fail to delight. It was smooth and creamy with just a hint of coconut and little heat. The vegetables were a great vehicle for the pork, letting the protein shine. My favorite veg for this purpose was probably the cabbage as it has little flavor and perfectly encapsulated the meat. This is a great dish for sharing and no need to be scared of the fermented fish. There was no fish flavor to be found. I’m not sure if I was happy or sad about that one.

Next came the fried calamari.

The calamari wasn’t heavily breaded and was surprisingly tender. It was reminiscent of salt and pepper squid that you might find at a Vietnamese restaurant.

We waited and waited some more and finally out came the chicken saute.

Nope, not the chicken saute. I think it was the Sah-Law Kah-Rhee Mohn, a curry chicken dish also listed in the “Traditional Khmer Dish” section. The waiter did, at some point, suggest that dish but none of us quite remembered ordering it. Oh wells. It was a nice change with lots of veggies, peanuts and a not-too-overwhelming curry flavor.

This feast was a whopping $55 for four people, an incredible deal given the amount of food we ate (and leftovers we went home with.) The service is slow, yet friendly and they pour bottled water to everyone. I will certainly be making a return trip or two and hope their appetizer menu expands on my next visit.

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JT Farnham’s: New England Fried Clams at their Best

We spend time in New England a few times a year, visiting my husband’s family in the fisherman’s town of Gloucester, MA (made famous by The Perfect Storm and, more recently, fishing shows Wicked Tuna and Swords: Life on the Line.) During each trip, it’s our goal to eat as much fried seafood, lobster rolls and clam chowder (chowdah) as possible. We’ve hit most of the famous spots such as Woodman’s and the Clam Box. However, we had never made it to JT Farnham’s in Essex, just 15 minutes from Gloucester. The first full day of our vacation started off dreary and rainy so we thought it would be a great day to visit my husband’s grandmother and grab lunch at Farnham’s. My ulterior motive, of course, was to stop at the cripplingly cheap Ipswich Bottle Shop to stock up on (cash only) spirits.

By the time we made it to Farnham’s, just down the road from its rival, Woodman’s, the weather had cleared. A rule of thumb in New England is that often the shabbier-looking the place, the better the seafood.

We stepped inside and got into line.
While lobster rolls are usually our fave, Farnham’s is known for their fried clams so we figured we’d go with the house special (aptly named “Our Famous Fried Clams”) of fried clams with onion rings and french fries. In our neverending search for the best bowl of clam chowder, we got an order to share. I ordered a large and had a humorous interaction with the counter lady whose iteration of “large” is much different than mine.

We headed outside to grab a slightly damp picnic table overlooking the salt marsh.

Don’t feed the waterfowl, by the way.
My husband brought our food to the table. Lots of greasy, fried goodness stared us down.

Check out the butter swimming in the creamy chowder. Unfortunately, the chowder was completely bland. The same went for the fries and onion rings. But the clams, oh the clams. Dipped in a vat of their homemade tartar sauce and gazing out over the salt marshes, there’s pretty much nothing better. If you go, stick to the clams. You’ll leave full and happy.

Not Just Pork at Jake’s Sandwich Board

Since its opening two years ago, Jake’s Sandwich Board has gotten great buzz from the foodie world and Center City lunch crowd alike.  I’d been meaning to go and finally ventured there when Level Up ran a promotion where anyone using the app would get $10 to spend at Jake’s. What the hell, free lunch.

We popped in and got to know a little more about Level Up, but then we got down to business with our order. During our conversation with the friendly Level Up gentleman, he pointed out one of the specials–BBQ brisket with swiss, sauerkraut and Russian dressing. Sold. My husband went with the Barnyard–pork, ground veal, sharp provolone, spinach, roasted peppers and roasted garlic spread. I also wanted to try the fried pickles that Midtown Lunch had raved about. There was a quick moment of terror when they thought they might be out of pickles. As it turned out, they had ONE order left. It was obviously meant to be. Then I saw the farm fries. Crispy fries topped with sharp provolone, pulled pork, bacon and homemade pork gravy. STOP IT RIGHT NOW! We obviously had to get them too! With the $10 promo and $5 for signing up, we ended up paying just $10 for all that food! I took a seat and twiddled my thumbs as we awaited our bounty, which came in just a few short minutes.

The Barnyard had a nice, Italian flare. It was stuffed to the brim with meat and topped generously with sharp provolone and fresh veggies (to make you feel a tad bit healthier.)
But I was more interested in this.

The dill pickles were thinly sliced and coated with a light batter with a creamy sriracha dipping sauce. It was the perfect side dish and a complete steal at just $2. The pickles were warm and crispy and the sauce provided the perfect heat to balance out the crunch. Heaven.

My sandwich was pretty darn good too.

Just look at it! Brisket slathered in sauce and topped with gooey Russian dressing, Swiss cheese and a hearty portion of sauerkraut. This is a six-napkin sandwich, folks. There is nothing not to like about it. The BBQ sauce was sweet but not overwhelming and the tangy kraut is always a palate-pleaser.

While one might think this sandwich would distract me, I also managed to dive headfirst into these guys.

LOOK AT THAT!!! These are no Caffe Chicco “gravy fries,” my friend. You can SEE the hunks of pork and crispy bit of bacon slathered generously atop these fries. When I’m looking for a gravy fry, THIS is what I’m talkin’ ’bout.

Jake’s Sandwich Board is making some of the better sandwiches in Philadelphia these days. Not sure why it took me so long to get there but I can certainly promise I’ll be back soon. Farm fries. Swoon.

Editor’s note: If you’re not using LevelUp, you’re missing out! It’s a way to pay using your smart phone by linking it to a credit card. It’s fast and you gain rewards by using it at certain merchants. For example, for each $100 you spend at Giunta’s in The Reading Terminal, you get $10. Sign up here using my referral code (172989)  and we’ll both get $5 to spend anywhere!

Caffe Chicco

A few months ago, I tweeted that I was going to Nick’s Roast Beef for the first time. I got a tweet back from someone imploring me to try Cafe Chicco on South Broad Street, just blocks from Nick’s. I had never heard of Caffe Chicco and despite driving up Broad Street frequently, I couldn’t even picture the space. I tucked it away for a day that I had off from work as their weekend hours are limited. When I started my summer break and still hadn’t gotten there, I knew it was on my short list. In fact, I went there on my second day off!

Caffe Chicco is easy to miss amidst some of the other more prominent store fronts on South Broad Street between Snyder and Oregon.

With a simple glass sign and a small sandwich board advertising their specials (gravy fries!) it’s rather unassuming. On one of the hotter days in June, I dropped my husband at work and hustled back down to Caffe Chicco to try the famous roast beef sandwich. Once I saw the sandwich board, I was obviously planning on adding gravy fries to the order. Duh. I snagged a meter right out front with 32 minutes on it. Score!

I walked inside the small shop with just a few tables holding a woman studying and an older, Italian guy waiting for his order. I waited. And I waited some more. Finally, a younger teenager emerged from the back to take my order of gravy fries and a roast beef sandwich with sharp provolone on a round roll ($5.50 + $1 for sharp provolone.)

I sat at an empty two top and waited. Then I waited some more. When I was done, I waited a little more. In the meantime, two others came in and ordered roast beef sandwiches. Finally, a gentleman came out of the back and started composing the sandwiches. Like Nick’s Roast Beef, the roast beef sandwiches are made in front so you can watch the meat being sliced and dipped in the juicy gravy. As the man kept making sandwiches, I kept thinking ONE of them had to be for me. Finally, the girl walked up to me.

“Are you allergic to peanuts?” she asked.

“Uhhh, haha, no,” I responded quizzically. She turned to the guy in the back.

“See, everyone laughs at me when I ask,” Apparently, the potatoes are fried in peanut oil. Luckily, I’m not allergic and all could proceed. Then I waited a little more.

Finally, the girl let me know that my food was ready. I hopped in the car with just minutes to spare in my free 32-minute meter (that was a looong wait.) Luckily, I lived just a few blocks from Caffe Chicco and was able to rush home to rip into my lunch.

Look at that gooery cheese! Opting for a thicker cut than most places, Caffe Chicco’s sandwich was certainly good. The meat was warm and tender, although I could have used a bit more cheese and gravy.

Then I opened the gravy fries. Oooh, the gravy fries. I recently wrote about my love affair for this dish at Nick’s Roast Beef and was excited to try the competition.

What I got were limp fries, bland gravy and just a dash or two of shredded meat. I could taste (and enjoyed) the peanut oil that was used for the frying but they could have benefitted from being twice fried or something to get them just a little crispy. And the gravy was a complete let down. Let’s be honest, folks. The gravy makes or breaks a dish and while the fries were lackluster, the sandwich was good. I think it could have been great with a richer gravy. Guess I’ll stick to Nick’s, unless anyone can give me another suggestion?

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.

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.

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!

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!

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.