Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Urban Gardening - Late May

It’s late May, and the weather is warm and toasty just how the plants like it. The garden has filled in a bit; the left side growing faster than the right side due to the fact that the sun hits the left side for a longer period. Ideally a vegetable garden would get more sun that this little urban garden does, but...

The sweet peas are producing. They weren’t fat enough to justify picking, shelling, and eating on picture day, but I couldn’t resist and plucked a few off the vine, popped the shells open, and ate the sweet green peas nestled inside. Just like sugar!

Can you say salad? We have crap-loads of lettuce. The head lettuce is headin’, and the leaf lettuce is leafin’. The arugula and mizuna are starting to bolt (flower), which signals the end of their lifecycle. If you’re smart and on top of things, you would have seeded more greens that would be on their way as the first crop is on its way out. It’s called succession planting. We did this, not with lettuce, but by tucking small peppers and leeks in amongst the lettuce. When the lettuce gets pulled, there will be more room for the other veggies. Things are tight here. We’re practicing square half-foot gardening, instead of the much popular square-foot gardening method.

Above is a picture of waxy kohlrabi leaves with purple stems up top, fuzzy eggplant leaves with purple stems at the bottom, and frilly carrot leaves beneath the two. We only have a few kohlrabi plants, one eggplant, and about a foot long row of carrots. Tiny garden!

Game time! Spot the difference between the above two pictures of the same tomato. Yep, there's something missing in the middle of the second photo. I pinched off a sucker. Suckers grow in the leaf axils, and should be pinched off when they are young to avoid having one helluva bushy, monstrous tomato plant with multiple stems. You don't have to do this, but I like to control the growth of my tomato plants a bit. (I also like to carry a whip.) Don't pinch the suckers if they are large and have gotten away from you, as this creates a large wound. Just tell yourself you'll be a better person next year.

A nifty thing you can do with these suckers, that is, if you're a good tomato mommy, is stick a sucker you cut from the leaf axil in some moist dirt, and start a new plant. This is very easy, as tomatoes have auxiliary roots on their stems that are just waiting for an excuse (soil) to pop out.

That's all. Just watering and waiting for the fruits of our labor tomatoes specifically.

Urban Gardening - Early March
Urban Gardening - Early April
Urban Gardening - Mid-April
Urban Gardening - Early May

Talula's Table

Living on the outskirts of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania for two years while attending school for horticulture, I can’t say that Kennett Square and its historic Main Street held many attractions for me. Kennett Square is the sort of place that excites your mother when you mention “quaint town.”

Thanks to the previous owners of Django restaurant in Philadelphia, Aimee Olexy and Bryan Sikora, who closed up shop in Philly to move to the country, there’s now a place in Kennett Square that excites me and your mother.

Talula’s Table, a gourmet food shop with prepared foods, take away dinners, and catering, sits smack in the middle of historic Kennett Square’s main drag. Talula’s Table prides itself on making fresh foods daily with consideration to the season and local ingredients. They also make a concerted effort to prepare a few vegetarian options.

Recessed shelves and coolers are filled with gourmet goodies perfect for a picnic, or to take home and make a meal. Gourmet crackers, preserves, pickles, teas, chocolate, and other foodie fodder line the shelves. Fresh breads and pastries are made daily, and a wide selection of artisan cheeses is displayed in a case along with sides and entrees just waiting to be taken home and heated for dinner. Sandwiches made daily are stacked in a cooler and ready to grab and go. A coffee bar and bottled drinks will quench your thirst.

While Talula’s Table is set up for grabbing and going, there is a large farmhouse table in the middle of the store that can be booked for occasions, along with a round table tucked in the front corner and a couple of bistro tables on the sidewalk, if you would rather enjoy your eats in situ. That’s exactly what I did.

I sampled the goat cheese and beet salad with glazed pecans. The beets were perfectly tangy from a marinade, and I was delighted with the beet's different red hues. Sometimes it’s the little things that impress.

The only vegetarian sandwich option was egg salad on focaccia. I love egg salad, but am very cautious about eating boiled eggs at restaurants. I’m scared about rubberiness and freshness, so almost never eat boiled eggs that I don’t cook myself. I wasn’t afraid of the freshness at Talula’s table, so decided to take the gamble on rubberiness. The eggs were fresh and cooked perfectly. After all the deliberation, the egg salad turned out to be disappointingly bland. A couple of cranks of the pepper mill and some sweet relish mixed in would have livened things up. (All sandwiches come with a free little bag of chips.)

The mac and cheese is the style that can be cut into squares and retain its shape – just the kind I prefer. They heated that baby up, since I was dining in, and, let me say, the mac and cheese was absolutely dreamy and creamy. (I didn’t want to make that rhyme, but… it’s true.) As per my usual complaint about mac and cheese, I wish Talula’s Table’s mac and cheese had a sharper cheese mixture. That aside, I’d put Talula’s Table in a tie with Morning Glory’s mac and cheese as one of the best I've sampled in these parts.

For dessert I chose a banana cream cake solely for the reason that I had bananas on the brain. Those bananas are now on my hips.

Even though Talula's Table is not quick-lunch cheap (all of this food, plus two drinks, were split between one hungry person and one not-so-hungry person, and rang up to just under $30), I wish a gourmet food shop like this had been around when I was living in the area. I do drive through Kennett Square about twice a month for work, so maybe I'll forget to pack my lunch on those days.

Talula's Table, 102 W. State Street, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, 19348
Phone: 610-444-8255
Open daily, 7am-7pm

Sunday, May 27, 2007

FoodSource Closing

FoodSource, an obscenely overpriced gourmet food market in Wilmington, is going out of business. They sucked for sucking money out of my wallet when I needed to stop in for one item, instead of drive to the other side of town to go to my normal grocery store. Don’t let the door hit you in the ass.

The web site doesn’t mention the closing at all! I called, and it looks like the Bryn Mawr and Glen Mills locations are not going out of business; just the Wilmington location. Janssen's Market, an equally obscenely overpriced gourmet food market from down the street, is going to take over the location.

FoodSource does have a 50% off sale going on. Maybe it will drop even lower in the coming days. So, I stocked up on all the hoity toity bottles of gourmet mustards and other condiments that I drool over, but don’t want to spend $10 a bottle for. I also wiped them out of Greek Haloumi and Kasseri cheese, which will be great for the grilling season. Lots of other stuff was bought – almost $400 worth or gourmet foods at half price. Yeah, I went a little crazy. If you’re in Wilmington and need some truffle honey, hurry up. It’s going fast.

Friday, May 25, 2007


MyRecipes.com is, yet, another new recipe site. This one culls recipes from Cooking Light, Southern Living, Sunset, Coastal Living and Health magazines. It’s like we’re obsessed with food, or something.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Waffle House

Philadelphia, and the immediate surrounding area, is missing one of my favorite dining establishments everWaffle House. For those that don’t know, Waffle House is a chain diner specializing in breakfast foods and American classics. Waffle House started as a single diner in the suburbs of Atlanta in the 1950’s, and has grown to 1500 restaurants today. The Southeast has the highest density of Waffle Houses, although they have spread to many, but not all states. Georgia's so full of these places, that there’s even an exit off of I-20 near Atlanta with four Waffle Houses – one on every corner!

There are a handful of Waffle Houses surrounding the Delaware Valley area, but they are not close. Type in a search for Waffle House with my current Wilmington zip code and the closest Waffle House that pops up is in Maryland, about a 45 minute drive away. Philly doesn’t fare any better. Type in a search for Waffle House with my old South Carolina zip code and 24! pop up, all under 15 miles away.

I have been to three Waffle Houses that are currently near me, if you can call a 45 minute to 1 hour drive near. I miss the convenience of having Waffle Houses near me, because that’s what they are – convenient. They’re always open (always) and ever present – or, at least, they used to be ever present in my old state.

A spend-the-night party (much-alcohol party) out in Lancaster a few weeks ago gave me the opportunity to swerve off PA highway 30 into the Waffle House parking lot across from the outlet mall amusement park in Amish land. To me, the Waffle House trumps ogling the Amish and rummaging racks of clothes any day, and is the only reason to stop on this retched stretch of highway.

My partner didn’t know I had such a boner for Waffle House, and was befuddled when I rashly swung into the Waffle House parking lot. Oh, did I forget to mention my eternal, never dying love of Waffle House? Perhaps that’s because there’s No. Waffle. House. Near. Us. Well, now that you’ve ripped open that painful wound, the story is going to gush out.

Where should I start? I guess high school. 24-hour diners play a starring role in any teenager’s life that cruises around at night looking for a cheap place to hang out before, during, or after hanging out with friends and getting loaded. There was one Waffle House in particular that was on “our side” of town that we frequented the most, but there were Waffle Houses on the other side of town, too, when we found ourselves out roaming the entire city. In trying to pin down the gang, we’d first drive to Christine’s house (her mom worked 3rd shift) to see if people were drinking there, then we'd search the State Park to see if acid was being eaten out in the woods, finally we’d check the Waffle House for the famished troops. (Cell phones would have been so cool.) The Waffle House was great – open 24 hours and omnipresent, so no matter when or where we were, we always had food; super cheap, so even crusty teenagers could afford to eat; retro-cool, so jokes about the yellow, brown, and orange décor, the country music-filled jukebox, and the poor staff that had to (and still do) wear the diner get-up always entertained.

It was the many pit stops at Waffle House during high school with friends that fostered my addiction to my two favorite menu items – the waffle and the hash browns. Waffle House makes the best waffles, and I’m sticking to that. They have to. It’s called Waffle House! Make sure your waffle isn’t under cooked, and you’re golden.

The hash browns take a little knowledge to order correctly, and that I have. Waffle House has a list of different ways you can order hash browns: Scattered = scattered on the grill, not cooked in a metal ring; Smothered = slice of American cheese melted on top; Covered = with diced onions; Chunked = with diced ham; Diced = with diced tomatoes; Peppered = with jalapeño peppers; Capped = with mushrooms; and Topped = with chili. It’s fun to order in this diner lingo, and also hear the waitresses shout out your order in the lingo. I always order my hash browns scattered, smothered, and covered on a dry grill, so as not to be too greasy, and specify crispy, or else they can come out a little raw if the place is hoppin’ (it always is) and the order are flying. Top the hash browns with black pepper and ketchup from the condiment caddy sitting on the table, and dig in. The savory hash browns are the perfect companion to the sweet waffle, and, together, the two cure any craving you might have.

It was in college that I really fell in love with Waffle House. After a night of drinking and who knows what, my reckless roommate suggests we drive three hours to Atlanta in the middle of the night. I concede that this is a brilliant idea, since I have a boyfriend that lives there any way, so we pack nothing and head out on a drunken driving adventure. (Not recommended at any age.) About two hours into the trip, we decide we’re hungry, and pull off an exit with a Waffle House. The place is inexplicably slammed for being out in the middle of no where and at such a late hour. We wait forever to get a table, and when we do, the sassy, but ever-polite waitress tells us the horror story of the other waitresses walking out earlier, leaving only her and the one short-order cook. We sympathize and tell her not to worry, we’re cool. It was this night that I witnessed some of the most skilled cooking I’ve ever seen. This lone short-order cook choreographed fried eggs, bacon, steak, hash browns, and every other piece of food coming out from behind the counter at breakneck speed perfectly. He was fast, precise, and had flair – he cracked eggs and tossed the shells over his shoulder, without so much as a glance backwards, and hit the trash can ever time. I was amazed, and amused with the floor show. I had great respect for his skill. I was in love.

Then there was the time that I was really in love with a Waffle House short-order cook. This love affair also occurred during college. His name was Robert, and, God, was he cute! Cooks at Waffle House are rarely cute, but he was young and hot. I would actually drive to the outskirts of town and hang out at the Waffle House to play cards with him and chat him up during his slow times. When he cooked, I would almost faint. He had a girlfriend, and I had a boyfriend, so I just went there for fantasy fodder. He was awfully sweet (hot), and I enjoyed hanging out with him. He even gave me a Waffle House keychain that I have to this day. The best gift he gave me, other than standing in front of me, was one of his work shirts that had Waffle House embroidered on it. He had to sneak that one to me, because he could have gotten in trouble. Such a sweetie – and hot!

Well, after that last paragraph, I’m sure you think I’m mental. But wait. There’s more! For over ten years, I carried a brochure that listed all the Waffle Houses in the United States in my purse. Whenever I ate at a Waffle House I would circle the location on the brochure. (Note the comment for the Waffle House Robert worked at. I’m slightly embarrassed, but I was young.) I’ve circled Waffle Houses in South Carolina, Georgia, Texas, Louisiana, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. The only problem is that the ‘90’s saw the biggest growth of Waffle Houses, and new establishments were popping up all the time. There were so many new Waffle Houses that they quit printing the brochure. My brochure quickly became outdated, and practically useless. So, it came out of my purse when I left the Southeast, and currently lives in a safe place with other memorabilia. I still have it, because that’s how much I love Waffle House. There. My secret love affair is finally out.

*Along with warm climate, close proximity to Waffle House is now on my list of requirements when relocating to a city. How could I have been so absentminded and not checked for Waffle Houses when I moved to Pennsylvania/Delaware?

Waffle House, Everywhere but here
Open: 24/7/365

Philly Italian Market Festival…

...or what I ate for lunch.

This is not my first time at the Italian Market Festival in Philly, and I must say that this festival is one of my favorite places for wedging myself amongst strangers and walking slowly behind them. Why? Because they have a great selection of food. The festival is essentially food, food, food, crappy merchandise, food, food, food, music stage, food, food, and food. This year I ate food that I had not sampled in previous years.

I started with the Mexican (Mexican? Hey, we’re all Italian, right?) corn on the cob that’s smothered in mayonnaise, cheese, and chili pepper. Oh my! I knew this was going to be good, so have avoided the Mexican corn stand that pops up on occasion at the park across from my Philly outpost, so as not to start a habit. Please don’t set up your corn stand at the park anymore. I’m afraid I’ll be seen sprinting across the park in my pj’s for your corn concoction.

Next were the Mozzarepas. These are tasteless corn pucks filled with mozzarella cheese. Keep on walking. In fact, someone stopped to ask me what I thought of these, and I said,"Not worth it." They kept walking. They can thank me later.

I was not enamored by these pesto filled agnolotti from the local pasta shop, Talluto's. I would never have guessed the bland filling was pesto, and the sauce tasted like Italian dressing from a bottle. Ick.

Free is good! The free salad with mozzarella and orange vinaigrette from Sorrento Cheese, the sponsor of the Italian festival, was actually fresh and tasty.

The boy really wanted cannoli. This $4 log of gold…uh, canolli from Isgro Pasticceria was delectable, but I’d prefer a great éclair any day compared to a great canolli. Just sayin'.

With a cup of coffee (not pictured) to top it off, we escaped down a side street, and moseyed home without a couple thousand people to impede us .

Thursday, May 17, 2007


Want this bee hive cake mold from Williams-Sonoma, but you can really only show up once to a party with this prom dress of a cake.

Need this natural peanut butter mixer so I'll have no reason to buy hydrogenated peanut butter.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Monte Cristo Sandwich

Why read food blogs? Because sometimes you stumble upon food you have been deprived of. That’s what happened when I read a restaurant review over at Foodaphilia that featured a Monte Cristo sandwich. I’m sure everyone knows what a Monte Cristo sandwich is – an egg-battered and fried, ham, turkey, and Swiss cheese sandwich accompanied by preserves or maple syrup – but I didn’t! I blame this ignorance on my tendency to hurriedly scan menus in order to skip over items including meat. I have no patience. I also don’t read instructions.

I love sandwiches. I love French toast. I looove it when maple syrup pools around my breakfast sausage. I’m thinkin’ I’m gonna love the Monte Cristo. I do.

Variations to this sandwich include three slices of bread, chicken, gruyere cheese, powdered sugar, condiment of choice, and anything you can imagine. I, of course, used veggie ham and turkey.

Monte Cristo Sandwich
Serves 1

2 slices white or challah bread
1 teaspoon mayonnaise, or mustard, or both
3 slices of turkey
3 slices of ham
1 slice of Swiss cheese
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon butter
preserves or maple syrup

  • Spread mayo and mustard on slices of bread
  • Top bread with turkey, ham, and cheese, so innards don’t overhang the bread
  • Mix egg and milk in a bowl
  • Add butter to a hot skillet
  • When butter has melted, dip both sides of sandwich in the egg and milk mixture
  • Fry both sides of the sandwich in skillet until golden brown.
  • Serve hot with preserves or maple syrup
  • Did I really just give direction for making a sandwich?

Sunday, May 13, 2007


Forgive the blurry food pictures. Bad camera, bad.

Xochitl (so-cheet), a Mexican restaurant on Head House Square was the location of a birthday dinner last week. With all the journalistic hubbub after the opening of Xochitl, I was afraid I’d find a pretentious restaurant, but instead found a elegant, low key setting with a mahogany bar accented with iron work, Latin wooden furniture, and rustic blue and white plates. The blue and white plates were especially refreshing, as I’m tired and bored of large white platters showcasing a chef’s work. (I know that food looks better on white plates,but...)

The tequila list is extensive and includes many fine types of tequila, but I’m not a tequila connoisseur, so chose to adulterate that fine tequila by ordering a mixed drink – Profesor Jiraffales, a frozen drink made from El Jimador Reposado tequila, mango puree, ginger and lime. I love ginger, but found the ginger too overpowering, so did not finish this thick, filling drink.

Guacamole was made table side in a heavy, stone bowl and was perfect. Not a single ingredient – onion, salt, jalapeño, or cilantro – overpowered the other. The tortilla chips were real, thick, fried tortilla chips – not the complimentary chips you get at most Mexican restaurants.

A warm zucchini soup with a pretty, ricotta-stuffed zucchini flower as the centerpiece was light and refreshing, highlighting the simple flavor of the long, green summer vegetable.

The appetizer and salad I ordered arrived on the same plate, and as my main course. There are not many vegetarian options on the menu, but after ordering what vegetarian foods I could find, the friendly and astute server pointed out what items could be made vegetarian, and noted that the chef was very accommodating and could also make a vegetable plate. I thanked her, but decided to stick with what I had already ordered.

Gorditas de huitlachoche (I could have used a pronunciation in parenthesis here), round masa pockets stuffed with corn truffles scared me, since one of the first images professors show when teaching corn culture is the frightening, brain-like fungus that afflicts ears of corn corn smut. Corn smut and huitlachoche (wee-tlah-KOH-cheh) are the same thing. Blight to farmers; delicacy in Mexico. Fear not the hitlachoche. It’s black and ugly, but still tastes like corn. The huitlachoche masa pockets were mild and corny, but could have used a larger topping of salsa and cream for a flavor kick.

Ensalada Xochitl was also a simple, but very enjoyable mixed green salad topped with the summer-like marriage of avocado, papaya, watermelon, jicama sticks and a tequila vinaigrette.

I wanted dessert, but simply was not hungry enough to indulge. The churros and hot chocolate were tempting, and came highly recommended by the server. Next time.

My dinner at Xochitl was very pleasant, with light, fresh flavors – very unlike the spicy, fat-laden dishes at casual taquerias. I don’t think you can compare the two cuisines. Don’t come to Xochitl expecting the Mexican-American cuisine you’re familiar with. Clean your mental slate, and enjoy the fresh flavors that Mexico and Xochitl has to offer.

Xochitl, 408 S. 2nd St, Philadelphia 19147, 215-238-7280
Dinner: Tue.-Sun. 5-10PM
Bar: Tue.-Sun. 5PM-2AM

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook

Yay! The Lee brother’s won two James Beard Awards (Cookbook of the Year, and Food of the Americas) for their cookbook, The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook: Stories and Recipes for Southerners and Would-be Southerners. I’m excited and proud because they’re from my home state, South Carolina, and I already own their glorious cookbook – plus, I adore cute men with receding hairlines.

What makes The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook so great are the personal stories, histories, and insights that come with each recipe. I grew up with these recipes, stories, and visits to some of the exact places mentioned in the cookbook, so I can attest that each recipe truly is Southern cooking – the way that real cooks from the South eat. There are a few modern twists to recipes, but they tell you up front about their reformulations.

This cookbook comes highly recommended by myself and the James Beard Foundation. If you want a cookbook on true Southern food, or are a collector and reader of cookbooks, the Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook is a must-have.

Favorite foods included in the book: boiled peanuts, hush puppies, pimento cheese, pickled peaches, red rice, squash casserole, hash and rice, benne wafers, and sweet potato pie.

Urban Gardening - Early May

Current state of the Urban Garden - Things are growing along, we potted up containers with herbs, planted more veggies, and tended to the veggies we already have in the ground this past weekend

Firstly, the disaster - because there is joy to be had in other people's failures. Squirrels disasterized (not a proper word, but a good one none the less) the pot of baby lettuce while looking for nuts, or, perhaps, their brains. This crop was scrapped and the pot was used for herbs.
Container plants from top left continuing clockwise: Oregano, thyme, and marjoram; dill and parsley; sage; sweet basil and verbena (this verbena is a non-edible ornamental flower). Mint, Siam basil, and lemon grass called in sick for the photo shoot.

New additions: jalapeños, sweet peppers, tomatoes.

Tomato planting tip - Plant tomatoes deep and you'll have a sturdy, more drought-resistant plant. Snip the lower branches from the main stem, bury the stem below the ground, leaving some leaves above ground, and adventitious roots will sprout from the stem. These extra roots make the tomato plant stronger.

Tending to the garden - Weeds! I think weeds can be added to death and taxes as a certainty. Funny (I laughed), but potentially tragic story: Pokeweed was growing amongst the lettuce. The boy ventures out to the patio for a fresh salad, grabs the pokeweed and eats it. Pokeweed can be eaten if boiled many times, but is toxic if eaten raw. Be sure you know what's a weed and what's not before you pop it in your mouth!

Thinning beet seedlings.

We also thinned the beet and carrot seedlings that we sowed in mid-April. These roots crops are going to need room to mature, so thin seedlings to give the roots room to grow. Just pinch the base of the tender stems with you finger nails, leaving a seedling every few inches.

Urban Gardening - Early March
Urban Gardening - Early April
Urban Gardening - Mid-April

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Garage Sale Gold

It was my father who showed me the thrills and joys of garage sale hunting. We would wake up early on the weekend (who am I kidding, we always woke up early – sleeping in was not allowed), open the newspaper to the classifieds, scan for nearby garage sales, and head out the door with the newspaper under arm and exited optimism for what treasures we might find. Of course, he tempered the optimism with a little realism, and forewarned that real treasure was elusive and not to be found in every front yard – or even any front yard. Yes, that is how garage sales work, but when you hit gold, you hit gold.

Spring is garage sale season, and I’ve been hitting up quite a few these past weekends. I struck gold a while back at a designer’s garage sale when I took home a huge bag of fabric, but that’s not food related – or at least until I get around to the project of making dish towels...this year?

I’m a firm believer in the theory that if you wait for it, it will come to you. If you need a finger sewn back on after a lawnmower accident, you should not wait, but certain things will come to you – for free or cheaply – if you wait. The Cuisinart ice cream maker I’ve been wanting came to me this weekend at a garage sale, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. I’m excited to make ice cream this summer – or sooner. I just need to look up the manual on line to figure out how to work the thing, and I’ll be cooking…um chillin’ in no time.I also scored a party food cookbook from a series of books you can pick up at TJ Maxx and Marshalls that has wonderful pictures for every recipe. (I’m a sucker for pictures.) I draw a complete blank when I’m called upon to make hors d’oeuvres, so this book is what I’ve been wanting…and it came to me!

My partner wanted a fondue set, and what do you know? It came to him! The set looks just like the one I swirled hunks of steak and bread in during my youth, except ours was that yummy ‘70’s yellow.

My best garage sale kitchen score to date – a KitchenAid standing mixer that you shell out the big bucks for when people get married...for $20. Score!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

A Full Plate Café

A tip came in from E over at Foodaphillia about a side dish of mac and cheese doled out at Northern Liberty’s A Full Plate Café that has acquired the nickname “crack and cheese.” She also slipped in a tidbit about a vegetarian pulled pork barbecue sandwich. I was seduced and sold.

With the arrival of the first warm weekend, I rode my bike up to Northern Liberties to buy my nugget of crack from A Full Plate Café located in Liberties Walk, the sorely out of place shopping/living promenade off 2nd Street and just below Girard Avenue. I chose a seat outdoors since it was a glorious day, and I needed to resurrect my farmer’s tan. Had I dined indoors, I would have been surrounded by colorful, playful décor.

Who was my server? None other than E herself! She graciously let me order the riblet sandwich even though it was not listed on the brunch menu. The vegetarian pulled pork barbecue sandwich comes with coleslaw already on the challah roll, instead of on the plate as a side. For $1 more, the sandwich can be ordered “Ben’s favorite way” with cheddar cheese and fried onions, and that’s how mine came out. The sandwich was huge, and dripped tangy coleslaw and sweet barbecue sauce down my hands and face as I squooshed the meal into my face. I wish I had had a side of the perfectly creamy and tangy coleslaw, in addition to the coleslaw inside my sandwich, instead of the ordinary side of home fries. The riblet sandwich is a drug in itself, but next time I’m ordering it “my favorite way” – no cheddar cheese (cheddar doesn’t belong with barbecue!) and extra coleslaw. Did I mention that the coleslaw is excellent?

My partner ordered vegetarian sausage and biscuits with gravy. He liked his dish, especially the light biscuits. I thought the gravy could have used pepper, salt, garlic…but I always think white gravy is under seasoned.

Now, the real reason for my visit – the “crack and cheese.” I was forewarned that A Full Plate Café flouts some of my rules for mac and cheese – no non-traditional pasta shapes, multi-grain noodles, or bread crumb topping. The fact that the noodles were multi-grained was not noticed, and neither were the bread crumbs. I do wish the pasta was elbow-shaped, but that’s just me being a stickler for tradition. I have no need for hot sauce with mac and cheese, but it's there if that's your thing. If they were to put more sharp cheddar in the mix, I might become a “crack and cheese” addict.

A Full Plate Café, 1009 N. Bodine St, Philadelphia, PA 19123
phone 215-627-4068
Mon.-Thurs., 11am-9pm; Fri., 11am-10pm; Sat., 10am-10pm, brunch 10am-3pm; Sun ., brunch 10am-3pm