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What and where are your fave local meals ever? Any price - high or low.

I stole this from the general thread. I noticed the most poignant memories were about establishments that have long ago turned out their lights for good. I'll start with a place that closed many moons ago that still haunts me. I wonder if anyone else remembers it? Barger's Chicken House A chanticleer restaurant in Doylestown. I loved their hot open faced chicken sandwiches Their soup was a potent magical potion to cure all ills. They had a shredded chicken sandwich on a roll with cranberry sauce right on the roll unless you told them not too. You could also get a complete chicken dinner to go with a roast chicken, filling, real mashed potatoes and a big container of homemade gravy. I still miss that place. Their hot chicken sandwich could right all wrongs.

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  1. Hmm. Maybe I will slink back to the general board, this thread is doing well there. There are all kinds of posts about stuff grandmas used to make and awesome restaurants past and present. But I wanted to read and post about local stuff. Like steak dinners. These days I grab a choice sirloin strip from wegman's, preheat my propane grill and sear it nicely, then cook on medium until it's medium rare. As I watch the flames and smell the delicious beef cooking I am carried back in time to Tad's Steak House in Philadelphia. I was so lucky to have my grandfather on my Dad's side and my grandmother on my Mom's side both be willing to take me there. They had a neon sign and a fixed price for a steak dinner. I swear I think it started at 1.99 or 2.99 and slowly kept climbing up over the years. It was the perfect place to stop after the Christmas light show at Wanamaker's. I remember grabbing a tray and looking at piles and piles of steaks in piles. The god-like chef would lean down to hear my shy child voice ask for rare. For one price (pretty cheap) you got a huge baked potato, a hunk of good garlic bread, a salad and a grilled steak. The steak was tough and kept getting tougher over the years, so even my strict grandmother reluctantly gave me permission to gnaw on the bone to get all that delicious steak off, but only at Tad's. If the line wasn't long, you could get this meal in two minutes and carry your tray to a table and start eating. Now that was fast food. My wegman's steaks are yummy and much tenderer. I'm saving up to try a prime. But no steak will ever taste as good as the ones I got with my grandparents at Tad's!

    1. mussels and fries from Monks cafe

      4 Replies
      1. re: rocknroll52

        Having utterly sublime multi-course meals prepared at Studio Kitchen by Shola Olunyolo in the upstairs studio of his West Philadelphia row home. This chef created dishes the like I have rarely tasted since (the closest being a recent meal at Eleven Madison Park in Manhattan). His food combined with his personable and engaging personality (along with stories about working with George Perrier) created meals and evenings I will always remember.

        Shola is unfortuntely no longer doing this. He is one of the most sought after personal chefs, working privately in the Philadelphia and NYC areas.

        1. re: Schpsychman

          If I ever win the lottery I am so looking up this post!

          1. re: Schpsychman

            He also does his guest-chef gigs at local restaurants occasionally. Probably my favorite meals ever were those dinners he did at Snackbar and Restaurant M. I read that he has another one coming up at Blackfish, but no details.

            1. re: Schpsychman

              there was just an article in the philly mag 'best of philly' issue about how he may partner with jeffery Lurie to open a spot. but he hates press so nothing is confirmed.

          2. The Sesame Pecan Chicken and Shrimp wrapped in Westphalian Ham at Under the Blue Moon in Chestnut Hill, circa 1976-80. Thai Chicken Curry at Frog, same time. Some sort of white wine with Amaretto as an aperitif at the Garden. (We were SO cosmopolitan!) All gone. Cold Cucumber Soup at the Crate and Barrel (?) cafe? on Rittenhouse Square. (Maybe it wasn't C&B........what was it? In the courtyard of a retail store that occupied a beautiful old mansion.......Marimekko?)

            2 Replies
            1. re: dockhl

              If you love cold cucumber soup, go to Nan (40th and Chestnut) where it is almost always a warm-weather special. We have never had any like it - it is fabulous!
              I think Nan is currently closed for vacation, but should be reopening soon.

              1. re: dockhl

                The store was Design Research (now Anthropologie).

                I remember wonderful cold blueberry soup at Holly Moore's Cafe (it was on the 2nd floor -- Sansom Street, maybe?), and the Salade Nicoise at The Garden -- both from that same era, Dockhl.

              2. Mine would have to be my first meal at Osteria. Started off with a special which was a big chunk of house made buffala mozzarella served with crostini toasted in the wood burning oven and topped with sauteed swiss chard. Followed that with the lombarda pizza with the fried egg in the middle. Next course was the pasta with boar's head ragu (not on the menu right now, but I expect to see it back in the fall). Next was their version of cassoulet, house made black pepper sauage and braised pork ribs served over a bed of creamy polenta and cabbage. For dessert, we had the chocolate and goat cheese "fritelle" served with a side of tangerine curd for dipping.The meal was so good I posted about it a while back.


                1. Design Research !!!! That was it ! My very first cold cuke soup experience..............what was the mansion? I loved that place.

                  I still make the Thai Chicken Curry from Frog. It has a bechamel that you season with your Thai curry etc and fold chicken and broccoli into, top with peanuts. Very French/Thai. Before their time.............

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: dockhl

                    It's the old van Rensselaer mansion. From http://www.ushistory.org/districts/ri...:

                    Facing the Square on the northeast corner is the former home of Alexander Van Rensselaer, a financier and supporter of the Philadelphia Orchestra
                    under Leopold Stokowski. One of the few splendid old mansions to survive, it once housed the Pennsylvania Athletic Club.

                    And just to keep this post chow-ish -- yes, Frog! So wonderful, so missed.

                  2. I'll have to reach back to early childhood summers at the Flanders Hotel in Ocean City when, at least one night, we ventured to A.C. for dinner at the venerable Hackney's. That was when a bucket of 100 steamed clams, with broth and melted butter, was $1.25 and a whole 2 lb. broiled lobster was about $6. Then it was back to O.C. for dessert at Kohr Bros. or Johnson's Caramel Corn while walking the boards and smelling the cool, misty salt air. Some things just don't get any better.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Chefpaulo

                      Oh my! What a sense of time and place you evoked in your post! Sensory overload! Steamed clams were a big favorite with my family too back in the day when you could afford to pig out on just them. We always stacked the clam shells inside each other on the side of the plate and sometimes it felt like we were building forts,

                      1. re: Chefpaulo

                        oooh chef paulo that is excellent. i could almost paint a picture (then eat it) based on your post. :)

                      2. I totally agree with dockhl!!! The Sesame Pecan Chicken at Under the Blue Moon was the best. I always got their Lobster Rangoons as well....oh good times!!! I still miss that place. I did find the chicken recipe and I made it once but it wasn't quite the same.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: spicemistress

                          I forgot the Lobster Rangoon..............

                          They used to have special dinners on New Year's Eve that I really enjoyed. What a great place.

                          The SPChicken recipe that I use came from their kitchen and is very good. If you'd like, we can compare recipes and see if they are the same.

                        2. Sitting at the small table for two in the front window of Blue Angel, eating a three tiered dish of oysters on the half shell and perfect frites whilst sipping grey goose martinis.
                          Any of the 15 or 20 meals I've had at Vetri over the last decade.
                          The roast pork with sharp provolone, spinach and hot peppers from John's Roast Pork I had for lunch 90 minutes ago.
                          Country Pate and stuffed meatloaf or cheddar(?) chicken from Judy's at 3rd and Bainbridge

                          1. things that make me close my eyes and make inappropriate noises (in a restaurant)? OK, from recent memory:

                            the smoky wide rice noodles (can't remember the dish name!!) at vietnam palace
                            sesame balls at the now closed lakeside deli... murr. :(
                            the papaya salad at cafe de laos - quirky and hot!!
                            the halibut with sea salt at little fish
                            the funky orange/onion/fennel salad once served at sovalo
                            yep, i'm going to say it, the guacamole at el vez
                            the raviolis with almonds, sage, salt and butter at modo mio
                            OH, and the bread and ricotta (now i know it's ricotta! :) ) at modo mio
                            the more i have it, the more i fall in love with my extra-kalamata olive pie from the local pizzeria, george's, at 2nd and girard (nothing fancy here!)
                            the salsa at las cazuelas & taco riendo (they use the same recipe - i think both are owned by the same family)
                            one of the side dishes at dahlak - i don't know what it is, but i must ask! something lentil that they put down the middle of the plate when ordering the vegetarian dish to split.
                            the amish's buttery soft pretzels @ RTM
                            ....and the garlic knots at villa pizza (gallery @ market east location) with salt. a guilty pleasure i will admit. :)

                            oddly enough... there is one dish that i had at bistro juliana which i can still taste to this day (and i must have had this meal 6 months ago) which i didn't even particularly love at the time for some reason. either this one meal has really grown on me, or i have built it up to something it wasn't in my head. it was a thick al dente spaghetti with a light, watery but chunky marinara sauce and jumbo lump crabmeat. simple and good. i am reeeeeeally craving it now! i've got to make it back to that little place to see if i'm remembering that dish right. and if not, i just need to figure out how to make it at home! :)

                            anyway, those are all things that i can actually taste as i type them. i'm sure there will be more!

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: rabidog

                              Wow! Skipping lunch and then reading this post=big mistake. I'm soo hungry now! If you ever make that spaghetti dish at home please share!

                              1. re: givemecarbs

                                heehee - thanks - that's why i wrote it with one hand while munching on my homemade chickpea salad sammich with the other!! :)