Re-Gaining my Faith…In Restaurants that is 🍽

I don’t know if you have ever wondered if God hears only the serious prayers and ignores the rants (see my previous blog posting) that you make when a particular situation has gotten you so frustrated you can spit; well I am here to tell you He hears them all, and He is willing to send a friend to help restore your faith in the very thing that has caused you the greatest angst. 

The restaurant that has helped ignite the flame of my faith is Marzano Ristorante in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania an absolute beauty of an Italian restaurant and to boot it is BYOB (Bring Your Own Beer). As I write this you are asking why is this important, well I don’t mind sharing, its important because people can only drink what they bring themselves, and most likely patrons aren’t bringing in hard liquor, no one is mixing Hennessey and soda at their tables, and small opportunities for drunkenness or Will Smith moments happening at the table simply because someone had too much sweet juice and got a little slick with the lips has a high probability of being avoided.

Marzano Ristorante reminded me old school service, upon entering the hostess grabbed menus not an announcement of a qr code and walked us to our table, the waitress was more than delightful, inordinately pleasant, and I am totally convinced a restaurant savant. How do I draw the line from courteous and kind to savant, well let me share; she carried no pen, no paper and in a time-honored tradition of the dignified restaurant, she not only remembered the specials of the day without error, she committed to memory our menu orders without a misstep from start to finish.

First up on the table was the grilled octopus with arugula and plum tomatoes. No these were not calamari rings, this was the sliced octopus’ steak, charred to perfection allowing the sweetness and tenderness of the octopus to shine, and with drizzled olive oil sprinkled ever so slightly when taking a forkful of the octopus and arugula it was the lightest pre-cursor to the next item.

Second up, Barbaietola in layman’s terms a fancy salad, that included mixed greens with poached pears, walnuts, and goat cheese. Now prior to this I had never had a poached pear, I never even considered having a poached pear in my salad, but it was a fanciful thought that simply worked. The poaching liquid must have been either a red wine or a highly concentrated balsamic vingerette and it caused the taste of the pear to be very pungent and to be honest some bites were a bit overpowering for me, but when you got a taste of both the pear and the goat cheese, the creaminess of the cheese cut through some of that acidity to make the dish more balanced on my palate.

Last up, the pan grilled bass fish with mixed vegetables; when I took my first bite my first thought was its Springtime. No the air outside didn’t feel like spring, as a matter of fact it was cold and raining simply because old man winter wanted to have a temper tantrum and not let Spring be great, but the taste of that fish was so light, so flaky, so delicate, so wistful during the mouth feel, I felt slightly transported to the month of April when the weather screamed October. The mixed vegetables were a good not great concomitant. You know mixed vegetables are difficult to make superb, in my opinion unless you are willing to make them live on the border of unhealthy and unfruitful, they will always remain in the land adequate. 

Nonetheless, the meal in its entirety was light, it was flavorful, the service carried it over to the next level, and I am looking forward to going back to try my next item. Well done Marzano Ristorante, well done! 🍽

I Rant

There was a time when going out to eat was a luxury, a big to do. I mean you planned the outing to the restaurant, settled on what to wear, and made sure you were extra cute. Now on the tail end of the pandemic…maybe, the onset of Uber Eats and DoorDash going out to eat has now been deemed common. Now when you go to a restaurant they are asking you to scan the qr code at your table to get your menu, like I just entered the drive thru line at Jack in the Box. How unrefined, how undignified, how common.

Restaurants are supposed to be environments of class, the place where we set aside our phones to be present in the moment, unless of course you are an on-call neuro-surgeon, but for the most part a place of sophistication, where the servers are attentive, they bring me water without asking, and they are acutely aware of the attention vs’ annoyance ratio.

Why do I rant? I rant because, the patron is not treated like a patron anymore, we are given sub-par service, below average experiences, and not hot food.

You see Mister or Mrs restaurant owner, dining is about more than just food, its about the ambiance, the service, the attention to detail, simply put dining out should be an experience and not treated like a stop over place we choose instead of choosing Chick-Fil-A. You are treating your patrons like their monies aren’t hard-earned, like the patron doesn’t deserve to be treated special and a acknowledgement that out of all the places the patron could eat, the patron chose you.

Its super funny, how service and experiences get downgraded, but the price is always upgraded, tell me how that is fair?

If for some reason you are not sure what the ultimate service and food experience is, I will implore you to follow the Las Vegas model. Every person is treated like the just won a purple chip at the table, take heed because its a game changer.

Do Better.We deserve it.

A Twix Between Two🍴

Fall is a special time of year, it’s like the prelude to hibernation season. It’s cool outside so you don’t quite want to be outside. It’s getting progressively darker earlier, and when you are hungry all you can think of is something reliable, something with substance, something comforting, and more importantly something familiar.

When you are looking for something familiar you start to focus on the desire of your tastebuds, once you locate that yearning, then you go to the next phase of finding where the yearnings of your tastebuds is within a five mile radius of where you are. Then this is where it gets tricky, once you have located your food desire the likelihood of that craving being within a five mile radius is almost nil. So you move on to the next best option, you begin to think on the following: what place kinda resembles what you are coveting, will this new place that is in close proximity have the same menu items, will it placate in you what is required on this cool fall evening?

Now is the time in the blog where I reminiscence just for a moment. There is a take out spot in West Philadelphia called Dwight’s BBQ. Dwight’s is a hole in the wall, the service is bad, the wait is long and horribly unacceptable, they run out of food constantly, but they have the best dang bbq, mac and cheese and collard greens ever. There is never a time that people aren’t waiting outside, complaining about the things they have run out of, but when you take a bite of those ribs, you forgive them each and every time, hence they are still open. So needless to write, when I tried this new place called Zoagies in Bear, DE I used my Dwight’s as my food frame of reference.

Zoagies is a food truck that was recommended to me by a neighbor and is quickly being recognized as an IG sensation. So first up on the dining menu for me is the half of slab rib platter with two sides. Now if you have been following me for a while you know I love a good system and my system for ordering ribs is to order pork, because if you gonna go in, go all the way in. Everyone knows that pork is the super meat, it has all of the feels, all of the flavor, all of the fat and all of the goodness, contingent upon if it’s done right.

The ribs came perfectly slathered with what I assume was homegrown barbeque sauce, because it was completely balanced with flavor, delicately sweet, gracefully tangy, and loose in texture which did not resemble any type of bottled barbeque sauce. Visually the ribs had the proper amount of char on each rib, when I bit into my first rib I thought….not bad, I took another bite and reckoned pretty tender, not falling off the bone, but totally acceptable, on the third bite I asked myself where is the smoke, I was kinda counting on the smokiness to coat the inside of my mouth, but it didn’t. On my next rib, I concluded this is not in the neighborhood of Dwight’s, could Zoagies live on the same block as Dwight’? probably not, but maybe in the vicinity thereof. To write plainly the ribs were fair, they weren’t bad at all, if someone brought me some ribs from Zoagies as a wonderful gesture because they knew I didn’t feel like going out, I wouldn’t be mad, I may not have not been thrilled, but I certainly wouldn’t be sullen either.

Next up was the mac and cheese which is the only fitting accompaniment to a rib platter. The mac and cheese was cheesy, but not moist. It is some type of magic that happens with excellent mac and cheese, the wizardry happens when there is a slew of cheese, yet the mac and cheese is moist, the cheese is not tight, but its not loose either, again its landing in the realm of perfection and only a few have the goods to produce that type of goodness. This mac and cheese was undistinguished, it was on the dry side, not so much on the unflavorful side, but not on the creamy side either. Basically it was living in the land of take or leave it. I will take it if there are no other suitable sides, but I may leave it if something else strikes my fancy.

Last up was the string beans, the best way I can describe these veggies is to write is was the kindest slow burn, let me elaborate. On the first bite, I asked Jesus how could something be so bland. But endeavoring to follow the federal guidelines that states that a healthy adult should have two to three cups of veggies a day and coming to terms that I was extremely deficient in following that guidance, I continued to eat. As I continued to eat it was almost like I was eating time released flavored string beans. With each new bite, I started to get something new, the vinegar was coming through, the sweetness of the white onion slices they added was giving me life, the minced garlic was packing a small punch, and then with each passing chew, I found myself feeling very amiable toward those string beans, they gave my tongue a graze of goodness, that was subtly delightful.

If I had to give Zoagies a report card, I would give them a “C” and to be clear I am giving my menu choice a “C,” you see the ribs are not Zoagie’s signature food, their signature food is the fried hoagie, you read it correctly it’s a hoagie yet somehow the bread is fried. I cannot give details because I have never had it. I also want to write that a “C” is also known as space and room to improve and the potential is definitely there. A small tweak in this or that can make those rib platters a game changer. So keep striving Zoagies I have faith in you🍴

Tenderness over Everything 🍴

Whenever I have heard the phraseology, “I am going to place this on the back burner” I have always concluded that whatever was going on the back burner required less attention, that its ranking in the list of importance was low on the list. In life there are some things that are indeed worthy of going on the back burner, but I am not quite sure that short ribs are one of them, but “The Back Burner Restaurant” in Hockessin, Delaware sure does think so.

If you have been reading my blogs for awhile, you know that I have my own thought process for most things. Some of them make sense to only me and some I truly believe the world should adopt in an effort to make the world a better place. One of my thought processes is that whenever you go to a restaurant and you ask the waitstaff, “how is the short rib?” the first response should never be that it is super tender. Why is this important? It’s important, because when you go to a restaurant, tenderness should be a given, not a selling point. It should stand to reason that as a Chef your basic 101 training for meat such as short rib, that tenderness is essential. an absolute non-negotiable, a statement that should not be uttered, because it is as commonplace as having a fork and knife on the table. The proper response should be surrounded all around the taste, the flavor, and the wallop of seasoning that should inevitably explode in your mouth on every bite.

So by now I assume you must have guessed it. The first and only thing up for today is The Back Buner’s Short rib, that was merlot braised, accompanied with a side of gorgonzola smashed red potatoes, and roasted asparagus. So right off the bat, the short rib was fork tender, no knife required, the color was so chocolatey brown and dreamy that hesitation to take my first bite was not even a consideration. However, upon the first bite I tasted nothing, almost to the degree that I thought my tastebuds were betraying me, so being the respectable and gracious blogger that I am, I immediately assumed it is me and definitely not the food, so I take a second bite and again repetition of the banal short rib ensued. Needless to write my vivacity for this short rib began to wane. Using my lightning fast mind, the thought to dive into the mashed potatoes took hold of me, so I dove in, but again the ho hum lack of flavor continued. Where was the saltiness from the gorgonzola, where was the slight pungentness from the cow’s milk cheese, where was that earthiness? I don’t know where it was, but it certainly was not in those mashed potatoes. Whenever a restaurant opts to tell you that they are using red potatoes, it would seem that a bit of the peel of the red would be in the potato, if for no other reason than aesthetics.

Still not fully convinced that my gustatory cells were working to their optimum levels I go back to the short rib, and with the next bite disappointment engulfed me yet again, reiterating that The Back Burner restaurant had truly treated this short rib like Baby in Dirty Dancing; they left this short rib in the corner and ignored it. They forgot that tenderness should not be exchanged for flavor, that the two should dance together in harmony. They ran away from the prime opportunity to showcase flavors on another level, they left a space open for greatness to overtake the short rib, all because they ranked tenderness over everything. It was clear that this meat was left on the back burner, it was disregarded, it was treated like a third-rate food, as opposed to the star it could have been.

I will mention the asparagus, because it was on the plate, but to keep it frank it had no place here either. It was another missed moment, it could have been an asparagus where young children begged their mother for more, but instead it was another vegetable a child will continue to ignore until well into their 50’s and only then, because it’s green and it’s the responsible thing to do.

Back Burner Restaurant from reading this it may seem like this was a complete fail, but it wasn’t, the potential is there, I am sure there is a dynamic flavor profile in the Chef that is eager to come out, I believe that you have a freak flag that wants to show that short rib who is boss if you would just let it fly and stop putting everything on the back burner🍴

Fair Finds🍴

State, county, and neighborhood fairs is one of the favorite American pastimes similar to baseball. It is a time for the community to come together to hang, to shop, and to eat, and the annual Arden Fair in Wilmington, Delaware is one of the best. Arden is an eclectic community, full of artisanal and artistic finds, and a time where dilettante is celebrated for a few hours on a Saturday afternoon.

When people go to fairs, they look for the standard fair foods, snow cones, ice cream, funnel cake, and hot dogs. But the Arden fair opted to slightly up their game just a smidgen this year. They decided to give the community foods with a bit more brio, foods that packed a punch, and was sure to be illustrious. So this year, they made a fine choice by bringing in food truck, “Krys Soul Kreations” based in Newark, Delaware.

First and the only thing up for this tasting was the seafood eggroll. Whenever I see eggrolls advertised, I think of small gulf shrimp, a ton of cabbage, a requirement to eat quickly or it will taste stale, and no flavor. So needless to write I was skeptical and mistrustful. Despite my contrary inclination, my tendencies for seeing something that looked wrong and my ability to make it seem right prevailed, so I ordered.

The fried eggroll with large shrimp, salmon, and crab, was positively perfection. Made to order, the shrimp were large, sweet, and cooked impeccably, the crab had a consistency of a creamy and cheesy crab dip, had me in a tizzy to get to the next bite. Yes you read, that the seafood eggroll also had salmon, but in my continued efforts to always keep it a buck with my readers, I have to scribe that the salmon got lost. I couldn’t taste it, yet I never got the feeling that I missed it. If you are a salmon eater like me, you know salmon has a tough time competing with other seafood, sauces, and cheesiness. The delicacy of the salmon is designed to be a party of one in order for it to be the star of the show.

Despite the absentee taste of salmon, this eggroll was decadent, it was mouth warming, it was fried with a nicety that caused me to smile, and caused me to develop a desire to have Krys Soul Kreations at my next personal event, well done Krys Soul Kreations, well done🍴

Ooey Gooey Goodness🍴

If you follow me you know I love mac and cheese, if you are a true follower you know I have a very specific criteria for how I believe mac and cheese should look and of course taste. There are many restaurants who have opted to place mac and cheese on their menus, and for some that has been a triumphant decision and for others it has been a major fail.

It is not on every restaurant visit, that I start off feeling hopeful, that optimism takes over, I usually walk in a restaurant feeling very dubious, with my palate walls up high, and with a guarded tongue just in case the restaurant was not what was portrayed on Insta or I had built up in mind, but then came MadMacs. 

MadMacs of Newark, Delaware started off with the key ingredient to a mouthwatering evening and that was with the waitstaff. My waitress was the most delightful, the most smiley, the most menu informed, and more importantly she carried within her the  experiential taste knowledge, which in most cases is priceless.

The first and only thing up for the evening was the Cajun Mac and Cheese, with sharp and swiss cheese, crab, shrimp, bread crumb topping, and old bay. As you read this it may read oversimplified and nothing to write home to Wolf Gang Puck about who is in my opinion the king of all things Mac and Cheese, but I promise this is a complicated mac and cheese compilation. Whenever you opt to place seafood inside of mac and cheese there are two things that can go wrong; one the seafood can get lost in the cheese and your tastebuds cannot even recognize it being there or the dish can be overtaken by the fishiness and the foundation which is the mac and cheese gets lost, but when you find the balance between the two baby, you have something I am going to coin right here and right now and that is “cheese gold.”

This mac and cheese was made of everything right in the world, tender noodles, ooey gooey cheese with multiple cheese pulls, perfectly cooked no skimping on the size shrimp, briney crab, of course all of it very buttery, and in case you forgot you had seafood old bay that grazed the back of your throat on every swallow was an absolute eye closer and mouth pleaser.

MadMacs not only did I feel welcome, but you brought down the walls of my palate, you brought me everything a mac and cheese was supposed to bring, which is: pretty to eyes with the golden color the cheese, comfort to the mind, a gentle acquaintance to the tongue, a warmness that screams it is safe to eat of all these calories, and just downright heavenly, which made me smile with each bite. WIth the many options of the mac and cheese I have officially chosen you to be my go to spot for my local hankering for mac and cheese…well done MadMac well done🍴

Small but Mighty🍴

Tapas are small dishes and the definition actually comes from the Spanish word for appetizer or snack, but when I translate it, it comes across as my opportunity to try more things on the menu with less guilt, and that is a wonderful thing.

Tapas are typically very savory dishes that have one goal and that is to pack a punch, because the chef fully understands that you are only going to get one to three bites from each dish. Tapas are not a place that you expect to get full,  the objective is not to get satiated, but to simply get gratified.

So the restaurant for today is Bacari PDR in Playa Del Rey, California and first up was Hunters Mac and Cheese made with five cheese fondue, toasted panko, white truffle oil, and scallions, which translates to…fair, not amazing, on the verge of good, but needed something a bit extra. The scallions were extremely large in proportion to the tapa portion, although piping hot on arrival, no cheese pull, and although I totally see where the chef was going with making the cheese a fondue, it just didn’t seem to follow through to the end.

Second up, Fried Chicken Sliders that were cornbread crusted on a hawaiin roll, stacked with long pickle slices, slaw, and aioli. The cornbread crust added a pleasurable amount of crunch, a hawaiin roll that always adds a hint of softness in texture and a diminutive amount of sweet, the pickles although toothsome seemed to create a harmony for the slaw, and all together this translated into a gratifying two biter.

Third up, Oven Roasted Bone Marrow with capers, panko, salt and pepper with a side of crostini, in layman’s terms that is what the waitress gleefully called beef butter. When scraping the marrow out of the bone, getting the almost gelatinous like texture on the bottom and broiled til lightly crunchy on top was the most scrumptious delicacy I have encountered in quite some time. Beef butter sounded so appropriate because it conveyed all the feels: creamy, salty, beefy, savory, slightly greasy to give your entire mouth the opportunity to dance at the party. If I had the opportunity I will go back to get this dish over and over again.

Fourth up, winter scallops with carrot parsnip puree, melted leeks, crispy capers, and white truffle oil. Whenever I order scallops from a restaurant what I am really doing is delving into the skill level of the chef. Scallops are a very difficult seafood to execute, one false move can produce a rubbery ball that is simply inedible, so when they are done right which means they are seared perfectly on the outside, no drying on the inside, yet maintaining its level of brininess, the chef in my opinion has hit a homerun, when you couple that scallop with a crunchy caper, I am totally prepared to get some poms poms and scream your name.

Last up, pan seared walnut crusted salmon sitting atop herb bulgar. To be honest the walnuts did not come through for me, if I had not read it on the menu, I would have had no clue they were even present on the fish, however the salmon was cooked extremely well, the taste was not fascinating, nor was it unmentionable, the bulgar did not necessarily provide much other than texture. It certainly was not a fail, it was far beyond a passing grade, but it definitely wasn’t superb.

I have always been team, tapas especially because it supports my waistline and my psyche, you get a bunch of food, yet with small bites, you feel like you did a menu tasting, and your figure does not suffer. That combined with the food being a solid win, I feel good in my soul and my stomach, well done Bacari PDR, well done🍴

Science & Nature 🍴

I have always had a respect for bakers especially seeing that I myself am not one. Baking is such a science, so exact, no teetering to the left nor to the right like stovetop cooking. It is super essential that measurements are spot on, that the ingredients you pick are not only in season, but the most premium for the dessert at hand, and when those things are not aligned, then you have something short of a mess.

I typically do not blog about desserts and not because I don’t eat dessert, because I certainly have my fair share or else I wouldn’t be having the daily discussion about whether or not I should go to the gym today or not;  but when I am blogging I tend to focus on main meals, and to be quite honest I throw shade on dessert and I don’t give them the props they are do, but today that stops and it stops now. 

Today’s trip was all about dessert from the Sweet Red Peach in Inglewood, California. I first heard about the Sweet Red Peach from Chef Duff Goldman, you know the guy on Food Network? Well to commemorate Juneteenth, Duff decided to shout all of the black owned bakeries that he deemed imperative that you check out in certain states, and when I knew that I would be in Los Angeles the Sweet Red Peach was first on my to do list. 

First up, the blue velvet cake, yes you read correctly blue velvet cake. People often favor the red velvet cake, but the blue velvet cake is basically the fraternal twin to the red velvet cake. They look a little different, but they are still from the same egg that split in two. Cakes in my estimation are a tricky thing, and not everyone executes perfectly. For me the cake to frosting ratio is super duper important, oftentimes you find cakes where the layer of cake is so miniscule and the icing portion is a behemoth, and when that happens the whole thing goes to pot. But the Sweet Red Peach had the impeccable quota of both. The more than right size of cake and the precise amount of cream cheese icing was divine. The cake was moist, it was the perfect amount of sweet, the icing had the right amount of tang for balance, but more importantly it tasted homemade.

If you are a dessert eater your nose and your palate knows the distinct taste between homemade and store made. It is super hard to convey with pen to paper, but homemade goods have a special aroma, that store bought doesn’t, homemade has a special taste of care and delicacy that store bought doesn’t, and homemade somehow taste cozy, it somehow gives me the simulation that my big breasted grandmother is holding me in her bosom with one hand and feeding me cake with the other, it was positively one of the best blue velvet cakes I’ve had.

Second up, the chocolate chip cookie. Chocolate chip cookies are like baseball. It is truly America’s favorite pastime and right up there with apple pie for being America’s favorite dessert. But not all cookies are created equal, and not all bakers can master the favorite cookie, and there are plenty and I do mean plenty of masquerading out there. With the level of cookie imposters it’s hard to choose who is going to be legit. I find myself leaning toward the large cookie, the cookie that has the best aesthetic, but even with that you can be fooled. But when I took my first bite of this Sweet Red Peach chocolate chip cookie there were no charade games being played here. This cookie with a mix of milk chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate was savory, it was sweet, but there were no chocolate chips as the name suggest, I believe they used shards of chocolate so you could get a visual of the different chocolates and also get an understanding that it was going to be decadent and that they symmetry between sweetness and smoothness went hand and hand. Each time I have a chocolate chip cookie, I put it through the refrigerator test. I want it to be slightly chilled, a little firm, but not crispy, and I want it to stand up to each bite without crumbling. I put this cookie through my test and it passed with flying or should I write edible delight colors. After taking it out of the fridge I was able to get more of that chocolate goodness in every bite that resonated to biting into a chunk, the center of the cookie was still homemade chewy, and the edges had a small crunch. In one bite I got all my palate desired in this life, sweet, savory, chewy chocolatey, and crunchy, to sum this up, this was a win win.

Last up, the namesake, the peach cobbler. Now when making peach cobbler I think it is essential that the baker be part scientist, part a God-fearing baker who totally understands that the good Lord has made fruit for humans to enjoy in this earth and when the two come together heavenly things tend to happen. There are alot of peach cobblers out there, some super sweet like eating melted jolly rancher syrup, some with too little peaches, some with not good crust, some just simply not understanding that it’s the peach here who is the work horse. But the Sweet Red Peach understood thoroughly who was the star of the show and who had the obligation to work the hardest to make this production a success. 

The crust was thick enough, but not doughy, it was nicely sweetened but not overly so, it was golden brown on top to signal me that this has been made with all the love their heart had to give. The peaches inside were just the right slice, no a slither, but a gratuitous slice, the peaches were sweet all on their own like I picked the peach from the tree myself. When peach cobbler is cooked correctly the peaches secrete their own nectar, their own sweet juice that graces the bottom of the cobbler, it’s not a syrupy fest where the peaches are overtaken by the syrupy juice. No, these peaches had a specific job to do and the baker let them do it, no extra sugar here, the sweetness was so satisfying I didn’t even need a glass of water to remove the sweetness that lingered on my tongue. This was peach cobbler, not candied sweets assuming the character of peach cobbler; this was the namesake dessert and it did the name justice, it was simply delectable.

Well done, Sweet Red Peach, I plan to visit you more than I should, but every bite is worth the extra time in the gym🍴

Happy Father’s Day Poppa Beck🍴

There is no one on this earth that I know, who loves burgers more than my dad, Poppa Beck. I have gone to the finest restaurants with him where the cuisine is artistic, fanciful, seasonal, and full of flair, yet he will order a burger. So when it came to celebrating the most handsome and loving man on this earth this Father’s Day, I knew that having a burger was in order.

The place that we opted to try was Wilmington, Delaware’s own Farmer & the Cow. This small restaurant is in the city of WIlmington where the city streets are less busy on the weekends, only the locals are strolling down the street, and the bright lights big city persona is non-existent, but they have something that can rival any big city, big name restaurant, any day of the week.

First up, mac and cheese, now I am fully aware that I write about mac and cheese quite a bit, but my thought process is,  if a restaurant is bold enough to put it on the menu I have a responsibility to taste it. Mac and cheese with aged parmesan, bacon jam, and sweet onion, in a nutshell… absolutely yummy. Nutty parmesan melted so wonderfully that I got a cheese pull with every forkful, the bacon jam worked double duty by giving it saltiness and a smooth hint of sweetness, and the onion was honeyed as only a vidalia onion should be. Yes, I found this mac and cheese delicious, but the best treat to this dish was the unexpectancy of it all. You just don’t presume that a burger restaurant would put that much panache into a side dish that easily fed 3.

Next up, the burger; the list of burgers were overwhelming, so many combinations, so many options, so many opportunities to let my comfort zone talk me into just ordering a standard burger, but I decided to go on a small limb and order “That’ll Do Pig.” Now if you follow me or know me personally you know my intimate relationship with bacon and how I affectionately call it the super meat, this burger was right up my alley. Let me inform you that all beef burgers at Farmer & the Cow are made with a blend of chuck,brisket, and filet. But to up the ante this burger had toppins of tater tots, cart sauce, bacon, bacon mayo, bacon jam, and my substitution of american cheese on a warm bun. 

Real talk, the first bite of that medium well done burger literally made me slightly close my eyes and gently rest my elbows on the table, and it was then I knew I had found infatuation. This burger stole my taste buds and handled them with care. I am totally convinced that the bacon was made in-house, this was beyond slab bacon, it was perfectly cooked, the perfect amount of meat to fat ratio, the jam cut through some of that saltiness that the back of my throat needed, I don’t even like mayonnaise, but bacon mayonnaise is a pig of different color, then topped with the tater tots that provided me with texture and the nostalgia of elementary school, and the american cheese that was fully melted, not semi-melted let me know this chef knew his burgers, understood his craft, and loves to have people enjoy their food.

It’s been some time since I have had a burger that I would define as wonderful, but Farmer & the Cow you have a prizewinner on your hands and it was my absolute pleasure to have it in mine.

This was the perfect place to celebrate my dad, to give him something that caused him to smile, that made him anxious to want to come back, and he legit enjoyed it and it wasn’t simply because I took him, well done Farmer & The Cow…well done🍴

Was it Really Worth the Splurge?🍴

There is something about seafood, it is kinda like a bell that rings loudly in the ears of men, women, and babies. When the words “seafood” are wafted through the air people find themselves thinking “indulgence is in our midst” and for a moment they envision themselves about to partake in a level of sumptuousness that doesn’t come around on a daily basis.

Papi Cuisine in Baltimore, Maryland gives off this very vibe, the images on Instagram looked so ravishing and the reservations so unyielding I found myself in a frenzy trying to make my acquaintance with the cuisine, and as serendipity would have it, today was my day.

During my time as a restaurant goer I have become very accustomed to levels, in other words the progression of the menu. First the appetizers, then entree, then the dessert; this progression is not only designed to set the tone for the palate, but it is a true introduction to the cuisine. The menu provides the patron with a peek into the range of the chef and what he or she deems as the apple of their eye. 

 The appetizers are often petite in portion and smaller in price, but this is certainly not the case for Papi Cuisine where seafood, especially the crab is the apple of this chef’s eye. So first up was the Crab Cake Egg Roll, a hand crafted roll filled with cheesy crab and drizzled with aioli sauce. Real talk, this was an expensive egg roll, but I will also write it was worth it. From the first bite I knew I was tasting premium crab meat, no filler whatsoever, it was sweet meat, it was tender, it was buttery, it was rich, beautifully golden brown, and savory, this egg roll was an absolute hit.  

After eating this egg roll, I found myself needing a refreshment, not because it was overwhelming in taste, but simply because I wanted something to wet whistle. When it came to ordering a refreshment there were none, or should I rephrase it was none for me; you see Papi Cuisine only serves alcoholic drinks and water. Now I am generally not a person who would find themselves easily slighted, but in this case I certainly did. Was Papi Cuisine making a statement without forwardly making one? I would certainly say they were, and whether or not they were aware of it, they were making the statement that they were not that interested in all kinds of clientele. What they went on to say without saying was that they devalued the non-alcoholic drinker and that their focus was not on me and that they were ok with that. No coke products, no pepsi products, no tea, no lemonade, no consideration. 

Second up, the Ultimate Seafood Alfredo, with grilled lobster, colossal shrimp, and jumbo crab. If there are kudos for the presentation you definitely deserve yours, the exhibition was very nicely done. Now there is something to be said for thinking a plan out to the end and putting yourself in the shoes of the patron. Although the staging was great the actual plan for eating was a bit on the flop side for me. You see I am the kind of eater who hates to eat with their hands. If I order pasta I am strategically picking not to get my hands integrated into the festivities, but I had to in order to eat this. I had to pull and I do mean pull with an extra umph to get that lobster out of the shell, I had to remove the shells from the ends of my shrimp, and all of this before I could take one single bite.

When I took that first bite of the pasta and lobster, I thought creamy and I tasted yummy from the pasta and sauce only. The lobster on the other had not taken a trip to flavortown and was left rubbery, vapid, and completely unfulfilling. Having grown up on crab, I fancy myself as a semi-expert, so I know that no matter the description of the crab, lump or otherwise it is a delicate piece of meat. When you have something so delicate the matchup is crucial. When you go out of your way to use the term “Ultimate Seafood…” what you are insinuating is that with every bite I will participate in every piece of seafood in the pasta, and I could not taste the crab. It was swallowed up by the heaviness of the alfredo, the sauce left no room for the crab to shine through. But then redemption took place in between bites when I got to the shrimp. In most cases I would frown on fried shrimp in a wet pasta, but the shrimp held up and the taste of those shrimp was better than a home run. Papi Cuisine each time I wanted to condemn you for your sins with that lobster and that overpriced appetizer, I found myself letting your transgressions escape me with each bite of that alfredo pasta and shrimp.

Papi Cuisine, I am well aware that you are still a young business and I view your infancy compared to your execution, so I am prepared to give you some allowances. However, I will give you some feedback, keep in mind that appetizers probably shouldn’t be the same price as entree prices, and for goodness sakes man get some non-alcoholic drinks in your establishment and stop shunning those who have opted not to partake, and lastly for the prices you must get some desserts on the menu. Desserts act as a culmination to an experience and serve as a last impression.

Papi Cuisine I am actually excited to see how you will grow, how you change, and more importantly how you take feedback from your patrons. Next time I come I know to order the appetizer only and to bring my own lemonade from Chick-Fil-A🍴