Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tuesday Nights: Phebe's

Towards the end of the last year, my friends thought that we weren't hanging out enough. It's true, we weren't. So they started Tuesday night get-togethers. Every Tuesday, we'll pick a bar to drink, eat, and hang out for a couple of hours. Whoever can make it will attend. If you're busy, it's okay. There's always next week. So this is Tuesday Nights on Tasty Eating where you will find bars that serve food and how we like them.

On a recent Tuesday Night, we headed out to: Phebe's
This East Village tavern and grill has been around for awhile. I've walked by it several times but have never ventured into it. They open their large doors on warm allowing a nice sidewalk experience without actually being on the sidewalk. Thankfully on this hot summer day, they decided to keep the doors closed and keep their patrons cool with the AC.

Seated at the table, we decided to order a bunch of the appetizers to share. The waitress kindly informed us that their Happy Hour special included 1/2 off their alcohol (beer, wine, and hard liquor except single malt whiskeys) as well as half off all appetizers (except for the platter) until 8pm. That, my readers, is a great deal. Did I mention that this happy hour exists for Monday through Friday? Yeah, even better deal.

So we went ahead and liberally ordered from the menu. First up, the bacon tempura ($8). Thick slices of bacon are coated in a tempura batter then deep fried. Served with some potato wedges and greens, this was a nice dish. Not amazing though which was very surprising. We all took turns eating the bacon but none of us were wowed by it.

For something healthy, we had some hummus and pita ($8). The hummus was smooth and creamy and the toasted pita triangles were warm and soft. Some celery sticks were thrown in for good measure.

And how could we not order the buffalo chicken wings ($8). We had them mild and they were nice. Crispy but nicely sauced, we enjoyed these. The cooling blue cheese was unnecessary but tasty.
The calamari basket ($10) was okay as well. It was lightly breaded and deep fried into crispy squid rings. They tasted like they were frozen previously but that didn't matter to us. The squid wasn't chewy so we enjoyed them.
The spinach and artichike dip ($9) was okay too. It didn't pack the kind of flavor that one would expect from this kind of dip. The accompanying chips were quite good. But the pitas turned out to be too soft.
The best and most favorite dish of the night was the Fiesta Nachos ($10). The crispy tortilla chips were topped with pepperjack cheese and cheddar cheese. We added beef to it which was an extra $1, I think. On top of that was the sour cream, salsa, and guacamole. This plate of nachos was humungous. And it was delicious. This was absolutely a great deal. A must order.
The sliders with pickles ($10) and cheddar cheese (+$1) were mediocre. The buns were dry and the beef a little overcooked. But with some ketchup, everything was just fine.
And as a last minute addition, we ordered a pizza ($10) with onions and mushrooms (+$1 each). The pizza wasn't too bad. The crust was a little soft for my liking but the toppings were generous and tasty.
Phebe's was pretty good. The service was friendly and attentive. They reminded us to get our last round of happy hour beers in before the 8pm cut off. Although the food can be a little hit or miss, the half off prices makes them just fine for our group. The nachos, though, were really good and plentiful.

We definitely really liked Phebe's and declared it our go-to bar for Tuesdays.

Phebe's Tavern & Grill
359 Bowery
New York, NY 10003
(212) 358-1902

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

My Trip to North Carolina (Part 12): Dame's Chicken & Waffles

As my last meal in NC, I wanted something awesome. So we headed to Dame's chicken and waffles and had...duh! Chicken and waffles. The wait that day was very long: about 45 minutes. But we had time before our flight and decided to hang out. The restaurant does not take reservations and seating is based on a first come-first served basis.

When we were seated, we ordered immediately. We didn't want to risk arriving late to the airport. Unfortunately, I think the kitchen was very slow. We waited and waited for our food to arrive. It looked like everyone was just waiting for their entrees. Luckily, they brought out our sides first so we didn't feel too hungry. Between the three of us, we had collard greens, grits, mac n cheese, and fresh fruit. Everything was pretty tasty and the fruit was fresh. We were all very happy to snack on these while waiting for the chicken and waffles.

I had the Red Crested Rose Comb ($10.25) which included 2 fried chicken drumsticks, a classic waffles, candied pecans, and some strawberry schmear. The chicken was really crispy and delicious. Well seasoned and juicy. The savory meat paired well with the crunchy waffle which was just a little sweet. I poured on the maple syrup and balanced the savory sweet flavors some more. It was really nice. I definitely enjoyed this very much.

Another dish was the Light Brown Leghorn ($11.15) which included 4 chicken pieces with a classic waffle and a caramel sauce on top. Again, really good chicken and fluffy waffle.
The last dish was the Quilted Buttercup ($9.25) which included a fried chicken cutlet sandwiched between 2 sweet potato waffles and maple candied pecans. As the other 2 dishes, really delicious chicken and sweet waffles.
We all cleaned our plates easily. The chicken was well fried and delicious. The waffles were crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. A great pairing indeed. Although the kitchen was quite slow, we enjoyed Dame's. I would go back if I had a lot of free time to spare.

Dame's Chicken & Waffles
317 West Main Street
Durham, NC 27701-3215
(919) 682-9235

My Trip to North Carolina (Part 11): Guglhupf Bakery

On my last day in NC, Ms Mandoo took me to a new bakery: Guglhupf. This German bakery specializes in its namesake bundt cake as well as several other European pastries.

The bakery itself is very large. You can order pastries at its storefront or walk back to the cafe where you can enjoy some savory breakfast/brunch items. It was really crowded the morning we went so we decided to buy some pastries to go instead.

I bought a bunch of things to share with Ms Mandoo and Mr Peanut head. First, a delicious elephant ear. I'm a fan of these from any place. So I had to try then out here. It was flaky, buttery, and delicious. The powdered sugar on top was unnecessary. I also bought a croissant because I love croissants. Buttery French bread. What's not to like? However, this version wasn't buttery enough and the flakiness suffered.

Ms Mandoo decided to try a date almond scone which was quite light and texturally pleasing. Only slightly sweet but incredibly crumbly, this scone was quite nice.

And here is the imfamouse guglhuph. Like I said earlier, it's like a bundt cake but unlike American cakes in general, it was slightly drier and only slightly sweet. The texture and flavor reminded me more of challah bread.
Here's a slice of the guglhuph. This would actually go really well with some afternoon tea.
And to round out the breakfast meal, I also ordered a bretzel stick with ham and cheese. The bread was slightly chewy but really nice and savory. I liked how they split the pretzel open and filled the inside with ham and cheese. A bit of scallions here would work wonderfully.
I would also like to mention that I had a cup of coffee too. The flavor was quite nice and well roasted. I can always enjoy a nice cup of coffee.

Guglhuph was really nice and I would love to go back some day. Hopefully, next time we can enjoy some of the savory items as well. The outdoor garden is beautiful and would be nice to dine al fresco.

Guglhuph Bakery, Patisserie & Cafe
2706 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd #1
Durham, NC 27707
(919) 401-2600

Monday, August 29, 2011

My Trip to North Carolina (Part 10): Durham Athletic Park

After dinner we headed to the Durham Athletic Park for a AAA baseball game. The Durham Bulls were playing the Scranton Yankees. Unfortunately the home team didn't win.

However, the crowd was very family oriented and fun. I had a great time and 3 home runs came right our way. Didn't catch anything though. But it was all a good time.

Durham Athletic Park
500 West Corporation Street
Durham, NC 27701
(919) 680-8316

My Trip to North Carolina (Part 9): Bullock's BBQ

We decide to spend our last night in Durham. Looking for a place to eat, I decided to mention BeerBoor's recommendation: Bullock's. You see, he's a Duke alum and I trust his suggestions for good food, especially in the South. So off we went for some BBQ.

Bullock's has been around for ages. You can tell from the decor that looks like it hasn't all. But I liked it. It felt homey. It felt...real. Our waitress was even better. An old woman that called us honey. She still worked hard and stood on her feet. God bless her.

We each ordered a BBQ plate and snacked on some hush puppies while we waited. These were quite nice. Well fried and sweet.

Then our plates came out simultaneously. I had the barbecue and ribs plate with coleslaw. The ribs were spare ribs and quite large. Very meaty but not fall off the bone. But I prefer that. I like a chew to my meat. Pretty delicious and the sauce was sweet and tangy. The chopped barbecue meat tasted pretty good too with it's vinegary base. They chopped it that it retained some texture but was easy to eat without much chewing. The coleslaw was very nice as well. Vinegar based and necessary to cut through the heavier meat items.
Both Mr Peanut Head and Ms Mandoo had the barbecue plate. Their sides were mac n cheese, fried okra, coleslaw, and mashed potatoes. They licked their plates clean. And then helped me with my own.
Bullock's won't give you the best BBQ NC has to offer but it's solid Southern cooking. The waitress was super sweet and very attentive. The prices are cheap and the serving sizes are huge. I would come back without a doubt.

Bullock's BBQ
3330 Quebec Drive
Durham, NC 27705
(919) 383-3211

My Trip to North Carolina (Part 8): Maple View Farm

Every year on my NC trip, I made the effort to go to Maple View Dairy Farm. I love this place. I love that it's a real dairy farm. I love that it's simple and that their flavors are still interesting. They make fresh waffle cones. And they have rocking chairs outside. This place is just awesome.

In the whole spirit of things, I had 1 scoop of the Caroline Crunch ($2.50) which is a crunch caramel ice cream base with pieces of Heath bar, Butterfinger, and Reese's Cup. Totally intense. Totally good. Sweet? Yes. Creamy? Yes. Good? Oh yes.

Maple View Dairy Farm
3109 Dairyland Road
Hillsborough, NC 27278-8390
(919) 933-3600

Sunday, August 28, 2011

My Trip to North Carolina (Part 7): Saxapahaw General Store

At this point I was really full and didn't want to eat anymore. But we decided to go to a 5-star rated gas station. Interesting. It was in Saxapahaw and this time it was only a mere 35 miles away. The roads were small but the scenery really interesting. Driving through the South turned out to be really interesting. We arrived to this little place on the side of the road. Inside, the kitchen was winding down but they had aisles and aisles of food.

We decided to keep it light and just get a couple of ice pops. The Luna pop flavor I chose was mango chili. It was really refreshing. Though it tasted mostly of mango, the chili crept up only a little bit at the end and lingered in my throat.

This was a nice little side trip. It was interesting to see how quaint the rest ofthe country is. I'm just a big city girl in a small town. I love it!

Saxapahaw General Store
1735 Saxapahaw-Bethlehem Church Road
Saxapahaw, NC 27340
(336) 376-5332

Luna Pops

My Trip to North Carolina (Part 6): Saigon Bakery

Right after breakfast, we thought about lunch. Hahaha! We weren't hungry at the moment but we didn't want to decide when we were hungry either. Some talk about Vietnamese banh mi came up and it was settled. We were driving over 50 miles to get some ethnic food. Oh being into food is so difficult sometimes...hahahaha! To speed things up a bit, I volunteered to drive. So off we went onto the highway in search of some Vietnamese food. We finally found this small storefront located in a strip mall in a seedy looking part of town. Hello Saigon Bakery. We're here!

We went in and the place was vast. The counter and front kitchen area was normal. But if you walked to the bathroom, you can see a really huge kitchen area and lots of storage. Oh man, the possibilities.

Anyway, the weather was getting really hot so we looked some some refreshing drinks. Below, we tried the white gourd drink and chrysanthemum tea. Both were sweet but refreshing at the same time. The white gourd drink was almost creamy tasting. We though it could be some of the pulp. I grew up drinking chrysanthemum tea (mainly homemade) so this canned drink was only natural for me.

And our banh mi sandwiches. We all had the Classic Saigon Style ($3) which came with pate, Vietnamese ham, pork roll, cilantro, pickled daikon and carrots, jalapeno, and mayo. The bread was really light. I suspect the use of rice flour. A little more exploring and you can see an oven in the kitchen with loaves of bread. They make their own bread! Oooooh! Always a plus. Anyway, the rest of the different flavors mixed together really well tasting fresh, rich, tart, and spicy all at the same time.
My only wish was that they had more filling between the bread layers. What can I say? I like a good meat to bread to veggie ratio for my sandwiches.
Saigon Bakery didn't offer the best banh mi I've had but it was nice to have something different in this part of the country. I love BBQ but can't eat it all the time. I've tried, it's not good for my system.

Saigon Bakery
3808 High Point Road
Greensboro, NC 27407-4713
(336) 856-7667

My Trip to North Carolina (Part 5): Scratch Bakery

The next day, we decided to do a mini road trip. We were going to drive around to all our food destinations. First up, Scratch Bakery in Durham. You may recognize the name because it's been featured on a few food shows before. And for good reason, the food is good and the people are friendly. You can either sit inside or outside. We chose outside since it was morning and the heat didn't bother us yet.

One of their more popular items is the doughnut muffins($2 each). These little soft muffins tasted like cake doughnuts. Soft, sweet, and slightly fluffy. The chocolate and the buttermilk flavors were fantastic. They dust every doughnut muffin with cinnamon sugar which just added another delicious layer of sweetness. So good!

Here's a nice slice of a Spanish Omelet ($3-$4). It was light but filling. The eggs and thinly sliced potatoes were really nice. A great breakfast item.
I had the S.O.S which stands for shit on shingles. It's usually some browned meat on toast. I see this often in many Southern breakfast joints. Each place offers a different dish but the idea is the same. The version at Scratch Bakery included toast, bacon, creamed tomatoes, and a poached egg ($7.50). It was VERY good. Great even. The nicely toasted bread was topped with nuggets of bacon and deliciously sweet tomatoes. The richness from the creamy sauce was really nice. The decadence was only heightened by the runny egg yolk. So incredibly good.
And how could I not get a slice of pie too? I mean, they're known for their pies, right? So I had a slice of lemon chess pie ($3.50). It was very sweet but the lemon helped. The buttery, flaky crust was super good. The filling is ooey, gooey, good. This is an addicting piece of pie.
And finally, a delicious drip cup of coffee ($2.25). Strong, robust, but didn't taste burned. Just the way good coffee should taste.
I really liked Scratch Bakery. The food was very good and the service always had a smile. If you can't stop and sit for a meal, at least take some doughnut muffins to go.

Scratch Bakery
111 Orange Street
Durham, NC 27701
(919) 956-5200

Saturday, August 27, 2011

My Trip to North Carolina (Part 4): Choco Taco

We were all full from the day's food but we still had room for dessert much later. For some reason, Mr Peanut Head and I liked to go to the local supermarket, Harris Teeter, and buy some ice cream. We pretty much almost do this every year and this year was no different. This time though, we bought Choco Taco. Oh nostalgia! We ripped this baby open and chowed down. Man, it was a good and bad in every way. Good for the memories, bad for what it actually was. No regrets though. No regrets.

My Trip to North Carolina (Part 3): Yamazushi

This year's trip was really interesting. We didn't focus on a lot of BBQ like we normally do. Instead, we ventured out of the way to find some ethnic food. Why? My friend really missed it and wanted someone to try new things with. And that me! I'm her eating partner in crime. So off we went in look for something other than BBQ which NC has a lot of.

After our heavy lunch, Mr Peanut head and I weren't very hungry for dinner. However, we still wanted to have a meal with Ms Mandoo. So we decided to go have sushi. Yea, NC! Her roommate tagged along and we went to Yamazushi.

This family owned sushi restaurant is really cute. The decor is fantastic and really calming. They have a small sitting/waiting area in front that's just adorable. With only a few tables, the restaurant can get very full quickly. But it's worth the wait.

As an amuse bouche, they gave us all miso daikon. It was really light and refreshing. The miso flavor definitely shined through. Okay, my appetite was definite whet at this point.
I really wanted to try sea urchin out here so I ordered the Nigiri sushi as an appetizer ($5). It came with 2 pieces and it was super fresh. It didn't smell nor taste fishy at all. Instead, it was briny and tasted like the ocean. Fresh, light, creamy, delicious.
Ms Mandoo and her roommate ordered the spicy squid and seaweed salad appetizer special ($7) to start. The dish was light and a nice starter. The squid wasn't chewy at all and was cooked well. The only complaint was that it wasn't really spicy at all.
And this was the soy sauce container. Isn't this cute? All the dishes and containers are made by the owner (the father) of the restaurant. He even carves in a few poems on the back of the plates. Really nice touch.
For our entrees, Ms Mandoo's roommate had the Nigiri ($22). Her fish looked fresh and delicious. She enjoyed every bite. Though her one complaint was that it was too spicy from the wasabi. I suspected that it was the lump of wasabi that she mixed into her soy sauce and not the small dot of wasabi put on the rice of the nigiri. I don't get the whole wasabi in soy sauce thing. I like wasabi sure but I may not want it in every single bite. So I leave my soy sauce pure and pick up pieces of wasabi whenever I want it. Is that just me though?
I had the Sashimi and Nigiri Combo ($27) which came with mackerel, flounder, shrimp, tuna, salmon, salmon roe, white tuna, and octopus. I really liked how the chef made a rose from the flounder filets and a leaf from the wasabi. Little touches like these really make my day. I really enjoyed my food. The fish was fresh and tasted delightful. I was very happy.
Ms Mandoo has the Pork Tonkatsu ($22) which is a breaded fried pork chop. What's special about this pork is that it's actually Bershire pork. That's high quality. The dish came with spinach, carrots, and radish. I know she really enjoyed this and was raving about it.
Mr Peanut head had the Sashimi Omakase ($27) which looked great as well. He had very similar fish to what I had but he also had sea bream which is kind of like snapper. I know he really enjoyed this as well.
We all really enjoyed and loved Yamazushi. The food, the decor, the service was very good. Although our food did take a long time to come out, they did apologized profusely. We were in good moods and didn't mind the extra time to chat. I would absolutely recommend this place, no doubt.

4711 Hope Valley Road
Durham, NC 27707
(919) 493-7748