03 January 2014

Review: Piston Diner – Westville NJ

Category: Reviews — Posted by Michael at 0800

New Jersey’s official nickname is the Garden State but it could be called the The Diner State. There are diners everywhere and I’ve almost never been to a bad one. I enjoy trying new ones when I hear about them but The Piston Diner lands squarely in the “not worth going back to” column.

When you first walk in there’s no clear indication of where you should go to be seated. We stood there awkwardly for a minute before a waitress walked by and told us someone would be with us in a minute. Once we were finally seated the service didn’t get too much better. Very little attention was paid to us throughout our meal.

They only serve breakfast and lunch. I found that odd, but thankfully it was lunchtime when we stopped by.

I ordered a diner staple… the French Dip sandwich. It was mostly bread. The roll was huge and there was barely any roast beef on it at all.  I would say that the upside to this was that I could use the bread to soak up the au jus. However, the au jus had an odd flavor to it that wasn’t all that appealing.

02 January 2014

Review: Sorbello Girls Farm Market – Mullica Hill NJ

Category: Reviews — Posted by Michael at 1900

Years ago my father discovered the Sorbello Girls Farm Market. He would say he was going to go visit “the girls.” A few years have passed since then and “the girls” have grown up a bit but they still run a fantastic farm market.

There are more than a few farm markets in the Garden State but Sorbello’s stands out. Their products are always fresh and delicious and they always make you feel welcome when you enter their market. Ask them which apple you should choose and they’ll cut some up for you to taste. Ask a question about a vegetable and they’ll tell you all about the best way to cook it. Debbie also comes to the weekly farmer’s market in Gloucester Township on weekends. She’s the only reason I ever go to that nearby market although I’ll also frequently drive the 60 minute round trip passing many other markets to shop at Sorbello Girls. The quality of their products and the friendly service makes it worth the trip every time.

01 January 2014

Review: Positively 4th Street – Charlottesville VA

Category: Reviews — Posted by Michael at 1300

There are a ton of great restaurants at Historic Downtown Pedestrian Mall in Charlottesville. We walked past Positively 4th Street a few times without noticing it until we found it on Yelp. While most of the places were busy, this one was fairly empty. At first we worried that maybe other people knew something we didn’t, but then we figured that maybe everyone was thinking that way and walking past. We were so happy that we decided to eat there! It has a bar and there at least one guy there who sounded like he had a little too much to drink (or was just obnoxious in general) but the overall atmosphere was nice. We sat right by the front windows so we could people watch while eating without sitting outdoors in the sweltering heat.

The food was fantastic. Since we were in the south, I decided to try shrimp and grits. I’ve never been a big fan of grits but these were the creamiest, tastiest grits I’ve ever had. The shrimp were cooked perfectly and the tomato ragu, made with grape tomatoes, was delicious. The crab cakes were also very good and served with a unique side of crispy fried kale. Frying kale probably makes it slightly less nutritious but who’s complaining when it tastes that good?

21 July 2013

Review: Station House – Haddon Heights NJ

Category: Reviews — Posted by Michael at 1715

The Station House, named for it’s location on Station Avenue near the railroad tracks, serves breakfast and lunch. In the past, the decor seemed a little dark and cluttered, but when I returned recently, I found the new decor much lighter and airier. I would describe it as casual and welcoming. It definitely has a local small town neighborhood feel to it. Drinks are served in Ball jars.

Their breakfast menu consists of all the standards you’d expect… eggs, omelets, pancakes, waffles, etc. Their list of omelets includes a nice variety. They also have specials. I was there on the Fourth of July weekend and they had several patriotically named specials such as the Independence Egg Casserole that was delicious. It was an egg over hash brown potatoes with bacon and cheese.

I’ve never tried their lunch, but the menu includes salads, sandwiches, burgers, wraps… everything you’d expect.

Their convenient location near other small shops and stores (plus the Haddon Heights Farmers Market on Sundays during Spring Summer and Fall) plus the friendly service make this a worthwhile stop.

Independence Egg Casserole


Sausage & Gravy with Biscuits & Hash Browns

28 June 2013

Review: Ponzios Diner – Cherry Hill NJ

Category: Reviews — Posted by Michael at 2257

Diners are a New Jersey staple. You can find a one on almost every corner. Ponzio’s, however, stands out. Yes, you can order breakfast all day and you order all sorts of sandwiches and other diner fare. But Ponzio’s in Cherry Hill, NJ is reminiscent of what diners were in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. This huge diner is a place where I’d be confident ordering any meal on the menu. Actually, I’d highly recommend their seafood. Their crab cakes are as good as you’re ever going to have at a diner and better than some seafood places.

The amazing cheese rolls, cinnamon bread and other breads that grace the table before your meal are just a small sampling of the amazing baked goods that Ponzio’s bakery turns out. You’ll have a hard time resisting the urge to press your face against the massive bakery display cases. No matter what you choose you’ll be happy with your selection. Personally, I’m partial to their cakes such as red velvet.

Just recently I recommended Ponzio’s to someone who was staying nearby for a few days. They were not disappointed and even took some baked goods back to Virginia with them.

One other somewhat random thing worth mentioning is that their wi-fi is one of the fastest internet connections I’ve ever seen anywhere. That was an unexpected surprise.

Review: Homespun – Jim Thorpe PA

Category: Reviews — Posted by Michael at 2242

This small gift shop carries all types of knickknacks, decorations, gift items and gourmet food gifts with a rustic country flare. The best part is the HUGE selection of handmade candles and soaps. You can find every type and scent imaginable from a variety of small vendors. While we were visiting we got into a conversation with the owner, Deb, who happens to be from the Philadelphia area. Besides being a friendly shopkeeper who makes every customer feel welcome in her shop, she also can tell you off the top of her head where each item comes from and the story behind each vendor.

There are lots of cool little shops in Jim Thorpe, but Homespun is a one you shouldn’t miss.

Homespun SignHomespun

05 June 2013

Review: The Country Crock – Williamstown NJ

Category: Reviews — Posted by Michael at 2047

The Country Crock is located inside the Stoltzfus Amish Farmer’s Market which means it’s only open Thursday morning through Saturday afternoon. When you think of a Mennonite or Amish) restaurant, the first thing that comes to mind is plain and simple. Eating here feels less like sitting in a restaurant and more like being in someone’s kitchen eating homemade food. Plastic plates, vinyl table cloths and walls adorned with photos of the owners and their family set the stage for comfort food prepared and presented simply.

Even though food is nothing fancy, it’s delicious and clearly prepared by hand with care. Their BBQ pork sandwich is delicious as is their meatloaf sandwich. (This is the only place where I’ve ever even considered ordering a meatloaf sandwich!) Their corn fritters are one of my favorites and if you ask the server, they’ll let you substitute them for the fries that would normally come with a sandwich.

I don’t often order dessert when I eat out, but The Country Crock’s desserts, which vary week to week, are always tempting. Sometimes it will be a traditional Pennsylvania Dutch dessert like cracker pudding. I’d never had cracker pudding before, but it was good. It tasted somewhat similar to rice pudding. Other times it’s something more “English” like Boston cream pie. Their Boston cream pie was one of the best I’ve ever had. I’m hoping to be around one day when they have shoo-fly pie!

Another nice touch is that they conveniently have a calendar on every table that tell you what specials are coming up in the weeks to come so you can plan your visits.

Update: This restaurant has changed hands and is now called the Village Grille. I’ve been there once and it is NOT what it used to be. None of the food appeared to be homemade. You can read my review of the new place here.

04 June 2013

Review: Woodbury Station Cafe – Woodbury NJ

Category: Reviews — Posted by Michael at 1847

Looking at the good side first, the atmosphere and decor of this restaurant is fun. It’s an old train station and they’ve embraced their history not only in the name of the place but with the decor as well. The theme of the restaurant combines train memorabilia with a New Orleans theme. Personally, I immediately noticed the Community Coffee sign on the wall, one of my favorite coffee companies. The train theme is cool because who doesn’t like trains. One of the waiters was making sure the little boy at the table by the window was seated facing the right way to see the train when it passed by on the still active tracks.

The food, however, wasn’t so great. We tried the bengiets and they weren’t bad. You don’t see them much around here so i dobt have much experiencw for conparison. However, our meal was disappointing. I ordered an omelet and it was quite overcooked. It was dry and mostly brown on the outside. The “railroad potatoes” were unfortunately also overcooked and bland.

While I wanted to like this place because of the cool concept, I don’t think I’ll be back.

03 June 2013

Review: Kuzina by Sofia – Cherry Hill NJ

Category: Reviews — Posted by Michael at 0745

I’m a sucker for Greek food. Finding a really authentic Greek restaurant in South Jersey is tough. (not counting Greek diners that have some great Greek items but not a full Greek menu) I don’t know how I never tried Kuzina by Sofia In Cherry Hill before now. The food was as authentic as it gets. It was hard not to order more than we could possibly eat in one sitting because everything on the five page menu sounded so good. We finally settled on the spanakopitakia and saghanaki appetizers which were both delicious. The Greek style steak and moussaka were both fantastic and were accompanied by potatoes roasted in lemon, olive oil garlic and herbs.

We didn’t intend to have dessert, but is there a person alive who can resist baklava? Theirs wasn’t the very best I’ve had, but it was still quite good. We also had an almond roll that was even better than the baclava. (I wish I could remember the name of it, but I’m terrible with Greek names!) and a cup of Greek coffee. As we ate our dessert, we were already planning our next visit to Kuzina!

02 June 2013

Review: The Pub – Pennsauken NJ

Category: Reviews — Posted by Michael at 1146

The Pub is far and away my favorite restaurant. It’s unique in every way. It’s beena round since long before I was born (since 1950). It’s survived burning to the ground and once going out of business. Through all of that nothing much has changed at all. One of the first unique things about The Pub is the HUGE dining room. The slightly medeival themed room seats over 500 people at a time yet it’s still quiet. I’ve never heard anything above a low murmur and there is always plenty of room to move around as you go to one of the two salad bars.

Speaking of the salad bars, they are fantastic. They include blocks of cheese from which you can cut off slices, various kinds of cake breads (in case the delicious crusty bread on your table isn’t enough for you) fruit, applesauce, along with a wide variety of salads and salad ingredients. However, I usually skip past most of this stuff and head right to the giant bowl of Caesar salad and pile my plate high. The Pub’s Caesar salad is one of the best I’ve had. The always fresh salad is made especially delicious by the plentiful anchovies scattered throughout.

The focal point of the dining room is the row of six coal fired ovens where chefs in big white hats turn out fantastic steaks. The pub has a fair number of entees ranging from seafood to chicken, to all sorts of steaks. I, however, typically stick to the best filet mignon I’ve had at any restaurant. It’s served wth massive onion rings and a potato. I recommend the twice baked stuffed potato. I also recomend taht you ask for some of their browned onions to go with your steak. They’re free, but you have to ask for them. In another unique touch, your steak will arrive at your table on a cart to be taken from a heated tray and plated right at the table.

If you want something a little more unique, try my father’s favorite, the capetbagger. It’s a filet spread with crabmeat and hollandaise sauce.

The only negative is the location. Although, it’s certainly never stopped me from going. The Pub is located at the maze of an intersection that used to be Airport Circle.It might take you a few tries to get in the correct lane. Of course, this should be no problem for a practiced New Jersey driver.

The Pub Chefs

The Pub Filet Mignon

01 June 2013

Review: What If… of Hershey – Hershey PA

Category: Reviews — Posted by Michael at 1620

We stumbled upon What If… of Hershey while looking for a place to stop and eat while passing through central PA. I found it on Yelp and immediately noticed that many of the reviews started out by saying that you shouldn’t let the fact that it’s in the basement of a Howard Johnson scare you off. My first thought was that I should continue my search, but after reading a few rave reviews, I was convinced we should try it. Now, here I am writing one more review that tells you not to let the fact that it’s in the basement of a HoJo scare you away.

Everything at this place was great. It was all made fresh. We even had to wait a bit for our tiramisu for dessert because they were making it fresh. Also, who wouldn’t love a place that has a polenta of the day?! (The polenta was delicious, by the way.) It’s all served in a modern atmosphere that is in stark contrast to the HoJo lobby that you pass through on your way in. The presentation of their fresh delicious food is as modern as the atmosphere.

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