07 October 2016

Review: The Black Olive – Voorhees Twp NJ

Category: Reviews — Posted by Michael at 1612

The atmosphere and service at Black Olive was great. Our waiter was very attentive and the space feels much bigger than it is thanks to some cool modern design choices. The acoustics aren’t the greatest, but really, have you ever been in a quiet Greek restaurant?

Moving onto the most important part, the food, I would sum up my first meal here as not bad. It was not the best Greek food I’ve ever eaten, but it was not terrible by any means. I love Greek food. So as far as the staples go, I know how they should taste. I know every restaurant puts their own spin on things but I felt like most of the food here was bland. It seemed as though the chef was trying to conserve his limited supply of spices.

We started out with the saganaki which was delicious. It was not flambéed tableside with ouzo as I’ve enjoyed in some other restaurants, but I certainly can’t hold that against them. The spanakopita was good, but instead of being layered as it usually is prepared, it was more of a roll where all of the filling was wrapped with layers of phyllo. The phyllo was nice and crispy, but the filling lacked the depth of flavor that you’d expect.

The house salad was unique and very tasty. The whole salad was finely shredded which I’ve not seen before. I ordered the pastitsio, my favorite Greek entrée. The dish was bland and a bit dry. The béchamel formed a solid cap on top of the pasta. For dessert, we had baklava and ekmek kataifi. While not bad, they too were generally lacking in flavor.

I’d like to think it was just someone in the kitchen being stingy with herbs and spices the night I was there and maybe it would be better next time. This is certainly not a restaurant that I’d refuse to try again, but reading similar comments in other reviews makes me think our meal might be the norm.

17 June 2016

Review: Village Grille – Williamstown NJ

Category: Reviews — Posted by Michael at 2044

When you think of a restaurant in an Amish market you think of simple homemade comfort food. That is exactly what this restaurant’s predecessor used to serve. A visit to the Village Grille, however, yielded only food that tasted like it came out of the frozen foods aisle of the supermarket. I was sorely disappointed. I ordered the pulled pork sandwich because the old proprietor used to smoke his own meats and they were delicious. The little bit of meat on the sandwich that was placed in front of me this time looked and tasted much like the stuff that comes in plastic tubs in the refrigerated aisle of the supermarket. The rest of the meal was not much better. Thankfully the Amish market the Village Grille is located in sells great meats and much more so I can make my own meals at home.

06 September 2015

Tall Ships Photos

Category: Photography,Site Updates — Posted by Michael at 1523

Back in June there was a tall ship festival in Philadelphia and the Camden waterfront. When I was a kid my parents would sometimes take us to a park along the Delaware River to see the tall ships when they were coming to Philadelphia. We also got a see them once or twice in Baltimore. So this was a fun chance to check them out up close and bring back some good memories too.

I would have liked to go aboard a few more ships, but the crowds were insane. We chose to go aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Eagle.

You can see the photos right here.

30 January 2015

Review: Kitchen 519 – Gloucester Twp NJ

Category: Reviews — Posted by Michael at 1906

This small casual restaurant is a bright wide open space with a lot of very eclectic decor. Vintage clothes hang on clotheslines on the wall alongside artwork and old photos.

While you wait for your meal to be ready you can keep yourself occupied with the Trivial Pursuit cards on each table. You can also enjoy some appetizers. The garlic fries are good and the Cuban quesadilla is an interesting (and tasty) twist on traditional Cuban sandwich. However, the fried pickles (usually a favorite of mine) were disappointing because the cornmeal breading fell off most of the pickles while they were still in the basket.

I haven’t been here for dinner yet but the lunches I’ve had were quite good. All of the sandwiches on the menu sound good making it hard to choose. I particularly enjoyed the Pork Rojo.

I look forward to exploring more menu items on future visits.

02 June 2014

Review: Lumpy’s BBQ – Gloucester Twp NJ

Category: Reviews — Posted by Michael at 1925

I love good barbecue, but it can be hard to find it in the Philadelphia area. This isn’t the south. Here cheesesteak and pizza places are on every corner, not BBQ joints. Lumpy’s BBQ can be literally hard to find. It’s easy to accidentally drive right past because it sits in a nondescript shopping center and isn’t all that visible from the road. I’ve passed it a thousand times and never noticed it. I only found it because I was looking up some other local restaurants on Yelp.

However, I can happily report that Lumpy’s has the best barbecue that I’ve ever had north of the Mason-Dixon Line. It’s a simply decorated place and operates much like most barbecue restaurants. You go the counter to order and you get your own drinks. Your food is brought to your table when it’s ready. When we first walked in and saw we were the only diners in the place, we were concerned, but they clearly do a booming take-out business. I was also really excited to find out that they deliver.

We ordered pork ribs, pulled pork and burnt ends. They were all delicious and served with 2 sauces (hot or mild). The burnt ends were especially delicious. The sides we chose were good, although the mac and cheese was not as good as I would have hoped for.

In doing some research on my phone on the way home, I read that the owner competed on the BBQ Pitmasters TV show, so when we got home, I immediately bought that episode on iTunes. It made me want to go back for more right away or, better yet, get some delivered!

21 January 2014

Review: Royal Cracovia – Magnolia NJ

Category: Reviews — Posted by Michael at 2148

When I see a new restaurant that seems to have gone over the top with its decor, I often wonder if they’ve put more energy into making it look pretty than making it good. Sometimes I’ve been wrong. In this case, I was not.

When you read the “about” page on their website you see a lot of bragging about how beautiful the decor of the restaurant is. This is mostly accurate. The only complaint I have about the atmosphere is that it is a bit bright in there.

The service is another story. After being seated, we sat for a while before someone finally came to take our order. We were never asked if we wanted beverages at all. I had to tell the waitress that we wanted to order soft drinks with our meal. When the drinks finally arrived my water glass was covered in bright pink lipstick. It wasn’t just a smudge. These were full lip prints. I don’t know how the waitress missed it while filling them.

The drinks themselves were served in very small glasses. I ordered a soda so I had to ask for refills several times.

We ordered some pierogies as an appetizer because they advertise that they have a “pierogi lab.” This would lead one to believe they have great pierogies. (And who doesn’t love pierogies?) Well, as it turns put there is such a thing as bad pierogies. Honestly, even frozen pierogies from the supermarket are much better than the pierogies at Royal Cracovia. The pierogies were made with a dough that is thin but inexplicably chewy and tough. The fact that they were room temperature instead being hot did not help any.

The other food such as sausages was not terrible but nothing to get excited over. We were brought a bottle of mustard for it but the inner seal hadn’t been removed from the bottle so we had to cut it off ourselves.

It would be nice to have a nice Polish restaurant nearby. Unfortunately, this is not it.

20 January 2014

Review: Lamp Post Diner – Gloucester Township NJ

Category: Reviews — Posted by Michael at 2147

Lamp Post Diner ExteriorThe first time I visited the Lamp Post Diner was just a few days after they opened. There were a few small glitches like a waitress who apparently quit in the middle of her shift. The management did their best to figure out what orders she had or had not taken. The next few visits were much improved. We spoke to one of the owner/managers and he was very friendly. It’s clear that they are working hard to make their new diner the best it can be.

The food was quite good and their selection of desserts is expansive. Their portions are huge. I’ve tried sandwiches, breakfast and other menu items and haven’t been disappointed. Personally, I have to give them some extra points for serving their coffee classic “diner mugs.”

The only negative is that they are not open 24 hours/day. I hope that they will soon move to a 24 hour schedule since that’s what I expect from a true New Jersey diner. I also found the fact that there are TVs around the restaurant a little odd.

Overall, this is one of the first new diners to open around here in a while and it seems to have some real potential to become a long lasting institution in the community.

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.

27 September 2013

Jersey Shore Photos Posted

Category: Photography,Site Updates — Posted by Michael at 1942

Sea Isle City Beach and BikeI’m finally catching up on posting photos that have been sitting on my desktop forever. I just posted 3 albums that were taken at 3 jersey shore towns. The three albums contain photos from Wildwood, Sea Isle City Fall Festival and Ocean City.

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

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

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