Monday, September 15

Shane Confectionery (Philadelphia, PA)

Another well known vintage sweet shop in Old Town Philly is Shane Confectionery, which dates back to the 1860's!  Now this place has been around for much longer than its neighbor, Franklin Fountain, and their extensive history includes a move to a different location and back, as well as a reopening in the spot it is in today.  You can read about their extensive history here.

If you haven't read my other posts, I state outright that I'm not the biggest sweet-tooth ever, especially when it comes to candy, so I went to Shane with the purpose of candy-gazing.  And candy-gazing was what I got.  Shane Confectionery is the quintessential vintage candy shop and a dream for any kid, but on top of that, the variety of candies and chocolate they carry is phenomenal for a quite the tiny storefront.  I was flabbergasted by their numerous offerings of lollies, chocolates, truffles, fudges, and even candied popcorn.  The choices I could pick for were a bit overwhelming...

There were so many items I could pick for, I ended up just getting some chocolate.  I probably should have tried their salt water taffy, but I guess there's always a next time!  My only concern is that some of the items look somewhat stale and old, maybe due to the lighting, or maybe due to the large variety they carry, but either way, this place is a must-visit for children and adult alike!
Price: $-$$ | $$ for candy
Rating: 3.5/5
Tip: Buy something here to get 10% off at Franklin Fountain!

Shane Confectionery (Website)
110 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106
#: (215) 922-1048
Shane Confectionery on Urbanspoon

Dutch Eating Place (Philadelphia, PA)

Breakfast is my favorite meal, and I didn't want to miss it, so on day two of my Philly trip, I headed to the Dutch Eating Place.  Located inside the Reading Terminal Market, this food shop offers blueberry and choco chip pancakes, as well as chicken pot pie and other hearty meals for lunch.  The shop is set up like a diner, and when I arrived, there were already lots of people chowing down on breakfast!

Since I was planning on having Tommy DiNic's that same day... I was a bit weary of ordering blueberry pancakes (which they are known for), but I did anyway!  It was a bit of a mistake in a way that the serving was just a bit too much for me, but they sure were delicious!  As delicious as pancakes can get anyway, even though I'm not the biggest fan of pancakes in general.  I guess I decided to be a little adventurous in my food choices on this trip (ie. Franklin Fountain) - eating foods that aren't my favorite and all.  The blueberry pancakes were fluffy and fresh, and very (overly) filling.  Not being the biggest bacon eater either, I thought the turkey bacon was actually pretty good, flavorful and not completely fatty.  Overall, the food, place, and service are all decent.  My suggestion for anyone looking to try more variety in the market, definitely share one order.
Price: $-$$ | 10USDpp
Rating: 3.5/5

Dutch Eating Place (Facebook)
1136 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
#: (215) 922-0425
Dutch Eating Place on Urbanspoon

Franklin Fountain (Philadelphia, PA)

I'm not a sweet-tooth, nor am I the biggest ice cream fan, but Franklin Fountain somehow found its way into my destination list because of its popularity.  Vintage decor and marbled counters gives Franklin Fountain the quintessential ice cream parlor look, though its only been around for about a decade.  The vintage getup is what initially attracted me to actually check the place out, and thank God I had some cash on me!

Even though I'm not the biggest ice cream fan, I've had a fair share of delicious ice cream (including places like Ici), so I'd like to think that opinion bears some weight in the ice cream world.  Franklin Fountain definitely has some strange flavors, like teaberry (which I think tasted like licorice), but after trying generous samples of a few, I settled on the Black Raspberry.  The flavor was definitely very potent - for lack of a better word - and it did taste like black raspberry.  I have a hard time believing it's all natural flavors, but I will take their word for it.  The balance of their flavors was definitely not the best that I've had (a lot of them tasted artificial), but the novelty of the place is worth paying a visit at least once I suppose.

I'm in love with Franklin Fountain's look, but for about $6 a pop, I was expecting spectacular and unique flavors.  I was a bit disappointed, but I did have to remind myself that no ice cream parlor has yet to win my heart over Ici.

Price: $-$$
Rating: 3/5
Tip: cash only!

Franklin Fountain (Website)
116 Market St.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19106
#: (215) 627-1899
Franklin Fountain on Urbanspoon

Friday, September 12

Tommy DiNic's (Philadelphia, PA)

Now that I'm free from clinical duties for about week - let's get back to talking about Philadelphia!  It's been quite a few weeks (eight to be exact) since I was last in Philly, but good thing I take notes... I better hurry it up since I'll be in The Big Apple in three days! Yay!

It may be a mistake that I didn't eat a cheesesteak during my visit to Philly, but I think I can say Tommy DiNic's just about makes up for it.  An American sandwich shop located in the Reading Terminal Market, Tommy DiNic's claim to fame is their roast pork sandwich, traditionally topped with broccoli rabe and sharp provolone.  I say American, because this place is listed as "traditional American," but they're really an Italian sandwich shop well into their fourth generation serving up meatball, Italian sausage, and roasted meat sandwiches to the lucky denizens of Philadelphia.

Unfortunately for me, I was traveling alone and already had a meal at the Dutch Eating House, so I wasn't too hungry when I sat down to order that classic sandwich of theirs.  Nevertheless, the roast pork sandwich with the ultra-garlicky broccoli rabe and mound of provolone was the most glorious sandwich I've ever had.  The meat was juicy and flavorful, but not too salty, and that broccoli rabe was perfection!  That is, if you're a fan of your breath smelling garlic fresh.  Fortunately for me - I was traveling alone.  Hah.  I'm someone who doesn't usually go for sandwiches for a meal, so it's quite a statement when I say this was possibly one of the best decisions that I made on my trip to Philly. Yes, I'm talking big.  So next time you're in the city, have a taste yourself!
Price: $-$$
Rating: 4.5/5
Tip: Don't expect to get great service or 5 star seating, but make sure you get there early or there'll be a line!

Tommy DiNic's (Website)
Reading Terminal Market
1136 Arch St.
Philadelphia, PA 19147
#: (215) 923-6175
Tommy DiNic's Pork & Beef on Urbanspoon

Thursday, July 31

Menagerie Coffee (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

Coffee is one of the first things I look for a in city, and Philadelphia is definitely not lacking in what I consider one of the best things in life!  After trying several cafes in this city abundant in cafes, Menagerie Coffee definitely comes out on top.  With a small inconspicuous storefront, this cafe features rustic interiors with simple decor, but obviously experienced baristas.

The beans they use are a delicious roast - not too dark, but still aromatic and strong - making a delicious latte.  They do all sorts of espresso drinks, as well as filter coffee, for those that prefer that.  The baristas are extremely friendly and willing to help when I asked for directions.  I make a mention of this, because I find that more and more, indie (and chain) coffee shops are ridden with snooty hipster baristas that are simply offish.  Another great thing about Menagerie Coffee is that it does have some seating indoors and a couple of seats outside to enjoy the lovely weather of Philadelphia in July.
Price: $
Rating: 5/5 for coffee

Menagerie Coffee
18 South 3rd Street
Philadelphia, PA19106
#: (920) 579-0696
Menagerie Coffee on Urbanspoon

Sabrina's Cafe (Philadelphia, PA)

I've been lucky enough to travel during the weeks in between rotations, and this time, I chose Philadelphia!  Why travel the city of brotherly love, you ask?  (And yes, quite a few have asked)  I chose Philadelphia, because for one, it's the second largest city on the East Coast, but more importantly - it's a city full of museums and culture!  I love museums - science museums, art museums, aquariums...I love them all!  I'm greedy and my nerdy side enjoys spending hours in any kind of museum.  But enough of that!  While Sabrina's Cafe isn't the first stop I made on my four day trip to Philadelphia, it was one of the more memorable food stops I made.

I chose this place out of pure popularity on Yelp, Urbanspoon, and just from the "research" I did before traveling to Philly.  I have to admit, I arrived at around 2pm, so I was a bit on the hungrier side and there was no line, so my stop was a pleasant one.  The unfortunate truth of traveling alone is that I can't afford to try as many items (both financially and physically) - but I eventually decided on their popular dish, the huevos rancheros (10.99).  I substituted for sweet potato fries, since those were recommended by Yelpers, and they were indeed delicious!  Everything on my dish looked fresh, from the tortillas to the guacamole.  The ingredients looked fresh, the portion was very generous, and flavors were perfection!  Every part of the dish - the blue corn tortillas, the smoked chorizo, lime sour cream, guacamole, and fried jalapeno - each had its flavor that all balanced out.  There was so much food - but I actually managed to finish most of my dish because it was so delicious and I didn't want to leave any of it uneaten!  Such a glutton, but everything was so delicious, including the sweet potato fries!  They were some of the best sweet potato fries I've ever had.  There was so much food my fries got cold before I got to finish them...

The service was great, and the ambience is pretty cozy - but nothing too special.  Their wall chalkings are cute though!  My only complaint is that their espresso machine and cashier sits awkwardly outside on one side of the wall.  A minor detail, but sitting across from the espresso machine was a little weird...
Price: $-$$ | 10-15USDpp
Rating: 5/5
Tip: Go at off times to avoid lines! And shop the Italian Markets before or after at this location, or visit the other locations!  They even have a kids' menu!

Sabrina's Cafe (Menu)
910 Christian Street
Philadelphia, PA19147
#: (215) 574-1599
Sabrina's Cafe on Urbanspoon

Monday, July 14

Chin Chin (Melbourne, VIC, Australia)

As one of the most popular restaurants in Melbourne, Chin Chin's normal wait time is almost too long to make it worth it, but I knew it would be a good while before I returned to Melbourne, so I decided to go.  I was late due to travels (oops!) and my friend ended up having to wait a while - but thankfully they have their "GOGO" Cocktail bar downstairs!

Though they claim their food is Thai, the ambience of the restaurant and their dishes are all more of a Thai fusion flavor.  We started with the Kingfish Sashimi (22), recommended by a friend and several diners.  While the flavors of the lime, chili, coconut and basil were a delicious blend, the mouthfeel of the fish ended up being soggy and a bit disappointing.  Next we ordered several dishes, including the classic Pad Thai (23) and Massaman Curry (26), as well as their Barbecue Pork Satay (23).  I wasn't a big fan of their take on pad thai, as the dish was a little lacking in spices for a Thai food.  The barbecue pork satay was even less impressive - as the meat was difficult to eat and the sauces being just mediocre.  The Massaman Curry, however, wowed the taste buds of me and my friend!  With a blend of kipfler potatoes, peanuts, fried shallots, and braised beef in curry, this was definitely the star of the night - and quite possibly one of the best curries I've had.

We each had drinks that were delicious and suited our dinner, and I would just about recommend one over the next.  The ambience is quite dark and modern, so if you're looking for a traditional Thai restaurant, this isn't it.  I love how Chin Chin feels - dark, spacious interiors with a modern industrial twist and a basement bar - but not only that, their service is decent even on an extremely busy night.  Though I feel like their food could be a hit or miss, I can fully understand the popularity of this place that is embedded in one of the hottest streets of Melbourne.

Price: $$-$$$
Rating: 3.5/5
Tips: arrive early after work! Open 7 days a week, 11AM till late

Chin Chin (Website)
Chin Chin (Facebook)
125 Flinders Lane
Melbourne, VIC
#: (03) 8663-2000
Chin Chin on Urbanspoon