Gratzfood Review: Percy Street Barbecue

I love barbecue. Pulled pork. Brisket. Ribs. Chicken. My mouth waters just typing that. Might be the most underrated type of food there is. Despite my affection for slaughtered animals doused in barbecue sauce, I never made it to Percy Street Barbecue in Philly which is kind of surprising considering it’s right down the street from where I live. This past Saturday my buddy and I finally tried it out, here’s the scoop.

What I ordered: Pulled Pork Sandwich, split an order of wings, whiskey ginger.

Verdict: As always, my anxiety ridden self was in a state of panic when it came time to make a decision on what to order. I love brisket and I love pulled pork. Luckily the waiter started off by saying that he personally recommends the pulled pork. When I asked him if it was better than the brisket he subtly gave the pulled pork another vote of confidence. It was settled. Pulled pork sandwich. Fries. Whiskey ginger. Ohh yeah. While I waited for that my friend and I split an order of wings. The wings were awesome. I really enjoyed them. Dry rub, meaty, flavorful. They had almost a maple kind of taste to them or something. Whatever it was, I was down. Before the main food comes out they storm the table with a barrage of different sauces. This is not a bad thing. At all. They were rattling off the sauces the same way one can rattle off girls Derek Jeter slept with. I was overwhelmed and didn’t retain anything, obviously. Strong pulled pork sandwich. Very strong. A generous portion of meat, some onion, plenty of fries. Some of the sauces were hits and some I could do without but having that variety was awesome. Since I didn’t really know which was which i just blindly poured different ones onto the pork. Aggressive, but necessary.  Here’s the thing, I would gladly come back to Percy street for their pulled pork sandwich and wings. However, their prices are a little steep. Steep enough that it would prevent me from coming on a normal basis. $14 for the sandwich. The wings were $9 ($4.50 each). A whiskey ginger is $10. That’s $28.50 before tax and tip. Ended up costing $35 for a sandwich, drink and three wings. I don’t mind paying a little bit more for a quality sandwich (which I consider their pulled pork to be) but $14 a sandwich isn’t something I would want to do all the time. Sure I can probably hold off on the wings and maybe do without the alcohol, but still a $14 sandwich with a soda or something is still going to end up being close to $20 bucks or more. Delicious sandwich, might not be a $14 sandwich. At the end of the day though if you’re really craving barbecue you might not mind spending the extra moolah. Pulled pork isn’t something I eat on a weekly basis so hey spending a few extra bucks might not be a deal breaker.

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On a side note, the service was phenomenal. Everyone was friendly from the hostess to the wait staff. Our waiter was energetic, informative and handled everything well. The food also came out fast, despite it being pretty crowded. The service and experience went a long way in making me feel more at ease about paying a premium. If it took forever to bring out a $14 sandwich on South Street I probably would have lost it. Overall good, quality barbecue. Great service, nice atmosphere, definitely worth trying but probably not special enough to give it a repeat visit with so many places to try in Philly unless you really want barbecue and/or are really close.

Amendment: John’s Roast Pork Makes A Top 5 Cheesesteak

The constitution may very well be the most important document in America to this day. Gratzfeed’s top 5 cheesesteak article, a close second. Like the constitution, sometimes amendments are needed as times evolve and things change. They’re an important way to update and preserve the integrity of important works. As a result, I am making the very first amendment to my most popular article.

I first had John’s Roast Pork some years ago. While I think I liked it, I never thought it was quite the sandwich some had made it out to be. As the years went by, time and time again I kept hearing John’s Roast Pork’ cheesesteaks being referred to as some of the best Philly had to offer. I decided I had to give it another go. Another go turned into another go. Another go into another and so on and so fourth. Get it?

There’s a reason John’s Roast Pork has the strong reputation it does, their cheesesteaks are out of this world. The meat is flavorful. The rolls are terrific. They give you plenty of cheese and onions. But it doesn’t stop there, something about their cheesesteaks must be addressed and right this very instant. The sandwiches are HUGE. Seriously, it’s borderline offensive how much meat they pile on a single sandwich. Disturbing. Last time I went I was pretty full from just one half, but curiosity got the best of me and for some sick reason I was compelled to experience the feeling of eating a whole one again. It’s pretty much a suicide mission. It’s like having a football in your stomach. Or quintuplets. The thing is, I can eat a lot. If anything I usually complain about portions being too small. Not at John’s. You get your moneys worth and then some. You’ll be full for pretty much a whole day.

If you never been to John’s and want to get some intel, let me paint a picture. It’s your standard Philly dive joint. Small inside where a line wraps around. You either order at one stop at the counter or the next depending on if you’re getting something from the grill like a cheesesteak or the next if you’re getting a roast pork or beef. They have an enclosed seating area with benches and condiments and then some additional benches outside with no enclosure. Simple. Divey. Delicious.

On a side note, while in this case I’m focusing on the cheesesteaks, their roast pork and beef is dynamite too. Like the cheesesteaks, the sandwiches are humongous. Definitely worth a try if you’re into those.

Now you may be wondering, who’s getting bumped from the top 5? Honestly, I think I’d go with John’s Roast Pork over Tony Luke’s. Tony Luke’s is still great though and is undoubtedly a South Philly classic. So, I’m going to do the logical thing and make John’s Roast Pork 5A. and Tony Luke’s 5B. Does that make any sense? Probably not. But I want people to know Tony Luke’s is still a top cheesesteak and I want them to know about John’s Roast Pork too. There you have it, the first amendment to Gratzfeed’s top 5 cheesesteaks has been made. John’s Roast Pork, welcome to the cheesesteak elite. unnamed-5.jpg

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Underrated Gem: Marmont Steakhouse

To be completely honest, when it comes to places to get a good steak in Philly I never really thought of Marmont Steakhouse. Until I tried it. Here’s the brief story of how I discovered this place. My family and I wanted to go out for restaurant week last year. My mom told me to pick a place and we’ll make a reservation. After perusing some of the promotional menus I thought Marmont had one you couldn’t really go wrong with. Cheesesteak spring rolls, potato soup, 12 ounce ribeye and a dessert. Booked.

Marmont is located on 2nd & Market in the Old City section of Philadelphia. The first time I went there I was kind of thrown for a loop. I was expecting some grand, fancy steakhouse but in reality the atmosphere is more of a bar setting. Some tables, the bar, few TV’s and that’s pretty much it. It’s low key and casual to say the least. In a way, it’s pretty refreshing that you can have a quality meal without all the fancy fanfare.

When going out to dinner with your mom (or at least my mom) it’s pretty essential to start with an alcoholic beverage. Marmont has you covered. They have standard beer and wine options but my eyes always gravitate to their speciality drinks. Their signature cocktail menu is expansive and no matter whether you’re a rum, gin, vodka or fan of whatever else, there’s an interesting concoction with your alcohol of choice.

Drinks are fine and dandy but unless the food is good it’s a moot point. Lets start with the appetizers. They have a potato soup with large chunks of potatoes, cheese, topped with bacon. I have had it twice and both times it was out of this world. Unfortunately it’s only a special offered on occasion which I was a little disappointed to hear during my last visit. It’s absolutely delicious and should really be a menu mainstay but since it wasn’t offered last time I opted for the fried shrimp. Woah. The shrimp were huge. You get 8, big pieces of shrimp (I know, I know it’s an oxymoron) that are full of flavor as they’re topped with fried jalapeños. Definitely a hit at the table. The real star of the show (as one may expect at a steakhouse) is the steak. I usually go with the 16 ounce ribeye ($30) cooked medium or medium rare. All three times I went it’s been with a party of four. Among the four of us we are still yet to have a bad meal at Marmont. Consistency is key and because we have had stellar meals each and every time, we gladly keep coming back. The meat is full of flavor and can go toe to toe with even the fanciest restaurants in Philadelphia. I truly believe that. I always get a side of mashed potatoes with mine which are also outstanding. Last time they came out rather cold so we mentioned it to out waitress and without hesitation she went back and got new ones for the table, which leads me to my next point…

The service is always great. The wait staff is knowledgeable and friendly and will do whatever it takes to make sure you’re satisfied. Whether it’s taking the time to explain a cut of meat or checking to see if you need another drink, we always feel well taken care of at Marmont. Sometimes at upscale places there can be an arrogance but at Marmont is completely devoid of that. If you’re looking for a relaxed, casual environment to enjoy great food and service, look no further than Marmont Steakhouse.

 

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Gratzfood Review: Moriarty’s Pub

Love me some chicken wings. I mean who doesn’t? You would be hard pressed to find a more satisfying feeling than the one you get after staring down at a plate full of empty bones knowing you just did some serious damage. When it comes to Philly, I know where to get a good cheesesteak. Chicken wings? Not as much. A simple Google search (as well as word of mouth from those in the know) will point you in the direction of a pub called Moriarty’s on 11th and Walnut. So when my friend told me he wanted to hit Moriarty’s for dinner one night, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see if these wings live up to their strong reputation.

When we got there (it was a weeknight) the place was jumping. That’s usually a good sign. Mostly every table and barstool was occupied but we still managed to get a table right away. The wings are $10 for an order and there didn’t seem to be any variation of sauce options on the menu. It just says cooked in a “tangy sauce” which to no surprise was a buffalo sauce. I trusted the process and put in an order no questions asked. Then I tried the wings and it all clicked.

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The bar (no pun intended) for chicken wings in Philadelphia has been set pretty damn high. Moriarty’s wings were not just some of the best I have tasted in the area, but some of the best I have eaten anywhere. These wings just fire on all cylinders. They’re big and meaty. The sauce is phenomenal. Not overly hot. Not boring. They describe them as tangy and that is the right word for them. It’s a straight up great tasting flavor of buffalo sauce. They don’t need the gimmick of having a whole bunch of ridiculous sauces. They do it one way and nail it. You can’t not respect that. The overall texture of these wings were delightful as well. Some wings get soggy from too much sauce but these maintained just the right amount of crisp the whole way through. If you can’t tell, I really enjoyed these wings. I don’t normally give quantifiable scores but these are an “A”.

On a side note, I would also like to acknowledge the quality of the service there too. Like I said earlier it was jam packed but we didn’t wait long for our drinks, food, or anything. We were checked on multiple times to see if there was anything we needed and each time our requests were fulfilled instantly. The drink prices were reasonable too. If you’re looking for a fun bar atmosphere to have some brews and chow down on some delicious chicken wings, look no further than Moriarty’s pub. Their reputation for such activities is well deserved.

I’m A Little Disappointed By The New Food Offerings At Citizen’s Bank Park

The Phillies have officially announced their additions to the almighty food department down at the ballpark this year. Gratzfeed is a little underwhelmed.

Via CSN Philly:

“The first one that jumps out is a new hoagie offering from the very reliable Primo Hoagies, which will be located in Ashburn Alley. Primo Hoagies will offer a variety of hot and cold sandwiches on their fresh baked breads.

While Chickie’s and Pete’s crab fries are often the most coveted item at Philly sporting events, it will have some competition in the French fry department this season. South Philly Shareable Stak will be located behind section 120 and offer boardwalk style fries with the option of topping them with in-house roast pork, sharp provolone cheese sauce, cherry pepper aioli or chopped roasted long hots.

One of the more interesting additions is The Mac Shack behind section 122, which will offer house-made mac and cheese with a number of different toppings. Pretty much everyone loves some mac and cheese but I’m curious to see how that translates to a ballpark snack.

Veggie lovers will surely be excited to try the Farmer’s Market Grain Bowl that features toasted red quinoa, brown rice, sweet peppers, cucumbers, radish, baby herbs, and is finished with honey-balsamic vinaigrette. Also new this year is a Falafel Sandwich.

There will also be some new kiosks at Zoom Foods behind section 126, which is described as “the next step in the evolution of stadium food & beverage service, featuring customer-facing, self-ordering kiosks — improving guest experience and speed of transaction time.”

Other existing vendors with new offerings include pulled chicken option from Bull’s BBQ, new signature Hatfield hot dogs including pork roll as a dog topper, as well as new options at Harry the K’s.”

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Look the Phillies are most likely going to be a middling .500 team this season. If I’m going to the ballpark this year food is going to be a major reason why. I will gladly miss three innings of baseball to get my hands on some Chickie’s and Pete’s crab fries. Primo Hoagies are great but they have become so prevalent in the tristate area that their hoagies are not going to be the reason I overpay for food at a Phillies game. I eat Primo like I drink water or breathe oxygen. The Shareable Shak fries sound pretty good but as I alluded to earlier crab fries will always be king. With that said roast pork topped fries are going to have to be consumed at some point so I’d say this is one of the more exciting options being added. Homemade mac and cheese sounds pretty appealing too but I don’t know how I feel about sitting in the hot sun while dripping sweat eating some gooey mac and cheese creation. Then there’s the “Farmer’s Market Grain Bowl”. Pass. Hard pass. Donovan McNabb throwing a laser into the ground type pass. Toasted red quinoa? Brown rice? We’re talking about ballpark food right? And then there’s the falafel sandwich. Another pass. I appreciate the effort to add some diversity so I won’t hate too much on that one but….

Where is the crazy heart attack inducing menacing scary stuff?? Ok the fries with pork and cheese sauce are cool. Everyone likes mac and cheese. But where are the sextuple burgers with smoked brisket and bacon with donuts as rolls? Where are the 4 foot hot dogs wrapped in chicken fingers? I read an article highlighting all of the barbaric new foods around the league and the Phillies add Primo and quinoa? The Royals are out there showing off their Pulled Pork Patty melt complete with pulled pork, fried onion, shredded cheddar, Monterey jack, BACON and jalapenos and the Phillies are excited to announce a grain bowl?!?!?!?!?! I want the stuff that gets you so messed up that by the second inning you don’t know who’s playing or how to even stand up. Last time I checked the Phillies ballpark is in South Philly, not Fishtown. I mean everyone knows the best time to go to a Phillies game is for dollar dog night where you grossly indulge in dollar hot dogs but the Phillies don’t have nearly as many as they should. Luckily the Phillies have an already solid pre-existing menu around the park so this isn’t the end of the world. At the end of the day you can never go wrong with the simple baseball fare such as hot dogs and ice cream in a helmet. Just a heads up that there is some work to do for 2018. Both on and off the field.

 

You can check out the full article right here:

http://www.csnphilly.com/the700level/new-cbp-primo-hoagies-loaded-boardwalk-fries-star-trek-bobbleheads-and-more

Breaking Down The Trade That Sent Nerlens Noel To Dallas

As I sit here and write this I glance out my window. The sun is out and it’s 73 degrees in February. Yet for some reason morale isn’t as high as it should be. It’s like there is this ominous, imaginary cloud looming over Philadelphia. This is because for the umpteenth time in this new era of Sixers basketball, it appears they have taken a step backward. It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia may be the name of a popular TV show but ask any Sixers fan and I’ll bet they beg to differ.

Yesterday was the NBA trade deadline. Let me first rewind a couple weeks back to what the general consensus was regarding what the Sixers would do. Joel Embiid looks great when he’s healthy, he’s hurt now but we’re definitely keeping him. A stud in the making, he’s not going anywhere. Nerlens Noel might not be the best rebounder and he certainly doesn’t intimidate on offense, but at 22 he’s an elite defender and has shown great improvement as someone who can be a defensive stalwart for a long time, health considered as always. Plus, he’s been here for four years and while he’s had his moments of immaturity (what 22 year old hasn’t?) he’s handled the losing situation as well as anyone could and actually seemed like he enjoyed and embraced playing in Philadelphia, especially as of late. Jahlil Okafor hasn’t played as well as the other two bigs. He doesn’t defend well and his effort and passion is questioned at times. Yes he can be a potential 20 point scorer but with a big man logjam he appears to be the odd man out. That’s not to say Jahlil can’t be a valuable NBA player though. He’s only 21 and was a third overall pick. Maybe a change of scenery would be best for all parties involved. No hard feelings, no harm no foul. Despite his underwhelming play, his attractive contract situation and age and potential should still make him quite valuable to other NBA teams. Or so one would think. Best of luck Jahlil, but you’re going to be traded.

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Nerlens seemed to enjoy representing Philly basketball…

And what actually happens? They keep Okafor, trade Noel…DUH! Not only did they trade Noel, they traded him to the Mavericks for a lottery protected, first round pick. That pick is all but certain to end up not even being a first round pick but instead dissolve into two second round picks. They did however get a player too, Justin Anderson. Anderson is a 6’6 wing player who is known for his length (7 foot wingspan) and defense as he’s able to D up other big bodies on the wing. But 20 teams passed on Anderson in the 2015 draft. And he couldn’t crack the Mavs rotation… and Dallas is 22-34. Quite like Jahlil Okafor, league insiders believe that Anderson just needed a change of scenery, which he was given with being traded to the Sixers.

Honestly, I’m not even mad the Sixers traded Noel. He figures to ask for and receive close to, if not a maximum contract. If the Sixers didn’t think he would be an essential part of a championship contending team then I can live with that. Plus, if they plan on having Embiid be their center long term then they just aren’t going to pay big money to two centers. Wasn’t going to happen. I like Nerlens too and am a fan of his but at the end of the day I just want the Sixers to be a winner and if they think they have to get rid of certain players to get there then I’m fine with that. What ENRAGES me however is the compensation they received for Noel. Two second round picks? I’d rather have two sides of cheese for my bucket of crab fries. Justin Anderson can be a solid player, heck maybe he can be elite for all I know. But he was drafted 21st overall and as previously mentioned couldn’t get playing time on a crappy team. Nerlens would have been the de facto number 1 pick in his draft had he not get injured prior. It’s not that I’m down on Anderson but it’s just impossible and straight up foolish to say his value equals anything close to Nerlens Noel. I get it, the Sixers had to move him if they weren’t going to pay him instead of getting nothing, but they should have figured this out and acted on it sooner. Also, here’s a thought, why not just pay him? If they gave him a near max or max deal as long as he plays how he’s playing he would still be trade-able in the future. You don’t think a team would take on his contract if they thought he was an important fit? The fact that he was a restricted free agent is what hurt his value because he could leave after the season but why inflict pain on yourself for another teams problem? ALSO, Joel Embiid missed TWO whole seasons before playing this year. He STILL  hasn’t proven he can stay on the court with a minute restriction, let alone for a full NBA season. AM I TAKING CRAZY PILLS? I love the dude, I really love Embiid but let’s be honest he’s injury prone. Knowing this and trading Nerlens Noel for what they did is just stunning to me. It’s baffling how these near max contract guys can be moved for such low returns. Demarcus Cousins potentially could have signed a contract worth 209 million dollars and gets traded for what many believe to be a low return. Nerlens Noel expects to sign a huge deal and gets traded for a couple second round picks and a dude drafted 21st overall. But then again I’m just a dude who blogs so what do I know? Bryan Colangelo was hired because he’s a “basketball guy” with better connections and relations with teams than Sam Hinkie and thus would be better suited to work out favorable deals. What happened to that?

As I sit here and finish this up today, not only is Nerlens Noel gone, word is that Joel Embiid will be out “indefinitely”. Ben Simmons will also be shut down for the rest of the year. Out of their last four top picks only Jahlil Okafor is currently playing on a regular basis. I’m not here to compare Sam Hinkie and Bryan Colangelo but I’ll say that with Hinkie even if we stunk at least there seemed to be a plan in place that would inevitably be fruitful to us in the future. Where we stand now, I’m not so sure if there’s even a plan. If there is it’s not very transparent and keeping  fans in the dark after this many seasons of intentional losing is disgraceful. It’s so frustrating because the Sixers tried to be bad these past few years so they can get these “assets”. Assets have turned to suspects. The Sixers suck at sucking. And that sucks.

Gratzfood Review: Shanks Original

If you read Gratzfeed then you’re already familiar with our comprehensive guide to Philly’s best cheesesteaks. While we searched far and wide in order be as thorough as possible there were admittedly a few places we didn’t get to hit, one of them being Shanks. Located on Columbus boulevard, Shanks is a little joint right by the river that fits the mold of a typical Philly cheesesteak spot. It’s dive-y. After a trip to home depot my buddy and I swung by and put it to the test as we looked to unlock another notch on our cheesesteak belt, quite literally too.

What I ordered: Cheesesteak. American cheese. Fried Onions.

Cost: $8.75

Verdict: The bread was pretty good and the meat was solid. So it was good right? Eh, kinda.  The cheesesteak was good but it didn’t really have anything special that separates it from the competition. Don’t get me wrong I enjoyed it but it’s not a sandwich I would go out of my way for, especially with all of the other options close by. For $8.75 I thought they could have added more meat and perhaps that’s something they can do in the future to better stand out. I mean my hunger was satisfied after eating it but in my opinion eating a cheesesteak isn’t supposed to just fill you, it should effectively knock you out. This kind of reminded me of a slightly better cheesesteak you can get from say your local pizza spot, which isn’t necessarily a knock it’s just not a Philly elite in my opinion. Good, not great, if it’s put in front of me I’m not going to say no but I’m not trekking out of my way for it. You get it. Cool.