Gratzfood Episode 2: The Philly Taco

The Philly Taco is a concoction so foul that it can only belong to…well, Philly. A South Street legend that few have tried and even fewer have finished, Gratzfeed investigates the notorious creation firsthand. Will he live to tell about it? Click the video and find out. Warning, this is not for the faint of the heart.

 

Starburst Is Releasing All Pink Packs This April And America Is Officially Great Again

The protests have worked. The suffering is over. Change is coming. Temporary change, but still change and a step in the right direction. Starburst has announced they will be releasing all pink packs this April. That’s not all, they will also be releasing all pink BAGS too. LIKE BAGS, LIKE THE KIND THAT ARE DESIGNED TO SUPPLY A SMALL CHILD’S ENTIRE BIRTHDAY PARTIES WORTH OF GOODIE BAGS.

What great news on a Monday. I’ve already made my official Starburst power rankings known but in case you’re unfamiliar here they are once again:

  1. Pink
  2. Orange

The only problem with this is I have to figure out the legalities of my business plan. I want to horde as many packs and bags as I can and resell them on the black market to fellow addicts. The problem is I’m pretty sure pink Starburst are still classified as scheduled one narcotics. On a side note what a great idea releasing these in April. Not only is that my birthday month but the real appeal is that these will finally take all the attention away from those disgusting sugar coated chicks and ducks that everyone buys around Easter. Those things are a real travesty. Hopefully Starburst will come to their senses and keep all pink packs around for an extended time (forever and ever) but in the meantime everybody responsibly.

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This is not fake news.

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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.

Gratzfood Review: Craftsman Row Saloon

So my buddy’s been telling me about a place right near his work, Craftsman Row Saloon. Vouches for their food although he usually gets a salad. Fine. Then I started seeing Craftsman Row pop up on some Instagram food accounts. Then I saw their own page and something caught my attention like I was an 8 year old walking past KB Toys. “OFF THE MENU Buffalo Chicken Sandwich! Available upon request”. Well guess what? Gratzfood came. Gratzfood requested. Gratzfood ate. Shall we?

What it’s called: Buffalo Chicken Sandwich.

Cost: $9.50 + tax.

What is it exactly?: Boneless fried chicken in buffalo sauce, american cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, bleu cheese, bacon on a brioche (o la la) bun. Side of fries.

Gratzfood alterations: No tomato. No bleu cheese. I don’t have many kind words to say about bleu cheese. Substitute spicy ranch.

Verdict: The sandwich was amazing. I freakin loved it and am still on a high as I write this. The chicken breast was huge and tasty. The buffalo sauce wasn’t all too spicy but yet very flavorful. You get more of the buffalo taste than the actual heat, for some that may be a good thing and for others that may be a bad thing but I really enjoyed it as I wasn’t dying while eating this bad boy. Sometimes places overdo it with the sauce, I found this to be just right. Instead of bleu cheese I opted for their spicy ranch and I’m more than happy with that decision. They put it on the sandwich and then gave me a side of it which was clutch as I was pouring it on each bite and even dipping my fries. Perhaps the real game changer with this creation was the bacon. The bacon was thick and hearty and delicious. I mean, c’mon it’s bacon…on a fried chicken sandwich. Also, I don’t think I ever met a brioche bun I didn’t like. Anytime a place decides to use brioche buns for it’s sandwiches it never hurts, only helps. The fries they serve are just ok but they give you a lot and it doesn’t take much for me to chow down on a side of fries. I wish they were a little crispier but the main priority with this meal was the sandwich which simply rocked. I would easily recommended this and would gladly go and order it again. Apparently their brisket mac and cheese is also pretty delightful…til next time!

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Warning: This might get messy.

Gratzfood Review: Fried Chicken Sandwich From Federal Donuts

It’s no secret that I have an affinity for fried chicken, more specifically fried chicken sandwiches. Fried breaded chicken in between two pieces of bread is simply a winning combination and when done right it can be a true game changer. Legend has it that one of the best chicken sandwiches in Philly is actually to be had at a place called Federal Donuts. Yes, Federal Donuts. Here’s the story, Federal Donuts has obviously served donuts for a longtime as well as fried chicken. Just a year or two ago they began making fried chicken sandwiches during the summer at one of their outdoor stand, they were immensely popular. Now, they’re a menu mainstay. So, without further introduction let’s break this bad boy down and see if it lived up to its strong rep.

What it’s called: Fried Chicken Sandwich

Cost: $6.75 plus tax

What is it exactly?: boneless fried chicken, buttermilk ranch seasoning, american cheese spicy rooster sauce (think chipotle mayo), dill pickles, Martin’s potato roll

Verdict: Awesome. I really enjoyed this sandwich and can understand it’s popularity in the area. What makes this sandwich stand out is all the fixings that are piled on it. The chipotle mayo, the cheese, the abundance of pickles (there’s like 5 or 6 little pickles on it and you get them in every bite) all help make this a strong sandwich. It was cooked to order and overall really fresh. Now, for the sake of comparison since I believe the standard for a chicken sandwich is Chick Fil A, I’ll make the comparison to their sandwiches. Chick Fil A adds just butter and pickles to their sandwich and still tastes amazing because their chicken itself just tastes phenomenal. It’s brined in salt and the flavor of the breading is amazing. I can eat a plain Chick Fil A sandwich, I don’t know if I’d want to eat a plain chicken sandwich from Federal Donuts. In my opinion Federal Donuts needs the extra toppings to compete but since they have them that’s not a bad thing at all, just an observation. The chicken at Federal Donuts was still solid as it was crispy and meaty, it just wouldn’t have the “oomph” without all the extras.  For a non-chain local spot, Federal Donuts’ chicken sandwich is impressive and definitely a worthy alternative if you’re in the mood for a unique take on a chicken sandwich.

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Side note: If you think I didn’t get a donut from Federal Donuts you’re off your rocker. I went with the cookies and cream option and let me tell you it was absolutely delectable. Instead of a chicken sandwich, I could eat three donuts and be happy. That’s probably not a good idea though? I wanted to wait til I got back home to eat it so I could take a picture of it but after one bite I knew that sucker wasn’t making it in the bag another minute. So yeah, just putting it out there that while the chicken at Federal Donuts is on point, their Donuts are indeed crack.

Gratzfood Episode 1: Chick’s Deli

Gratzfeed likes to consider itself a jack of all trades. We bring you music, sports, food, entertainment, current events and whatever the hell else we feel is necessary for your eyeballs to come across. While that’s not going to change anytime soon, there’s been a recent influx in food related content for a few reasons

  1. I love food
  2. Everyone else loves food
  3. I’ll take any excuse to eat food I can get

I realized that while food write ups are cool, I wanted to bring viewers an even closer look at the places I already know and love, or the new places that I’m trying for the very first time. I wanted people to understand the culture, the vibe, the ambience, etc. That’s why I enlisted the help of my close friend Steve Ziegler (shameless plug for Zig Media, -no seriously he’s damn good at what he does, you can watch the video and see for yourself) and set off to capture these places on camera for you all to see. For episode one I decided there was no better place to start than Chick’s Deli, located in my lovely (besides those taxes though am I right?!) hometown Cherry Hill, New Jersey.

Chick’s Deli is the definition of a hidden gem…literally. It’s located behind a main road, Route 70, in this little strip that nobody would see from just driving by. Heck, you could tell Joel Embiid his crush Rihanna was waiting for him there and he still wouldn’t be able to find it. In todays world, everyone is enamored with the superficial aspect of food, the ice cream that’s rolled, fancy looking plates with the little bowls of ketchup instead of the classic packets or bottles, the artsy drizzles that look like Picasso drunkenly decorated your dish. Chick’s forgoes the nonsense and focuses on what really matters, the actual food and it’s quality. No frills, Chick’s Deli is well, a deli, that specializes in hoagies, cheesesteaks and other sandwiches. The majority of their traffic comes from the lunch crowd, people picking up sandwiches for the office, construction workers getting a quick bite on their breaks etc. Rather than pumping out advertisements, they rely on word of mouth and if you ask them they’ll probably tell you it’s worked pretty damn well. For the record, this is not a food review. I have been going to Chick’s for years and have known their food is aces. Instead, this is a glimpse inside one of the areas favorite local gems, the people that make it go and of course the food they serve. Hope you all enjoy, cheers!

Gratzfood Review: Grand Mac

It’s probably not up for debate that there isn’t a more iconic fast food menu in item in America than the Big Mac. So when Mcdonald’s announced that they were introducing the ‘Grand Mac’, an even bigger version of the classic, Gratzfeed was promptly on the scene to investigate. Here we go.

What it’s called: Grand Mac

Cost: $7.39 for the meal (probably around $5.19/$5.39 for just the sandwich but it varies by market)

What is it exactly?: Literally the same thing as a regular Big Mac but bigger. If you don’t know what’s in a Big Mac by now that’s sad, but you can refer to this:

Verdict: It’s a bigger Big Mac. That’s it. I don’t know what I was expecting because it was never really advertised as something different but it’s literally just a bigger Big Mac. Having said that, Big Mac’s are awesome so naturally it was delicious. A lot of reviews I saw before trying it were raving about it but I don’t know if that’s warranted. Yes, it is delicious. But at the end of the day it’s just a bigger Big Mac and we already know how good they are. So how much bigger are we talking? Well, the patties and bun are essentially the same size, just in larger diameter. If the patties are thicker, it’s not entirely noticeable. I thought maybe we would be talking quarter pounder status or something since there was all this hoopla surrounding it but that’s not the case. I’ll put it to you this way, I was definitely full from my meal, but that was because I ate a medium fry too and had a drink. It’s very filling but it’s not some colossal type of monster where you should get your picture on the wall if you finish. I guess I’m also torn because I always like to think of a normal Big Mac as a satisfying sandwich, or at least it should be, but since I finished the Grand Mac without incident I’m thinking where was this before? It’s kinda like when McDonald’s started advertising their nuggets as “made with real white meat”. Yeah, I’m down for real meat but what exactly was going on before? For $7.98, I was full. I’m not complaining, nothing hits the spot like a Big Mac when you’re in the mood. It’s definitely a solid value as far as fast food goes, you will be satisfied. Just don’t go in expecting some behemoth that knocks you into next week.

Side musing: McDonald’s, for the sake of your own business please overhaul the criteria for your employees and overall standard for your restaurants. It’s no secret the fast food giant has struggled recently and everyone knows a lot of it has to do with the sudden fast casual boom. It’s pretty evident that you’re trying to compete with said fast casual restaurants so if that’s the case then step your shit up. Listen, I love ratchet, I think it’s funny and I love seeing people from all walks of life but if you think you’re going to attract the business of some Kale eating millennial named Austin just because the front page of your website says you’re committed to “sustainably sourced coffee” you’re sadly mistaken. Like I said, I don’t give a shit. But other people might be turned off when you get up to the counter and they say “U ready?” instead of “Next, how may I help you?”. As long as my food tastes good I don’t give a turd. I don’t give a fuck if the employees are arguing behind the counter and cursing because, as you can see, I curse too. I appreciate the fact that McDonald’s employs a diverse crowd and gives opportunities and I’m not expecting anyone there to be a former brain surgeon but when I hear words like “artisan” and “activity wristbands” on TV and then go into the place and get WWE Raw, it throws me for a loop. Or, ditch the wannabe healthy schtick and give the people more Grand Macs and crazy shit and just embrace the fact that you serve guilty pleasures. Nobody criticizes Popeyes for selling unhealthy food because they know it, they own it and they don’t try to be anything they’re not. Feel me?

Piggybacking off that: I can’t stress enough that not all McDonald’s are created equally. Some are so good and fresh and some don’t know when to take the fries out of the fryer. Some are clean and at some every single table is dirty. Consistency is key. When I go into Chick Fil A I know I’m getting (pretty much) the same chicken sandwich, smile, and “my pleasure” every single time. Specifically, the McDonald’s on Easton Avenue in New Brunswick might be the worst one of them all. Orders are wrong all the time, long waits, you name it. The lady there once got into a heated argument with my buddy Leo Bronshteyn when he received a 10 piece nugget instead of the 20 piece he ordered. She insisted he ordered the 10 piece. THE 10 PIECE WAS $4.69 AND THE 20 PIECE IS AN EVERYDAY VALUE OF $5 I COULD BE BLACKED OUT ON BATH SALTS AND ABSINTHE AND I WOULDN’T MAKE THE MISTAKE OF ORDERING 10. If you go into a new McDonald’s, it’s ultimately a toss up.

Last thing: Apparently only 1 in 5 millennials have had a Big Mac…sad! No but seriously, try a fucking Big Mac. I was a late bloomer to them too but c’mon if you can vote and rant about American politics then at least be a real American and try a damn Big Mac. #notmymillennials

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It’s still hard for a picture to give it justice, but you can see the Grand Mac is bigger than the classic Big Mac

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Don’t know why the cheese is danglin’ over like that all unmelted but there it is

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Bang bang there’s your Grand Mac, classic delicious taste, just a bit bigger