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.

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: 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

Gratzfood Review: Naked Chicken Chalupa From Taco Bell

There’s a lot of crazy shit happening in the world right now. Important, critical issues have been dominating headlines that are impossible to ignore. Out of everything that has happened in the past week, none may be more significant than the fact that Taco Bell has released a taco where the shell is a freaking piece of fried chicken (not fake news). Yes, there is a thing at Taco Bell that exists where a curved piece of fried chicken acts as a substitute for a hard or soft taco shell. Naturally, Gratzfeed was on the scene immediately for a fully comprehensive, in depth review. Let’s break it down.

What it’s called: Naked Chicken Chalupa

Cost: $3.49

What is it exactly?: Fried chicken shell, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, Avocado ranch sauce

Verdict: I really liked this damn thing, I was pleasantly surprised to say the least. The chicken was tasty and didn’t feel overly processed or weird like fast food chicken can be sometimes. The avocado ranch sauce was a nice touch and was actually pretty flavorful too. Size wise it’s not really all that big but let’s be honest it’s Taco Bell so you’re probably going to get other stuff too anyways. If not, you’ll definitely need more than one but at $3.49 (I think it might even be $2.99 if you’re not in a city) that’s probably not a deal breaker. Another thing that was impressive was that the chicken actually stayed true to form the whole way through, sometimes these promotional items are too gimmicky and fall apart or don’t look like how they were advertised but I can’t say thats the case here. Overall I would definitely recommend this as it’s a pretty cool little snack that switches it up from the norm. Kudos to Taco Bell for taking something that sounds so weird and stupid on paper and actually turning it into a worthwhile menu item.

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They put a lot of that avocado ranch on but hey I wasn’t complaining

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Bam