Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Sabrina's Cafe

Sabrina's is a Philadelphia brunch standby. I have never eaten there on a weekend because the line outside is always way too long. They do not take reservations, but from what I hear, you can call when you're on your way and they will add your name to the waiting list. Or, if you're like me, you can eat there at dinnertime or have a weekday brunch. Even then, the place is never empty.

One of my favorite things about Sabrina's is that they have a wide selection of seasonal specials and they even update their specials list on their website!

On a recent visit, I tried the Pumpkin “Spice Up your Life" Pancakes ($11.95). These come with a with a Butternut Squash-spice cake topping, rum soaked raisins, berry maple syrup and fresh blueberries. Extremely filling, I could not finish the plate.

Pumpkin 'Spice Up Your Life' Pancakes

The pancakes were wonderful, but the topping was much too sweet for me and the squash seemed out of place. I also had a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice ($3.99). Sabrina's o.j. is among the best available at restaurants in this city, but you can buy fresher tasting organic orange juice from Whole Foods for less.

My brunchmate ordered the Cali Turkey Sandwich ($9.29), which comes with a side of fries but they substituted a house salad for no extra charge.

Cali Turkey Sandwich

The sandwich was: “tasty!” But we knew we were on the east coast, because they had run out of avocado.

While I enjoy Sabrina's, I feel that they are the “summer blockbuster” of Philadelphia brunches. Yes it's good, and yes you will leave happy, but if you're willing to explore a bit, there is a lot more out there that is even better.

While people tell me that the “sequel” (located in Fairmount) is equally great, I have yet to check it out.

If you go:

  • 910 Christian Street Philadelphia, PA 19147
  • Phone: (215) 574-1599
  • They accept credit cards.
  • Sabrina's Website

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Mi Lah Vegetarian, Philadelphia PA

My first visit to Mi Lah was unsuccessful—we arrive an hour before closing to find out that the kitchen has run out of food! Thankfully my next visit was well worth the wait. Mi Lah's brunch is prix fixe ($20) and includes coffee or tea, a bloody mary mix drink or a mimosa mix drink, a plate of fresh fruit with vegan muffins and scones and a sweet or savory main course.
Considering both quality and quantity this is quite a bargain.

Both my brunchmate and I order the mimosas: a very nice blend of orange and grapefruit juices with a gentle kick of ginger that mimics the real thing (minus bubbles).

Fruit & Vegan Muffins

The fruit plate includes grapes, apples, and melon. The poppy seed scones are surprisingly soft, at least compared to store bought ones. The blueberry muffin is a little dry but chock-full of juicy berries. The ginger muffin is especially delicious with a touch of crumbled sugar on top.

For my main course I order the Vegan Lumberjack plate with pumpkin pancakes, tofu scramble, red bliss and sweet potato homefries and tempeh bacon. Offering a blend of sweet and savory with enough food for leftovers, this dish has it all.

The Vegan Lumberjack
The pumpkin pancakes, served with organic maple syrup and candied gingered butter and filled with tiny chunks of walnuts, are totally mouth-watering. The tempeh bacon is very nicely seasoned but aside from how it is sliced it is (unsurprisingly) nothing like actual bacon.

Lumberjack LeftoversThe scrambled tofu is slightly on the bland side flavor-wise, but personally I prefer this to the over-seasoned version that most places serve up. The onions and red peppers do give a bit of a bite to the scramble and it pairs nicely with the buttered wheat toast. The mix of red bliss and sweet potatoes in the homefries is great, uniquely seasoned with parsley and black pepper.

My bruchmate selects the veggie sausage and white gravy over oven-fresh biscuits, with red bliss and sweet potato homefries. The sausage is well-seasoned, the biscuits taste like traditional buttermilk ones, and the vegan gravy is out of this world. This dish takes comfort food to a whole new level.

Veggie Sausage with Biscuits and Gravy

As far as I am aware, Mi Lah is the only totally vegan menu brunch in town. Even if you are a meat-lover, you have got to check this place out....on second thought, go somewhere else-- I don't want to have to wait in line when I go back!

If you go:
  • 218 South 16th Street (between Locust and Walnut)
    Philadelphia, PA 19102
  • Phone: (215) 732-8888
  • They accept credit cards.
  • Mi Lah Website