Friday, February 27, 2009

Sam's Morning Glory Diner, Philadelphia PA

Hot CocoaI've eaten at Morning Glory quiet a few times and both the food and service always seems to be a bit hit or miss. Unfortunately on my most recent visit the service was a definite miss.

Arriving before my brunchmate, the server delivered menus and curtly asked "do you know how long it will be before the other person arrives?" While I could understand this question if the place was full, on a weekday morning there were plenty of open tables. Almost as popular as Sabrina's, the only time you will find empty tables like this is midweek.

Unsure about ordering the hot chocolate ($2), I asked if it was made with real chocolate or was from a mix. I was assured that it was made in-house with actual chocolate. Unfortunately the taste did not match the description; it seemed more like warmed-up Nestle Quick and the texture was not at all like real hot chocolate. I did not finish it.

Deciding to stick with the specials menu, I ordered the Oatmeal with fresh fruit ($7) and my brunchmate ordered the Pancakes with chocolate chips with an orange mascarpone topping ($8).

The oatmeal had just a hint of cinnamon, which I found slightly odd with the fruit but the taste grew on me. While the dish was served with a container of brown sugar, the bananas and mango were perfectly ripe and all the sweetness I needed.

My brunchmate found the three huge pancakes to be "tasty but way too much food!" The orange mascarpone was very subtle and paired nicely with the chocolate chip batter.


At the end of our meal I realized, perhaps, why our server had wondered when my friend would arrive. I think his shift must have ended. Or perhaps he had a lunch break? Whatever the case, it would have been fine if he had let us know he wasn't coming back but he quickly dropped off the bill without asking if we needed anything else. After chatting for awhile, we realized he was totally MIA and that no one planned to return to us, so we asked at the counter for "to go" containers. Unfortunately the only size they had were extra-small, so my brunchmate was forced to hack up the leftovers in order to make them fit.

While not a complete disaster, Morning Glory is beginning to lose its charm.

If you go:
  • 735 S 10th St, Philadelphia, PA 19147
  • Phone: (215) 413-3999
  • Cash only.
  • Website link does not work.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Hot Chocolate

Good with brunch, or at anytime of day, this time of year always calls for a delicious cup of hot chocolate. Below is a list my most memorable hot chocolates. Please note that I prefer a rich, dark, full-bodied hot chocolate so if you're into the instant packets these might be a bit too intense for you.

Casa Madonna Divino Amore‎, just outside of Chioggia, Italy
Full-screenA rich dark-milk chocolate, made in an espresso machine and served by the nuns. I will never forget the taste of this hot chocolate. It is that good.

Caffè Venezia, Chiusi, Italy
Caffe Venezia has an overwhelming number of hot chocolate options. Including a very bitter one that I swear is simply 100% cacao melted down. If you chose carefully though, you are in for a fantastic treat. They also serve very decent gelato.

Supper, Philadelphia, PA
Probably the closest thing to the nun's hot chocolate this side of the Atlantic.

Cafe Golosa, Philadelphia PA
Traditional Italian hot chocolate; shaken not stirred. Extremely rich, full-bodied, and fantastic.

Cafe Apamate, Philadelphia PA
Tied with Golosa for its a dark, rich, flavor.

Sazon Restaurant & Cafe, Philadelphia PA
Traditional Venezuelan hot chocolates "homemade" from single origin cacao beans. Intense flavors.

Rim Cafe, Philadelphia PA
While more milky than I usually like, Rim Cafe's hot chocolate is about the experience. You just have to go to fully understand.

Serendipity 3, New York, NY
Overrated but totally fun, the Frrrozen Hot Chocolate is served with a straw and big enough for two.

Best "On The Go" Hot Chocolate:
Starbucks Signature Hot Chocolate
I am truly surprised at the flavor of this hot chocolate. While the quality sometimes depends on which store you visit, most of the time it [along with all the others on this list] ranks above hot chocolates that I've ordered from places such as Naked Chocolate and Parc. Just remember to specify "Signature" or they will give you something else.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

LaVa Cafe, Philadelphia PA

On a recent Sunday morning I join two brunchmates at LaVa Cafe. More coffee shop than typical brunch spot, LaVa offers a nice variety of options at prices that work in today's economy. A relaxed environment with the slogan “Get to know your neighbors,” LaVa offers both table and sofa seating.

Hot Apple Cider I order the vegetarian soup of the day ($3.50) and hot apple cider. The cider is nicely spiced and slightly foamy. The perfect drink on a very cold day.

The soup is advertised as lentil but they ran out and I receive a bowl of vegetable soup. This is fine by me because it looks so good that a brunchmate decides to order one as well!

Vegetable Soup

Filled with chunks of carrots, celery, and other veggies, the soup tastes like a very good traditional chicken-noodle soup (minus the chicken and the noodles). It is served with fresh bread.

One brunchmate orders the Caramel French Toast ($4.85). Made with Brioche bread and served with fresh berries, this is a delicious, "buttery, pillowy goodness" of a bargain despite the containers of fake maple syrup that it is served with.

French Toast

Egg&Cheese Sandwich
Another brunchmate orders the Egg & Cheese Sandwich ($3.65), which is served on some fantastic looking bread. The cheese is "creamy in a very good way."

As we're about to leave, we see that LaVa makes Jachnoon –“Rolled dough baked overnight. Served with fresh grated tomato & hard boiled egg” ($6.50). Alas, this pretzel-like treat is only served on Saturdays.

If you go: