SOWE Restaurant & Bar, Philadelphia (Take 2)

Anyone who knows me personally will be able to back me up on this…

I LOVE my birthday.  June 23rd.  It’s the best day of the year, my favorite holiday, and always bound to be an awesome time.

I don’t see a reason holding me back from talking about that day… two months later!  Why not?!

This year’s birthday was a little bit more tame than our parties in Atlantic City in the past… there was a lot going on this year around that week.  First, I had been cramming and studying every night for my exam I needed to pass for my new job.  Then there was extra stress at work leaving the old job.  There were also some other things too.  It just wasn’t a great time to go party.  So we ate instead.  And ate and ate.

June 23rd is always a fun day.

June 23rd is always a fun day.

I am one lucky girl- BOTH of our families joined Dave and I for brunch for my big day this year, and they came to us… in the city!  YAY!  Picking a spot that could take us all, that wasn’t crazy expensive and had something for everyone to enjoy was tough.  I was excited to come across one of my favorite neighborhood bar/restaurants and realized, hey- I haven’t had their brunch yet!  I picked SOWE Restaurant & Bar as my birthday brunch spot.  What a great decision.

SOWE held our reservation for 7 and saved us a table outside on the gorgeous day.  We ordered some coffees and bloody marys and were surprised by our FABULOUS server with a “happy birthday” on-the-house bottomless Bloody Mary pitcher instead.  Amazing!

I also have to mention that this was the second day I had my brand new camera!  I was so excited to snap some photos of our delicious meal and our pretty faces :)

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SoWe has a great bloody!

SoWe has a great bloody!

Here’s the lineup of what we ordered:

We started off by sharing the irresisitable Bacon Beignets (Brown Butter Caramel, Candied Bacon… oh my) for the table to share.

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The Birthday Girl and Mom got the Crab Cake Eggs Benedict (Two Poached Eggs Served Over Pan Fried Green Tomatoes, Creole Remoulade, Brunch Potatoes)

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Chopped Salad (Romaine Hearts, Kalamata Olives, Hard-Cooked Eggs, Haricot Vert,
Cucumber, Radish, Red Onion, Tomato, Crispy Chickpeas, and Creamy Honey-Lime Dressing)

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SoWe Burger (Half-Pound Angus Burger, Fried Peppers & Onions, Sharp Cheddar,
Naturally Smoked Applewood Bacon, Horseradish Mayo on Brioche) – also happens to be one of my very favorite burgers in the whole city!

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Grilled Cheese (Fontina, Sharp Cheddar, Heirloom Tomato and Bacon on Sourdough)

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Grilled Chicken Sandwich, and last but not least Peanut Butter n Jelly Pancakes (omg)!

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The whole crew had such a wonderful meal which made for an even better birthday!  Thanks for the Birthday Love SOWE!

Brick American Eatery, Philadelphia

I know I’ve been MIA for what seems like forever now.  Sorry I’m not sorry!  I’ve been super busy this summer doing some life-changing things.  And I’m not talking about trying some new mind-blowing mac and cheese or the newest dessert fad.  I’m talking actual life changing.

Over the past two months, I have been busy getting myself started with a new career!  I studied my tush off and got my license to sell insurance.  I am working for a company who sells health/life/supps to individuals.  So, hopefully I’ll be helping people and making money finally!  It was a lot of hard work learning something totally new, but I am very excited to start this new chapter in my life.

Not only did I change careers over the past two months, but Dave and I just got back last week from our adventure in Ecuador!  We saw and did so many amazing things.  We went hiking in the Andes, explored Quito the capital, went rafting in Banos, and saw some pretty outrageous creatures in the Amazon Jungle.  I can’t wait to have a good chunk of time available to sit down and write about it for you… we also were able to bring my brand spankin’ new camera and took so many beautiful pictures.

You’ll just have to wait on that because today I want to tell you about our last date night in Philly, which just happened to be the night we were celebrating my passing the licensing exam.

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Dave and I have been itching to try Brick American Eatery in Philly for some time now… after hearing rave reviews from a friend and seeing the same of their Yelp page, we decided to buy a local groupon deal for here.  The funny thing is, we were all ready to go earlier in the summer, walked there in the rain, and had to turn around and go back when we got there- the restaurant had lost power in the storm!  I’m glad we went when we did because it was the perfect place to celebrate my birthday, my passing the exam, and my first time using my new camera.  :)

Our deal allowed for us to get two small plates/apps, two entrees, and two drinks.

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What was perfect about going on this night was the beautiful weather that allowed us to sit outside:  not too hot, not too windy, not too humid… it was just right.  We started off with two fabulous drinks- I ordered the Peach Palmer (Iced Tea Vodka with Lemonade and muddled Peaches) and Dave went with the Brick Manhattan (Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Carpano Antica Formula, Whiskey Soaked Cherry).

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For our first course, we were just dying to try the special- Smoked Salmon Spring Rolls.  They were so different and absolutely yummy.  Crunchy and warm with a creamy sauce, we devoured these spring rolls right away.  We also ordered the Prosciutto and Goat Cheese Flat Bread which had a thin crispy crust and was topped with peppery Arugula and warm Roasted Tomatoes.  Y-U-M!

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It was so hard to decide on the  main courses since they all sounded so good.  First, we chose the Sea Scallops (Beets, white beans, sun-dried tomato & rosemary cream).  We also were talked into (it didn’t take much I have to add) trying the Lamb Burger, as this Brick specialty was in the running for Philly’s Best Burger.  I obviously had to try it.

The Scallops were excellent.  I would also have to agree that the Lamb Burger should be on the list as one of the best burgers in Philly.  The juicy, flavorful Lamb Burger is topped with Spicy Onion Jam, Manchego Cheese, Worcestershire, and Mayo.

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Looking at these picture is making me hungry right now…

Well, my friends, it is nice to be back!  Thanks for sticking by despite my neglecting you for the last month.  :)

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Loving this new camera too!

Zahav, Philadelphia

So, it’s only been about six months since I had my amazing experience at Zahav for restaurant week in Philadelphia.  At first, I was avoiding writing this post because I knew it would just make me want to go back.  Then, when I went to write about it, I realized the only picture I forgot to take was of the most outrageous thing we ordered (you’ll find out soon what that was)… BOO!  But as my monthly dinner with my girlfriends is coming up this week, I decided that it’s been way too long and I just couldn’t keep this one from you any longer.

Let me tell you a little bit about Zahav… it is a beautiful modern Israel restaurant located in Society Hill in Philadelphia.  The chef and owner Michael Solomonov was born in Israel, raised in Pittsburgh, and learned how to cook back in Israel.  He really brings something special to the Philly restaurant scene.

I went to Zahav for restaurant week which was a great idea.  When I go out with my girlfriends, we try to order as many things as possible and share everything.  It’s always so much fun.  Since Zahav is pretty expensive, going for restaurant week was the perfect thing for us to do- we EACH got to pick two starters, one main dish, and one dessert.

In addition to the menu that we got to choose from, Zahav provided us with Salatim (SEVEN different salads), Hummus, and Fresh Laffa.  The laffa is similar to flat bread or Naan but is lighter, fluffier, and pretty much the most delicious thing ever.  I have been craving Laffa bread since discovering it in Israel, and Zahav totally gets it right.  I’d come back to Zahav just to get this part of the meal.  Everything was so good.

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We also ordered a pitcher of their signature drink, Lemonnana which also reminded me of Israel.  The drink was refreshing and sweet- Jim Beam, Muddled Mint, Fresh Lemon, and Verbena.

After some serious decision making and friendly debate, we picked out our order.  Now, you wouldn’t normally have debate when ordering food, right?  Well this debate was over a very interesting item on the menu:  Grilled Duck Hearts.  Before you click away in disgust… remember I mentioned that I messed up and forgot to photograph the most interesting thing we ordered!  The Duck Hearts (prepared with Date Tehina, Crispy Onions, and Stone Fruit).  It doesn’t get more interesting than that.  Ricki convinced Mer and I to try them, and we finally gave in.  We did try them, but I honestly did not like them at all!  Our bravery was rewarded though, with several other amazing dishes that we had shared.  Try not to drool!

Crispy Haloumi
Dates, walnuts, apple

Fried Cauliflower
Labaneh with chive, dill, mint and garlic

Marinated Brussel Sprouts
Whipped feta, babaganoush, sumac

Beef Cheek Pastilla
Braised greens, coffee

Kofte
Ground beef and lamb, cumin, peppers, carrots

Hanger Steak
Eggplant two ways, sesame, pine nuts

Merguez
Ground lamb, figs, shallots, cilantro

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Everything was amazing.  I especially enjoyed the Haloumi and will now be on the lookout for this cheese at other restaurants too.  

As if all of these dishes weren’t enough (We were STUFFED at this point), we each got to pick a dessert.  Ricki, who has been to Zahav several times, had been absolutely raving about the Halvah Mousse, so we ordered that along with the Konafi and Rugelach.  All three were outstanding.  Totally worth the calories, and worth the trip… for sure.  And Ricki was right, the Halvah Mousse was the star. 

Halvah Mousse
Chickpea praline, berries

Konafi
Ricotta, apples, labaneh ice cream

Rugelach
Hazelnut praline, date puree

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I was right about something too…  I am now having some serious cravings for Zahav.  I knew this would happen!  

Zahav actually offers the same type of menu on a daily basis, for $39pp… so you can do this too even though it’s not restaurant week!  Hint, hint… boyfriend.

Seattle, WA

It has been so long that I’ve been able to write about one of our fabulous adventures because we HAVEN’T BEEN ON ONE IN OVER A YEAR!  Dave and I finally saved up some time and money and went away together for the first time since LA last December.  What a nice and much overdue treat.

Why Seattle for such a short trip?  Dave’s new job has him traveling quite a bit in the next few months.  His first business trip this season was scheduled for Seattle on a Friday morning.  Friday morning… how perfect.  We decided to make a vacation out of it, especially since Seattle is just a train ride away from his family in Vancouver.

My adventure started at 4:00 AM on Friday.  EW.  I had to catch a bus at 4:30 to catch another bus to the airport for my flight out of Philly at 7am.  All went well and after a VERY LONG day on airplanes (I finished reading Paterno -loved- and started -and finished… and also loved)  Gone Girl- I arrived  in Seattle at 3pm.  I met Dave who had already finished up working for the day at our amazing hotel, the Edgewater.

The Edgewater is a waterfront hotel that was made famous by this picture of the Beatles fishing outside their room in 1964…

"Fab Fishing" Photo Cred: BeatlesInterviews.org

“Fab Fishing” Photo Cred: BeatlesInterviews.org

…and more recently, was featured on “The Layover” with my all time favorite foodie Anthony Bourdain!

#OMGWeStayedAtTheSameHotel!!!??!? Photo Cred: HotelChatter.com

#OMGWeStayedAtTheSameHotel!!!??!?
Photo Cred: HotelChatter.com

Dave and I had a room with a balcony overlooking Elliott Bay, with a fancy bathroom, fireplace, and even this little guy to keep us company (they sell them in the store… I WANT ONE!! duh).

Loved our friend in our room!  So cute

Loved our friend in our room! So cute

The view from the lobby.  Just amazing.

The view from the lobby. Just amazing.

We dropped off my luggage and got started with some sightseeing right away… we had to take advantage of what ended up being the clearest, nicest day during our time in Seattle!

We walked down the pier and took a ride on The Seattle Great Wheel which provided a beautiful view of the city.

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Dave on the Ferris Wheel

Dave on the Ferris Wheel

Pretty view from the ferris wheel

Pretty view from the ferris wheel

Next, we decided we were going to walk through the city to the Space Needle.  The quick ride in the elevator brought us up to the observation deck which gave us a 360 degree view of the city… 520 feet in the air.  OMG!  The scenery was beautiful and this was the only day we could see the towering snow-covered Mt. Rainier.  I was awestruck by this mountain… I could not believe how big and gorgeous it was.

Space Needle!

Space Needle!

GORGEOUS view of Mt. Rainier from the Space Needle.

GORGEOUS view of Mt. Rainier from the Space Needle.

After the space needle, we made a pit-stop at the Pike Place Market.  You got it… the place where they throw the fish :)

We munched on some smoked cheeese “trail mix” (YUM) and walked around to check out all of the fresh fish.  We ended up grabbing a small bite to eat at Beecher’s Handmade Cheese store… wow!  We had a few samples, tried out a fancy grilled cheese, and munched on their famous Cheese Curds.

Lobster!

Lobster!

I wish I could have gone shopping at the market!  Check out the size of that shrimp...

I wish I could have gone shopping at the market! Check out the size of that shrimp…

Smoked Cheese Sticks & "Trail Mix" ... nom nom

Smoked Cheese Sticks & “Trail Mix” … nom nom

 

 

 

 

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Fiiiiish

Fiiiiish

Rows and rows of fresh flowers

Rows and rows of fresh flowers

As if our day wasn’t already jam-packed enough, we then headed over to Safeco Field to watch the Seattle Mariners get crushed by the Angels.  We had such a fun time and tried some local favorites suggested by my friend Heather… Grounder’s Garlic Fries (OMG GARLICC!), Cheddar/Caramel Popcorn (I didn’t let Dave open this until we got back to the hotel for a midnight snack!), and later on, a Seattle Dog (Cream Cheese… whaaaaat?!).  We didn’t realize until we left, but at the ballpark in Seattle unlike in Philadelphia, you can leave the stadium and come back in!  I love it!  They have lots of shops and food vendors lined up outside the stadium so I imagine this would have been really cool to do.  Nice touch, Seattle.

Go Mariners!

Go Mariners!

Devoured this Cheddar-Caramel Corn ... yum!

Devoured this Cheddar-Caramel Corn … yum!

Pretty view from the ballpark.

Pretty view from the ballpark.

YUM!  Garlic fries!  We both agreed that Philly's Famous Crab Fries from Chickie and Pete's is better though :)

YUM! Garlic fries! We both agreed that Philly’s Famous Crab Fries from Chickie and Pete’s is better though :)

Enjoying the baseball game

Enjoying the baseball game

Next, we walked back to our hotel, stopping at a few bars along the way.  We dropped by a place that looked pretty cool called 1000 Spirits.  This would be the first of THREE times we’d visit this cocktail bar during our short stay in the city.  Dave and I loved this place!  With $5 martinis, two different happy hour times, a Happy Hour Wheel, and free drinks with a #1000Spirits tweet… we ended up having six delicious cocktails and an appetizer for only $24.  WOW!

Cocktail bar!  Got Dave into Dirty Martinis... mmm!

Cocktail bar! Got Dave into Dirty Martinis… mmm!

This is only about 1/3 of the bar!  OMG.

This is only about 1/3 of the bar! OMG.

Delicious cod cake.  Only $5 during Happy Hr.

Delicious cod cake. Only $5 during Happy Hr.

The next day, we had until our 6pm train to Vancouver to explore the city.  It was a little bit on the chilly side this day, so we decided to hit up the EMP Museum.  First, for breakfast, we stopped by The Five-Point Cafe as suggested by the Layover & Anthony Bourdain.  I obviously super-stalked the menu and decided we had to go here.  I mean, they have a “breakfast happy hour”… how could it be bad?  Boy was I WRONG!  BOO Anthony!  Boo!  Here’s the story:

We had an incredibly disappointing meal at Five-Point Cafe.  The service was just horrible.  I’m always the type of person to be super-sweet to servers, always understand, rarely complain, etc.  The first bad sign was how long we had to wait for our food.  It was maybe about twenty minutes before I started looking around for our food.  I noticed a few plates up by the kitchen window just sitting there waiting to be delivered to their tables.  Ten minutes passed.  They were still there.  Praying those plates weren’t ours, I asked another server (ours was nowhere to be found) to check on our orders.  They weren’t ours.  Whew!  Another ten minutes passed before our food came out (it’s now been about 40 minutes since we ordered BREAKFAST… this should not take that long).  I had ordered one of their famous Benedicts, the “Californian” with avocado and grilled tomato.  I was STARVING at this point and could not wait to dig in.  It looked delish.  I cut into my benny only to see no runny egg.  Whatttt?  My dish had been sitting so long that the egg turned hard… a hard boiled egg smothered in hollandaise.  I’m sorry, but this is just UNACCEPTABLE for a Benny, right?!  I had to flag down our server only to have her roll her eyes at me.  Great.  They brought out another dish for me 10 minutes later, having only removed the hard eggs and replaced with runny eggs and MORE hollandaise sauce.  Gross.  It was covered to the point where I couldn’t taste any of the food except the sauce.  Dave’s Corned Beef Hash (his version of my benedict… the “I don’t care about calories” breakfast-go-to) was served to him cold, which at this point was the least of our worries.  BOO!  What a disappointment.

What I thought would be a delicious benedict from 5-Point Cafe...

What I thought would be a delicious benedict from 5-Point Cafe…

Ended up disgusting.  I couldn't eat anything under all of that gloopy sauce.

Ended up disgusting. I couldn’t eat anything under all of that gloopy sauce.

Ready for a GOOD TIME after our terrible breakfast, we headed over to the EMP Museum of Music, Sci-Fi, and Pop-Culture.  This wasn’t only the coolest looking building ever… it was the coolest museum ever.  We absolutely loved it.

Photo Cred: Journeysinlightphotoblog.com

The EMP Museum is one funky building!              Photo Cred: Journeysinlightphotoblog.com

They had exhibits about Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, Sci-Fi movies and TV, Video Games, Fantasy, Horror Movies, and even an entire area where you could play around with music.  Dave was the happiest person ever being able to go into a sound proof room and play the drums for the first time in years.  We also got to try out sound mixing too.  This place isn’t just for kids, it’s for big kids like us!

Center of the EMP Museum... so cool

Center of the EMP Museum… so cool

Dave's replaced King Geoffrey in the Game of Thrones in the fantasy section of the EMP Museum.

Dave’s replaced King Geoffrey in the Game of Thrones in the fantasy section of the EMP Museum.

Caught in the reflection of the funky EMP Museum building

Caught in the reflection of the funky EMP Museum building

My favorite picture of them all... the reflection of the space needle outside the EMP Museum

My favorite picture of them all… the reflection of the space needle outside the EMP Museum

We stopped by a coffee shop for a pick-me-up and went back to the Space Needle.  Our train at 6pm took us to Vancouver to visit with Dave’s family for a few days.  I could not believe how much sightseeing we got done in just over 24 hours!

Our 3-Day, 3-Night visit to Vancouver was amazing.  I have lots to tell you and tons of pictures to share of our amazing food adventure… so that will have to wait until later.  We arrived back in Seattle for one last day on Tuesday morning.

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After checking into our hotel, we took a nice long walk through the city, bringing us back to the Pike Place Market again.  This time around, we were able to buy some souvenirs and iced coffees at the very first Starbucks!  I was one happy, perfectly caffeinated girl.  We satisfied our hunger and oyster craving at Emmett Watson’s Oyster Bar which was a tiny little hole in the wall place near the market.  Oysters were slurped and a super-garlicky salmon soup was shared.  Yum.

Watson's Oyster Bar menus are printed on brown paper bags.  Love.

Watson’s Oyster Bar menus are printed on brown paper bags. Love.

Amazing soup at the Oyster Bar!

Amazing soup at the Oyster Bar!

Happy to be in the very first Starbucks.

Happy to be in the very first Starbucks.

First Starbucks Store

First Starbucks Store

Our last dinner in Seattle ended up bringing us back to 1000 Spirits (why not?!) for some more drinks and grub.  Dave and I are absolutely going to miss this place!

I didn’t get my normal “OMG I want to move here” feelings when we were leaving Seattle.  Maybe it’s because I’m just loving our new place in Philly?  Or maybe it’s because we had a few days in Vancouver (the most beautiful city on earth) sandwiched in the middle?  Regardless, I had such an amazing trip and would love to visit again!  Who’s with me?

I woke up on the plane to this unbelievable view of Mt. Rainier... wow!

I woke up on the plane to this unbelievable view of Mt. Rainier… wow!

So Crêpe, Philadelphia

 

So cute.

So delicious.

So affordable.

(sorry, I just had to!)

So Crêpe is an adorable little BYOB restaurant on South Street that just opened up this past fall.  They serve both savory and sweet varieties of crepes, all using fresh and natural ingredients.  The crepes are even made with whole wheat or buckwheat, depending on what type you get.

Dave and I stumbled across So Crêpe on our walk home from the subway this past weekend.  What a lovely addition to our neighborhood!  We both decided on trying the “So Smoked” Crepe since we were stopping in for breakfast.

The So Smoked was a huge, and soooo yummy buckwheat crepe stuffed with smoked salmon, avocado slices, sour cream and chives.  MMM!  I couldn’t believe how much salmon was in there for only $8.50 each.  If only we saved enough room in our bellies to try a sweet crepe!

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I also do want to mention that the staff were just fabulous.  I loved how the kitchen was open and directly in the center of the restaurant.  The chefs chatted with us the whole time and I always like being able to watch them make the food.  I cannot wait to come back here and highly recommend it to anyone in the area :)