Wednesday, October 28, 2009

This Burger's Fine, it Walks the Line

Trying to stay relevant in the suburbs is a difficult thing. I keep things interesting by wearing a light blue pair of cutoff jeans when mowing the lawn (to the disdain of Mrs. Gastro. Sorry, love). In the much more important world of food, you have to toe the line between a menu of crowd pleasers and something a little more edgy. Trying to accomplish this balancing act, albeit with a net, is the bar menu at Alison Two in Fort Washington.

This past Friday was the 3rd Annual "Guys Who Shouldn't Be At a Beefsteak Dinner Go to a Beefsteak Dinner" field trip (previous trips documented here, here, and here). Earlier in the week, I had all but written it off. It was a logisitcal nightmare that wasn't made any easier by the fact that we had guests coming the next day. Maybe it was a second Phillies trip to the World Series, or perhaps it was my uncanny talent for rationalization, but by the time Thursday rolled around, I had changed my mind and accepted the challenge of leaving Philly at 5pm and getting to North Jersey by 7pm, all in the name of stuffing my face with mountainous piles of butter-soaked tenderloin. Then it literally rained on my parade, and for whatever reason, rain really fucks shit up when it comes to being on the road. My ride finally showed up at 6:15 in a gasless Plymouth Neon ("I wanted to wait until we got to Jersey"), and after missing the PA Turnpike exit, we reluctantly accepted defeat somewhere near Fort Washington, where it was either Alison Two or Rich's Deli, and Rich's Deli was closed.

The last time I ate here was with Mrs. Gastro on Valentine's Day, when there were a few food missteps. In order to play down the current man date situation, we decided to sit at the bar, which would have been great had there been seats. Instead, we were seated in a cozy banquette near the wine lockers. Near the bar, but a little more romantic than what we were looking for. Being in the bar area allowed us to eat from the bar menu, so we bailed on the anniversary prix fixe (which looked like a great deal) in favor of a calamari "steak" milanese, a couple of burgers, and an assortment of cocktails and beers including a dark and stormy, something from Ommegang*, and a Brooklyn Belgian Ale.

Whoever seasoned the appetizer had either a light hand or bionic taste buds. The calamari "steak" milanese, a breaded and fried squid head served with arugula and a lemony "tartar" sauce, relied too heavily on the arugula for any sort of bite. Eaten alone, it was a high-end fish stick, excellent texture without any flavor. The burger was your standard tony establishment interpretation (that's a good thing), a behemoth of a patty artistically formed to resemble something made by robots (also a good thing), and juicy as a Georgia peach. Topped with blue cheese, lettuce, and tomato, it was like simultaneously eating an iceberg wedge and a ribeye (with my hands). The bun, studded with drug-test-failing poppy seeds, was an excellent patty platform, almost as dense as a bagel, and more than enough structural integrity to keep the sandwich from falling apart. On the bad news side of things was the advertised jalapeƱo & onion jam, which erred on jam side, all sweet, no heat. The accompanying house made potato chips also missed the mark, having the texture of being cooked in oil that wasn't hot enough. I like a lot of grease, but these poor potatoes were drowning in it.

Service was of the bartender-as-server variety, a little less than attentive, but not to the point where you say, "Man, that guy's a dick." I really wish I would have made it to the beefsteak, but Alison Two at least gave us the opportunity to make some lemonade with the shitty ass lemons we were dealt. Buen provecho.

The bar experience at Alison Two will set you back $40 for an appetizer to split, a bar entree of your own, and cocktails (two) to keep you under the legal limit.

*I was at a bar many years ago and the dude next to me ordered it as an "Omega Man." That was amazing.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Ever Heard of Sky Juice?

Ethan drops some serious knowledge on "sky juice," an unlikely pairing of gin and coconut milk available at the Fish Fry in Nassau, Bahamas. Tommy Up, if you're reading this, it may well rival the Pickleback in the category of sounds gross/tastes great. Buen provecho.

Why Did I Eat This?

Choking Hazard: The $1.99 sausage biscuit special at Dunkin' Donuts is a dried out mess of processed foodstuffs. Keep a glass of water handy if you order this, because quick-thinking with hot coffee will turn your esophagus into a scalded food highway. Buen provecho.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Why Did I Eat This? A Trip Down Wing Street

Busy studying for an accounting midterm yesterday, I took a quick TV break in the hopes that I would see Vick get hurt (or at least hit really hard). Instead, I happened upon another Pizza Hut commercial where they pull a fast one with their food (Take that, ususpecting diners!). This time around (and I'm sure you've seen the commercial), it was wings, and since I really like wings and anywhere with a decent batch is not likely to deliver, I figured what the hell? Why not give these "award winning wings" a shot?

What the hell indeed. This is the third time Pizza Hut has suckered me into a food purchase, and for them, the third time is the charm (although the P'zone was pretty damn good). I'm not sure who bestowed the award upon these wings, nor am I certain what the award was, but I'll stand behind it. These wings were cooked past the point of "you won't die from food borne illness," but not to the point of being dry, although they were so saturated with wing sauce that the overdoneness could have been masked. I like a saucy wing, but not to the point where you get it on your cheek and it stays there because your wife doesn't tell you she sees it until 8pm. Pizza Hut forgot to include any sort of dipping sauce, but since we keep a healthy stock of ranch dressing on hand, this wasn't an issue. I would definitely order them again.

Further contributing to my premature death was a stuffed crust pizza. As if it's not enough to soak the crust in butter, they haul off and put a ring of cheese in the damn thing? And of course, there's me again with ranch dressing in hand, squeezing away (the picture of health). This pizza is so greasy that when I finally take my accounting midterm this coming Saturday, I wouldn't be surprised if there are grease spots on it when I hand it in. Buen provecho.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Why Did I Eat This?

It's 3pm.
I'm not high (I'm not even sure that I'm hungry).
The packaging sucks.

Major waste of 99 pennies. If you've ever had the pleasure of eating powdered non-dairy creamer, the flavor is that plus a light dusting of cayenne pepper. And they go horribly with Cherry Coke Zero. I should have opted for the Baby Back Rib flavored chips. Buen provecho.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Why Did I Read This?

"what we eat has become a dominant, and perhaps obnoxious, part of our everyday cultural discourse." - Joe Pompeo

Hey Mr. Pompeo, I'd just like to let you know that you can suck it (and the cow pictured above feels the same way). Your piece in the NY Observer can also suck it. So what if there's a growing obsession with food? Would you rather we all just ate soylent green (it's people, you know)?