Friday, February 12, 2010


During January Philadelphia had Restaurant Week. During Restaurant Week participating restaurants offer a 3 course dinner for $35 per person. It's truly a great deal to try some pretty pricey restaurants for a good price. They usually have it 2 times per year, so I'm definitely looking to the next Restaurant Week in 2010. I have also seen variations of Restaurant Week in different cities around the country, so definitely check to see when restaurants might have the same sort of deal in your area.

I left J to all the planning since there are so many restaurants to choose from and he picked Buddakan. It's located in the city in an area called Old City at 3rd and Chestnut. It's a part of the Starr restaurant group, which is owned by Stephen Starr. He has some really good restaurants in Philly, NYC, Atlantic City and Ft. Lauderdale. The other Star restaurant we've been to is Continental and we hope to make it to some of the others.

I loved the decor throughout the entire restaurant. The colors were vibrant, yet it had a very romantic and chill vibe.

I started the night with a White Peach Zen Gria which had jummai sake, pinot grigio, white peach and ginger brandy. I would definitely order it again as it wasn't too strong or sweet.

After my drink our appetizers arrived at the table. They were delicious and gone quickly. We ordered grilled octopus with sweet and chiptole miso. Along with crispy shrimp and scallop spring rolls. The spring rolls were very light with large pieces of seafood.

For our entrees we stuck with our love for seafood. We ordered two separate dishes, but split them evenly so we could have a taste of both.

We ordered sweet and crispy shrimp with citrus radish salad and candied walnuts. After the first bite I was in love! Our other entree was pan seared scallops that were also really flavorful and went really well with the shrimp.

Just when I didn't think the meal couldn't get any better dessert came out! I admit I have a sweet tooth, but this dessert was probably my favorite part of the meal. J ordered the crying chocolate cake, which was a warm chocolate cake with a soft center and chocolate inside. It came with Vietanamese coffee ice cream. He did share a few bites with me and I probably could've eaten the whole thing.

However my favorite part was probably my dessert. I ordered the dip sum doughnuts. They were heaven in a dessert. They were five-spice mini doughnuts served nice and warm with blackberry jam, chocolate sauce and ginger cream cheese for dipping. I think I might go back just for dessert one of these days.

So if you're ever in Philly I highly recommend Buddakan in Old City, especially if you're in the mood for dessert.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Southbeach Food and Fun

Philly has some great dining options, but we were very excited to try all the wonderful food that Miami has to offer. Since seafood is our favorite, we couldn't help but get a recommendation for a seafood restaurant. After getting a recommendation and looking online we decided to head to Joe's Stone Crab. We were warned that the wait time would be long, which it was about an hour and 15 minutes, but we both thought it was worth it. We got a drink while we were waiting and the time went by pretty quickly.

The restaurant set up and decor was very unique. There were several open areas with fountains and plants where you could relax while waiting to be seated.

Even the bread was unique with different types and nice and soft. I'm a huge bread person, so it was hard not to eat the entire platter myself.

J started off with lobster bisque. I tried some and regretted that I didn't order any.

J and I decided to get 2 entrees and split them because we couldn't decide what we wanted. Although the restaurant is known for its crabs, we opted to order something different. We went with the crab cakes and the lobster macaroni and cheese. Of course I'm always wary of ordering crab cakes anywhere than Maryland, but these were good! They were essentially all crab meat and were cooked perfectly.

I tried to pass up dessert because I was so full, but I couldn't help but order key lime pie. I hadn't had authentic key lime pie since I lived in Key West when I was little. I ordered it to go, but had to have a bite before I packed it up. I did wait a few hours after we got back to the hotel to eat the entire thing and I'm glad I ordered it.

I was also pleasantly surprised with our bill. I can't remember the exact total, but with tax and tip we left paying under $100 for the entire meal and drinks at the bar. I definitely wasn't expecting that to happen, so it added to why I really like this restaurant.

For one of our lunches we decided to try some Cuban food. I'm so glad we found this place! It was a hole in the wall type place, located not too far from our hotel. If you've never used Yelp before, I highly recommend it when looking for any type of restaurant or service in your city or a city you're visiting. It allows you to search for anything under the sun and then has recommendations and ratings for all of it. It's definitely been a help for our vacations and in Philly.

J ordered the fried pork chunks with black beans and rice. I don't eat pork, but he said they were really juicy and tender.

My meal was also great! I can't remember the exact name, but it was shrimp with peppers and onions in a light, flavorful sauce. I had black beans, rice and plantains with it. It was just the right amount of food and filling.

On Saturday we went out to experience some Southbeach night life. We walked down Ocean Drive, which has a lot of night life going on. Like I mentioned in the last post we stayed out until 4 am! We had a lot of fun and glad we found a fun place to go. We found a recommendation to go to Mango's Tropical Cafe. It was definitely different than any other place we'd been to before!

They have live dancers and performers on the main floor. As you can see J made some friends below :) There was dancing on the bars and latin music. On the 2nd floor there were rooms with different types of music. There was a room with hip hop and pop music and a room with latin and house type music.

The cover was only $10 to get in for the night so we thought we got our money's worth. The drinks were a little pricey than usual, but we expected that.

Also on Ocean Drive we found a good Italian place for dinner. I can't remember the name of it, but we were able to sit outside, enjoy the view and eat some good food. They also have HUGE drinks. I don't know how I did it, but I finished 1 margarita, which was almost as big as my head. They also give you to go cups. This is our 2nd vacation with to go cups for our alcohol, so we will definitely remember that for next time!

Unfortunately we headed back to Philly on Monday, but our short vacation turned out exactly how we planned. We got to relax, have fun and eat some good food. J was happy to be back in an area that sold Krispy Kreme donuts so we picked up some at the airport before we hopped back on the plane to head north to Philly.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Southbeach Vacation

Like the rest of the mid-atlantic we're getting pounded by snow storm/blizzard #2 within 4 days. So I thought I'd reminisce about warm weather again. I surprised J with a mini vacation to Southbeach because he loves the beach. Since we are so busy these days I thought it would be a perfect get away to help us relax for a few days. We were able to get a great deal on a non stop flight to Miami and we used some Marriott points and a free night to stay at the Courtyard Miami Beach Oceanfront. It was a great location and nice hotel right on the water.

We went over Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend. J and I were both able to leave school and work a little bit early to catch a 4 pm flight on Friday to Miami. When searching for airefare I was happy to learn that there are a lot of non stop flights to Miami from Philly, so our flight was nice and quick. The plane was completely packed and we took off a few minutes late, but we made it to Miami in time to go out and enjoy a late dinner.

We spent the next day on the beach and enjoying the warm weather. Unfortunately I had to study because I had a test the day after we got back, but it was much more relaxing to study on the beach than stuck inside at the library. That night we decided to order food to the room and then found a place to get drinks and go dancing. We were very impressed with ourselves because we stayed out until 4 am and had a great night!

The next 1.5 days, it was more of the same. Relaxing by the beach, eating, drinking and walking around Southbeach. We returned home on Monday afternoon to get ready for work and school again. It was a quick trip, but definitely worth it. Life is too short to not take advantage of these oppurtunities!

We ate so much delicious food while we were in Miami, so I'll blog about that next. I definitely want to go back to experience some more of their great restaurants.