Monthly Archives: May 2014

Tashan, Philadelphia, PA

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Tashan 

Category: Indian

Neighborhoods: Bella Vista, Avenue of the Arts South

Address: 777 S Broad St
Philadelphia, PA 19147
Number: (267) 687-2170

3/5 Stars

My friend and I accidentally happened to go to Tashan during restaurant week. The plus side was free valet parking. The down side was prix fixe expensive dinner menu which was way too much food for 2 small eaters and also less variety to choose from.
Our waitress was quite artificial and very scripted in personality but entertaining nonetheless. Other waitstaff were a bit odd, and the busboys didn’t know what they were doing. One guy tried to balance all 7 plates and silverware at once without tray, almost dropping everything and another giving us dinner plates for dessert. They also forgot to bring out our naan bread but didn’t apologize when we asked about it. All the dishes were described to us except dessert, which the waitstaff just said there was a scoop of pumpkin ice cream on the side but didn’t describe anything else.
The decor was very nice, but it was extremely dark, which made it hard to see what we were eating. It also was on the chilly side.

For the first course, we ordered the Gol Gappa and the Malai Kofta Lollypops. The Gol Gappa was alright, didn’t particularly love the flavors though. The Lollypops were very good. I liked that they were panko-crusted and not fried; the filling was creamy with potato, cheese, and spices. The cheese was a bit hard to decipher and there were some incredibly spicy peppers hidden in there. The sauce for this dish (tomato cashew) was very tasty and I liked how the dish was presented on little sticks in a pot.

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For the second course, we ordered the Tandoori shrimp and the green chicken tikka. This course was my favorite. The shrimp were perfectly cooked and very flavorful. The mouseline along the side was interesting. The green chicken tikka was also perfectly cooked, very tender with a subtle flavor. The chicken dipped in the mustard oil/sauce was outstanding.

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For the third course, we chose the Pork Xacutti and the Chicken Makhani. The pork was cooked well and very flavorful as was the sauce it came atop of. I appreciated how the pork wasn’t entrenched inside the sauce. On the menu, it said souffle accompanied this dish. Instead there were a few what I would call potato pillows, with a hallow interior. Didn’t like these. The chicken was extremely disappointing. It was extremely dry and the sauce was just fair.

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These dishes also came with naan bread and vegetable biryani with raita. The naan was pretty good (when warm), but the biryani wasn’t flavorful at all and too dry, also had pickled okra which I didn’t care for. I’ve had much better biryani at Indian restaurants.
Overall, in these dishes, I missed fresh vegetables, which were basically non-existent. There was a tiny cabbage salad with 2 teeny shaved radish slices. I savored this. 🙂

As for dessert (fourth course), I really enjoyed the crème brulée with the gulab jamun inside, but the spiced molten chocolate cake was very disappointing. It lacked in flavor and sweetness. The pumpkin ice cream tasted like rotten pumpkin with no sugar.

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My friend and I were overly full by the end of this dinner and packed up a lot of leftovers to take with us.
This restaurant definitely seems overpriced for the quality of food you receive. The presentation of food was very creative for the most part though and I might go back to get only certain dishes like the shrimp tandorri, green chicken tikka, and creme brulee, but there are so many other restaurants to explore in Philly so probably not anytime too soon.

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À La Maison, Ardmore, PA

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A La Maison 

Category: French

Address: 53 W. Lancaster Ave
Ardmore, PA 19003
Phone: (484) 412-8009

4/5 Stars

I dined at À la Maison twice now and it has definitely exceeded my expectations for French cuisine in Ardmore.
The ambiance is really cozy and fairly quiet with a violin quartet playing on Thursday nights who are quite talented.
The waitstaff is very friendly and accommodating, refilling water glasses as needed and listening well and responding to special requests.
The bread is quite good, not warm, but it’s the kind of authentic, rustic bread that still tastes excellent even when served at room temperature. You can also tell it’s very fresh.
The salads are very flavorful and the greens are fresh.

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As for the entrees, between the two times we’ve been there, we’ve tasted the sea scallops (a special), duck, beef bourguignon and salmon. I highly recommend the scallops and the beef bourguignon. Both dishes are perfectly cooked, with tender interiors. The sauce with the beef is on the thicker side but it tastes very authentic and the mashed potatoes are very rich but decadently so. The duck was fair, I’ve had better. And the salmon was said to be done medium rare but it definitely came out on the medium well side. Still good though. The lentils on the side were on the richer side, which was a bit too much for that dish in my opinion.

Both times, we were too full for dessert. All in all, this place serves fresh, authentic traditional French dishes and has a lovely ambiance to accompany your dining experience.

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No-Knead Bread

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Even if you enjoy kneading bread dough, I would still suggest trying out this bread recipe. Jim Lahey is well-known in the bread world for inventing no-knead bread. It has become quite popular, being published in the NY Times, and in many other blogs, websites, books, and newspapers.

Why is this recipe so attractive do you ask? It’s three ingredients, four steps, and very little hands-on time. This is because one of the secrets to bread-making is actually just letting the bread be. The longer the dough rests, the more developed the flavor, and the less yeast you will need for leavening the dough.

The hardest thing about this kind of bread recipe is having the patience to wait about a day and a half until the bread is ready to eat. But trust me, it is well worth the wait. Making this bread will not only save you the money you spend on a mediocre loaf at the market or a bakery, but also will save you much time, with a final product that tastes a thousand times better.

This bread can be eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, used to make sandwiches and is great plain or with butter or jam! This is a standard recipe, so if you want to get adventurous and try adding other ingredients like different types of grains, nuts, or flours to the bread, there are limitless possibilities! I’ve tried substituting some of the white flour for wheat flour in the past, which makes it more nutritious and lends more of a nutty flavor.

You will be pleasantly surprised to see a messy lump of dough enter the oven, but emerge as a golden, patterned sphere of complex flavor and a chewy crumb with lots of nice holes!

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No-Knead Bread

Makes one 1-LB. Loaf

Ingredients:

3 cups (13.5 – 15 oz) all-purpose or bread flour, plus more for dusting

¼ tsp instant yeast

1 ¼ tsp salt

Step 1, Day 1: 

If you own a kitchen scale, weigh the flour first (I highly suggest this because it is very easy to end up putting too much or too little flour in when using measuring cups). Using a whisk, mix together flour, yeast, and salt in a large bowl. Add 1 5/8 cups water and use a spoon to stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest for 18 hours (or up to 24 hours) at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

Step 2, Day 2: 

Dough is ready when you see bubbles on its surface. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Try not to overwork the dough in this step. It can be really sticky and difficult to handle depending on the weather and flour measurements. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let rest about 15 minutes.

Step 3:

Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface, use your fingers and/or a pastry/dough scraper or rubber spatula to gently and quickly form dough into a ball. You can do this by folding each side of the dough into its center. Then flour a kitchen towel with flour or cornmeal and put gather sphere of dough at tip and flip over onto towel so that seam side is down. Then dust with a little more flour. (If dough looks more like a flat disk at this point instead of a sphere, it is okay. Don’t worry!) Cover with another kitchen towel and set aside to rise for about two hours. When dough is ready, it will be more than double in size and will not spring back much or at all when poked with a finger.

Step 4:

At least ½ hour before dough is ready (so after about 1 ½ hours of rising), heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 4 qt. heavy covered, oven safe pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex, or ceramic) in oven as it heats including the cover. (If you don’t have a 4 qt. pot, 5 qt. or 3 qt. should also work; I used a 5 qt. pot). When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side now up. Shake pot once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Dough may not stay in a sphere at this point either and look very messy, but when it bakes, it will rise beautifully!

Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 10-30 minutes (depending on how quickly your oven bakes) until loaf is browned. If you have a kitchen thermometer, the bread should register 205-210 degrees. Remove from pot and cool on a rack.

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Adapted from Jim Lahley’s No-Knead Bread