The Hungover Gourmet


Restaurant Rants...and Raves

Sorry. That's about all I can say for missing last week and offering up this week's column so damn late.

Unfortunately, business comes before pleasure -- even here at THG, so we had to make a couple quick bucks. Hell, how else'm I gonna pay for all those damn cookbooks and gadgets?!

In fact, business has been sooooo good of late that yours truly didn't even have time to come up with a topic for this week's column. Solution? Here's a quick roundup of some restaurants and eateries we've been visiting since our relocation. There's a rant, a rave, and one or two places that make the grade for regular visits.

Oh yeah, and there's a great, quick & easy Cream of Zucchini Soup recipe at the end. Enjoy!

Meil's, Stockton, NJ -- this place was recommended by C14 editor Larry Kay, and we'll have to be careful about his picks and pans from now on! We stopped for a quick bite after a day of flea marketing, only to discover that the menu wasn't for those lean of pocketbook (or wallet). Sorry gang, most items on the menu had high-falootin' names (Marinated Flank Steak Sandwich) and prices to match ($10!). Whatever happened to a good ol' fashioned Turkey Club? No such luck here, as the surly wait staff served us our mediocre Cream of Potato Soup ($4 a bowl), a small, unimaginative Spinach Salad ($7), and a Barbecued Beef platter ($10). The platter seemed like the best deal in the house, since it came with two pieces of crumbly cornbread, and dollops of potato salad and cucumber salad. The beef, cooked till falling off the bone, was actually pretty good, but undeserving of the high price. Oh yeah, and they conveniently don't take credit cards. Thank the stars Mrs. Nirtrate was Mrs. Moneybags that day.

Tokyo D Sushi, Doylestown -- I'm not a huge sushi fan, but when vegetarian friends arrived for dinner, we decided this would be a good middle ground. Despite its lame strip mall exterior, the inside of Tokyo D is a relaxed atmosphere with the traditional Japanese decorations. Though I'm still not sure why our waitresses kimono was tied with a red velvet Christmas ribbon in the middle of summer. Lucky our veggie friends came along, since the menu is dividied up into about six different sections, none of which meant anything to me. Throwing caution -- and a previous bout with hepatitis brought on by undercooked fish -- to the wind, I chowed down on eel, tuna, squid, and a bunch of other stuff that didn't necessarily feel right when it hit my tongue. Not what I'd ingest on a daily basis, but a fun, hands-on departure from the normal fare. We ate a pretty good amount and plunked down $100 for four people. I don't know if that's comparable or not, but our companions insisted that the quality at Tokyo D was up there.

The Hoagie Works, Doylestown -- one of the things I missed most about Philly was a good old fashioned hoagie. Yeah, cheesesteaks are great, but I can't eat them with any regularity. Years off that diet has thrown my digestive system into an uproar, and I can't pound the beef flesh like I used to. Hoagies, however, are a different story. The Pittsburgh hoagie wasn't nearly the same, and featured warm lunchmeats on a toasted roll. BLASPHEMY!! I longed for the soft, moist, juice-soaked Philly-style rolls oozzing with meats, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, peppers, yum! I just pounded down a 10" roast beef hoagie from The Hoagie Works, and it was a thing of beauty. In fact, nothing has defined this summer better than hoagies at the drive-in. This is the way God intended us to eat lunchmeat.

The Cross Keys Diner, Doylestown -- Not that this area needed another diner, but you could definitely do worse. Located off of D'town's main drag, The CKD probably gets missed by folks traveling through town. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing since the dining area can't accomodate too many folks. Those that do get to eat there can expect hearty, homemade foods, especially some good soups. We had a creamy, but not tooo creamy, Cream of Broccoli the day we were there, and though the sandwiches that accompanied it weren't anything spectacular (my Turkey and Swiss was a bit dry while Mrs. Nitrate's toast wasn't and her Egg Salad runneth over), it was good, fill the pit of your stomach diner goodness. I bet they do a killer breakfast. Highlight of the meal: the little girl that broke into tears at the next table!

Chambers, Doylestown -- Doylestown, as you can see from this mini list, is nothing if not a gourmand's delight. There's all manner of food about town, from Chinese and Japanese to Italian and American. (No Indian though!?) But sometimes, when the mood strikes for a casual, slightly upscale without being too pricey afternoon lunch, Chambers is our place. Mrs. Nitrate delights in their Fried Camembert with Pistachio Crust and some sort of chunky fruit jelly as her decadent dish of choice. Me? I'm constantly trying new things and haven't been disappointed yet. Unfortunately, I can't say any of the dishes are that outrageous or memorable since I can't think of one thing that I've had there. Hmmm...

Quick & Easy Cream of Zucchini Soup

Also great cool...

Four medium zucchini, sliced thin
One medium yellow onion, peeled and sliced thin
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup light cream
1/8 tsp. ground coriander
Salt and pepper to taste

In a medium soup pot bring chicken broth to a boil over medium heat. Add salt and pepper, zucchini and onion. Boil for about ten minutes until zucchini and onion are tender. Turn down heat and puree zucchini and onions to desired texture. (This can be done in a blender or in the pot with hand held blender.) Stir in cream and coriander and ladle into soup bowls.

Serves 6.

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