Eater's Digest: Philadelphia

What began as an excursion down to Philly to try Drew's sandwich ballooned into an all-day food crawl, and the latest episode in the "Jon dines out with someone he just met in person for the first time" series.

Blind Ates with Jon Yu. No, Meet and Eat with Jon Yu. Filling Accomplices?

S02E13: Jon and Dan [and Danielle] eat at A-Frame in Culver City (November 2011)
Dan: I haven't listened to Thrice since The Artist in the Ambulance.

S03E01: Jon and Mike eat at Slows Bar BQ in Detroit (October 2012)
Mike: I love anything pumpkin.

S03E02: Jon and Ryan eat at Mission Chinese Food in San Francisco (November 2012)
Ryan: I'm almost positive that homeless man shit himself in the pupusería.

S03E03: Jon and Drew eat at American Sardine Bar, Stateside, Ela, Southwark, and Sbraga in Philadelphia (January 2013)
Jon: [to himself] Did this dude just casually use the word "diaspora"?

S03E04: Paging Jon Tayler! Jon and Matt eat at Primanti Bros.?

I digress.


Hot Fresh Donuts (Federal Donuts)
turkish mocha / strawberry lavender / cinnamon brown sugar

Hot fresh donuts are fried to order.

I ordered a Turkish mocha one and received and what looked and tasted like a cinnamon brown sugar donut.

"Did she mishear 'Turkish mocha' as 'cinnamon brown sugar'?" I wondered. "Oh well."

[I'm not a finicky eater. I recently received lamb chops that were undercooked, and finished them anyway.]

Fried Chicken (Federal Donuts)
dry shabazzi seasoning / served with japanese cucumber pickles and a honey donut

When I returned at lunch time to try FedNuts' fried chicken, I was offered samples of all three hot fresh donuts, and they all looked and largely tasted like cinnamon brown sugar donuts.

"Alllllrighty then."

Grilled Cheese Bread Pudding (Valley Shepherd Creamery)
somerset cheese, cream cheese, brioche, bacon, oil-cured tomatoes, roasted garlic, halteman eggs, arugula / served with ketchup-flavoured potato chips

It tasted like pizza. [shrugs]

Pumpple Cake (Flying Monkey Bakery)
apple pie baked inside vanilla cake, pumpkin pie baked inside chocolate cake, buttercream

The "turducken of desserts." I would replace the pumpkin pie with a pecan pie. As is, I would rather eat the summer version – blueberry pie baked inside vanilla cake, and cherry pie baked inside chocolate cake:

The Philly Surf and Turf (Hot Diggity)
bacalao fishcake wrapped hot dog covered in amish pepper hash and topped with spicy brown mustard

Tasty concoction. I wish the hot dog was plumper, but understand that it had to fit inside a fishcake and then a bun.

Spicy PB&J Soda (Hot Diggity)

Oof. It looked like refreshing berry soda, and tasted like butt. Good job, good effort.


I enter. The four people inside pause and stare at me.

"Uhhh… Are you open?"

I sit down at the bar.

"Just you?"
"No. I'm meeting someone."

An Asian bloke enters.

"Hey du—" Ohhh that's not him. [pause] All look same, heh.

Major Lazor's "Dad['s] Sandwich" (American Sardine Bar)
a grilled cheese on texas toast with slices of turkey and pork roll, cheddar, dijonaise, jalapeños, and a crunchy layer of barbecue chips tucked in between

The main event, and, as merely the January sandwich in a "guest-created sandwich of the month" series, once in a lifetime. Never before, never again.

It was reportedly inspired by Drew's dad. His dad is…Doritos X-13D? I got nothing.

March submission:
Charlie Kelly's Grilled Charlie Sandwich
peanut butter outside, chocolate inside, butter inside, cheese outside

November submission:
Jon Yu's Pilgrim and Indian Sandwich
dutch crunch roll, turkey, cranberry chutney, havarti cheese, masala stuffing

Chef's Board (Stateside)
beef cheek croquette, mushroom aioli / lamb shoulder terrine, almond mint pesto / winnemere cheese, smoked honey

A croquette? Lamb? Mint pesto? It's like the executive chef knew I was visiting when crafting that day's charcuterie plate.

A sous chef then shared a work in progress:

"Pork Buns" (Stateside)
brown butter cake, kochujang pork, watermelon radish


Diver Scallop "Noodles" (Ela)
bolognese sauce, smoked pecorino

Gnocchi (Ela)
crispy potato skin, cheddar, chive

Whipped Foie Gras (Ela)
cranberry muffin, dolce de leche, radish

Chicken Dumpling "Bahn Cam" (Ela)
herbs, roasted red pepper

Never mind that its drinks are named after Brand New songs, 20 days later, I am still thinking about my tasting meal at Ela. All the dishes that I tried hit my sweet spot at the intersection of interesting and delicious. (Spicy PB&J soda? Interesting, but not delicious.)

I would travel to Philadelphia just to eat at this place again. In fact, after seeing its desserts, I must:

left: cookie dough, right: whipped butterscotch

Hemingway Daquiri (Southwark)
rum, maraschino liquor, lime, grapefruit

Steamed Clams (Southwark)
dry vermouth, shallots, tomato, chili sauce

A cocktail and clams – I felt so adult. The drink was practically dry, just as Hemingway liked it.

Pork Belly (Sbraga)
chili oil, sea lettuce, cucumber

First off, I support any restaurant that serves popovers in lieu of bread. (see also: Wayfare Tavern)

Secondly, I have never had pork belly this way, as thin strips – deli belly.

Octopus (Sbraga)
piri piri, green beans, tapenade

So this octopus – delicious, but not interesting. I was stunned by how tender it was. I am used to, and am perfectly content, eating chewy octopus – mom's cooking.

Gravlox (Sbraga)
capers, shallot, pea leaves

Charred Eggplant (Sbraga)
kim chee, beans, apple

Black Truffle Risotto (Sbraga)
carrots, pea tendrils

Sirloin (Sbraga)
milk, honey, jelly beans

Praline Napoleon (Sbraga)
coffee ice cream

Banana Split (Sbraga)
strawberry, pineapple sorbet

Sbraga Punch (Sbraga)
absolut mandarin, amaretto, fresh orange, pineapple

Prichard's Double Chocolate Bourbon (Sbraga)

Clear ice, full stomachs, can't lose. I actually had room in my tummy to crawl on, but the last train home beckoned.


I should try to poop before meeting Drew, clear out some space. You can do anything you set your mind to, Jon.

The nearest hotels are in the opposite direction of where I'm headed, though, and I don't want to be late.

Oh there's a hospital.


Aaand there's a security guard at the entrance. Bollocks. Toward Centre City we go…


Aaand you need to a keycard to access this restroom. Fuck.

[sighs] Sod it. I can poop at a restaurant if necessary.

Wait, I think I passed a Starbucks on the walk over.



This is a swanky Starbucks.

If you had, one shot, or one opportunity, to squeeze everything you ever wanted, in one toilet, would your ass emit, or just let you sit?

Hmmph. Fun size.

EXT. 18TH AND PINE – 3:40 PM

Well, you tried, Jon. Every little poop counts.

Hey, where's my iPhone? Shit, did I leave it in the restroom?

You just had to check Tumblr, didn't you? Eeediot!

Previously on Adam Riff™:


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *