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BCP Report Card #14 – Johnny Brenda’s

August 23rd, 2010 · Burger Club, Fishtown, Johnny Brenda's, Report Card, burger


Johnny Brenda’s
1201 Frankford Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19125
(215) 739-9684

New BCP rating system:

Let’s get right to business! First, I would like to introduce you to  the new official report card of the BCP. I must give major thanks to E for putting this together. She is so much smarter than I! If you would like to read up on how the new scoring system works please see here.

New BCP report card

I already like this scoring system much better. It’s more focused. It’s all about the burger. With the previous system it seemed that some restaurants got a better score because people considered other dishes besides the burger in their scoring of their experience. This should no longer be a problem. BCPers can still include some of their overall impressions but they won’t be as lengthy as they used to be. I will continue sharing them with you.

Cheeseburger and fries - Johnny Brenda's

My summary:

Man I was just patting myself on the back about how great my pictures had been turning out and then I took these. Sorry JB’s, your burger looked so much better than this. So we visited Johnny Brenda’s last month for Burger Club. I was a little nervous. Their burger has been one of my favorites in the city and I was a little afraid to share it with my burger eating buddies. Fortunately, the burger held up to it’s expectations. Most of the top scores for this burger came in the appearance and taste categories.

They switched up this burger since the last time I had it. As you can see in this post, they used a heartier sesame seeded bun. It remains one of my favorites. They are now using Martin’s potato bun, well at least sometimes. Later in the evening I saw some burgers served with the old bun. I’m pleased either way. The potato bun makes this less of a gastropub style burger and into a much simpler burger. I believe they also changed the onions they put on the burger. It wasn’t a whole red onion slice with grill marks instead they seemed to be sauteed and chopped into smaller pieces. I still enjoyed them very much. I don’t think anyone in BCP would have recognized any of this but I’ve spent a lot of time with this burger so these are my own observations. I enjoyed the changes. The patty was just as flavorful and juicy as I remembered it. It’s still a damn tasty burger. Oh and they served a malt vinegar aioli with the fries and it was AMAZING! I never want to eat fries with anything else ever again. EVER!

Hits and misses:

I don’t think I’m going to do the top hits and gripes for the report cards anymore. If you really liked them and will miss seeing them, let me know. This is all a work in progress. Instead I will try to summarize some of the hits and misses of this burger from the BCP report cards. As I stated above, most of BCP primarily enjoyed the taste and appearance of this burger. Folks commented on how juicy the burger was and found the patty to be well seasoned. They also enjoyed the potato bun. BCPers who got bacon on their burgers were very happy. I definitely need to do that next time I visit this burger. Some members who ordered their burger  medium-rare found it to be cooked closer to medium. I think the burger suffered in the creativity portion of the rating system because people were expecting a more gastropub style burger. This is a tough category for more simplistic burgers because simplicity can often be mistaken as boring. That’s just my own take on it, you all know I’m a simple burger kind of gal. I was surprised to see low ratings for value/affordability. I believe the burger is priced  at $9.50, which I find reasonable for a burger and fries but if folks found this burger to too simple and basic then they might also feel this is a couple of dollars too much.

BCP table 1

Do you see what is on the plate in the picture above? WHOOOPPPPIIIIIEEEE PIES! Not just any whoopie pie but Baker E whoopie pies. She was kind enough to send over my favorite dessert to celebrate my birthday. Everyone in Burger Club enjoyed them. Before I forget, it must be noted that that staff at JB’s are the best!  Seriously, our servers were super great. Also a big thanks to the kitchen staff at JB’s. To get out 17 burgers as quickly as they did and in the tiny space they are dealing with, they are heroes to me.

BCP table 2

It’s funny how as I write these that I am reminded of how awesome Burger Club is. I’m not patting myself on the back, it really isn’t me. It’s the members of Burger Club who make it so great. So give yourselves a round of applause, you rock! Remember anyone can join Burger Club, just follow along with this blog or join our Facebook group and come to a meating!  It’s that easy.  While you are Facebookin’ it up, please stop by the FWTS Facebook page and give a it a like. Yes I totally need social networking sites to validate me.

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PYT BOTW – Korean BBQ short rib burger

August 15th, 2010 · BOTW, NoLibs, PYT, burger

Korean short rib burger - PYT

This was one hell of a burger. Bursting with so many different flavors and yet I still enjoyed the juicy beefiness of this burger. It would be easy enough for this burger to be overwhelmed by the spicy Asian inspired mayo or the kimchi topping the burger but it was not. The patty was the star of this burger. Tommy Up and Co. should be very proud of themselves. I want all of my burgers to be made with short ribs. The kimchi added great texture to the burger. I loved it so much, I could have used an extra side of it. The spicy mayo had a good dose of heat which I enjoyed. Also great for dipping the fries in.

Good bun = good burger

Using Martin’s Big Marty’s bun was a stroke of genius. This is one of my favorite store bought burger buns. This is already a pretty big burger with a lot of different components so the bun needed to be substantial enough to hold together the juicy burger but not add to the heft of it. Big Marty’s did the trick.

Mmm fries

There is no gimmick to this burger. It’s inventive and perfectly executed (how Top Chef of me). The only bad news about this burger is that it’s  available for a limited time only. I think you’ve got the rest of Sunday to get over there and check it out! I strongly suggest you do.

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Neil Hamburger and the hamburger bed (by Heather Leah…

August 13th, 2010 · Neil Hamburger, burgasm, burger, comedy, hamburger bed

Neil Hamburger and the hamburger bed (by Heather Leah Kennedy)

The existence of this picture means I can die happy. So much Hamburger.

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Current obsession: Frangelli’s

August 13th, 2010 · Frangelli's, Watch me eat, burgerbaroness, donut, favorites, south philly, video

Let’s start this good and angry. Where the hell were you people who knew about Frangelli’s when I complained about the lack of good donuts in Philly? Were you keeping it all to yourselves? Huh? WERE YOU? WHY WOULD YOU BE SO MEAN? Well your secret is no longer safe because someone tooted about these once and it stuck in my head. THAT’S WHAT DONUTS DO TO ME, THEY STICK IN MY HEAD. So be warned when you discuss, via social networks,  your favorite donut spot. I WILL TRACK IT DOWN, EAT THEM, OBSESS OVER THEM AND THEN WRITE ABOUT THEM.


Now to a happier place, Frangelli’s! Look at this cute sign! I was immediately smitten when E and I pulled up here on the morning of my 32nd birthday. She is a great friend, have I mentioned that recently?. After we enjoyed my birthday breakfast, I mentioned remembering a donut place, being tooted on Twitter, in South Philly but I couldn’t remember from who or the name of said donut place. So I put it out to Twitter asking where this place was and the wonderful and kind Polianarchy led me to the promised land of glazed and jelly donuts. The rest, as they say, is history.

Frangelli’s is more than just donuts. They’ve got cakes, pies, cookies, cupcakes on top of all the delicious donuts. Whatever you’re sweet tooth desires, I am pretty certain that Frangelli’s will have something for you.




But it is the donut that I am obsessed with and more specifically, the glazed donut. I love a simple glazed donut. It is a part of my childhood, having grown up in Southern California where I believe the best donuts live. This might just have to do with the fact that they are the first kind of donut I had and I believe that many of your earliest food memories inform what kinds of food you enjoy later in life. Blah blah blah, where is this going? DONUTS! So the donuts of my youth were light and airy with a little bit of chewiness to it. I did not find the donuts of my youth at Frangelli’s but I still loved them nonetheless. Frangelli’s is straight up South Philly and I enjoyed every part of it. The glazed donut is less cakey than most of the donuts I have had in Philly, like for instance the ones you will find at Reading Terminal. I obviously prefer them this way.  It also has the chewiness I enjoy in a donut.  I loved this donut. It’s my favorite glazed donut in the city. I couldn’t even wait to get into the car once I got one in my grubby little hands. I ate it right on the street.

Donutgasm from a glazed donut at Frangelli's

I really can’t explain what happens to me when I eat something amazing. All I can say is that it involves a little dance, moaning and a lot of cursing. So if you found yourself near 9th and Ritner, on the morning of July 14th, I am sorry for all the commotion.


I was surprised by how much I enjoyed their jelly donut as well. I can confidently say that this is the best jelly donut in the city. Why is that? BECAUSE THEY USE THE BEST JELLY EVER, BLACK RASPBERRRRRYYYY! It is such an upgrade from the neon red jelly that fills the majority of the city’s jelly donuts. I would gladly never eat any of those again now that I have gotten a taste of what awesome jelly can do. They also generously fill the donuts so you don’t have to worry that you’ll get a bite of donut without it.


I am terrible to my friends. Here is E, who kindly took me to Frangelli’s and then I do this to her. I did get her permission to post this but still. I’m the worst. She is pretty adorable eating this chocolate eclair style donut.


UPDATE: I should mention that I believe Frangelli’s is going to be closed for a couple of weeks, starting this weekend. Sorry!

Bonus round: watch me eat something awesome

E and I recently made another trip to Frangelli’s and purchased something besides a donut. I thought it would be funny to make a video* of myself eating it. I wasn’t even drunk when I did it.  WARNING GRATUITOUS VIDEO OF ME EATING SOMETHING RIDICULOUS. I might even talk with my mouth full. You have been warned. This could be an ongoing series if you all aren’t totally disgusted by it.

*So clearly my video making skills are DIY at best. If you are a person with ok to great video making skills and interested in making fun and silly food videos get at me via the email machine.

Frangelli’s Bakery
847 West Ritner Street
Philadelphia, PA 19148-3747
(215) 271-7878

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A cavalcade of sandwiches at Johnny Brenda’s

August 10th, 2010 · Fishtown, Johnny Brenda's, sammich

Ok maybe not quite a cavalcade but here are a couple of delicious sandwiches I ate recently. Sometimes this lady wants a sandwich that isn’t a burger. Just sometimes. When that happens I often find myself at my most favorite bar, Johnny Brenda’s. The menu changes at JB’s pretty regularly so both of these sandwiches may or may not be on the menu. It’s a fun surprise!  I believe they are on current rotation.  Keep your eyes out for them.

Fried fish sandwich

Fried fish sandwich - Johnny Brenda's

Breaded and fried catfish topped with guacamole, a spicy harissa mayo, cilantro and pickled carrots on a sesame seed roll. Nice substantial sandwich that doesn’t feel heavy. Perfect for the summer. There is an enjoyable level of spiciness to the sandwich which is then cooled down with the pickled carrots and avocado. Also the bun might look familiar because it can be found on JB’s burger and it is one of my favorite sandwich buns.

Bologna sandwich

bologna sandwich - Johnny Brenda's

Bologna and Lebanon bologna are grilled and served with melted Swiss cheese, red onion, lettuce and tomato. This was actually ordered by a friend but I ended up eating a very significant portion of it. I really enjoyed this sandwich. I never had Lebanon bologna before but I am a fan now. It’s the bologna that looks a bit like salami. It’s a little heartier for a summer sandwich but won’t weight you down . I also enjoyed the bun on this sandwich, more substantial than the seeded bun and less squishy but didn’t overwhelm it.

Both sandwiches come served with JB’s fries, which are wonderful. Now go out there and eat a sandwich!

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Bacon Burger from Arctic Roadrunner – Anchorage, Alaska

July 31st, 2010 · burgasm, burger

Arctic Roadrunner Submitted by foodaphilia

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To do this weekend: Cooking Channel’s Ice Cream Truck in AC

July 30th, 2010 · Atlantic City, Cooking Channel, NJ, To do, ice cream

Did you miss the Cooking Channel’s ice cream truck visit to Philly this week? Did it make you sad? Do you wish there was another chance to eat some free  ice cream and meet some of the Cooking Channel’s on-air talent? If you answered yes to any or all of those questions then I’ve got good news for you. They will be in Atlantic City all weekend coinciding with the Atlantic City Food & Wine Festival.

They will be serving up Springer’s Homemade Ice Cream with flavors such as: Fresh Peach, Cookie Munster Bananas Foster, and Lucy’s Limeade Sorbet.

While free ice cream is enough for most people to enjoy, the added bonus is that you get to meet the hosts of some of the Cooking Channels new shows.

Here is the schedule for this weekend:

Saturday, July 31
11am-1pm: Ching-He Huang of Chinese Food Made Easy
1-3pm: Darryl Robinson of Drink Up
4-6pm: Roger Mooking of Everyday Exotic

Sunday, August 1
12-2pm: Roger Mooking
2-4pm: Darryl Robinson

I’ll be around on Sunday. I get to interview Roger and Darryl while I’m there. Oh and check it, Megabus is now going to Atlantic City so it’s even easier to get there if you are as vehicularly challenged as I am. Meaning you don’t have a car.

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Burger love at Grace Tavern

July 30th, 2010 · Grace Tavern, burger, green beans, sides of note

I often find myself talking to people about burgers. Shocker! I swear that I don’t always start the conversation but it’s hard not to talk about them when I just casually mention that I run a burger club. You know totes cas. I always like to ask where they get their favorite burger in the city.  About half the time the response is Grace Tavern. I’m not exaggerating.

Kellys burger - Grace Tavern

Kellys burger, bacon and sharp cheddar

It took me far too long to visit Grace Tavern. When I first tasted their burger I was wowed. Like moan worthy wow. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. BUT I had the burger after a few hours of drinking in the park and I never trust that. So I went back. I was worried. This burger had been stuck in my head. I remembered what an amazing char it had and how juicy it was. Was it all a dream? Did my intoxicated mind make it all up? NO! It is true, this burger is great.

Kennett Square burger  - Grace Tavern

Kennett Square burger, sautéed mushrooms and sharp cheddar

So what makes this burger so great? CHARRRRRR!  Simply put, Grace Tavern knows how to char stuff. Their patty has a crisp, beautiful char around it. I can’t even say that I was a fan of a well charred burger before this but I can confidently say that I am now. The burger also came perfectly medium rare, as ordered. The Le Bus brioche bun is great for this burger. It allows you to squish the burger in your hands and shove it in your face (preferred burger eating style) while keeping this very juicy burger intact. No slippage.

So far I have tried the Kellys burger, which comes topped with bacon and sharp cheddar cheese and the Kennett Square burger, which is topped with cheddar and sautéed mushrooms. Cheddar cheese is not my favorite cheese for burgers but it totally works here. The cheese always comes nicely melted over the patty and the toppings. The burgers also come with frites and bourbon mayo, which you might be familiar with if you’ve ever been to Monk’s. While these are some of the best burger accompaniments in the city, there is only one thing that can distract me from them as a preferred burger side…


Holy green bean gods, these things are amazing. Best bar snack ever? Yes. I could eat mountains of these. They are a true example of how just a little goes a long way. Just a slight char and a dusting of Cajun seasonings and you have these incredibly satisfying green beans. Then they offer you a remoulade sauce which is equally good and satiates your need for dipping.

Blackened green beans - Grace Tavern

There isn’t any reason not to love Grace Tavern.  I’m a convert. They also have a great beer selection. I dig the approachability of this place. I was worried I would step into this neighborhood bar and get the cold shoulder but I’ve always gotten friendly service.

Grace Tavern
2229 Grays Ferry Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19146-1134
(215) 893-9580

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BCP Report Card #13 – Ladder 15

July 29th, 2010 · Burger Club, Center City, Korean tacos, Ladder 15, Report Card, burger, fries


Ladder 15
1528 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102-2804
(215) 964-9755


This is like Burger Club: The Lost Meating. I apologize for the terrible delay with the last of these. I believe this will be the last time I have to apologize for this though. I’m excited to announce that there will be a new reporting system. It should allow me to get these report cards posted more quickly. Here’s to a speedier burger reporting delivery system!



  1. Fries (shout out to truffle mayo as well)
  2. Excellent service
  3. Appetizers: especially Korean tacos and goat cheese cigars
  4. Tied: Burger bun/Cocktails
  5. Beer list


  1. Tied: Burger was dry and underseasoned


This was a highly anticipated Burger Club meating. When it was announced that Chef David Ansill would take over the kitchen AND that he was planning on serving a bone marrow burger topped with short rib, I knew this was a place for meat loving Burger Club members. I will admit I have a deep fascination/love for meat on meat combos. That doesn’t quite sound right but you know what I’m getting at, right? Ugh that somehow made it even worse I think. Moving on.

I wish I had gotten a picture of the space at Ladder 15. It is a great space; modern, warm and open.The staff were super friendly and kind enough to reserve some space in the back of the first floor. Sorry for the iPhone quality picture but it was great to see all of us sitting together in burger loving harmony.

Burger Club at Ladder 15

We started off on the right foot, or should I say the best kind of foot ever in all the world, with Ansill’s famous Korean tacos. Having had the original, I will say that these are an excellent interpretation. During happy hour this tasty delight is only $4.

Korean taco from Ladder 15

Braised short rib Korean taco

Here is a true meat lovers burger. It’s a prime sirloin patty, topped with braised short rib, red wine mushrooms and grilled red onions. Served alongside it was bone marrow and truffle sauce. It had all the makings of an exceptional burger. Unfortunately, a number of burger club folks found their burgers to be underseasoned and dry. Even my patty, which came out nice and pink just as I had ordered it, didn’t have a lot of juiciness that I enjoy in a burger. I would have loved to have  seen some burger juices seeping into my bun. I will say that with all the rich burger toppings the burger did not feel heavy. The high quality of ingredients was evident. I just didn’t get as much flavor from the different components of the burger as I would have liked. It seems a lot of BCP agreed. As one member noted, “Lots of rich ingredients but not a ton of flavor.”

Burger 15 at Ladder 15

Burger 15

As you can see below I had some trouble keeping my burger intact. The short ribs were very tender but made it difficult to keep the burger together.

Burger 15 innards

Burger 15 innards

There is also a basic burger available on the menu, with your choice of cheese.

Classic Burger

Classic burger

The fries were a big hit with the group. They were the perfect combination of crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. The truffle fries were especially good. Just enough truffle flavor to enjoy but not overwhelm the fries.


Truffle fries with truffle mayo

Overall we all had a great time at Ladder 15. High marks for the great beer list, fantastic service, excellent appetizers and fries. Big thanks to the folks at Ladder 15 for being so great to us and for the wonderful service we received.

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Pat La Frieda Meats now delivering to Philly and South Jersey

July 27th, 2010 · Pat La Frieda, burger

I got a comment from tmacc with the following question:

i heard lafrieda meats, where the Shake Shack gets there burgers, is coming to Philadelphia now..any truth?

At the time I didn’t have an answer but now I do! I awoke this morning to a wonderful email from the fine folks at Pat La Frieda letting me know that they are now delivering to Philly and South Jersey. It’s no secret that I am a fan of Shake Shack which uses Pat. It is one of the most flavorful and juiciest burgers around and much of that has to do with the meat.

Thanks to Twitter, the wonderful Ashley Primis just informed me that both Continentals are now using Pat for their burgers. You don’t need to be psychic to know that many Philly restaurants will be doing the same very soon.

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