Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Perfect Valentine's Day

I've always been a fan of Valentine's Day. Always. Even the first 25 valentine-less Valentine's Days of my life. Yes, that's right, Dave is my first and only official Valentine. I like it that way.

And I also liked my Valentine's Day 2011. I loved it, actually. And I know why. It's because we didn't stress. We didn't search out the perfect restaurant. We didn't try in vain to snag reservations. I wasn't running through the department store hunting down the perfect gift because we weren't exchanging gifts.

We originally planned on cooking dinner. Then I got stuck at work and Dave didn't feel well. So we decided to get carry-out from a local restaurant, Redstone. Here's what you need to know about Redstone if you don't know already. It's delicious. And it's on the pricey end. But hey, it was Valentine's Day and we were treating ourselves.

We decided we'd try and find a seat at the bar, have a glass of wine, and order a delicious something or other to-go. But lucky us, the bar was surprisingly dead (couples prefer tables on V-Day, I know) and so after drink number one we decided to stay and eat there.

We consumed Buffalo Shrimp, Some Other Kind of Shrimp, and an Ahi Tuna appetizer. Oh, and a few glasses of wine. And it was lovely. I'm so glad we didn't plan any of it. There's no way it could've been as nice.

And the gifts we weren't buying? We bought them. Those were pretty lovely too. A FryDaddy for Dave. (Guys love deep frying things. Correction, I love deep frying things). But Dave's gift to me trumps mine to him (as usual): Cooking classes in Philadelphia for the both of us.

I am in love :)

Happy Valentine's Day, Belated. I hope you enjoyed yours, single or taken.


A. Quirky

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Restaurant Review: Tortilla Press

**I'd like to apologize in advance for the complete lack of photos. I didn't plan ahead and take photos last night and Tortilla Press' website doesn't have a single picture of anything we ate. (And I figured it'd be lame to post photos of something I'm not going to talk about!) Then, I almost posted a picture of the chef/owner, because he seems like a nice guy, but then we're really going into irrelevant territory!
Have I ever mentioned how much I looooove food? That I love to eat? That my favorite outings with Dave involve a restaurant? That I only pay attention to my groupon email if it has a deal for food?

If I haven't, I don't know how that slipped until now. I am a "live to eat" person. You know, as opposed to an "eat to live" person. Eating to live? How depressing. While none of this boasts well for my waistline, it most certainly does for my tastebuds.

Now, I'm no foodie, but I do eat out. A lot. Like at least twice a week. So I do feel informed enough to be able to review the places I eat. And so, onward to my first restaurant review...

The Tortilla Press is located in downtown Collingswood, a cute and quirky little town in South Jersey. The Tortilla Press has a lot going for it. It's popular (I'd been many times before, and Dave has a few as well.) It's good for groups (we went with two other couples), it's Mexican fare, and it's BYOB. A BYOB where you bring tequila. My kind of place.

The Tortilla Press has won many local awards. Best Suburban BYOB? Check. Best Mexican Restaurant? Check, check, and check. It's even won awards for "green" dining, and Best Entree from the Peanut Advisory Board. Now, how many places can claim that award? I'm gonna with it being for their Chipotle Peanut Pork.

In the interest of saving us all some time, I'm gonna from paragraph to bullet form to highlight what I loved, liked, and loathed (not really) about Tortilla Press during my most recent visit:

-BYOB. Anytime a restaurant is a byob I get pretty excited. I get to drink, and spend less money? Score! But when I can bring my own tequila and order Tortilla Press' virgin Margarita Mix...that's love.

-Guacamole. I make a pretty damn delicious guacamole. And with only two ingredients. TP's is much more complex, but oh-so-fresh. I could taste the lemon juice you normally add to guac to keep it fresh looking, but it wasn't overwhelming. I definitely ate more of my fair share of it.

-Free Dips. What do I love more than delicious food? Free, delicious food. And you get that the minute you sit down at TP. Warm tortilla chips, plus two salsas, and a bean dip. The bean dip is awesome, but my fave was the mild salsa, which was actually more like a pico de gallo. Yum. Yum. Yum.


-Crab & Avocado Quesadilla. I ordered this for my entree. Confession: I pretty much always order this for my entree. There's 2 reasons for this. One, I reallllly like it. Two, I'm not huge on Mexican side dishes, so it's silly for me two pay $20.00 an entree when I'll really only eat the main dish. This time around my quesadilla was pretty good. The filling was delicious, definitely stuffed with the good stuff (crab meat, cheese, and avocado). A lot of times I feel like restaurants skimp on the more expensive ingredients, so to have the quesadilla as full as it was left me feel like I was getting a good deal for around 9 bucks. While the filling was pretty much perfection, my quesadilla fell short when it came to the tortilla. I like my quesadilla shells crunchy and golden brown. My tortilla last night looked that it was either microwaved, or sat on the flat top for much too short of a time. You can bet I'll give TP another chance to make it up to me though :)

-The Ambiance. Most BYOBs in general are tight little spaces. And I don't think there's a spacious restaurant in downtown Collingswood, but that's fine with me, that's why I like them so much. They're so not commercial. Where I feel like TP fell short last night was the lighting. It was too bright. I like a dim, romantic light. In a place so small, darker lighter affords you more privacy than bright light does. Other than that it's an adorable place. I especially love the artwork by local artists on display, and for sale.

-The "other" entrees. Obviously, I wasn't the only person eating last night. Dave got the Habenero Shrimp, and we both thought the shrimp were delicious. (Side note, I come from a family that always eats off of each other's plates. Especially my mom and I. Dave does not. He learned quickly that when he orders dinner, he is in a sense ordering for both of us). So anyways, I stole a shrimp, and it was pretty dang yummy. The perfect balance of sweet and spicy. Where his dish left something to be desired was the sides. The mashed potatoes were oddly sweet, and dry. And his vegetable medley was pretty much straight up carrots. Carrots at a Mexican place? Weird, right?

The big hit at the table was the fish tacos. Two of the six of us ordered them, and both of the guys really liked them. We also had a chicken burrito and chicken fajitas at our table. My friends didn't say too much about it (and I had no idea I'd be writing this post to ask them), so I figured they liked it well enough. Nothing special enough to talk about I guess.

The Price: I'd say TP is pretty fairly priced. After we split our bill down the middle, it came to $45.00 per couple, tip included. And considering more than half the table, including myself, have waited tables in the past, I'd say we're pretty generous tippers. The fact that I didn't get an entree lowered our price a little bit, but in my opinion Mexican platters, especially those involving seafood, priced at $15-20 makes TP's pricing seem very fair.

Loathed (Not Really):

I say "Not Really" because I didn't loathe anything about TP. Plus, loathe goes a lot better with Love and Like than Didn't Like does. There was one thing I wasn't a huge fan of though...

The Bathrooms. There are 2 bathrooms in TP. One per dining room/area. In the area we were seated in, our bathroom was right by the kitchen and server's station. It was a very high traffic area in general, and with a constant line for a unisex bathroom, it got even more crowded. While I didn't love it, I also feel like it's a little unfair to complain. Going in to such a tiny place, you have to expect the bathroom situation to be exactly as it was.

Overall, I love TP, and will definitely be back. In the summer. When it's warm. And I don't have to climb over a mountain of iced over snow to get into my car. Margaritas are so much more appropriate in 80 degree weather anyways.

I give Tortilla Press a solid QQQQ (4 Qs for Quirky) out of 5.

Definitely check it out. (Like you haven't already)

A. Quirky
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