Disappointment Rescued by a Good Plan B (Eating During My Week Off)

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phlmaestro
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2018/12/11 15:04:57 (permalink)

Disappointment Rescued by a Good Plan B (Eating During My Week Off)

I regularly spend time poking around online looking for places of interest to eat either in my region or for future travels. That's how I came across a place that looked like it had great potential in Carney's Point (or Penn's Grove … depends on what map you look at), New Jersey, which is a town in what I would describe as an awkward location that not many Philadelphians would have reason to visit unless they know someone there. It's right across the Delaware River from Wilmington, Delaware. 
 
The place is called Lapp's Olympia Dairy Bar ( www.lappsdairybar.com ). I made plans to go there with three retired former colleagues for lunch. But in spite of both their web site and Facebook page indicating they were open, when we got there, they were closed. And there was nothing on the door or window to indicate they should be closed. (I later got a hold of someone via email and they told me the place is closed for the season until March. They THEN put up a note on their Facebook page announcing that. I probably should have called, but they also should have let people know the situation online in this day and age …. Regardless, I intend to get back there this spring and do a report and possibly a review if the food is as good as it looks online)
 
It wasn't the longest drive in the world, but the place isn't right around the corner from me either, so I wasn't thrilled. But I was extremely hungry and knew that we were about a 15-minute drive from the Charcoal Pit in Wilmington, Delaware. https://roadfood.com/restaurants/charcoal-pit/
 


I've eaten at the Charcoal Pit a few times, but I would estimate not for about a decade before yesterday. The only thing that has changed is that they've expanded their menu a bit. I guess they figured that with many families now days having members that won't eat red meat and ice cream, they had better add some other options. They also had specials posted at each booth, including a half-pound bison bacon-cheeseburger.
 
But my friends and I were out for beef burgers, and that's what we all had. Here is my quarter-pounder before application of catsup and mustard:

Here is the half-pounder that one of my friends ordered:

The roll is different for the bigger burger. I've tried both in earlier visits and decided I liked the quarter-pounder's overall package more than the half-pounder. I also was the only one of the four of us to order a malt, and it was a big one (and good); a black & white:
 

I didn't bother getting a glass in which to pour it because we were very cramped for space. I believe the Charcoal Pit opened in the 50s and I guess people were smaller back then. Each side of the booth was big enough to sit 1.5 people comfortably. The counter would have been an alternative, but we stuck with the booth.
 
We shared both onion rings and fries. I just mentioned on the onion rings thread that those were fantastic. The fries were bland. I'd just go with the onion rings next time.



We stayed and talked for a fairly long time after we finished our meal. Eventually, one of my friends became hungry again and ordered a small hot fudge sundae.

He was just going to get plain ice cream, but I mentioned remembering how good the fudge is there, and that was all he needed.
 
I'm off this week, and while I'm not doing any travelling, I have one or two more meals of interest planned and will add reports on them here. Thursday will be another burger day. P.J. Clarke's of NYC fame has opened a location in downtown Philly. At one time I may not have been interested in trying an outlet of an NYC restaurant in another town, but after being blown away by Grimaldi's Pizza in Denver a few years ago, I'm open to it. And I've wanted to try a P.J. Clarke's burger for a while since first reading about it in Hamburger America. I'll be taking my father there for lunch.
 
 
 
post edited by phlmaestro - 2018/12/11 15:25:38
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    Root-Beer Man
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    Re: Disappointment Rescued by a Good Plan B (Eating During My Week Off) 2018/12/11 16:18:49 (permalink)
    Nice! I think I'd have to go with the 1/2 pounder, even thought the bun looks outsized. Those rings look great, though! And that malted looks like the topper for the whole thing! Good report!
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    ScreamingChicken
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    Re: Disappointment Rescued by a Good Plan B (Eating During My Week Off) 2018/12/11 18:37:59 (permalink)
    The onion rings look really crunchy, and is that American cheese on the burgers?  It looks better than the plastic-wrapped individual slices, and resembles cheddar to a degree.
    post edited by ScreamingChicken - 2018/12/11 18:39:28
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    phlmaestro
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    Re: Disappointment Rescued by a Good Plan B (Eating During My Week Off) 2018/12/11 20:36:38 (permalink)
    I'm pretty sure it was American Cheese.
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    Root-Beer Man
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    Re: Disappointment Rescued by a Good Plan B (Eating During My Week Off) 2018/12/11 22:13:05 (permalink)
    ScreamingChicken
    The onion rings look really crunchy, and is that American cheese on the burgers?  It looks better than the plastic-wrapped individual slices, and resembles cheddar to a degree.


    They may have sliced their own American Cheese off a block. That definitely looks a bit thicker than your usual store bought slice.
    #5
    phlmaestro
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    Re: Disappointment Rescued by a Good Plan B (Eating During My Week Off) 2018/12/13 16:51:17 (permalink)
    I made it to the new Philadelphia branch of NYC's P.J. Clarke's for lunch today. There wasn't a lot of thinking involved when it came to ordering. I've been thinking about trying their burger since it opened a month or two ago.
     
    As you can see on the menu, it's not cheap as far as hamburgers go. But it's a nice place in a high rent district of a big city, so the price isn't really surprising.
     
    I've discussed my preference for smashed, thin patties, like you tend to see more in the Midwest, over thicker, pub-style burgers. But P.J. Clarke's is one of the places that made the pub-burger popular and I had high expectations.  I wasn't disappointed.
     
    Both my father and I ordered the basic burger with cheddar cheese. It came with very good, thin-cut fries (the way I like them).  My perfect degree of doneness for a thick burger is somewhere between medium-rare and medium. I ordered it medium-rare, but it came closer to my ideal of just on the medium side of medium-rare. I was very happy with that. As soon as I took the first bite, I knew this was a great burger. The flavor and juiciness of that first bite made it a great eating moment for me. I imagine I'll be back there.
     




    I took off the tomato and added the onions and pickles on the plate, and also liked that they serve the burger on a larger version of the traditional white, squishy hamburger bun instead of what has become the more commonplace brioche roll for pub burgers.
     
    Between this and my experience at Grimaldi's in Denver, I'm now feeling very open to trying restaurants from New York or other cities that branch out. It's hard for me to imagine either the burger at the original P.J. Clarke's or the pizza at the original Grimaldi's being any better than what I ate in Denver and Philadelphia.
    post edited by phlmaestro - 2018/12/13 16:54:52
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    Root-Beer Man
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    Re: Disappointment Rescued by a Good Plan B (Eating During My Week Off) 2018/12/13 17:00:57 (permalink)
    Now that is a burger I could get behind! That's just the way I like them! Glad you enjoyed it, too!
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    ScreamingChicken
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    Re: Disappointment Rescued by a Good Plan B (Eating During My Week Off) 2018/12/13 20:28:11 (permalink)
    Nice burger, Maestro!  Although I would definitely prefer dill to bread-and-butter pickles.
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    phlmaestro
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    Re: Disappointment Rescued by a Good Plan B (Eating During My Week Off) 2018/12/13 20:36:00 (permalink)
    I agree on the pickles. I am not nuts about bread & butter, but the flavor of them was masked somewhat by the onions and burger itself. 
    #9
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