Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Road Trip: Part II

Downtown Philly's back again.  Drinkin' a little east coast beeeeer.

Thanks to William Shatner's negotiating powers, we were able to score a room at the Embassy Suites Center City at a great rate.  It's an older hotel (our suite might have been used for a swanky drug party scene in an 80's movie) but the bathroom had been completely redone and the room was spotless.  Even the overflow hole in the sink was clean.  My sister used to check sink holes on family trips and her obsession was passed on to me at a young age.  I haven't been the same hotel guest since.  Luckily, the view from our balcony more than made up any dated-ness.

 See the Rocky steps?  All the way up the center?  Take it, Bill Conti.

"What is art?  Are we art?  Is art art?"

Few would call it ballsy.  Many would call it stupid.

But sometimes you'll do anything to take a picture with the birthday dude, even if it means balancing your Nikon D100 on the railing of your 19th floor balcony.

For dinner, we went to Monk's Cafe, a Belgian restaurant and beer bar.

The average bar-hopping passerby might dismiss this place as a cramped, shabby hole-in-the-wall but for fans of Belgian beer, Monk's Cafe is as close to being in Bruges as you're going to get here in the states.  Low lighting gives the interior a cozy, intimate feel and the walls and shelves are adorned with vintage Belgian beer art and bottles.  On each table is a copy of their current draft list and their Beer Bible.

Both Mike and I are big "try anything once" types, especially when we're on vacation.  So when it came to ordering, we asked for the frog legs without hesitation.

I felt pretty good about the decision until our server brought them to our table.  Mike picked one up by the foot (maybe the ankle?) and it was still attached to the other leg.  A part of me wanted to make them do a little tap dance across the table like the singing Looney Tunes frog but I would eventually have to pick apart and eat my new puppet.

So I ate it like any normal person would:  quickly and without thinking too much about the visual aspect. 

I will say, the legs were good.  They had a clean taste and texture very similar to chicken, only a bit juicier.  That shape, though.  Man.  It's so...defined.  I haven't decided if I want to revisit them anytime soon.

After chasing the frog with a few sips of beer, our entree came out.

Mussels and frites (fries) is a traditional Belgian dish, prepared in a variety of different broths and served with a side of herbed or spiced mayo for dipping.  No more ketchup for this fry girl.

We went with the Ghent mussels:  Saison Dupont, fumé, parsley, caramelized leeks, chunks of smoky bacon, bleu cheese and garlic.

They were sooo good.

Between the tour at Yards, the abundance of Belgian beer and the giant pot of mussels sitting between us, Berry White was a pretty happy guy.

An added bonus:  at Monk's, you can purchase any of their bottled beer to-go. 

We couldn't leave empty-handed.  That would be rude.

Afterwards, we walked back to the hotel to finish off a bottle of Belgian beer champagne (gotta keep the theme going), watch the new episode of Boardwalk Empire and snap a few nighttime pics of the city.

This was one of those trips where everything sort of fell into place, even though we were there for only 24 hours.  The right food, the right crowd and, of course, the right traveling companion can make all the difference.

The cheesesteak will have to wait until next time.


  1. Ali, my Mistah would think he'd died and gone to heaven if I took him to Monk's. When we spent 1 day in Bruge last summer, we couldn't get an authentic pub experience...that's what happens when you get lost and spend hours trying to find a town...we had to settle for one of the cafes on the square.

  2. Those photos...SWOON!

    I am totally, butt crazy in love with your Road Trip series. More please.

  3. Seriously, Ali? Really? You're actually gonna put Boyz II Men in my head for the rest of the week? Gee, thanks.

    Glad you had a great little trip though =)

  4. Wendi - I would settle for a McDonald's on the square, if it meant being able to visit Belgium. Hopefully in 2011. At least I know who to hit up for suggestions :)

    Margie - Well shucks. Thanks lady. It feels kinda good to take a break from the baking posts.

    Liam - Muahaha. It worked. Well, not really since it's stuck in my head, too.

  5. You brave lady with your camera, looks like a great time.

  6. Ali, our one day in Bruge was probably the most stressful of our entire trip. And that's saying a lot for a trip where we got stranded at the train station when we arrived from London because France was closed for a holiday and then almost missed our train back to London...because stupid France was closed for lunch.

    Although, I had some fantastic food that night at dinner. Have no idea what I was eating but it was wonderful.

  7. Jennifer - or just plain crazy...

    Wendi - that was very uncool of France. This isn't Wally World, people! Your day sounds like it was an adventure, the kind you laugh at later in the evening when you're at a Belgian cafe.

  8. "Hello my baby, hello my honey, hello my ragtime gal..." Kevin and I frickin' love that looney tunes frog! And his name is Michigan J. Frog by the way! :) I don't know why I know that! Good for you guys for trying new things, but I don't know if I could do that one!

  9. A clean sink hole is always reassuring. ;) Funny you STILL check as well haha! Props for giving frog legs a try. *gag* jk :) Glad your trip together was perfecto! <3

  10. It looks like you had a ton of fun. I'm happy for you.