Restaurant Week Review: Bud & Marilyn's

"Just when I thought it couldn't get better." That should be the title of my miniseries of Restaurant Week Reviews here on Mogblog. Because honestly, I'm amazed. How this city's restaurant selection continues to top itself, I'll never know. Then again, I'd like to think my good taste and knowing how to pick 'em really comes in handy. Maybe. A little. Ok, I should mostly be thanking the chefs.

Now, to preface this, I had high hopes for Bud & Marilyn's going in. Not only has it been named one of Philly's top restaurants of 2015, but Zagat recently featured their Chef-de-Cuisine, Dan Giorgio, in their famous "30 under 30" article.  (Dan also just so happens to be a dear friend of mine, so I was expecting him to pull out all of the stops.)

And oh, how the stops were pulled. Learning from my experience at Zahav earlier this week, a couple friends and I abandoned the prix fixe and surrendered to the chefs tasting menu. (This was just another in a long string of excellent decisions I've made regarding restaurant week.)  And from the first plate of fried cheese curds - yes, it's true - I was hooked.

Inspired by American comfort food of yesteryear, the chefs tasting took us through a veritable pu pu platter of treats. Oh wait, there was a actually a pu pu platter in there. With spareribs and shrimp toast and poke... But that was after the potato roll fried chicken sandwiches, and the kale salad with hush puppies. Though before the pork n' pickles platter with homemade pâté and biscuits. I think.

At this point, we were slowing down, because all of that rich food will get to you after a while. (To be fair, Dan warned me of this going in. But I couldn't stop. I wanted more.) And in what became one of my favorite moments of the night, our server came over to say "The chef knows you're getting full, so he's ONLY going to send over two more entrees." I actually LOLed. Especially when those entrees turned out to be meatloaf n mashed potatoes, and campanelli with meatballs. I mean come on. Both were marvelous, by the way. But that goes without saying at this point, right?

Finally, we gathered our strength and marched bravely on into dessert. I had been eyeing this marvelous triple layer chocolate cake all evening, and I wasn't prepared to leave without getting to know it up close and personal. Covered in malted milk balls (How retro and charming! And fat.) and every bit as rich and tasty as the rest of our meal, it was the real cherry on the sundae of our Bud and Marilyn's experience.

It would be a sin to do a writeup on Bud & Marilyn's without mentioning the mid century ambiance. Every detail, from the lightbulbs, to the wood paneling, to the tiki-inspired glassware that held our potent cocktails, was meticulously designed to feel like your quirky grandparents rec room. That hasn't changed since 1976. At least. I loved it. But I'm not surprised, owners Val Safran and Marcie Turney are no stranger to a beautiful restaurant experience - the pair owns 7 other successful businesses on 13th street alone! I can't wait to try them all. 10/10

Oh and Dan, if you're reading this: what was that third entree you might've sent if we weren't too full? Asking for a friend. Cheers! x

Restaurant Week Review: Zahav

Hello, hi, good afternoon. If you're reading this - consider it proof of the afterlife. Because last night, I died and went to heaven/nirvana/the best restaurant experience I've had in ages. Enter: Zahav.

Netsled in Philly's charming Old City neighborhood (read: where the Liberty Bell is, for all non-locals) Zahav serves contemporary Israeli cuisine, uniquely delicious cocktails, and just generally some of the greatest food in the whole city. After braving the cobblestone streets, walking up the steps, and crossing the threshold indoors, the vibe resembles a cross between a middle eastern bazaar, and an industrial loft. They also were bumping throwback Jay-Z jams intermixed with classic 90's R&B throughout the evening. Which somehow, just worked. Observe:

Now, it is still Restaurant Week here, but I was accompanied by a dear Chef friend of mine, so there was no way we were ordering off of any Prix Fixe menu. Chef's Tasting menu it was. And about 12 courses (and 4 cocktails later) I pulled myself from a food coma to write this post to share with y'all.

A delicious assortment of various pickled vegetables, spreads, tapenade, the greatest hummus I've ever eaten, and smoking hot laffa, straight out of their wood burning oven. Shout out to my cocktail here - the Z&T (Zahav's potent spin on the classic gin and tonic.)

Arguably the greatest thing I consumed all evening (nay, all year, so far) - the delicious grilled haloumi atop a bed of apples, walnuts and dates. Honestly I could eat this three meals a day for the remainder of 2016 and be satisfied.

There were about 6 other courses between the grilled haloumi and this, but I'll spare you. But would you look at this? The largest steak I have seen with my own two eyes. Ever. Charred above an open coal stove (we peeked in the kitchen to see what was going on back there) it had the most phenomenal rich, smoky, intense flavor. I was nearly defeated at this point.

...But how could I throw in the towel before dessert? A marvelous selection of tartes, mousses and sorbets. And french press coffee, served with an adorable mini hourglass to remind you when to press. I thought it was a nice touch.

Chef Michael Solomonov struck gold here. From the loud and playful soundtrack, to the beautifully designed industrial-meets-pastoral interior, to the endless courses of middle eastern delights, and oh God, the haloumi, Zahav is a hit. I recommend it highly if you ever find yourself in the neighborhood, and can score a reservation. (Rumor has it they are booked through March.) Let's hope I can come back before then. 10/10

Restaurant Week Review: Valanni Social

Hey you! How is January treating you? Having a blast so far, I hope. (And by having a blast, I mean, counting down the days left in the month, because when January is over that means it's February, which means we're one step closer to March, which is when Spring starts so it's basically margaritas and outdoor concerts season soon, right? A boy can dream.)

Yes, the winter doldrums have totally begun to set in - which is why I'm so glad that Philly has its act together enough to take two weeks out of this month every year to devote to Restaurant Week. AKA, go and try all of those amazing places you always wanted to, but never had the funds/reason/excuse to before. Last evening, I kicked off #CCDRW with friends at Valanni Social.

For those not familiar, Restaurant Week typically entails a limited menu of the restaurant's specialties, served in courses at a fixed price. I know. No wonder it's so popular. I could get used to this. Some dear friends of mine and I braved the cold, walked into Valanni, and promptly took a seat at the bar, while we waited for some other members of our party to arrive. Starting the evening off with a champagne cocktail (because it's always champagne-o-clock) I started to browse the menu.

I will say, Valanni had quite a wide array of options, especially since it bills itself as "Medi-Latin Tapas" - and I didn't quite know what to pick. However, after much internal justifying and I went fully hearty and committed. Roasted brussels sprouts with apples and balsamic reduction to start. Obviously delicious.

Now, I don't know if you're like me at all... but when you have the urge for a particular food, your craving will stop at nothing until it has been satisfied. That was me last night. Which is why I got a cheeseburger. Yes. I'm the person who went to the tapas bar and ordered a burger. I couldn't help myself, ok? And I wasn't disappointed. It had boursin on it, so it was kind of fancy, so it wasn't so bad of me, right? Whatever, I was satisfied.

I'm always a fan of ordering a restaurant specialty, and I had heard tell of their famous Oreo Beignet for some time now. And, being the central PA native that I am, I am no stranger to a deep fried Oreo at the county fair every summer. Let me tell you. It did not disappoint. 

As far as the meal itself, despite it being a bit unorthodox - which I fully acknowledge as my own doing - I was satisfied. Truly my only raised-eyebrow-sideward-glance-moment was in the decor and vibe of the restaurant. There's a purpley glow (which I tried to edit out in my photos, to no avail) that feels very club-like, coupled with a massive DJ booth present in the corner of the bar area. I'm not sure what I expected from a restaurant with "social" in its name, but something just feels a bit off to me about a restaurant that serves balsamic reduction roasted brussels, and bumps Rihanna out of a DJ booth at the bar. You feel me? Overall, a great time with friends, and an experience I was happy to have. 7/10.

Be sure to follow me on Snapchat @mogblog for the rest of my restaurant week adventures in the week to come! Cheers! x

#MOGBLOG Home: Candles for Every Budget

Happy Friday, readers! I hope you're all excited about heading into the first weekend of Spring! (Even if it doesn't feel very spring-like yet). At this time of year, I'm always tempted to open the windows and let in some fresh air. But, if your weather won't cooperate, I know it can feel a little stale after those long winter months indoors. 

Presenting our first #MOGBLOG HOME post: Candles for every budget. Here to ease you out of winter and into spring with some fragrances that are sure to keep your home smelling fresh and clean...even if you aren't ready to throw open the shutters quite yet. Check below for links to shop - and don't forget to SUBSCRIBE to #MOGBLOG for your chance to win our #MOGBLOG GIVEAWAY. 

$ - White Barn Candle Company
Available at your local Bath & BodyWorks, these candles are the best every-day option for when you're on a budget, but are looking for a high quality candle that has a good burning time. At just $22 for a 14.5oz Three Wick Candle, they really are a steal. Some of my favorite scents are: LeavesMahogany Teakwood, and Eucalyptus Mint.

$$ - MALIN + GOETZ
I first fell in love with Malin + Goetz while searching for a new face mask through their skincare line (More on that later). But they also make delicious and uniquely scented candles in two sizes. I had the pleasure of meeting one of their brand representatives here in LA, and he told me that their wax is all soy and vegetable based, which makes the chic glasses safe for drinking after the wax is burned out. (You can see I use my votive size as a mini planter for my succulent). $52 for a 9oz candle. Check out their Vetiver, Cannabis, and Dark Rum.

$$$ - diptyque
Finally, no candle-shopping guide is complete without diptyque. Loved by fashion editors, interior designers and bloggers alike for their sophisticated scents and chic packaging, these candles pack a serious punch - but not without a price. These are what you burn when you have company coming over and you want to impress. In-Laws, anyone? Truly, I haven't smelled a diptyque I didn't like, though my favorites at the moment are Feu de Bois, Vetyver, and Patchouli. Find them at Barney's for $60 for 6.5oz.

Try these out as you ease into spring and let me know if you discover any new favorite scents in the comments below. Enjoy your weekend! x

Skincare Review: Kiehl's

Good morning, everyone! How are you all adjusting to this week? I'm still getting into the swing of things, myself. And whenever I feel restless in a weary world, I turn to skincare. Recently, I found myself in desperate need to stock up on the basics... so I headed to Kiehl's.

Lucky for me, from now until March 23rd, Kiehl's is running a promotion: 4 Deluxe Samples for any $65 purchase. (Unlucky for me, my night cream alone costs $62...but thats a different story.)

Let me tell you. These samples are worth it. See below for a review on each, with links for purchase. And, as always, don't forget to Subscribe to #MOGBLOG - if you aren't yet, you'll want to. Trust me. Big announcement coming this week!

Powerful Strength Line Reducing Concentrate This stuff is the real deal. Loaded with 10.5% Vitamin C concentrate, you can actually feel it working on your skin. (Its a slight warming sensation, which I find pleasant. Just don't say I didn't warn you.)

Midnight Recovery Concentrate Let me take this time to note that I realize that most of the things on this list are anti-aging, but hey! I'm all about preventative, rather than reactive, skincare. Amirite?? Anyway. This serum is a sheer oil formula that smells heavenly and makes your skin feel like a dream.

Super Multi-Corrective Cream This rich, luxurious cream is actually what I use on my skin nightly. Its blend of ingredients is formulated to increase fullness, fight loss of elasticity, and reduce the appearance of fine lines. What's not to love?

Ultra Facial Cleanser Another product that I use on the daily. Just a really nice face cleanser - perfect if you have combination skin like me. Other cleansers leave me too oily or too dry, but this one is like Goldilocks - just right.

*BONUS* In-Flight Refreshing Facial Mist Okay, so this one wasn't a free sample, but I couldn't post a review on Kiehl's without writing about this. This is like the fountain of youth in a spray bottle. Designed to be a skin refresher mid-flight (which I've certainly used on that long cross-country flight home) I use it every day, throughout the day. Perfect when your skin is feeling dry, dull, oily, shiny, lackluster or just plain blah - basically, it'll cure what ails ya. It leaves your skin with a healthy, dewy finish. And, it smells incredible.

So thats it! Let me know if you get the chance to give any of these products a try. I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!