El Vez Philadelphia

I’ve had mixed experiences at Steven Starr’s El Vez. Located on the edges of Philadelphia’s gayborhood (a word my iPhone auto-finishes apparently) it dangerously teeters on the verge of style over substance, with a decor of honkey-ized kitschy Mexicana and generally small portion sizes.

Yesterday my little Chef and I were wandering around looking for a spot to grab lunch after she finished work at the bar and before I came on and we decided to give It another chance.

It was as stylish as I remembered; with Starr’s usual mix of tattooed or preppie waitstaff and it’s clever round, center of the restaurant bar decorated with a shiny spinning lowrider bicycle. But would the food provide the substance as well as sustenance?

We started with a made to order tomato free truffle’d guacamole that for it’s price was a very ample appetizer; so much so that we were able to bring more than half of it back to the bar in a to-go box. The truffle flavor was probably truffle salt or oil for the most part, but there was a fair amount of black truffles in a tapenade on top that added a nice pungent/vinegar taste to the dish.

For our entree we picked the taco sampler platter. The choices included fried tilapia, rare beef, marinated chicken, sea bass and a shredded pork, each with their own unique sauces and garnishes. As far as samplers go it was worth the cost ($22) but some of the flavors didn’t really go well with each other; on their own they would have been fine, but the sweetness of the pureed sauce on the sea bass mixed with the spicy/tanginess of the tilapia clashed a bit. It lived up to it’s function, which is to expose you to the various menu items and for once I found that the portions matched the price tag.

Overall, I still think that El Vez is style over substance, but I had a much better experience than previous visits.

El Vez:
Appetizer: 9/10
Entree: 7/10
Price: $$

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Guacamole Deviled Eggs

Guacamole Deviled Eggs

I’m a big fan of the deviled egg. I remember being a kid and watching my mom preparing  whole trays of them on Christmas morning; cutting, mixing the yolk and mayo, seasoning and eventually spooning it all into the whites knowing that my brother and I were waiting in the wings to steal “just a few” before dinner. These days it’s usually a given that I’ll make a tray for family parties and we’re constantly trying out new recipes to freshen things up. Chopped bacon, truffle salt, anchovies, Caesar dressing… everything is open game though some things work better than other.

Last week my friend Amy sent me the recipe for a guacamole deviled eggs… and despite a “mild” allergy to avocados I decided to throw caution to the wind and make a batch tonight. So as Claire worked her butt off making  a batch of Salted Caramel Brownies (which should be an entry to itself- I’m a dreadful excuse of a baker; luckily the little Chef takes full advantage of our Kitchenaid Mixer) I boiled a few eggs, peeled an avocado and got to work.

  • 3 hard boiled eggs
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon lime juice
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 clove minced raw garlic
  • cilantro, diced to taste

Boil the eggs while preparing your other ingredients. (I bring the water to a boil, let it go for a minute or two then remove the eggs from the heat and allow them to sit in the hot water, covered,  for 15 minutes or so before placing them in cold water to stop the cooking process)

Chop the avocado into manageable pieces, crush up the egg yolk and mix in the lime juice,  hot sauce,  minced garlic and diced cilantro and salt & pepper and mix until its an even consistency. Spoon (I usually use an icing gun) into egg whites and garnish with cilantro or diced avocado and enjoy!

Original recipe credit: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/fat-guacamole-devils

-Shawn