Monday, August 27, 2012

Truffled Cheese Steak Empanadas and Chicken Chili- Return to the Good Dog Bar and Restaurant, Philadelphia PA

The Good Dog Bar is rapidly becoming one of my favorite places to visit in Philadelphia. When you pair great food with the comfortable atmosphere of a pub that features an excellent selection of beers, you have a vibe that is hard to beat. While the menu is not particularly large, it represents enough variety that you could return time and time again and never be bored with it.

This time around I started off with the Truffled Cheesesteak Empanadas. The empanadas were small, but packed full of flavor. When I was done with them I felt like I had eaten more than the few mouthfuls on the plate. The crust was crispy and flaky without being oily. This texture was a great foil to the savory riff on Philadelphia's signature sandwich found inside. The thinly shredded steak and the cheese sauce melded together nicely- the touch of earthy notes from the truffled cheese brought it all togther. The dipping sauce was interesting- a dark concotion made from a chocolate stout ale with a touch of bourbon. The sauce was rich but still had enough acid notes to pair well with the rich empanadas. Something in the sauce brought out notes of mustard seed, also a good match for the empanadas.

Next up was a nice warm bowl of the Good Dog's white chicken chili, served with a healthy sized brick of house-made cornbread. Normally, when I think of a white chili, I think of something more creamy and mild. Not this chili. The overall feel was considerably lighter and brighter than a tomato-based chili, but it was not lacking in heat. The jalapenos played a starring role, and out their heat forward, but somehow still allowed the chicken flavor to have a little room. The heat was high enough to come as a surprise, but there was a clarity to it that really worked- I could taste the more fruity, vegetal components of the chili peppers through the heat. The corn bread had a fresh taste, and a moist, but crumbly texture- a welcome foil to help regulate the heat of the chilis. A chili is something that can easily be boring by not going far enough, or overbearing and overly spicy without the flavor to balance it properly. When done right, a great chili is a clever balancing act that is difficult to attain. This chili hit the mark.

Of course, when you eat pub food, you need to wash it down with a nice pint... this time I went with the most local beer on the menu- Yards Philly Pale Ale - a local brew infused with a strong presence of hops. An ale that pairs well with rich foods- which the bitter bite of the hops can cut right through. Yards strikes a nice balance that backs the hoppy bite with enough body to keep it from becoming overbearing and cloying. A well balanced pint to go with a well balanced meal.

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