Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Hot Potato Cafe

My roommates and I were looking for a nice comforting meal on a weekday night and decided to head up Girard to the Hot Potato Cafe. When this place first opened a few months back it received a terrible review by the Philly Weekly. But I don't always agree with "professional" critics, so we went in with open minds.
Hot Potato Cafe
We started with an order of fries. A generous portion was brought out to us on a large white platter, but five minutes went by before our waiter returned with ketchup, and we all had doubts about whether the fries were freshly cut or simply frozen from a bag.
Hot Potato Cafe (2)
I had a difficult time deciding what to order. Unfortunately it wasn't because there were so many appetizing choices, in fact, the opposite was true. Nothing sounded appealing or jumped off the page at me. I started with a bowl of the potato soup, figuring if the Hot Potato Cafe could do anything right, it would certainly be a soup with the potato as the star. Sorry folks, unless you like thick, gluey, potato soup, stay away!
Hot Potato Cafe (4)
Liz ordered the meatloaf. It was probably the most appetizing looking thing we ordered. A huge slab of meatloaf, wrapped in bacon, was nestled on top of mashed potatoes and steamed veggies. The downfall was the tasteless, yet salty brown gravy they poured all over it. Unnecessary and in this case, damaging.
Hot Potato Cafe (5)
No joke, the Hot Potato Cafe serves Mrs. T's Pierogies. A local grocery store favorite, but we were shocked to discover the lack of homemade pierogies especially in the neighborhood where we were dining. It's not that they were bad, but we could have made them at home ourselves.
Hot Potato Cafe (6)
To supplement my disappointing potato soup I ordered a Caesar salad with grilled chicken. It was a huge salad, and the lettuce was fresh and crisp. That's about all I can muster in terms of positive comments. The dressing was skimpy and bland, and the chicken was ice-box cold. I understand a little prep work is key to running a smooth kitchen, but maybe they could have microwaved the pre-cooked chicken breast before just plopping it on top of my salad.
Hot Potato Cafe (7)
With Liz in tow, I'm always sure to have someone to share my sweet-tooth, and after hearing the dessert list we decided on the Oreo cheesecake. It was clearly made off-premises, and that's alright, but it wasn't excellent.
Hot Potato Cafe (10)
I have to say, there's only one reason I'd ever go back to the Hot Potato Cafe, and here it is, the homemade Butter Cake. It's a rich, chewy, cake baked in a tartlet shell and dusted with powdered sugar before serving. This cake is awesome. It smells divine and I had a few bite more than my fair share, but I don't care. After such a unsatisfying meal, I could have eaten three of these by myself.

Overall, the service was decent. It did take a while to get ketchup or refilled water, but the server was knowledgeable about the menu and friendly. The decor of the Hot Potato was a bit puzzling. Deep red walls and interesting art were coupled with table tops covered in plastic table cloths and a terrible radio station blasting out of a boom box in the corner.

If you like Mrs T's pierogies, have no taste buds, or enjoy confusion, hit up the Hot Potato Cafe. Make sure to order the butter cake though, I still think about it from time to time.

Hot Potato Cafe
529 East Girard Ave (Fishtown)
Philadelphia, PA
Monday - Saturday, 11am to 9pm
Hot Potato Cafe in Philadelphia


  1. Taylor said...
    Did they advertise the pierogies as Mrs. T's, or did you just guess it? Either way, no good. They should call Gordon Ramsey for an intervention.
    E said...
    Taylor -

    They weren't advertised as Mrs. T's. We suspected by their shape and design, and then asked where they made/bought them. It's not that Mrs. T's pierogies are necessarily bad, it's just that we were suprised.
    Cheryl said...
    Ohhh that is not so good was it. I'm glad at least the butter cake was good.
    kdubz said...
    I walk by this place a lot and never want to eat looks so dark and depressing inside. It's always empty with like one or two old people sitting in the darkness.

    Ida Mae's or Sulimays if you have to eat in Fishtown.
    Savorist said...
    My god, this is so bad a review I almost have to taste for myself. The butter cake does look pretty good.
    Nicole said...
    That's a shame. Mrs. T's - say it ain't so!
    Anonymous said...
    I happen to love the perogies....Mrs. T's or not. I eat there quite often. The Butter cake is delicious. I am usually there for lunch and it is terrific. The servers are wonderful, and the food comes out fast and hot! So, my friend, I beg to differ with you.
    Anonymous said...
    This review is terrible as the person who wrote it.I have eaten at the Hot Potato a few times and the food is good.The service has gotten alot better,and the young women cooking there have a love for cooking.I see this restaurant really growing and maturing as the place to eat in Fishtown.
    E said...
    Anonymous - I'll have to try it for lunch. To be honest, when I was there for dinner, I was much more interested in some of their sandwiches, but they're only offered at lunch time.

    Anonymous 2 - Thanks for reading. You may not agree with my reviews of food around Philly, but I don't think that qualifies me as a terrible person, do you?
    Anonymous said...
    Just to let u no they did call Gordon Ramsay, and yes he came running. Maybe u should check out the new menu and decor, and didn't ur mother ever teach you that if u don't have anything nice to say don't say anything at all. The owners of this restaurant are three very hard working lovely young ladies who are trying very hard to be successfull and your comments are mean and hurtful.
    e said...
    Anonymous - I heard about Gordon Ramsay's visit and the complete re-vamp of the menu. I'm glad they finally called him because they really needed some professional help. I don't doubt the owners are hard working, but not every hard working person has the talent or skills to operate a restaurant.
    Anonymous said...
    Wow-ah. I have been on several different review sites once i heard The Hot Potato was on Nightmares tonight and invariably some reviewer/s? crops up that sees an honest and thoughtful review, where the reviewer seemed to desperately be trying to like this place, as a personal attack against all the owners of the Hot Potato.
    "Mean and hurtful"? Certainly not, although dismissing the reviewer as an evil person seems to fit that description.
    Reviews are not supposed to only be complimentary, don't you know that? Sounds to me like either the ladies themselves or some poor besotted soul doesn't understand the concept of either free speech or constructive criticism. Whoever you are, you will do The Hot Potato better service not to troll. It just sounds really immature and crybaby. I know responsing to it is kind of too, but this was too ridiculous not to.
    I might have strolled into this place but having people like this involved with it just gives me a bad taste in my mouth. I choose to take it as an omen and stay away.
    Anonymous said...
    OK, I just watched Kitchen Nightmares season premier and guess who was featured? Yup, Hot Potato Cafe. Looking at the quality of the food before the Ramsay Intervention, the above review was lenient. Danielle, the "chef", has had no formal training and has never even had a job in a restaurant! The menu was designed by the three owners who had a) no earthly clue how to run a restaurant (admitted by them on the show) and b) were so far in the hole the couldn't see light anymore and had completely given up. Everything was frozen and made with the same kind of enthusiasm usually reserved for the super-interesting activities like watching a fan spin. Poor Danielle was totally lost and admitted she had absolutely no interest in cooking. This is all before Super-Gordon and his and his super-power, cursing at someone until they cry, came to the rescue.
    After the intervention, this Spud House is using all fresh ingredients, has had a re-design of the dining room that would put "Extreme Home Makeover" to shame,and now the three owners seem excited to be there again. Danielle actually was the shining star in this episode. For someone with no training whatsoever, is surprisingly capable in the kitchen! With a little encouragement from Chef Gordon, this adorable young lady has found a spark of passion for cooking and, by the end of the episode, said she was enjoying cooking and there's no other place she'd rather be. Ramsay even brought in a trained chef to mentor and train Danielle over the next month.
    All said, they seem to be working really hard to bounce back from their horrid beginnings and appear to be putting out some really good spud grub. Maybe they deserve a second chance from the original reviewer, yes? I know I am planning to check it out the next time I am in the neighborhood and I'll make sure to post a new review when I do.

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