Restaurant Review: Chickie’s and Pete’s

First things first. The name “Chickie’s and Pete’s” is grammatically incorrect. It’s very annoying… Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest we can move on…

Chickie's & Pete'sDF and I found ourselves with another free night and decided that it would be much more fun to go out to dinner than to stay in and clean the house. A sudden craving for seafood — more specifically crab legs — led us to Chickie’s & Pete’s Crab House and Sports Bar, a very well-known restaurant with a reputation for good food and good times.

We arrived around 7:30. It was a Friday night, so I expected a crowd. It wasn’t just crowded, it was packed. We were told it would be a 20 minute wait. The way this particular location is laid out (there are 7+ locations in this growing chain) there is no place to wait except outside (where you can’t hear your name called) or the crowded entryway. I hate crowds. I hate waiting. I hate crowded entryways. But I do like accuracy. Approximately 20 minutes later were we sitting at our table, menus in hand, as our cute and bubbly waitress (her name was Brittany) took our drink orders. I don’t drink often but when I do, I’m a beer snob, so I wont touch most beers. I do however really enjoy the Yuengling brand of beer. I ordered a Yuengling Black and Tan from the tap and it was excellent. DF ordered her standard Long Island Iced Tea, which she enjoyed enough to refill 4 more over the course of the evening (yeesh, what a lush!).

For our appetizers, we ordered calamari and an order of mixed crab fries. The calamari was lightly fried, mixed with hot and sweet peppers and served with a seasoned marinara dipping sauce. In my opinion the calamari was excellent. It was cooked just right, and the peppers and marinara added a nice little kick to this old favorite. For those of you who have never heard of crab fries, they’re french fries seasoned with Old Bay and other spices. C&P’s is famous for their crab fries. For their mixed fries they use potatoes and sweet potatoes to create a melange of color, texture and flavored.

Time for the main course. We were craving crab legs, so crab legs we got. King Crab legs. Giant armored pieces of crustacean yumminess. I forgot how annoying it was to open crab but C&P’s provided us with two different types of crab crackers to help us get our food. I didn’t even need to use them much. With only a slight bit of effort I was able to peel away the hard shells by hand, leaving only the succulent meat, which came out intact or in huge chunks. The crab meat was tender and very flavorful. I don’t think either one of us remembered to use the clarified butter that came with the meal.

We also ordered “Riverboat Clams” (C&P’s take on Clams Casino) and an order of “Chickie’s Style Hot Shrimp” — shrimp steamed in a seasoned broth and served warm with cocktail sauce. The Clams Casino was ok. Would I order them again? No. Nothing against C&P’s, I’m just not a big fan of clams in general.  The “Hot Shrimp” was really tasty. I liked the way the seasonings combined with the tang of the cocktail sauce. A little messy, but worth it.

We ordered a lot of food. It was all very good. And, since we don’t like to waste good grub, we were very happy with the fact that Brittany (remember our cute and bubbly waitress?) was very quick to provide us with “to go” boxes, so that last night’s yummy dinner could be today’s tasty lunch…

Unfortunately, C&P’s doesnt offer dessert. I’m not usually a dessert kind of guy, but with all the mixes of flavors we had I think something sweet would have been a good way to end the meal. Did you catch that Chickie and/or Pete? I’m not asking for Bananas Foster or Cherries Jubilee, but would it kill you to offer some ice cream or a piece of pie?

One thing to keep in mind.  This is a sports bar (it’s in the name to help you remember). There’s music playing and sports on multiple monitors, so if you’re looking for a quiet place for intimate conversation, this isn’t it. But, if you’re looking for a great place to hang out, hear some music, have fun and enjoy some good eats, Chickie’s & Pete’s definitely makes the grade.

Restaurant Review: Johnny Mañana’s? More Like Johnny Nunca’s…*

Johnny Mañana’s is a Mexican restaurant not far from where I live in Northeast Philadelphia. I love Mexican food. It’s spicy and flavorful. So on a rare free night, DF and I went there for dinner. We’d been there for lunch a while back and remembered good food and great service…

We sat down to mismatched plates and complimentary drinks in mismatched glasses. I thought it was a theme…We ordered an appetizer and two entrees, sipped our free drinks and like any other nosey couple eavesdropped on the other patrons. That’s when we started to pick up on all the signals…It also didn’t help that we were sitting near the open air kitchen/grill area and could hear the cooks and wait staff bitching and complaining.

It turns out that the mismatched plates and glasses weren’t part of a new theme. They just didn’t have enough plates and glasses for all of their customers and so were scrounging around using whatever they could find. Even the complimentary drinks were a fakeout — they were free because the restaurant didn’t have a liquor license.

While we waited for our food I noticed a number of plates being returned to the kitchen. My guess is that people got tired of waiting for their food and left, which is what happened at the tables to our left and right. There were a lot of complaints and the manager/owner type person apologized by saying that “they had just recently reopened.” I guess he got tired of dealing with complaints because a few minutes later I saw him slip out a side door and drive away, never to be seen again….

What happened, Johnny? What happened to that nice place I remember? I guess its gone…Oh well, life goes on…And, for all of you budding restauranteurs out there — do not open if you’re not ready to serve customers. Free drinks will only carry you so far…

 Just so this review isn’t 100% negative, know this — the homemade chips, salsa and gaucamole are incredible (and available for purchase). 

*translation: “Johnny Tomorrow’s? More like Johnny Never’s”