This weekend, my friend Anita and I were debating where to go for a late dinner on Saturday night. We tossed out just about every restaurant in our neighborhood including: Sassafras, Zahav, Amada, Fork, Bistro 7, Radicchio, and a few dozen others including Industry and American Sardine Bar.
We finally landed on Jones, a diner-style restaurant boasting mid-century decor a few blocks away. When you walk in, you may feel like you are in an episode of the Brady Bunch. Jones has been on the Philadelphia restaurant scene for years but its menu recently received a makeover.
We landed on Jones for one reason: we were craving haloumi cheese. And Jones has the "cheese 'hold the beef' burger," on their menu. I learned about this "burger" one night at Race Street Cafe from my friend, Anthony. I am pretty sure the entire bar (full of very opinionated foodies, in fact) that evening was involved in the discussion: which restaurant has the best haloumi dish in the city. The Jones sandwich was Anthony's nomination.
So, Anita and I went in search of said haloumi sandwich and also ordered "buf-faux-lo tofu wings and seared tuna tacos.
The haloumi sandwich was good and the portion is plenty for one and enough to share along with a few dishes as we did. This is the first haloumi sandwich I've had on an actual bun and it certainly lived up to the word burger in its name.
The buf-faux-lo tofu wings are pretty amazing and another recommendation from Anthony. I am going to try to perfect the recipe at home, too. Even if you are a carnivore, you might be surprised to find that they really do "taste like chicken." (Pun intended, I couldn't resist.) In all honesty, I know I'll develop a craving for the "wings" and have to get them again, very soon.
Back to the cheese... I have compiled my favorite haloumi dishes in Philadelphia:
at Kanella where I may have ordered this side dish twice one day at brunch. Before you judge, trust me, it's a tiny portion of salty-cheesy-goodness.
at Zahav where it changes seasonally and again, have been known to order it twice.
at American Sardine Bar, on a flatbread sandwich. I ordered this and did end up sharing it with two friends one evening. It was the best item on the table.
So friends, if you have a haloumi craving, and can't get to one of these places, I found a few recipes. The best part about this salty cheese is that is has a high-melting point so it can be grilled or fried very easily. And I did read that this cheese was enjoyed in Ancient Egypt, so take a cue from the Egyptians, and try it one of these days.
Your friend, in cheese (as long as we don't share our haloumi).