Thursday, February 13, 2014

Philadelphia Mike's Food Review


Philadelphia Mike's is one of those rare places that seems to transcend time. It's found on a stretch of Wisconsin Avenue in Downtown Bethesda that has the look and feel of the late 1980's/early 90's... in other words, dated. Philadelphia Mike's fits that description to a tee: If you're into new & glitzy, stay far, far away. But what about the food? From humble beginnings come great things, right?

Not always, and not here. I wouldn't dream of ordering a Philly steak sandwich in Maryland; but a burger and fries... What's the harm in that? Especially at the generous price of $8.02 (tax included) for a ½ pounder with seasoned fries and a 20 oz. fountain drink. I wanted cole slaw as well, but the cashier/cook said she was out of it. I filled my drink (Fanta Birch Beer) and took a seat under an old TV set with CNN on.

Seasoned French Fries

The atmosphere borders on dark and gross: You wouldn't want to get stuck here in a snowstorm. At one point, the aforementioned cook took an order for a Philly Cheesesteak with Onion Rings. The customer said, "I'll be right back." The cook walked out to the dining area, moved a shopping cart out of the way, and pulled out a clear, plastic bag of frozen onion rings. I've heard of walk-in freezers, but this is ridiculous. I wonder where they keep the french fries?

Speaking of, the fries were the best part of my meal. Well-seasoned (as advertised) and cooked nicely, I was expecting old oil; but these fries looked (and tasted) relatively clean. Unfortunately, my burger lived up down to expectations... a thick, frozen beef patty with an all-too-familiar taste of cheap meat. Odds are, it came from the same kind of clear, plastic bag the onion rings (and probably everything else in this place) came from. Too much lettuce and grilled onions (you just have to use raw onions, don't you?) didn't help; and my tummy began to disapprove almost immediately.

Word to the wise: Some restaurants need to update their appearance, some their menu. Philadelphia Mike's needs to do both, and that's just a start. It's been around forever, yet this was my first time eating here. It's also the last. Coffee shop burgers used to be acceptable fare... not anymore. Time to keep up, or move out of the way.

Atmosphere: F (One person's idea of comfortable & cozy is my idea of kinda creepy.)
Burger: D (It's a legit ½ pounder, but I'd trade half of that for fresh ground beef.)
Fries: B- (Not bad. Safe to order again... if you could trick me into coming back.)
Service: C+ (Nice enough, but hardly memorable.)
Value: B- (Good price. Too bad the food's not very good.)
Overall: D+ (A coffee shop without much charm + frozen food = No reason to return.)