Chompin’ Down on Chelten: Rose Petals Review

I entered Rose Petals Café and Lounge hoping it was going to be one of those hole-in-the-wall places that’s a beacon of hope amid a dreary, impoverished background. The establishment is settled in on Chelten Avenue, which is marred by jagged, cracked sidewalks and abandoned businesses.

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Outside of the restaurant. Photo by Lee Stabert.

They say you should never judge the book by the cover, but the shattered glass on the right bottom pane of the front door was only the first area of concern for the infant restaurant.

I was seated within seconds, although the number of individuals in the party overwhelmed the staff member at first glance. They were not expecting a party of five. She placed a series of high top tables together, accommodating us nicely. The restaurant’s website insists that there is seating for 45 people, which is hard to believe, as the tables in the rear are placed very close to one another. Guests could, without a doubt, hear their neighbors chewing.

After seating our party, the woman returned to her post and continued to scrape the heart-shaped stickers off the glass door using what looked like an icing spatula. Valentine’s Day was clearly over.

We didn’t wait long to be attended to at the table. We were handed menus and utensils bound by paper napkins. The mom-and-pop shop menus and disposable napkins uncomfortably contrasted the sophistication of the deep red walls and the rich Jacobean flowered wallpaper. The ambiance whispered jazz club, while everything else shouted basic breakfast diner.

Within a bearable amount of time, I was able to order a coffee. The server, who was later identified as the owner of the establishment, brought back an enormous mug filled to the brim. The outside of the large, ceramic mug was perfect to warm my hands after braving the atypically cold weather.

I call them snug mugs.

I call them snug mugs.

The coffee itself, however, wasn’t all that soothing. Hot coffee is essential for mid-February freezes and this failed to make the grade. It was lukewarm and tasted as though a cup of water had been poured into it, rather than a dash of milk and sugar. It wasn’t the quality of La Colombe coffee you would expect.

With the coffee sitting at arm’s distance, I scanned the extensive menu. There are 10 different unique waffle options, an apparent specialty and community favorite. After much consideration, I opted for the Rose Petals Waffle, which is served with white and chocolate crumbles, strawberries, whipped cream and garnished with rose petals. I intended on adding a protein to my order, but the server admitted to being out of all pork products. No bacon. No smile.

That was the last time I saw our original server. Our food took 45 minutes to arrive at our makeshift table for five. The server who brought our breakfast over was not our originally assigned server, forcing him to hold the food out and awkwardly inquire whom it belonged to. Breakfast food shouldn’t take that long to concoct. Papa Barr makes pancakes in about 10 seconds and they’re hot. 

It looks pretty, though.

It looks pretty, though.

The Rose Petal Waffle was underwhelming. Upon first glance, it was clear that the plate had been sitting out for some time. There was no steam arising from the food (yes I hovered my hand over it) and the plate was room temperature. The waffle was bland and in no way warm or crispy like made-to-order waffles should be. The texture mimicked that of a day-old waffle reheated in the microwave and left out. The inclusion of actual rose petals was a valiant attempt at paying homage to the restaurant’s name, but missed the mark. They were small in size, but largely obtrusive to the meal, getting uncomfortably caught in my teeth throughout. I don’t look cute when I’m trying to flick roses from my gums. The earthiness of the petals did not contribute to the taste by any means. Still wondering where my “white crumbles” were…

Frankly, a waffle worth $8.49 shouldn’t have been this lazy.

After finishing, there was another significant wait. We had to physically signal a server over after sitting without touching the food for upwards of 15 minutes. The server was visibly uncomfortable with our hastiness, but was extremely courteous when requested to split the checks.

A waffle and coffee can set patrons back just over $15.00, which seems quite high for the quality of both the food and the service. If the staff both in the front and the back of the house were able to align more with the wallpaper than the napkin, Rose Petals could secure a notable and fortuitous future. But so far, they’re disposable.

If you have had a better experience, like many of those who checked in on Yelp!, please comment and help me see the light.

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Pheeding Philly

I used to do service all the time. I was a member of Student Council in high school and volunteered my time at food pantries, blood drives, charity walks… the works.

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We won the OCHS Amazing Race like 50 million years in a row.

It was the cool thing to do in high school, at least to me. I wanted to bulk up my resume for college applications and spend time with friends in a constructive environment. We also got taken out of class at least twice a month for meetings and activities.

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Taken out of class to go to Six Flags Great Adventure? Yes please.

Somewhere in there, the reason to volunteer, to help people, was lost in translation.My selfishness continued into college. La Salle is a Catholic institution founded on the pillars of charity and I don’t do anything that doesn’t support my *future* career. Most of my friends are heavily involved in service, but volunteering doesn’t fit into my schedule. How horrible of a statement is that? 

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Pheed members at the La Salle Student Activities Fair.

Enough about me, though. No more first person pronouns. Let me (last one I swear) compensate for my lack of community-involvement and volunteerism by using this blog to educate the internet about one of the most successful and helpful service groups at La Salle: Pheed Philadelphia.

Pheed Philly is an outreach group that formed at La Salle in 2007. Five days a week, members of the group visit one of the four sites Pheed works with (St. Francis Soup Kitchen, the Face-to-Face program at St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Blessed Sarnelli Community, and Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission). Basically, there’s no way to use time as an excuse not to participate. Way to be, Cody, you selfish guppy.

A bit more about St. Francis Soup Kitchen
They’re revolutionizing the typical conveyor belt serving model. They have clients sit down, they have volunteers sit down, they foster relationships, they promote community. It’s not about meeting the meal quota. It’s not about optimizing efficiency. It’s about the people. It’s extensively more dignified, so much so that Blessed Sarnelli and Face-to-Face hopped on board.

This personalized experience also allows for the members of Pheed to interact with the clients and comprehend their real needs. And who wouldn’t love to be humbled by a homeless person’s life story? Through conversation, the coordinators realized that a number of the clients wished there were programs in place to brush up on their literacy. Soon enough, Pheed is going to begin offering classes at the sites they volunteer at.

“They’re most resilient group of people I’ve come into contact with. I learn so much more than I do when in the confines of my classroom” – Molly Mahon, Pheed Senior Coordinator

Hunger in Philadelphia, as expressed by the need for the dedicated service of organizations like Pheed, is an epidemic. In 2010, more than 411,000 residents received aid from a food pantry. In 2011, more than 464,000 Philadelphia residents relied on food stamps (source). In 2013, Philadelphia was 22% food insecure. And hunger is just the tip of the iceberg. If you’re hungry, your focus diminishes. As a child, your performance in school falters. As an adult, work (if you even have a job) becomes a draining and straining experience. It’s an endless cycle of doom, basically. Thankfully, Pheed is the superhero needed to combat to Philadelphia’s kryptonite.

Suffocating in Smoothies

Over the holidays, Santa blessed me with a NutriBullet. Since then, I’ve set a goal of downing one smoothie a day- mainly because I’m a college student on the go who would typically rather gobble some coffee and toast and worry about nutritious food later. Then come dinner, all I want to eat is pasta and tomatoes, which isn’t exactly loading my system with all the vitamins it needs.

Through my expansive experience (all three days), I realized making a smoothie for breakfast isn’t as daunting as I anticipated and they’re quite filling thanks to oats and chia seeds. The recipes online (praise you, blogs like this and this) are surprisingly easy, most only call for four or five ingredients. The NutriBullet is an absolute monster and chops everything up in as long as it takes me to tuck in my shirt and lace my shoes. Also a plus for drinking in the morning? Most smoothies I make are high in sugar because of the fruit added. It’s a great, natural morning pick-me-up instead of coffee, but also, because it’s early in the day I have the chance to burn the sugar off. HOORAY!

Every now and again, I intend on posting about recent recipes I’ve tried or concocted via my own brain. I recently discovered you can calculate nutrition facts via MyFitnessPal which is probably going to save me because I always assume that anything with clean healthy food is healthy. I cry every time I think about how much fat is in guacamole. But it’s made with veggies, guys! Hopefully this will help me with my moderation and inspire me to create the most healthy morning smoothie recipe. Aside from that, this blog will mainly be stocked with posts required via my Online Journalism class. But I promise it won’t ever be boring!