Getting My Hash On

I can’t remember exactly when I became a fan of corned beef hash. It was probably the first time I had a good made-from-scratch version of it, and I was well into my adulthood when that happened. It may have been on one of our roadfood themed trips during my early married years. 

Whenever it was, it’s unlikely that it happened at a restaurant in the Philadelphia area. I can’t ever recall having good house-made corned beef hash in my home region except when I made it myself – at least until Saturday. That’s when my wife and I went out to brunch at Occasionally Yours in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, with our longtime friend, Sue. 

Occasionally Yours sits in the heart of Swarthmore’s small downtown.

The restaurant has been in the heart of Swarthmore’s quaint little downtown since 1989 and serves up breakfast and lunch to a clientele that includes students from the town’s namesake university, which is a short walk away. Small and quaint is also a good way to describe the interior of Occasionally Yours. It was packed when we arrived, but several parties finished dining shortly thereafter, so our wait for a table was brief. 

Given how appealing I found their menu when I came across it online recently, I’m not sure how I managed to avoid trying this place before now. My wife and I live a short drive from Swarthmore and have eaten at a Chinese restaurant that is less than a block from Occasionally Yours several times. 

Among other enticing dishes and sandwiches, the fact that they offer house-smoked brisket and pulled pork, as well as from-scratch corned beef hash really jumped out at me. As I’ve alluded to, it’s very difficult to find hash that doesn’t come out of a can in the Philly region. All of the house-made versions I’ve had before have either been while on vacation in another area or when I’ve made it myself. 

I was tempted to order the breakfast hash.
Likewise the smokehouse brisket sandwich.

Right up until we arrived at the restaurant I wasn’t sure whether I’d order corned beef hash or a brisket sandwich. While seeing house-made hash on a menu always excites me, more often than not, I’ve been disappointed when I’ve ordered it. The problem is almost always what I consider to be an insufficient amount of corned beef. Yet I also wouldn’t expect this type of restaurant to serve barbecue that would pass for authentic.

When the time came to order, I was just feeling the brisket sandwich more than the hash and went in that direction. But to my joyful surprise, my wife, who usually asks me to order first so she has more time to make up her mind, then ordered the corned beef hash. That meant I’d get to photograph and taste both dishes.

I’m not sure if my wife would have ordered the hash if the circumstances had been otherwise. That was a very loving thing for her to do. I really appreciated it.

To round out our trio, Sue ordered the Avo-lanche omelette, which was filled with bacon, tomatoes and cheddar and topped with avocados and sriracha aioli. It was an extremely attractive dish that she said tasted as good as it looked.

Sue was extremely fond of this Avo-lance omelette.

When the plates with the brisket sandwich and corned beef hash were placed down in front of my wife and me, it was immediately clear that I had made the wrong ordering decision.

My smoked brisket sandwich came on a toasted (the) French roll.
My wife ordered her gorgeous hash with scrambled eggs and rye toast.

While the brisket was perfectly tender and came on nicely toasted French bread, it was difficult to taste anything other than the sweet sauce in which it was virtually swimming. I wasn’t expecting real Texas-style barbecue, but I still consider it a waste to spend time smoking meat, only to mask any flavor or texture it may have gained from the experience by covering it with so much sauce. 

On the bright side, the breakfast potatoes that came with it were very good. In fact, if I hadn’t read that the brisket was house smoked beforehand, I may have felt differently about the sandwich. Seeing that gave rise to expectations that weren’t met. They might be better off simply billing it as a chopped barbecued brisket sandwich. Then again, I doubt I’d have ordered it without that expectation of tasting smoke as part of the eating experience.

The hash, on the other hand, both looked and tasted divine. There was plenty of finely diced corned beef and it, as well as the potatoes and onions, must have taken a long turn in a skillet or on a flat-top grill. It was all nicely browned and had a bit of crispiness, the way good corned beef hash should. 

I’ll be back to order this dish very soon.

Before we had even walked out the door following our meal, my wife and I had already decided we’d be back at Occasionally Yours before long. There is a lot on the menu she wants to try and I need to get an entire order of their great corned beef hash.

After several weeks without having one, I’m exceedingly ready to eat a cheesesteak. I plan on doing so tomorrow, when I’ll begin the process of revisiting all the steak shops that made my Top 10 as part of the preparation for putting out an updated list later this year. I’ll report on that in my next post.

Published by BZ Maestro

I live outside of Philadelphia and have been food-obsessed for as long as I can remember. After toying with the idea of starting a blog for a fairly long time, the extinction of a food-themed message board that I frequented for years prompted me to finally take action. Thank you for taking the time to check out what I've been up to - and eating. If you've enjoyed what you have read and seen, please consider clicking the "like" button and signing up as a follower.

7 thoughts on “Getting My Hash On

  1. I’m surprised to find the Philly area a near-desert for corned beef hash. It seems like the sort of food that would be strong there. I am a huge corned beef hash fan, and it’s my standard breakfast order. I’ve had to kiss a few frogs, but it’s mainly been princesses. That order does look good, as do the potatoes. Paprika really helps home fries and CB Hash

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I live at the junction of western Kentucky and southern Indiana, and finding corned beef hash in my part of the country is like finding a needle in a haystack. And when you do find it, it’s never cooked enough and blackened around the edged enough to suit my taste. It’s a heated lump of meat dumped on a plate. I have to go to upstate Illinois to get the real thing.

    Although I’m sure there are better versions of it all over America, the best version I’ve ever found was just off I-57 at the Red Wheel restaurant in Rantoul, Illinois, which is about 50 miles southwest of Chicago.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I ate a McBob’s. It is very good, but they serve a different kind of corned beef hash. Theirs consists of big chunks of corned beef. I like mine served minced, so that it sort of dissolves in the mouth.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I also love a good plate of homemade CBH, but I’ll settle for the canned version if it’s really crisp. But it’s still not even close. And while I don’t mind a little bit of onion, green peppers are a hard no.

    One of the best hashes I’ve ever had, though, was made with leftover prime rib instead of corned beef and served at Kountry Kafe in Fifield, WI.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: