Saturday, April 19, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

A 4-bell spot during Restaurant Week?

A dining room at the Fountain in the Four Seasons.
A dining room at the Fountain in the Four Seasons. via Four Seasons website

Here is an excerpt from Craig LaBan's online chat of Jan. 21, 2014:

Reader: I have reservations at the Fountain, one of your "4-bellers." Will I get full appreciation for Restaurant Week, or would you recommend going at a later date as well?

Craig LaBan: Rare is the restaurant that presents its full experience for $35 - especially a four-beller like the Fountain, where the bill will run considerably higher. What should not change is the classy service and the classic setting. Enjoy it as long as it lasts. I'm curious to see what happens when the Four Seasons moves to the new Comcast tower in 2017 and leaves the Fountain behind. BTW, the Fountain's RW menu has the inevitable chicken and salmon (snooze), try the lobster cocktail, short rib with truffled-merlot salmis.

Reader: Very excited for this new building/hotel/lounge, etc. Too bad we have to wait till 2017.

C.L.: I'm cautious. There are going to be two restaurants, apparently, one on the ground floor and another way up in the clouds. Philly has precious few restos with a skyscraper view - we could use another to compete with R2L, which I'd go to for a sunset cocktail and nibble. But in general, food quality is inverse to the height of the dining room. I'm expecting the Four Seasons to up that game, literally.

Reader: On a day like today, I'd love a big bowl of posole. I've found a really good version in an unlikely location: a strip mall in Exton, at a place called Buho's. But they only serve it Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Do you (or other chatters) have a favorite in Philly, and do they make it only on weekends, or more regularly?

C.L.: Best posole I've had in Philly was at Restaurant Acapulco on 9th Street, south of Washington, where it's a special every Thursday and comes in three salsa-tinted colors - white, red, or green, the colors of the Mexican flag. I go green, Philly style.

Reader: Buho's in Exton also has some other unusual weekend specials, including a Bolivian "Piqué Macho," a big plate of home fries, steak, salchichas, jalapenos, tomatoes, egg, olives, and a crazy spicy (but delicious) salsa.  

C.L.: thanks for this Bolivian postcard via Exton. Always some exotic delights in that far-flung exurb. Among the best Indian food in the region, as you know, and also the birthplace of the chile-fired dynasty that has become Han Dynasty. Congrats to owner Han Chiang for making NY Mag's list of NYC's 'best new restaurants" for his place in the East Village. Of course, the blurb begins something like "even though he's from Philly, this is some of the best Chinese food New Yorkers have eaten in years."

Reader: Do restaurateurs typically decide to live/reside closer to their business so they can open on poor weather days? Do they make money when not every top is covered?

C.L.: Joncarl Lachman comes to mind, as he lives in the apartment directly above Noord. I don't know if he's the rule or the exception. Owner-chefs are more likely to live nearby. But that's no help when everyone in your reservation book cancels on a snowy night. If you're within walking distance of a hard-to-get reservation, this might be your night! Obviously, nights with a half-full dining room are not good for business.

Jill Weber, owner of Jet Wine Bar: Living near your restaurant is a double-edged sword: easy to get to when there are issues, and easy to get to when there are issues...

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