Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Craig LaBan

Email claban@phillynews.com   Follow on Twitter

I joined the Inquirer as its restaurant critic in 1998, after a stint covering the food beat for the Times-Picayune in New Orleans. Having eaten about 500 restaurant meals a year here ever since, I never cease to be amazed by the diversity and sophistication of Philadelphia's kitchens. To travel from its many authentic ethnic neighborhoods to the gastronomic temples of Walnut Street to its beery gastropubs, cozy BYOBs and multitude of greasy-but-great steak joints, is to know this town delivers satisfaction at every level of the food chain. Including online dish.

Live chat: Join Craig at 2 p.m. on Tuesdays in the chatroom.

Book: The Philadelphia Inquirer Restaurant Guide is available through our online store.

4 Bells: According to Craig, the best restaurants in the Philadelphia area.

If they can fine-tune the pricing, they can reel in a Jersey winner.
The recent run of star Philly chefs across the Ben Franklin Bridge to South Jersey has brought along a trunkful of expectations. But does the arrival of these indie operators amount to an instant upgrade over the corporate restaurants that have dominated the mall-corridor wedge between Routes 70 and 38?
Video: Farm & Fisherman Tavern + Market
Gallery: Farm & Fisherman Tavern + Market
A Vetri marvel at Jersey mall
"I know a lot of people look at my quenelles and say, 'What is that?' " Pierre Calmels was clearly reading my mind. Because that was exactly the phrase that popped into my mind when his quenelles arrived at our table at Le Chéri. I'd witnessed several plates of unequivocal beauty over the course of my meals at this rambling new restaurant that he and wife, Charlotte Calmels, recently opened in the Philadelphia Art Alliance.
Video: Le Cheri
Gallery: Le Cheri

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