Sunday, April 26, 2015

Craig LaBan

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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.

'I haven't picked up a vegetable peeler since I've been here - and it feels so good." Several thoughts strike me when Justin Petruce tells me this. Number one: It must be liberating to finally be the boss, as the 33-year-old and his co-chef brother, Jonathan, 32, are in their debut at Petruce et al., the buzzy Center City restaurant where they've partnered with one of Philly's top wine geeks, Tim Kweeder.
Video: Petruce et al.
Gallery: Petruce et al.
Taking a second look at Pub & Kitchen
It's been a long road to Paris from Oberon. Remember that splashy but short-lived bistro, which opened in Old City 16 years ago? That was the last time chef Al Paris (with partners) dabbled in French classics, somewhat unsuccessfully, muddying the Gallic canon with Italian riffs and an occasional Asian-fusion folly: "It wasn't awful, but it wasn't good," he concedes.
Video: Paris Bistro & Jazz Cafe
Gallery: Paris Bistro & Jazz Cafe

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