Sunday, December 21, 2014

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.

Back when I held the keys to a French chateau's cellar - more than two decades ago, as a stagiaire at a cooking school in Burgundy - I had my first real wine obsession: a 1989 Premier Cru Givry from Joblot. That's not to be confused with the more prestigi
After a bumpy start, the brasserie at FringeArts is trending in the right direction. And oh, that riverfront view.
The space is unlike any other in town, a bi-level corner hall with 45-foot ceilings, century-old glazed bricks, postindustrial iron accents, and huge Palladian windows that gaze up from the foot of the Ben Franklin Bridge.

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