Thursday, July 30, 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.

Tequila, like many of Hollywood's leading men, does not necessarily improve with age. The brash and youthful swagger of fresh agave I love so much in a laser-bright blanco tequila can simply get flabby and boring after too long in the barrel.
Chef-owner Jason Cichonski's culinary talent is legit - and the Gaslight might have seemed like a good idea. Philadelphia's tourist and nightlife district can really use a casual tavern with witty concepts, technical savvy, and handmade takes on familiar bar fare. But the Gaslight is Cichonski's first solo chef venture. Like many young chefs trying to extend their reach, other factors of empire expansion have made the going rough.

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