Thursday, July 2, 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.

Here is an excerpt from Craig LaBan's online chat: Craig LaBan: I've got a special guest today,'s resident restaurant-news know-it-all Michael Klein. There's a lot cooking on the "soon-to-open" burner. For starters, any news on CoZara?
It began with the gift of homemade jam, a lovely homage to Kevin Sbraga from a devoted regular at the chef's namesake first restaurant. She was understandably unhappy, though, if general manger Ben Fileccia is correct, that her handmade preserve eventually ended-up as an experiment in Sbraga's cocktails. But I'm here to say that jam was not used in vain. It was a small sacrifice considering it might have changed the course of julep history, at least in University City.

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