Tuesday, July 7, 2015

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.

We arrived just a few minutes after our reservation time at Ocean Prime, and a pleasant hostess greeted us with Chapter One of the universal Corporate Steak Chain Manual (the Pre-Meal Bar Soak): "Your table will be ready in 20 to 25 minutes. Would you care to wait in the bar?"
For most of two centuries, cocktails were lovingly shaken or stirred to order. In the last few years, however, Philly has seen a revolution in ready-made tipple, first with Negronis on draft at Alla Spina, and now with a handful of places that simply pop the cap off tiny bottles and pour.

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