This is an excerpt from Craig LaBan's online chat from May 28, 2013:
Craig LaBan: It's been a good week for me, as you can see from this Crumb Tracker Quiz. Name the place I ate these dishes: (1) chu toro nigiri with tofu, ginger and chive; (2) crispy haloumi with poached figs; (3) lamb burger and fries with curry ketchup.
I've got asparagus on the brain because we popped by amazing Terhune Orchards while in Princeton last weekend and found a "pick your own asparagus patch." We quickly had two pounds in a bucket (just $3.25 a pound!) so I've been cooking asparagus omelets and grilling them in prosciutto-wrapped bundles.
Reader: I was confused by your Bufad review - you seemed to enjoy the salad and antipastos, but I had the feeling you felt their pizza was less than mediocre. In my opinion this would seem to lend itself to a one-bell review.
C.L.: You're right that I didn't love the pizzas as a whole, but "less than mediocre" is incorrect; I found too much to like, including some pizzas, to go one-bell. It's a very appealing place, and some of my complaints about the pies were subtle. The real issue is, I could probably rate all the new pizzerias in something of a hierarchy within their own world.
Reader: #1 - Pod?
C.L.: Correct! Got to visit Pod for the first time in a long while last week, and had a very enjoyable meal. I think it's underrated for sushi. That little strip of tofu was so unexpected, it added an almost creamy texture to the fish.
Reader: #3, how about Frankford Hall?
C.L.: Yes! Finally got back for Memorial Day - perfect place for a group to eat sausages and drink beer. Thoughts on food haven't changed; the burger (mushy) and frank (well made but roasted to a crisp) were disappointing. And the Bitburger pils seemed off. We had a good time - it's one of the city's best beer-garden spaces - but as the German dining scene goes . . . eh.
Reader: Took fussy out-of-towners to Amis. . . . everything was excellent. The game-changers were the sweetbreads, swordfish meatballs, and pasta with lamb ragu.
C.L. I think Brad Spence is really on his game. Some of the best charcuterie in town, simple pastas handmade perfectly. Great drinks. And oh, the Nutella waffles. Only complaint - the noise. Not a place to take the grandparents.
Reader: Do you have any Beer Week Beer Dinner recommendations?
C.L.: Not yet, but you will definitely want to be at Friday's Inquirer-sponsored Opening Tap at the Independence Visitors Center. We'll give awards to the top six winners from this year's Brew-vitational, to be unveiled in the food section Thursday.
Reader: I was excited to see a lamb burger in your Crumb Tracker. I'm looking for a great one.
C.L.: I really enjoyed the one at Kennett when I reviewed the Queen Village pub in 2011. I'd like to get back there. Nice warm neighborhood place.
Reader: When is Serpico opening?
C.L.: Who knows? First November. Then February, then April, then May. I'm sure it'll happen and will be an event - I'm so looking forward to eating Mr. Serpico's Philly creations.
You were all stymied by the haloumi, so no Crumb Tracker champ today. I had it at Johnny Brenda's while waiting for my pizzas to be cooked down the block at Pizzaria Beddia (one hour-plus!!).
I'll be back next week - and we'll be talking beer.