February 9, 2012

A Second Look at Craig LaBan's "Best of the Rest"

Craig LaBan's "Best of the Rest" were revealed in today's Inquirer, listing 25 more of his favorite restaurants in several categories. As promised, here's our run down of reviews and thoughts on the places we've visited. Yesterday we tackled his list of favorite BYOBs.

We have to second LaBan that the "stunning diversity and depth" of Philadelphia's dining scene makes our home worthy of being coined a restaurant town, and we'll defend that position to any doubter. There's also a noticeable number of suburban restaurants on his list, perhaps a sign that we need to gas up the car more often and explore. 

Best Distinctive Italian
Love the mural behind Le Virtu's bar
Amis Loved it, The menu has changed a bit since our two visits but we have full confidence it will still be amazing. Smaller plates enable sharing but do add up on price. It's also a great spot to just swing in for a glass of wine and a bite at the bar.

Le Virtu - In haste I threw Le Virtu into a weekend roundup post in early 2011, but don't let that diminish your impression. Its "Best of Philly" pasta and goat meatball appetizer were delicious. Eating at the bar was a perfectly enjoyable experience when all the tables were full. I want to go back and sit on the patio during summer.

Melograno - Solid Italian BYOB that has never disappointed. They don't take reservations so sometimes there is a wait, but it's worth it, especially for the wild boar ragu.

Best New American Full Service
a.kitchen egg sandwich
a.kitchen - We've only been here for brunch because, despite a rave review from LaBan, literally everyone we know that's eaten dinner there gives it a waivering, "eh, it was ok." Brunch was great for us though, so at least there's that.

Barbuzzo - We went opening week and have been back since, both times to a unique and memorable meal. Smaller plates means more things to try, and sitting at the bar means fast, friendly service (and possibly more elbow room; the dining tables are tight).

Fork - I never wrote about it but visited Fork about a year ago for a birthday. Everything we ate was very good; I recall a seasonal risotto that did approach mouthwatering status. Except for that dish, most entrees are $28 so with appetizers and drinks, a full meal at Fork is an investment.

[Update, I missed this one before] Supper - We've been several times for both dinner and foodie blogger events, and walk away content with a solid meal each time. The Supper Burger is one of Bradd's all-time fav burgers and may be at near the top of my parents' list, too, after a recent visit.

Surprising omission: Sbraga - Despite a few bumps in service (that others complain about too, including LaBan) the culinary adventure of Top Chef Kevin Sbraga's menu is really impressive. Flavors and combinations you've never experienced before, beautiful presentation and just-right portion sizes make the $45 fixe price menu absolutely worth the trip.

Best Updated International
Koo Zee Doo - Hooray! One of our absolute favorites in Philadelphia. We recommend it frequently to people looking for something delicious but different, which Koo Zee Doo's Portuguese dishes consistently deliver. Go on a Friday for the suckling pig special, or else aim for the Picanha steak and baked duck rice on any night.

Kanella - Been once for dinner and sat outside on an uncomfortably hot summer night, so it tainted our experience a little, though I don't recall disliking anything. I do want to get back there asap for both dinner and brunch. The bright white/blue simplistic design reminds me distinctly of a honeymoon day in Santorini.

Best Gastropubs
Khyber Pass Pub - Yes on all accounts re: the bacon grease popcorn. The po-boys haven't totally wow'd us  but the extensive craft beer list and juke box can definitely occupy us for hours.

Shocking omission: McCrossens Tavern - We could not be more thankful to have finally eaten here just a week ago because it simply was delicious. Food-wise, we are quite surprised it missed the LaBan's list. Our review to follow this week. If you can't wait, just go and order clams, short rib and cavatelli if it's on special. Trust us.

Meritage roasted duck breast
Great Restaurants Deserving More Buzz
Meritage - Our thoughts exactly! It's been literally around the corner from us for years but we never felt drawn to go until this Fall. And good thing we did, because the food was really good and menu made me want to come back for more.

Meme - We had such an off-putting experience with the host and service here that we honestly can't even remember what we ate. Granted, that was 3 years ago but we haven't gotten over it enough to go back.

1 comment:

The Cozy Herbivore said...

I heartily agree with the Meritage recommendation-- what an amazing little gem! And if the regular po'boys at Khyber didn't win you over, may I humbly suggest the vegan sausage sandwich? I seriously eat one at least once a week. Soooo goood.