Craig LaBan falls hard for the Fishtown Taqueria Loco Pez, and rings out two very strong bells for numerous homeruns on the menu. LaBan thinks the service rocks, loves the In N' Out "off-the-menu" menu, and bows down to a childhood favorite he "might be addicted to."
"I never thought I'd savor the hard-shelled Old El Paso taco dinner of my youth again until I ran into Hunt's "Gabacho." That's pejorative slang for a Mexican who acts like a gringo, and is the perfect name for this house-fried taco shell whose crispy channel is stuffed with Pat LaFrieda's trendy Creekstone ground beef, seasoned up with cuminy onion-powder-paprika magic, then topped with a classic lettuce shred and pico de gallo."
LaBan said it wasn't all thumbs up, though, as they need to work on their fish dishes a bit, but didn't have much else to say on the negative side. He's definitely fan. Good luck getting a table.
Adam Erace crushes on Joe Scarpone's return to the Philly scene at Ulivo, where we should "expect to hear a lot about the gnocchi," but that the service was ridiculously damn slow. No matter, as the staff did everything possible to rectify the situation, from a call before arriving to warn of impending delay, to comping dessert before being seated. Erace warns that there's some French sheen on your classic Italian dishes, and lo, it's a damn good thing. [CP]
Brian Freedman heads to Broad and Pine Streets to dine with Top Chef Kevin Sbraga at his eponymous restaurant, and heaps praise on his Foie Gras soup, falling in lockstep with the rest of the local critic stable. Freedman had positive comments about the Top Chef's Buffalo chicken, too, saying "Sbraga didn’t diverge from the truth of the dish. It’s still just chicken, hot sauce, creamy dressing and greens. But the degree of attention lavished on each aspect of it was stunning. The chicken, marinated in buttermilk and then fried, is textbook perfect." [PW]
The lovely Phyllis Stein-Novack gives three enthusiastic "tips of the toque" to the new kitchen at McCrossen's, which is turning out peasant French dishes at Fairmount pub prices. The revelation of the evening was a copper pot of choucrute garnie. "It was big enough for two. Wentz added tender pork belly; thick, spicy bratwurst and weisswurst; and steamed potatoes to the simmering wine-enhanced broth. Juniper berries floated throughout, giving the dish its unique flavor. The potatoes and sauerkraut, thoroughly rinsed of its brine, retained a bit of bite. I make choucroute at home and confess Wentz’s is a masterpiece of subtle flavors and textures." [SPR]
THE BLOGS: Brian over at Bridges, Burgers, and Beers, is happy enough with Sammy Chon's Korean Fried Chicken, but does backflips for Supper's La Freida Burger, Messy and Picky says the move into new digs doesn't affect the "best sandwich in the city" at DiNic's, Midtown Lunch Discusses the "50 Versions of Falafel" at Crisp, and Two Eats Philly enjoy their trip to South Philly's Birra, where they loved the Italian classics, but thought the sodium needed to be rolled back a notch.