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Craig LaBan Bumps Chris Kearse's Will BYOB Up to Three Bells

The Inquirer critic looks at the new wave of French restaurants sweeping the city and gives one a rating boost on the revisit.

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Chef Christopher Kearse opened Will just over two years ago to significant praise, but a mixed two-bell review from Inky critic Craig LaBan. "[Kearse's] early enthusiasm often translated into overwrought plates with a few too many flourishes that hindered, rather than helped," LaBan writes today, following a recent revisit.

Seems like Kearse has managed to rein it in: LaBan has now adjusted Will's rating upward to three bells, noting that at his most recent dinner, "every intricate touch amplified the central themes, rather than distracting." The star of the meal was the whole roasted hen of the woods mushroom, which has become a de facto signature of the restaurant.

In a related feature this week, LaBan talked further with Kearse and several other chefs leading the current revival of interest in French cooking throughout the city. He investigates the trend with input from the likes of Tod Wentz (chef-owner of Townsend), Paul Lyons (exec at Good King Tavern), Charlotte Calmels (owner of Bibou and Le Cheri), and Jean-Marie Lacroix, who (along with Georges Perrier) has mentored much of this new wave. As a bonus, there are recipes for Wentz's choucroute garnie and Lyons' lauded ratatouille and chickpea socca.

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