Today was Inquirer critic Craig LaBan's last live food and restaurant chat of the year, and to wrap things up, he asked participants to vote on the year's best new restaurant. LaBan selected six top three-bell newcomers — High Street on Market, Laurel, Le Cheri, Townsend, Abe Fisher, and The Fat Ham — and put it to a quick vote. (He was also careful to note that the list of options was limited to six only because of the limitations of the online poll, and went on to suggest that Dizengoff, Junto, and Petruce et al. should be considered for write-in votes.)
Ultimately, High Street on Market came out on top with 26% of the "Chatter's Choice" vote. The restaurant narrowly edged out Laurel (23%) and Townsend (20%).
Other items worth noting:
· LaBan has revisited Ting Wong, the Chinatown duck house he's frequently championed and that recently shut down briefly for some reconfiguring. Findings: "Management and kitchen staff have changed significantly, but it's still a worthy stop."
· The annual Year in Bells feature will, of course, run in the Sunday, December 28 issue of the paper. The biggest draw for the yearly package is that the critic will revisit a few restaurants reviewed this year, in addition to attempting to make sense of trends and picking some favorite people and places from 2014's new crop.
· Marigold Kitchen, which recently reopened after changing hands, will be among the revisits. LaBan shared a few positive teases: He highlighted a recent cheese course as "typical of the intricate and thoughtful 'fine-dining' fare still being crafted over at Marigold under its latest owners," and announced that this week's Good Taste item will feature their "sweetbreads with popcorn grits and red-eye gravy."
To read today's full discussion, including reader's choices for some of their best bites of the year and some more speculation on whether or not fine dining is dying out, the live chat is archived here.