It's a Trey Popp twofer this week, with the Philly Mag critic's take on both Le Cheri and High Street on Market, a pair of places that kept him on his toes. At Le Cheri, there was just one dish Popp didn't like (the lamb offal pot au feu), but even it had one saving grace: the "pistachio fries."
What culinary jewels, those mild and tender ovals bearing mosaics of crunchy nuts!
Only later did I discover the source of my captivation. "Ah, pistachio fries!" [chef Pierre] Calmels chuckled over the phone. "This is a way of saying 'testicles.'"
While "Calmels's cooking is less ambitious here than at Bibou," Popp writes, "the Calmels have given the Wetherill mansion a restaurant that feels right." Boasting veteran Le Bec Fin server Delroy Olivier, "some of the fairest wine markups in Philly," and the best boudin noir Popp's ever had, it sounds like the place is firing on all cylinders.
Popp's strongly positive assessment of High Street makes the point that no matter how good it may be and how much praise food writers and adventurous eaters may heap upon it, it's not for everyone. Particularly at brunch,
...be careful about whom you bring along. Kulp fires on all cylinders in the a.m., which translates into some high-toned fare. [...] But pity the boyfriend—or kid—who just wants an omelet or a bagel. [...] My wife felt High Street's inhospitality to non-foodies was snobby—and she's right. For most people, brunch is comfort (or hangover) food. And Kulp's creative spin on the meal would have been more welcoming if the menu included a couple boring standbys.
Oh, what we wouldn't give to read a full companion review by Popp's wife. It should be noted, however, that Popp himself points out only a couple of the most minor quibbles throughout, and concludes that chef Eli Kulp "has surely put High Street atop the serious eater's required dining list for 2014."
· The New York Times Travel section gives the restaurant report treatment to Little Nonna's, with high marks for some of the less-traditional, but highly comforting, Italian-American plates. One demerit for a too-pricy wine list. (Want more Little Nonna's intel? Two Eat Philly also wrote about it this week.)
· Adam Erace takes on more casual fare this week, offering his opinion on Wishbone, the new West Philly spot specializing in highbrow chicken fingers. Takeaways: don't miss the white meat fingers, the mac and cheese, or the hand pies, but the fingers cut from the thigh meat are "unpleasantly bouncy," and you can probably skip the wings.