The Courier Post's Adam Erace dropped into Restaurant Neuf, Joncarl Lachman and Bob Moysan's neighborhood-reinvigorating North African-French restaurant in the heart of the Italian Market. Erace described the restaurant's allure as magnetic, "You don't so much as walk into Neuf as the restaurant pulls you in, like a magnet."
If charmoula is the crucial ingredient in the cauliflower dish, ras-al-hanout is that in the prawns en papillote ($16); the secret mix of spices — its name roughly translates as ‘top of the shop,' meaning a bespoke blend of a spice merchant's best wares — is blended and ground at the spice shop next door to Neuf. The mélange gives the shrimp, which Lachman steams in foil (instead of the titular parchment), a heady flavor that enhances their natural sweetness. It goes without saying, suck the heads.
Only a block away, an equally-as-French (this one by way of Montreal) restaurant, Coeur, gets reviewed by Philadelphia's Jason Sheehan, who told a story about the roller coaster of emotions that came with his quest to find poutine at Philly's only Montreal-inspired restaurant:
The first time I went to Coeur, there was no poutine on the menu, and I was pissed. I mean, this place—opened in September by Brendan Hartranft and Leigh Maida, who also run the decidedly non-Canadian Local 44, Strangelove's and Memphis Taproom—was supposed to be a Montreal-inspired gastropub, and I'm pretty sure there's a law that says if you name-check Montreal anywhere in the description of your restaurant, you have to have poutine.
And after a subsequent visit:
See, here's how things work at Coeur. Poutine is never on chef Andy Tessier's actual menu (something like that would've simply been too obvious, Hartranft told me when I talked to him about it), but it's always on the specials menu. That first night, sitting at the bar, I don't know what happened. Maybe the bartender forgot to mention it. Maybe he looked at me and decided I was a man who'd already had his fair share of cheese curds (which is absolutely true).
The best part of this review? The comment section. Read through to see the back-and-forth banter between Coeur's wine rep, Jason Malumed, Jason Sheehan, and whole slew of passionate
people haters sharing their opinions of the review.