Craig LaBan has issued his judgment of Girard, and the news is not great: The "brasserie and bruncherie" scored just one bell from the Inquirer critic amid some confusion about service and a discussion of the building's exterior, which has "had a repellent effect on some prospective customers." Moreover, a succession of problematic food beginning with a "weirdly charred grapefruit" and winding its way through aging rotisserie chicken and a torchon of foie gras that amounted to "an off-tasting smudge of tan butter on toast." Luckily, it also included "one of the better burgers [he's] had in a while" and ended with some "more redeeming bites" for dessert, but those were not enough to make up for all the poor execution throughout.
LaBan also saves some room to take on the much talked-about "no tipping required" policy, after encountering service that seemed "a cliché of salaried server indifference" and still being informed that "tip is not included" at the end of his meal. (We're assuming the model is similar to service-included checks elsewhere in the world, where an additional tip is always a possibility though not expected. Still, if you're going to do things differently than your neighbors — especially around a practice so anxiety-inducing as tipping — you'd better make the expectations clear and consistent.)
· Brian Freedman considers Knead Bagels for Philly Weekly, and finds that while the bagels shine on their own, it's "the unmitigated deliciousness of their sandwiches" — composed of "brilliantly produced components layered with care and precision" — that impresses the most.
· Despite some snags in service and one all-around bad crudo, Adam Erace finds lots to like about Gran Caffe L'Aquila for City Paper. The newcomer's "gelati and sorbetti are the fittest challengers for Capogiro's crown [he's] encountered in our city," and Erace notes that the frozen creations even figure into the savory side of the menu, with pancetta and mustard varieties of gelato making appearances.