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Imli's 'Timid Punch' Disappoints LaBan; Trey Popp Thinks Triangle Tavern Is a Blast

Plus, Scratch Biscuits faces its first formal review, while casual Vietnamese spot Same Same continues to impress.

Imli/Facebook

Though Inquirer dining critic Craig LaBan was excited by the prospect of Indian newcomer Imli in Queen Village, his enthusiasm "did not even last past the opening chutneys," resulting in a crestfallen one-bell appraisal.

...the low-voltage dishes here taste vaguely Indian, but not vividly so, as though all the seasonings are on mute. I get a whiff of cumin and ginger in the fairly tender Hyderabadi lamb shank, but hardly a flicker of heat to distinguish it from something you might encounter at a Turkish restaurant.

While many dishes failed for being overly sweet and "timid" with the spices — fairly commonplace stumbling blocks for Indian restaurants seeking broad appeal — there were some weirder issues at Imli, like "the pico de gallo salsa we were given as chutney with the papadum crackers."

Overall, the menu was strewn with too many disappointments and misses, while even some the best dishes failed to set themselves apart from the city's other Indian restaurants for LaBan to want to make a return visit. Still, some of the starters did stand out (kebabs, deep-fried cauliflower, ragda patties, kale chaat, and paneer with mango chutney are offered as suggestions), the space is "pleasant," and the critic allows that the restaurant overall "may be fine enough to draw a neighborhood crowd."

Elsewhere:

· Philadelphia magazine's Trey Popp finds much to like at the rebooted Triangle Tavern, where "the red-gravy menu looks like an estate-sale artifact," the food is solid, the bar is "a blast" with a number of good and affordable drink options, and the whole of the project "shows what an important role [old taprooms] can play in knitting a neighborhood together." The verdict: two-and-a-half stars out of four.

· City Paper's Adam Erace turns his attention to Mitch and Jennifer Prensky's Scratch Biscuits, where the signature item is "moist, crumbly, dimpled," and "delicious," if not always able to stand up structurally to some of the more substantial sandwich fillings available. He prefers them simply smeared with preserves or molasses butter, but still sees plenty of promise in the foundation the Prenskys have established "upon which to build their Shake Shack."

· Philly Weekly's Brian Freedman becomes the latest critic to lend his nod of approval to Same Same, where "whatever you use to slake your thirst, and whichever dishes you order, it's all unfailingly pleasant and sneakily complicated." More specifically, the prawn crackers delight, the spring rolls are "delirious," and the banh mi is "easily one of [Freedman's] favorite iterations of the beloved sandwich in the city."


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