This week in restaurant reviews, the South Philly Review's Phyllis Stein-Novack headed up to Northern Liberties to appraise Heritage, settling on a lackluster rating of one-and-a-half tips of the toque (translation: poor to fair). It came as a bit of a surprise after her statement of a few weeks ago, that her "top priority" would be to review South Philly restaurants worthy of her recommendation and to implement the "if you can't find anything nice to say..." principle by avoiding negative reviews.
But she did find some nice things to say: The music was to her liking, the service was "excellent," the cocktails were made well, the bar stools were comfortable, and she was "fine with" the size of the menu.
The food, unfortunately, did not impress the critic. Several starters were deemed overpriced for the "toddler-sized" portions, including Nettle Meadow's Kunik cheese on toast, "tasty" but dry chicken croquettes, and "disappointing" fried eggplant.
When it came to entrees, a dish of pork and clams (she rejects the menu's assertion that they were middlenecks on the basis that she has "never heard of them," and proceeds defiantly to label them littlenecks) was also undersized and filled with overcooked pork. Clam size classifications aside, a visit from "the salt monster" was the final nail in the coffin for that plate. Back went the pork and clams, replaced by a dish of mussels, which were sadly marred by grit. Another entree of trout, luckily, was more pleasing.
Ultimately, Stein-Novack does see some potential in the restaurant, though she calls for more careful execution and lower prices. For those keeping score at home, Heritage has elsewhere earned two bells from Craig LaBan, three stars from Trey Popp, and a glowing review from Adam Erace, who placed the spot in his "personal top ten."
· City Paper's Adam Erace checks in with Indian newcomer Imli, coming to roughly the same ultimate conclusion as Craig LaBan did earlier this month. Under one of the most impressively lukewarm headlines we've seen in some time, Erace finds "crowd-pleasers that won't win any awards but are serviceable in that don't-feel-like-cooking-on-a-Wednesday-night way" and suggests you "take the kids and in-laws" to the new neighborhood spot.
· Philly Weekly's Brian Freedman didn't file a review this week, but he does have a number of recommendations if you're looking to eat cheaply in University City.