Here's an early Week in Reviews bonus, courtesy of a package of revisits from Inquirer restaurant critic Craig LaBan. Up for reconsideration were a trio of Rittenhouse and Fitler Square spots that have undergone chef changes since LaBan last checked in: Fitler Dining Room, which saw opening chef Rob Marzinsky leave early this year (in the coming months, he'll resurface in Point Breeze), Meritage, whose kitchen suffered from revolving door syndrome after chef Anne Coll left last year (first for Susanna Foo, then for the Whip Tavern), and Crow and the Pitcher, which was recently rocked by the shocking arrest of chef (and then-partner) Alex Capasso.
To recap, here's where the three stood going in: Fitler Dining Room nabbed three bells upon its first review, back in May 2013. Meritage earned three bells under Coll in 2009, but was demoted to two bells last fall. Crow and the Pitcher had two bells, dating back to August 2014.
And following this week's reappraisal, all three spots held onto those bells. The major takeaways:
· LaBan notes that, since opening, FDR has upheld its quality while steering itself more and more toward being a relaxed neighborhood spot. Thanks to Gabriel Alcaraz (who came to FDR from Sbraga Dining), the menu "has veered toward more rustic comforts with some Southern accents," including standout pimento cheese fritters with sweet onion jam.
· Meritage seems back on the road to recovery. Last fall, a disappointed LaBan specified the restaurant had fallen to the "low-two-bell range" but now, under chef Steve Forte, it's "still two bells, but trending in the right direction."
· The Crow and the PItcher, which gave a quick promotion to former sous chef Gregory Headen under the guidance of local legend (and friend of the restaurant) Georges Perrier, "still feels like it is very much in a state of transition" but has handled itself admirably through such a potentially devastating shakeup.
Check out the full article for all the highlights and lowlights. It should be noted that the revisit roundup is being touted as a new feature, making good on LaBan's earlier promises to update his ratings more frequently. The uptick in revisits drew some criticism early this year from Marc Vetri, whose South Jersey outpost of Osteria was among the restaurants hit with a downgrade.