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Jason Sheehan Awards Neuf Two Stars; LaBan Rings Twice for South

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Restaurant Neuf, the North African-French restaurant by South Philly-successful Joncarl Lachman and Bob Moysan, got its third review from Philly Mag critic Jason Sheehan. His Neuf-experience, as opposed to, yet again, a group of defiant commenters underneath, was generally disappointing, accusing the kitchen of "neutering" the cuisine:

The menu, in its final form, was unexciting. Neutered. The bisteeya vanished pretty quickly, and specials started going up on the chalkboard next to the bar. And while the kitchen offered a few dishes that looked like interesting collisions between European and Middle Eastern culinary traditions (like pan-roasted squab over fava bean bissara with fingerling potatoes and a quince gastrique), there were even more that read like one-note covers. Sure, there were tajines and shakshuka. There was a goat leg. But very few dishes (on paper, anyway) seemed to have the mash-up poetry and excitement I'd been hoping for.

Though, in the end, he allotted two stars ("come if you're in the neighborhood") to the duo hoping to give new energy to the Italian Market with a concept pretty much peerless in Philadelphia.

Meanwhile, Inky's critic Craig LaBan journeyed north on Broad Street to South, Robert Bynum's new Southern restaurant that took the place of Route 6, neighboring Vetri's Italian gastropub, Alla Spina. Obviously, jazz clubs and good food are always welcome in this city, having only a handful of places to enjoy those finer things together. Chef Paul Martin's deft hand with Southern cuisine won over LaBan, who knows much about it considering his time spent in New Orleans.

For the most part, though, Martin's kitchen delivered with finesse and fully formed flavors. On the quieter side, a plate of little brioche toasts mounded with sweet lump crab dressed in capery-mayo ravigote sauce gave me a momentary flashback to Galatoire's. Flash-fried cubes of kabocha squash and toasted almonds cleverly elevated kale in buttermilk dressing beyond the salad mundane.

South Kitchen & Jazz Parlor

600 North Broad Street, , PA 19130 (215) 600-0220 Visit Website

Restaurant Neuf

943 South 9th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147 215-309-5847

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