Fishtown's newest darling, Front Street Cafe, received a visit from Inky critic Craig LaBan, and things didn't pan out exactly as the all-day cafe would've hoped. The one-bell review was marked with a variety of issues, from spotty service to inconsistencies in food execution:
The omnivores, for a change, are the ones who get the special icon treatment on the menu's margins, with cute little bird symbols, piggies, and hunks of holey cheese denoting dishes that might be of interest to those who still dabble in proteins of the animal kind.
Our waitress clearly was not one, only barely suppressing a look of horror behind her smile when I asked why the pecan-crusted hon shimeji mushrooms tasted vaguely of fish: "I wouldn't know -," she said, her multicolored fashion dreads quivering with dread. "I've never eaten seafood in my life."
After similar non-replies to other queries about menu hits like the fried chicken sandwich, burger, and miso salmon ("I've never eaten meat, but I hear they're good"), I sank a little lower into my seat, gripped my kombucha-infused cocktail tighter, and proceeded to munch ahead.
Conversely, Philly Mag's Jason Sheehan popped into one of 13th Street's newest additions, Tredici Enoteca, the gorgeous Mediterranean wine bar by the Zavino Group, and had, almost exclusively, good things to say about the unceasingly busy space, breaking down his thoughts about the restaurant in list form, from 1-5:
1) It Has Nothing to Do With the Lasagna
2) Tredici Has a Big Sister
3) The Wine Program
4) The Gnocchi
5) Success Is Being Born Well
The most interesting remark in Sheehan's review? His little bit about there being no "drama" to the place, and if we've gathered anything about Sheehan's critiquing-style, it's that he loves to tap into the drama of a restaurant, whatever it may be.
From where I'm sitting, the worst thing about Tredici is that there's no drama to it. No tension. There's no doubt that the place is going to survive, no worries over it all suddenly falling to pieces. There's a smooth competency to everything about it that means good things for diners and terrible things for food writers. It leaves me with no story beyond Yeah, you should go there. You're gonna have a good time.