Three reviews were published this week, two of them about suburban restaurants, and the third, a re-review of the Philly icon Fork. Why does Fork warrant a fresh review? Because Ellen Yin and Eli Kulp recently named John Patterson as its executive chef, and with a new chef comes a new vision, which you can read all about here.
As for Adam Erace's take on the chef-change? Well, for starters, it received four and a half stars, overall:
One thing that has not: The best way to eat this restaurant is the House Menu, a build-your-own tasting that lets you choose an appetizer, pasta, entrée and dessert from the night's offerings for $78 per person. So you could start with, say, a rhubarb consommé the color of clear rose quartz, and after lapping up the cool, tangy elixir and its spring interlopers (pickled green almonds, loops of cucumber, blue basil, compressed rhubarb), move on to al dente fettuccine dyed green with ramps, tossed with chorizo crumbles, three kinds of clam, pickled ramp bulbs and lemon-butter-herb sauce — an upscaled tribute to Patterson's mom's spaghetti and clams.
Then you might move on to the cauliflower steak and marvel at its size. The brassica is cut crosswise to the specs of a porterhouse, cooked sous-vide with garlic, thyme and bay and seared till its planes and crevices caramelize like crème brulee before finishing in the oven. Patterson tops the slab with raw shaved vegetables, pea shoots and a Sicilian-feeling mix of currants and almonds lashed with lemon. It's incidentally vegan, so if you're craving some animal fat after, you could select the splendid cheese plate that showcases King's Creamery fromage astride a comet of thick, lip-smacking rhubarb butter.
Jason Sheehan went to Stove & Tap for his weekly review, where he ate what he claimed to be the sandwich of a lifetime.
But the sandwich—stuffed fat with shaved brisket so pillowy and tender that it seemed to merge into the soft roll, everything smoothed out by melted gouda and punctuated by the hot spike of horseradish mayo—was the best I'd ever had.
Granted, I'm saying this as a man who falls into and out of love with sandwiches weekly, sometimes daily. A man who always (almost always) loves the sandwich in front of him more than any other remembered sandwich or potential sandwich yet to come. I'm saying this knowing full well the scope of my own hyperbole when it comes to the things I love, but also understanding the way it brushes up against mathematical reality.
On a Monday night, the brisket dip sandwich (did I forget to mention the rich, salty, slightly sour beef jus on the side?) was the best sandwich I'd ever had. As it sat there in front of me, I would have sworn that to anyone. But it also, simultaneously and absolutely, existed within the set of best sandwiches of my life overall, completely independent of proximity.
Craig Laban crossed the bridge, headed for Medford, NJ, home to ITA101. Two bells went to the new BYOB, its chef-owner an Il Pittore-alum (Il Pittore was considered one of the best Italian restaurants in Philadelphia). Kevin Maher grew up in Medford, then moved to Italy for 14 years where he worked in some Michelin-starred restaurants before returning home to open his own restaurant.
Likewise, the à la carte entrée prices here, which can crest into the $30s and beyond, don't always feel like especially good values. A $40 charge was a lot for the pan-seared swordfish. On the other hand, I can't quite forget the evocative Southern Italian flavors on that dish - the juicy seared swordfish perched over a creamy puree of toasted almonds beneath a piquant tumble of Castelvetrano olives, capers, and tomatoes. A hefty beef short rib, also pricey at $30, was meltingly tender over an asparagus emulsion scattered with roasted cauliflower and pancetta from Lansdowne's 1732 Meats.