Tucked away on 3rd Street, Bistro 7 has chugged along in Old City since its opening eleven years ago. Recently, owner Michael O'Halloran gave his charming French BYOB a kick in the pants, and opened with a renovated interior and menu concept. Less French, less linen, "more approachable".
The Inquirer's Craig LaBan, for one, had a field-day at the revitalized BYOB when he dropped in for his weekly review, trying to remember "how and why" he forgot about the Old City bistro at all.
North African flavors were among the most memorable plates - a couple of spice-crusted T-bone lamb chops one night ripe with cumin over Israeli couscous salad blended with cilantro pesto; the same salad came mounded with merguez meatballs the next, the ground lamb seasoned with harissa and a side of cumin-scented yogurt. A fillet of rouget - the briny little red-skinned mullet that's one of my favorite fishes - was posed over saffron orzo cooked like risotto studded with cuminy sausage of more merguez.
Three bells went to O'Halloran and his team, an excellent restaurant according to the Inky critic. If the restaurant continues to stay as "fresh, current, and focused" as it does right now, LaBan promised "it won't be forgotten again any time soon."
Philly Mag's Jason Sheehan found "the best brunch in the city" in Pennsport's The Dutch, giving it a stellar, two-star ("Come if you're in the neighborhood") review.
Sheehan starts his weekly review with a theory: "Americans own breakfast the way the French do dinner." He then lists four ways Joncarl Lachman and Lee Styer are taking breakfast and brunch to whole new heights:
- They're Doing What They Love
- They're Doing What the Neighbors Love
- They're Serving One of the Best Waffles in the City
- They Haven't Forgotten Their History, or the Boozers in the Crowd
His one caveat: The Dutch's dutch babies could be better.
There's nothing wrong with them. When mine arrive, I clean the plate (well, pan) and push back from the table happy. I'm just saying that I've had better, more extreme Dutch Babies in the past, and that these are the gentle cousins to those monstrosities—more restrained, more considered, but ultimately less memorable.