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Preview: Inquirer Columnist - Craig LaBan

Dining Critic Craig LaBan

The Inquirer's Dining Critic

Published: Fri, 18 Aug 2017 18:27:05 GMT2017-08-18T18:27:05Z

Copyright: Philadelphia Media Network

With improvement, CO-OP could have a corner on future of University City dining

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 18:27:05 GMT2017-08-18T18:27:05Z

This ambitious restaurant-bar in the new Study hotel gives University City a handsome all-purpose destination for a stylish New American meal. But it will need to continue its recent progress, and improve on its rough start to realize that potential.


Fri, 18 Aug 2017 02:38:12 GMT2017-08-18T02:38:12Z

CO-OP At the Study hotel, 20 S. 33rd St.; 215-398-1874; With sleek glass walls folded up for al fresco dining and an airy dining room outfitted in woody Nordic chic, this ambitious corner restaurant-bar in West Philly's new Study boutique hotel gives University City a handsome all-purpose destination for a sty

Loving Les Darons, Languedoc's latest awesome wine value

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 21:02:44 GMT2017-08-17T21:02:44Z

Look to Languedoc's freelance winemaker, Jeff Carrel, for one of the best red wine values in Pennsylvania State Stores.

Mastering the 'real food' neighborhood restaurant for suburbia

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 05:32:15 GMT2017-08-17T05:32:15Z

The second branch of Farm & Fisherman Tavern serves up real food on a diverse menu designed to feel accessible to a suburban audience weaned on chains.

Cheese of the Month: Honey Bell

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 22:26:06 GMT2017-08-14T22:26:06Z

Honey Bell from Valley Milkhouse is one of the stars of the new cheese CSA, a luscious cow's milk round whose bloomy rind takes on different personalities from botanicals that change with the season.

There's a salad in my cocktail

Thu, 10 Aug 2017 14:46:11 GMT2017-08-10T14:46:11Z

The addition of arugula to a gimlet adds another element to this classic drink that only salad greens can bring.

Birchrunville Store Cafe adds Asian touch to French favorites

Wed, 09 Aug 2017 17:23:18 GMT2017-08-09T17:23:18Z

This old general store turned idyllic BYOB with a chef-owner from Aix-en-Provence in the kitchen remains one of the single most charming dining experiences in the region.

Roy-Pitz barrels onto Spring Garden's new beer district

Sat, 05 Aug 2017 13:53:37 GMT2017-08-05T13:53:37Z

The arrival of Chambersburg's Roy Pitz on Spring Garden Street brings big oak barrels of sour ale along with an excellent array of "clean" German-style beers.

Drinking in a no-frills South Philly garage at Brewery ARS

Thu, 03 Aug 2017 19:38:38 GMT2017-08-03T19:38:38Z

If ever there was a testament to the power of great beer to draw a crowd no matter the setting, this weekend-only Brewery ARS is proving that that grittier West Passyunk has the potential to carry East Passyunk's mojo across Broad Street.

A pork chop to anchor Amis' new Navy Yard branch

Mon, 24 Jul 2017 20:49:33 GMT2017-07-24T20:49:33Z

A name change to the Vetri restaurant in the Navy Yard, from Lo Spiedo to Bar Amis, has brought a decidedly more Italian personality to the menu, with stellar pastas and a memorable pork chop Parmesan.

Savona, in remaking its image from fine-dining to more casual, forgets the fundamentals

Sat, 22 Jul 2017 16:59:52 GMT2017-07-22T16:59:52Z

This old standby may well have the right idea in where it needs to go in order to remain relevant. But to get there, they need to start with the fundamentals.

Surprising Silk is a unique PA wine true to its name

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 19:26:30 GMT2017-07-20T19:26:30Z

Silk is a Pennsylvania rosato made from an unusual blend of Italian grapes whose chameleon-like versatility is part of its magic and a testament to the mastery of terroir at Avondale's Va La Vineyards,

From meatballs to pho and carnitas, Chick's reflects the changing flavor of Washington Ave.

Thu, 20 Jul 2017 13:43:48 GMT2017-07-20T13:43:48Z

With a nod to the old-school Italian roots that persist in South Philly, including a name steeped in local mob history, Chick's embraces the diverse flavors that have bloomed in recent years to become a casual hub for the gentrifying neighborhoods that surround it.

Cheese of the Month: Graskaas young Gouda is all about that spring milk

Tue, 18 Jul 2017 18:15:57 GMT2017-07-18T18:15:57Z

Beemster's month-old Graskaas is all about the extra-creamy milk drawn the first week of spring, when cows get to graze on pasture for the first time after a long winter in the barn.

The chicken or the egg…or CHEGG beer?

Tue, 18 Jul 2017 17:41:43 GMT2017-07-18T17:41:43Z

When this Beach Haven brewery pays homage to the wing sauce at the famous local brunch place, the result is a beer that is a little hot, sweet, and hoppy.

It's the season for saison with fruity funk at Free Will Brewing Co.

Thu, 13 Jul 2017 21:42:34 GMT2017-07-13T21:42:34Z

A sour beer treasure of 1,500 barrels ages in the cellar beneath Perkasie's Free Will Brewing Co. Its current release, Provisional Funk w/Cherries, features the ripe flavors of last season's Pennsylvania harvest fermented into an earthy saison brewed from local malt.

Real food on the Boardwalk? The Hula delivers again

Wed, 12 Jul 2017 16:25:03 GMT2017-07-12T16:25:03Z

When I hit my pizza quotient on the boardwalk, I crave a grilled ahi plate and a trip to the Hula Restaurant and Sauce Co., the Hawaiian-inspired seafood grill that has been a safe haven of fresh and affordable cooking in Ocean City for 17 seasons.

Hot smoked salmon from Margate's BBQ pit

Tue, 11 Jul 2017 20:04:02 GMT2017-07-11T20:04:02Z

If barbecue is regional, its no surprise that the Margate farmers market's Downbeach BBQ has supplied its large Jewish clientele with some outstanding hot-smoked salmon.

Craig LaBan reviews this summer's offerings at the Jersey Shore

Mon, 10 Jul 2017 20:42:16 GMT2017-07-10T20:42:16Z

Where to eat from Wildwood to LBI, from dockside delights (and disappointments) to fresh tacos and beer, seafood, and Italian BYOBs.

Old-school square pizza pops up at the Shore

Thu, 06 Jul 2017 16:30:24 GMT2017-07-06T16:30:24Z

At the Shore, where there's already more pizza than necessary and in every style imagined, the Trenton-style square pizzas from Maggpie's Pizza pop-up in Ocean City still represent something unique - a handmade homage to simplicity and good ingredients that draws on family recipes being sold the public for the first time in 40 years.