The Other Critics

LaBan: Farm-to-Table Ruled 2011’s Restaurant Roost

Sure, while we all made fun of it as a cavalcade of trend-seeking chefs and restaurateurs lined up to appropriate what’s undoubtedly the year’s most overused buzzword, farm-to-table ruled the restaurant roost here in 2011, according to Inquirer critic Craig LaBan in his “Year in Bells.” Of it’s many subscribers — and there were a bumper crop of them — LaBan gives a special shout-out to The Farm and Fisherman, for what he says is the “city’s best new BYO.” Of Talula’s Garden, the much ballyhooed partnership of Talula’s Table founder Aimee Olexy and mega-restaurateur Stephen Starr, which following a revisit after all the chef shuffling there subsided was bumped up from two bells to three, he writes has “finally settled into a satisfying groove.”

Off the farm, LaBan called Tashan “the year’s most stunningly ambitious opening,” with its contemporary take on Indian dishes. Sylva Senat, one of Tashan’s two chefs, he identifies as one of the year’s “breakout chefs.” Others include Le Virtu’s Joe Cicala, McCrossen’s Tavern’s Townsend Wentz, aforementioned Farm and Fisherman’s Josh Lawler, and Vetri alum Joey Baldino who opened Zeppoli in Collingswood this year.

In all LaBan didn’t register any four bells to reviews, but an “all-time high of three No-Bell clunkers.” On revisits Le Virtu, Talula’s Garden, White Dog Wayne, and Thai Kuu all earned upgrades.

Farm-to-table on menu all over [Inquirer]

LaBan: Farm-to-Table Ruled 2011’s Restaurant Roost