The Other Critics

Tashan Rises Above ‘Superficial Fusion’; Fairmount’s Isabel Was a ‘Bland Disaster’

• When the “clovey scent of apple and hickory” smoke clears Craig LaBan finds “one of the finest quails” he’s ever tasted before him at South Broad Street’s Tashan. The “tandoori theater,” he writes, “is in a class of its own, fulfilling the name’s Hindi meaning - ‘style, swagger, or attitude’ - in every way.” The “perhaps too big” menu’s “authentic roots” rise above “mere superficial fusion” to showcase “India’s regional diversity on stunningly fresh display.” Gol-gappa durum puffs “burst in the mouth like juicy pastry balloons of herb and crunch,” pork tenderloin “tingling with a 21-spice Xacutti marinade sparked with dried peppers,” and clove and garlic-marinated venison “scented with smoke over the charcoal sigri grill” deliver an “exotic blast of Bollywood glitz.” Still dishes like scallops and black bass “suffered from sauces that were overwhelmingly frothy and thick.” [Inquirer]

• At Fairmount’s Mexi-Cali BYOB Isabel, Adam Erace encounters a “bland disaster” in the still new restaurant’s “drunken” chicken. He likens the “overcooked breast in a watery pasilla-tomato sauce” to a chicken entreé on might find on an “economy-class flight.” “Greasy as melted Chap Stick” empanadas and “bits boiled duck got lost in the quesadilla’s gobs of Chihuahua cheese.” [Citypaper]

Federal Donuts’ fancy varieties proved “way too sweet” for Penn Appetit. The honey-ginger glazed chicken, however, was “crispy without being shiny” and the savory and sweet glaze and its stickiness, “contrasted nicely with the crispness.” [Penn Appetit]

Tashan Rises Above ‘Superficial Fusion’; Fairmount’s Isabel