The Other Critics

Ring-a-Ding-Ding: LaBan Gives La Calaca Feliz Three Bells; Amada at Revel Is ‘Beautiful and Sexy’

• In a glowing three-bell review, Craig LaBan suggests that at La Calaca Feliz, the second restaurant he’s launched since parting ways with his mentor, Jose Garces, Tim Spinner is pushing forward the “evolution of contemporary Mexican cooking in this town,” possibly even more so than the Iron Chef’s Mexican outpost in University City. He writes that the “superb” fillet of grilled black bass is “one of my favorite fish entrees anywhere,” and that the “hearty nachos” are “a masterwork of tortilla architecture.” A special pig ear terrine “was the ultimate Mexican pig part picnic.” [Inquirer]

• Of Le Pain Quotidien, Adam Erace writes, the menu “dances between sweet and savory, but carbs are a happy constant.” The vegan carrot cake “turned out to be more moist than those of us who like our desserts with cream and eggs might expect,” and an open-face curried chicken salad tartine was “a light and ladylike version of the classic teatime snack served balanced by a harissa-cranberry chutney.” An arugula salad was “awkwardly assembled,” and the tabbouleh “needed salt.” [Courier-Post]

• Jersey Bites’ Michele Errichetti provides an early assessment of Jose Garces’ recently opened Amada 2.0 at Atlantic City’s Revel, and writes that the “the plates are as visually stunning as they taste.” Gambas Al Ajillo were “plump and full of garlicky goodness,” and the Patatas Bravas were “cooked to perfection with just the right amount of kick from the paprika.” With its poached egg and Mahon crisp with truffles, the Esparragos con truffas was “beautiful and sexy.” [Jersey Bites]

Ring-a-Ding-Ding: LaBan Gives La Calaca Feliz Three Bells; Amada at Revel Is