James Bonds

Nationally and locally, it's a love fest for James this weekend. First, a 3-bell review from Laban, an honor bestowed upon the likes of Amada, Ansill, and Gayle. Calling James "one of the most exciting restaurants [he's] encountered this year," Laban lauds its "palpable sense of personal style and fine-dining passion, and a crisp contemporary vision for how the best ingredients can be shaped by authentic Italian inspirations." Couldn't have said it better ourselves.

But that's not all. Food & Wine's newstand-fresh June issue features a six-page Philadelphia story written by editor Dana Cowin. Two years ago, Cowin called us---gasp--a, "boring food city," largely due to the Starr monopoly and BYOB boom. But despair not sixth borough evangelists. Cowin visited over the winter, and our city's rough-and-tumble charm and youthful generation of new culinary talent snared her into a delicious death-grip. She had fior di latte gelato at Capogiro, sliders at Barclay Prime, tapas at Amada, capuccino at La Colombe, cheese at DiBruno's, artisan bread from Fork:etc, ceviche and tequila cocktails at Xochitl, duck galantine at Ansill, caramel apples with miso and wasabi peas at snackbar, and the risotto alla Kristina at James, "so good that [she] stopped trying to analyze it and just ate it." Pondering the Philly food scene over Kip Waide Manhattans at Southwark, Cowin concludes that our "enormously satisfying, small new" neighborhood restaurants that marry Starr style and BYOB intimacy are, "better than many of the top restaurants in smaller cities [and] allow you to have a good meal any day of the week--and befriend the chef."

Says Cowin: "There are now more places I want to try in Philadelphia than New York." Thank you for telling the rest of the national food community what we've known all along. Places like James and Ansill and Amada and Vetri also deserve our gratitude (and patronage); they make our restaurant landscape what we know it to be, and what Cowin now sees it to be. So stop on by, out-of-towners, for some Mexican chocolate gelato and sea urchin crostini. Just learn how to parallel park first, and don't ask us how to get to Geno's or Pat's. We might just send you on a little detour to somewhere more like James.

Photo: James

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