One Bell for Frankford Hall

Craig LaBan gives the pretzels, sausage and the three entrees at Frankford Hall the once over. He doesn’t come away impressed. He does however use the review to salute Brauhaus Schmitz’s “far superior” German food and the homemade hot dogs of Garces Trading Co., South Philadelphia Tap Room and Supper.

One Bell – Hit or Miss

Frankford Hall [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Frankford Hall [Official Site]

Photo by Michael Bryant |

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  • just sayin’

    it’s kinda spot on…

  • hamburglar

    The space IS amazing and the food is awful….I think he nailed it. In addition to being awful, I thought the food was a rip off. $1 extra for a crappy hotdog bun? Come on, son.

  • Meh-

    The girl pictured is a Fishtown 9 and a half, NYC 6.

  • Big John

    Meh, I love to see a picture of you…

  • Jay

    How long will this, plus the 2 bell Talula review, shut up the “Laban loves all things Starr” crew? 2 weeks? 3?

  • Sara

    I mean, was this really a surprise to LaBan? It’s a no-frills kind of place and the food is essentially beer munchie quality.

  • KL

    A fine example of a “Drink, but don’t eat” spot. Fill up at Modo Mio or Fathom (or just grab a quick bite from Paesano’s) beforehand and then just walk to FH. Problem solved.

  • lilpit

    @Jay: I dunno, that depends on how long goes by until we get the revised Laban/Talulas 4-bell rewrite.

  • Jay

    I think his “rules” indicate he can only shift one bell at a time. 4 bells probably comes the following year. However, he should feel free to give it a great rating considering every other reviewer has done so and Bon Appetit called it one of the 10 best new restaurants in America.

    I’m not interested in promoting Starr, I AM interested in realizing we have a critic in Laban who is fair.

  • rory


    he’s a subjective reviewer just like anyone else. He has his things he likes and things he doesn’t. Until recently, starr had him nailed cold. Laban critics disliked that he never fully seemed to appreciate how well starr had him nailed in terms of getting special attention as an “anonymous reviewer” who wasn’t anonymous to starr.

  • Jay

    So Starr stopped caring what Laban said? No, that’s not it, rory. It’s not it at all.

    How about this theory that is probably MUCH more likely: generally, Stephen Starr restaurants are good. They make food that people would like to eat in an atmosphere that’s fun. Laban, like most critics, tends to reward places that make good food and that provide good experiences for the customer. It’s really that simple and it’s why Vetri and Garces also are similarly highly praised.

    Laban gets spotted by Starr, I think everyone concedes that point, but you can only do so much with the knowledge a critic is there and that didn’t help Starr with the last two “relatively” poor reviews.

  • Michael G

    He also didn’t give El Rey a very good review. But Franklin Hall is more like Square Burger in Franklin Square park, in that they are what they are supposed to be given there settings. However, eat at Paesano’s on the way there and you will be fine.

  • 2 BeFair

    As someone who has been to Frankford Hall on a few occasions, and as someone who has zero interest in defending ANY Starr joint, I do think that Mr. Laban missed the point of this “restaurant”. This place is not a culinary destination, nor do I think Starr has ever intended it to be. It is a social destination. Where else in this town can you roll up with a group of 20 friends, with no reservation and have ample room to sit, talk, play games like jenga & ping-pong and drink fun German beers out of big glass mugs? Sure, it maybe be a departure for Mr. Starr from his usual “swanky” concepts… but if he had opened a swanky place in Fishtown, maybe threw a $100 bratwurst on the menu, would the commenters on foobooz and phoodie not have lit him up for that? Laban, using his antiquated 4-Bell rating scale for a place like this seems a bit ludicrous. You can’t hold a beer garden with no table service to the same dining standards as a 4-bell restaurant! It would be like giving LeBec Fin 1 bell because it doesn’t have a fun and lively bar scene. Mr. Laban may need to reevaluate his standards. In this town, and in our current dining environment, people are wanting more delicious beers and more delicious & unpretentious food.

    Not to mention… in his review he hardly even talks about the beer!! Its a beer garden!

    Having been there on both a Friday and Saturday night, I have never seen a line (with or without a velvet rope), and certainly not one managed by “thug bouncers”. In fact, if they even have bouncers, I couldn’t tell who they were.

    And as for the valet thing… it is kind of lame, but I do know that the Fishtown Neighbors Association required them to have it. And it is better than the South Jersey crowd taking up all of our street parking on Saturday nights.