Route 6 Gets One Bell Review

Craig LaBan reviews Route 6, Stephen Starr’s East Coast seafood restaurant and  takes it to task for not being enough of a Philadelphia fish house of a bygone era.

If I’d eaten only starters here, Route 6 would have been in for a far more cheery review. More delights from the raw bar: a perfect shrimp cocktail, the tender meat infused with its poach in grapefruit juice and chiles; also a cracked Dungeness crab with a zippy Worcestershire-tinged Louis dressing, harking back to [Chef Anthony] DiRienzo’s San Francisco days. Deviled eggs generously stuffed with lump crab salad tingled with cayenne-mustard heat. The “chopped” salad was more of a flimsy mixed green salad tossed with grilled shrimp and Green Goddess dressing. But the Caesar salad was refreshingly crunchy and piquant, topped with plump, silvery anchovies.

One Bell – Hit-or-Miss

Route 6 [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Route 6 [Official Site]

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  • Phillyjazzdoc

    We’ve only had great, very fresh and well prepared dishes at Route 6. Maybe we are just good at picking the right things to order.

    We’d give it 2-3 bells, and we are not big fans of much else he has done.

  • Scoop

    This joint is a terrible value, and the food isn’t great. A well-deserved uno bell rating

  • Dan

    Yea, the food is good. The value is atrocious. I don’t understand it. It is not a high rent neighborhood so what justifies $28 for a fish with no sides and $10-12 mini cocktails!?! The fish at Dmitri’s is better, I can byob, don’t need a cab and the price is much better. I get it, you can “see and be seen here.” In my old age (I’m 33 and married) that don’t excite me very much. BTW, unsurprising that guy named “Phillyjazzdoc” likes a place like this. Nothing more main line pretentious then including your profession and musical taste (especially where its pretentious) in your moniker 😉

  • Tim

    Food is alright, nothig special, but again this is a Stephen Starr place.

    My meal here came out undercooked and cold.

    Service was better than most Starr places.

    The place is nice but not amazing.

    It is overpriced and decent food. Sounds like almost every SS restaurant.

  • GeorgeToTheRescue

    Georges Perrier should show him how to get up to Two Bells

    • Tino

      Or Kevin Sbraga. Come to think of it, Sbraga should grab Le Bec’s unemployed staff. Then, MAYBE, he’d get another bell. Nah, the Le Bec staff is probably collecting more on unemployment than they’d ever make at Sbraga. He has a ad up once a month. What’s wrong with working for Kevin?

  • Meh-

    Honest, I thought the review read better than the rating. Seems this didn’t capture the existential zeitgeist that LaBan was looking for in a seafood joint. Starr should probably take him on a beer tasting trip to Belgium before Craig reviews his next restaurant.

  • barryg

    I dunno it sounded like the half the dishes Laban ate were not good, “hit or miss” is fitting.

  • HugeBeard

    how long before the chef gets canned?

  • eldondre

    the review isn’t far off. I’ve had the bluefish twice, once was perfect, the other dry (and it was $2 more the second time I had it). the lobster roll and chowder are excellent but some of the specials have not been. the fried oysters were absolutely perfect the first time, mostly breading the next. the service has been excellent both at the bar and at the tables. If nothing else, they should run weekday specials. also of note, the house esb from white birch is a satisfying beverage.

  • Server86

    The price is clearly questionable, but this review seems far off the mark, even for Laban. Especially considering LaBan’s new wishy-washy review policy, where Talula’s Garden can gain a star, while others lose them, one star seems harsh for even the toughest Starr critic. Heck, even the hardcore-Starr critics should find little to despise about Route 6 except for its inflated prices, which are only in line with its Vetri neighbors. The concept and ambiance are meticulously executed and the food is over priced, un-original, but solidly executed. Then again, what intelligent consumer pays attention to LaBan’s reviews for anything outside of anecdotal amusement anyway?

  • Cleevus

    My favorite part of all of Craig’s reviews are when he tells us what he thinks the restaurant ought to be, and then judges it based on that. That being said, Steven doesn’t know how to slum it, and can’t, based on his need for rate of return. And as Vetri will soon prove with Alla Spina, as he has with Amis and Osteria, he can’t provide value in low rent either. Not that it has stopped people from going. If the standards of review were more consistent, this review would be easier to believe.

  • Jimmy

    LaBan is pedantic.

  • mike

    @Meh – I agree that the review seemed much better than one bell. Seems like he was pissed that it wasn’t like bookbinders.

  • escottw

    @Mike, yes one of the infuriating things about this review is LaBan’s secular desire to see a “new” Bookbinders- or more so a Philadelphia culinary “star’s” take on that concept or space. Yet that idea seems flawed to begin with, as among other things, Bookbinders as a restaurant concept is still out there in the world (the owners opened up a Bookbinders a couple years ago in Richmond, VA and from what I’ve read, it seems to be doing fairly well/ decent reviews). It will feel a bit Epcot Center to do that same concept in that original space (no pun intended).

  • badjack

    Laban’s review could be summed up as:

    “I want Bookbinder’s. I don’t like Stephen Starr. Lobster cookery here is awesome. I want Bookbinder’s. Raw Bar is awesome. I don’t like Stephen Starr. The side room looks like an Applebee’s. I want Bookbinders. Lobster roll is an exemplar of the genre. Had a couple of crappy entrees. I want Bookbinder’s and don’t like Stephen Starr.”

    I feel dumber for reading this review. I hate to say it, but Laban seems like he’s now too bitter and jaded for even Philly. And that makes me sad inside.

    Philly should follow the LA Times’ lead and do away with the star/bell rating system, as it’s just too damaged and subjective to have any sort of credibility.

  • Snake

    Had a great lobster roll and the beer selection was good. The place was great for me and the decor was cool.

    I never much liked Bookbinders and I think that snapper soup is for old people.

  • jay

    For Fu*k sake, Badjack, he just gave out two 3 bell reviews the weeks before. He’s been accused of being a Starr apologist, he just upgraded one Starr place to 3 bells a couple months ago (albeit downgrading another place). It sounded hit or miss to me, but I could also have seen a weak 2 bell assessment. It was obviously borderline. How much credit should a raw bar receive anyway? Dude didn’t cook anything.

  • rory

    Laban doesn’t like starr? now I’ve seen it all.

    A place where service was “meh” (and in a Starr restaurant where they pride themselves on identifying critics), food was often overcooked (particularly problematic in a seafood spot), dishes were inconsistent, and others just downright disappointing? He even said it was close to two bells IN THE REVIEW. maybe he went one bell because he was sick of being accused of being in starr’s pocket, i don’t know, but it wasn’t unreasonable. compare that review to the typical 2 bell review and its clear route 6 is a step behind the type of place that gets 2 bells.

  • http://FooBooz PPABootSquad

    Yo, stop the whining, will yiz? LaBan is the Best reason for reading the Inquirer anymore. He’s Way more than fair to the establishment, goes where You want him to and youse gotta remember–He’s looking out for The Customers who pay the ca$h. Alot of us Can’t afford to be the Foodies of such magnitude as Badjacj,Cleevus & Server86. So tell me, my fine palated dummies, are you just jealous LaBan haters or do you just think You know how to his job better? There’s nothing wrong with stating how you think the restaurant Should be. he’s usually right on the money.
    I ate at the Route 6 bar and had a perfectly wonderful bunch of small plates at happy hour, the bartender was good and I felt I received value. Sure, I miss the glory of a City that used to have Two Bookbinders, and I’d like to see someone take over that old spot and bring it back. Then again, I miss Upstairs At Holly Moore’s and Le Wine Bar. On a positive, non Philadelphian note- Let’s Go Temple Owls!

  • ADogADay

    @Dan – I’m with you completely! (The only way to go Starr is when someone else is paying.)
    But, I’m already having a hard time getting a table at D’mitri’s, so don’t tell everyone! 😉

  • CapeCodder

    I haven’t been here, but having spent a lot of time on Cape Cod, I’d like to try it anyway. From what I read, it seems like everyone – LaBan included – missed the point; it is meant to replicate Cape Cod fish houses (Rte. 6 is the highway that runs the length of the Cape), not Philadelphia fish houses.