I was talking with Philly mag restaurant critic Trey Popp the other day, and we were discussing (as we so often do) the state of the restaurant scene in Philly. More specifically, how weirdly awesome this past year has been for restaurants in general, but for restaurants in Philly in particular. It’d gotten so that he was actually concerned with the numbers of 3 star reviews he’d been handing down lately–not because any of the restaurants on which he’d bestowed the stars were undeserving, but because he was worried that, after a while, a whole lot of 3 star reviews in a row just become noise.
I was less concerned. Because really, this isn’t about the stars but about the restaurants. And the restaurants opening in Philly have just been rather amazing of late.
Think about it: In any other year, in any other issue, a place like Treemont getting 3 stars would've been the big news. But it just happened to come in the same issue where Volver got 4 stars--a first-ever event for Trey during his tenure here. At the time that both of these places came up for their review, we were so crowded with great restaurants that a 3 star review had to take a back seat to a place that was doing even better.
And it's not just us. His most recent two-bell takedown of Volver aside, Craig Laban has already handed down 9 3 bell reviews this year. It's getting to the point where the critics in Philly seem almost...pleased. Which, speaking as a former critic myself, I can tell you is a rare thing indeed.
So just to prove a point, I went looking through all the reviews for 2014 and have listed the best of them below. Take a look and I think you'll agree that Philly, at this moment in time, is one of the best places in the country to be a dedicated eater.
Trey Popp's Reviews Since January, 2014
4 Star Reviews:
3 Star Reviews:
And in that same amount of time, Laban has handed out nine 3 bell reviews, for Petruce et al, a.kitchen, Pub & Kitchen, Fat Ham, Le Cheri, Osteria Moorestown, Laurel, High Street on Market and Marigold Kitchen. So yeah, Philly's chefs are doing ok. And thank the food gods that we're all here to see it.
All Trey Popp's reviews [Philly mag]
Craig Laban's 3 Bell reviews [f8b8z]