Illustration by Kagan McLeod
First things first, I have to thank you for being so good to Philadelphia since the last time I wrote you. I asked for a lot of things on behalf of the city last year — outdoor drinking and BYOs and soup and more delivery options — and you came through in spades.
This year, my requests for Philly are a little bit darker. Rather than asking for things we need, I’m asking for things to go away. This is mostly because we’ve had such a good year already, and because our neighborhoods are so full of amazing restaurants and chefs doing the best work of their careers. Hard as it might be to say, what Philly is due for is a cull. To keep the scene healthy. And Santa, sometimes hard choices need to be made.
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Craig LaBan is full of praise for MacGregor Mann’s Junto in Chadds Ford, calling it the best suburban dinner he’s had in a long time.
But there were so many highlights, especially with seafood, that my quibbles were minor. Huge scallops were perfectly fried in a sheer tempura crust made from sweet corn, amped by an intense brown chip of dehydrated scallop and a creamy remoulade of pureed mussels and lovage. Tart sorrel granita and shavings of fresh horseradish enlivened briny raw Cape May Salt oysters. Beautifully steamed black bass fillets basked in anise-scented froth over poached fennel. A lemon verbena white wine butter glaze added a subtle herbaceousness to that juicy fillet of smoked sturgeon.
Three Bells – Excellent
Read Trey Popp’s similarly positive review of Junto from the September issue of Philadelphia magazine.
Junto: One of the suburbs' top new restaurants [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Junto | Photos by Courtney Apple
“Do you know of any deserving young beginner lately set up,” members of Ben Franklin’s mutual aid society would ask one another, “whom it lies in the power of the Junto any way to encourage?”
They’d ask the same thing about “deserving stranger[s] arrived in town since last meeting.” And while neither description exactly matches MacGregor Mann, who’s cooked in Philadelphia for more than a decade, they’re close enough. Before naming his solo debut after Franklin’s eclectic club, the Garces vet went on a culinary walkabout ranging from an Idaho fly-fishing lodge to a stage at Denmark’s Noma—often named as the best restaurant in the world. And when he returned, he was bent on digging deeper into his home turf.
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