- Neighborhood: East Passyunk
- 1100 Federal Street, Philadelphia, PA
- Cuisine: Indian
- Price: $$
- Accepts Credit Cards: Yes
Craig LaBan’s Year in Bells came out last weekend. The annual feature includes some revisits to restaurants reviewed earlier and the announcement of a Chef of the Year award.
The Saint James in Ardmore, which was skewered a year ago in its initial review has now been upgraded to a single bell (hit-or-miss). Citron & Rose, which lost its partnership with Michael Solomonov and his Zahav team maintained its two-bells, based on the strength of new chef, Karen Nicolas.
Tiffin Bistro and Red Owl Tavern rounded out the revisites. Each managed to hang on to their one bell ratings but frankly, each sounded lucky to have done so.
Chef Eli Kulp, who came to Fork and High Street on Market from New York’s Torrisi Italian Specialties was named Chef of the Year. LaBan said of Kulp’s cooking, “his knack for unexpected combos and rustic techniques (offbeat pastas, fermenting, charcuterie) produced grand presentations like his whole-duck feast – a multi-part poultry masterpiece that was among the best birds (and meatballs) I’ve ever eaten.”
Craig LaBan’s Year in Bells [Philadelphia Inquirer]
Craig LaBan has problems with the service and execution at Munish Narula’s Tiffin Bistro in South Philadelphia.
[T]he Bistro has an air of the unattended stepchild, with a menu executed by line cooks whose efforts seem adequate for takeout, but not much more.
There are definitely some worthy highlights, especially with the starters. The chaat of fried baby eggplants drizzled with yogurt and multihued chutneys is a novel twist on the crunchy-creamy-tart chaat salad craze that’s finally taking hold locally. The cauliflower bezule, florets crisped in chickpea batter, then glazed in creamy coconut and mustard seed, are a hearty taste of South India.
One Bell – Hit-or-miss
If Munish Narula’s Indian food empire has left you feeling like Goldilocks in the popular fairy tale, Tiffin Bistro might be just right. A step down in glitz from Tashan and more than a step up in style from the less formal Tiffin, Tiffin Bistro provides approachable Indian food in a white-tablecloth space. Highlights include the pepper crab, a promising rendition of chicken tikka Masala, the kitschy Indian Sloppy Joe (which is much better than the gimmick it suggests) and the chicken tellicherry pepper—chunks of boneless chicken with a sauce that heats up with each bite. Overall, Tiffin Bistro will satisfy your Indian craving, especially for South Philadelphians who remain just outside the original Tiffin’s delivery range.
1100 Federal Street
First appeared in the September, 2013 issue of Philadelphia magazine.