The Philly Mag 50: Restaurants 1 to 20

6. James
6. James
Kristina Burke, who runs the front of the house at James, is all enthusiasm, greeting customers, not as if they were old friends, but as if they were actual celebrities. (Admittedly, they sometimes are.) Jim Burke, who runs the kitchen, is all reserve, letting his subtle but stylish cooking speak for him. And itís this balance that makes James so successful. The Burkes could have opened a little BYOB, like so many restaurant couples before them. Instead, James walks a well-designed line between storefront BYOB and Starr extravaganza. Itís a perfect stage for the kitchenís delicately delightful dishes ó the much (and justly) praised risotto alla Kristina, briny with oysters; the top-notch roasted Four Story Hill Farm poularde; the duck ragu topped with dark chocolate grated tableside; even the desserts, with classic, but not common, combinations like chocolate, olive oil and sea salt. The bonus: a bar with as much culinary talent, shaking up cocktails like the orange-and-spice James-hattan and cool cardamom cosmo.

Pictured: Risotto alla Kristina

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