Avance Is Already a Standout

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Brian Freedman reviews Avance for Philadelphia Weekly. Freedman is full of praise for the two-month old successor to Le Bec Fin and sees it soaring even higher.

But it’s a very good start. In fact, Avance as a whole is so much more than that: Just barely two months into its tenure at that famous address on Walnut Street, it has already done what many thought would be impossible: Staked its own claim on the space and drafted a brand new set of rules. If Avance is this good so early in the game, I can hardly wait to see the heights it eventually achieves. It’s already a standout.

Avance transforms Le Bec-Fin’s old space into brilliant dining magic [Philadelphia Weekly]
Avance [Foobooz]

Nick Elmi Breaks Free at Laurel

Daurade at Laurel | Photo by Jason Varney

Daurade at Laurel | Photo by Jason Varney

Trey Popp reviews Nick Elmi’s Laurel for the February issue of Philadelphia magazine. Popp writes that Elmi’s cooking has been unshackled from cooking other people’s food and has found his way. It’s a three-and-a-half star review, the highest rating Popp has doled out as reviewer for the magazine.

The dish I least wanted to order—pork with acorn squash and
chanterelles—turned out to feature loin and belly and the best “sausage” I’ve ever had: pulled pork shoulder perked up with sherry vinegar, set on brioche, and wrapped in caul fat that, when pan-fried, transformed the bread into the Platonic ideal of crispiness. And the accompanying pumpkin seed vinaigrette revealed itself as a rustic cousin of marmalade, sharpened by the trace bitterness of oranges blanched 10 times.

Yet never did this finely wrought food feel fussy. Some chefs put so much intellectual effort into a dish that the plate resembles a notebook crammed with all the scratch notes that preceded it. Elmi doesn’t show all his work, only the elegant answers.

Three-and-a-half-stars – Excellent to Extraordinary

Laurel [Foobooz]
Restaurant Review: Nick Elmi’s Laurel [Philadelphia Magazine]