Bells Ring for Five

Every time you hear a bell ring, it means that some angel’s just got his wings.

Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

Two quotes about bells, that sum up two distinctly different reactions to Craig LaBan’s resetting of the eating landscape in the region.

Five restaurants have been awarded Craig LaBan’s Four Bells. VetriZahavBibouTalula’s Table, and Fountain Restaurant are the highest rated restaurants in the region. Three are receiving the award for the first time though they are no strangers to excellence. Aimee Olexy is no stranger to the top ranking as her Django was the first BYOB to get four bells. Pierre Calmels was the chef de cuisine at the four-bell version of Le Bec-Fin for six years before opening Bibou, his Bella Vista BYOB. Michael Solomonov did work in Marc Vetri’s elite kitchen before opening Zahav, his unique ande elite modern Israeli restaurant.

Vetri remains the class of the town and beyond. LaBan says it has even stepped up to the rank of national elite with its prix fixe tasting menu format. The Fountain proves that fine-dining extravagance has a present at least in Philadelphia.

But in reassessing the eating landscape there were some losers as well. The longtime gold standard Le Bec-Fin dropped not one, but two bells. Lacroix also fell from the dais of the Four Bells. But only down one level to the three-bell plateau. Barclay Prime who many though might ascend, descended to two bells for its struggles cooking a steak.

The bells take their toll [Philadelphia Inquirer]