Taste: Where We’re Eating: October 2006
From restaurateur Marty Grims (of Moshulu fame) comes the très chic and très un-Shore-like Daddy O on Long Beach Island. This very designed, Barclay Prime-esque space is all modern, with 3-D wall panels; the red leather chairs are occupied by patrons in flip-flops and cut-off jean shorts. On the tables are Buffalo wings, and pork chops with applesauce — done with surprising twists. The wings are boneless tempura chicken with Vietnamese chili sauce; the pork chops are served over creamy polenta with garlicky rabe and balsamic apple reduction. 4401 Long Beach Boulevard, Brant Beach; 609-494-1300. — VICKI GLEMBOCKI
The options at Loews Hotel’s Solefood get soulful, thanks to new chef Thomas Harkins, formerly of Plate, who arrives bearing crowd-pleasing flavors and (finally!) great lunch salads in Center City. (Try the lightly dressed Asian Tuna Caesar or Southern Chicken Cobb.) Dinner is fish-focused and upscale: petite crabcake surrounded by inviting tomato soup, sole with sunchoke puree. Service can be slow, but don’t leave early — you’ll miss pastry chef Amanda Kaewvichien’s well-proportioned desserts, like soft cookies and heavenly sticky-bun bread pudding. 1200 Market Street; 215-231-7300. — ASHLEY PRIMIS
Norma’s and Cous Cous
What is it with great ethnic dining in Cherry Hill strip malls? First there was Springdale Plaza, featuring Rajbhog, A Little Thai Kitchen and Pho Eden. Now there’s the recently expanded Norma’s and Cous Cous, two neighboring restaurants in the Barclay Farms strip that share a staff. The more casual Norma’s turns out good, simple Middle Eastern fare that goes well beyond the restaurant’s stated Lebanese borders. And exotically appointed Cous Cous is easily the best Moroccan restaurant around, even if its weekend offerings — belly dancers and a $24.95 10-course meal — are over-the-top. Norma’s, 145 Barclay Farms Shopping Center, Cherry Hill, 856-795-1373, normasrestaurant.com; Cous Cous, 132 Barclay Farms Shopping Center, Cherry Hill, 856-427-9994; couscousrestaurant.net. — VICTOR FIORILLO
Naked Chocolate Café
Tom Block, of New Hope’s Thomas Sweet ice cream, joined with his daughter Sara to cure Center City’s sweet tooth with delicate made-on-the-premises chocolates and cinnamon-y Aztec hot chocolate, Au Chocolat teas and cooling frozen mochas. Or skip chocolate for instantly addicting lemon bars, cupcakes and butterscotch pudding. Good thing they stay open late. 1317 Walnut Street, 215-735-7310; nakedchocolatecafe.com. — A.P.