Philly food is so much more than cheesesteaks. Let us show you.
It is an unfortunate side effect of eating often at high-end restaurants that you become a bit jaded by the food or service. Things you may have been impressed with a few years ago become “just okay.” Different cuts of meat or even whole animals that were new and exciting are old hat—at this point, I’ve eaten enough pig brains to have inherited some kind of super power. So it was with slightly tempered expectations that we went to Laurel last weekend, after my wife and I called, hung up, and re-dialed a combined 375 times to get through the day reservations opened two months ago.
It quickly became apparent that we needn’t temper our expectations at all, and there is a reason that the 26 seats in Laurel are some of the most sought-after in Philadelphia. The service was attentive and top-notch, answering all of our questions confidently and suggesting when to open our array of bottles to most effectively pair them with the courses coming out (Laurel is, for now, a BYO). They worked around our allergies and dislikes better than most places, which may have just been lucky—I don’t like chocolate, and they replaced my chocolate dessert with lemon poppyseed cake over passion fruit ice cream—Ryan in a bowl.
The food was beautifully plated and tasted amazing. The seasonally-inspired menu perfectly melded the transition of spring-into-summer, with one dish featuring the just-seasonal strawberry and another the almost-over ramp. It’s almost a shame to mention any of the dishes, as some will soon be replaced with the season, but it would also be a shame not to. No course fell flat, and I actually had a moment of sadness during the sixth course, knowing dinner was almost over. When reservations open again, keep calling until you get in.
EAT YOUR FILL OF…
(Note that the menu does change, so you may not see these things on the menu again. Also, they only offer a chef’s tasting menu, so you won’t be able to pick based on these selections. But they’re still some of our favorites.)
Cocoa cured foie gras with rhubarb, black walnut, and strawberry – After having it a few times now, I think frozen and shaved foie gras is my favorite preparation. The delicate fattiness went perfectly with the sweet summer strawberries and rhubarb for a dish that almost could have been saved for dessert.
Roasted Peking duck with ramp pesto with hazelnut, sunchoke, coffee, ver jus – Also including a confited duck heart (I love my hearts), this was the greater of the two options for our penultimate course. The duck was cooked perfectly (which I haven’t seen in a while), and the ver jus was slightly sweet but roasty enough to hang with the duck.
Wild burgundy snails, pioppini mushroom, roasted and pickled spring onion, potato espuma, and chip – The mushrooms were turned into a sauce that made the snails sing. A mixture of the earthy, umami mushrooms and the briny snails, plus the pickled onions and the salty potato espuma gave this dish a bit of everything that was deftly combined so every element had its time in the spotlight.