119 Fayette St.
Conshohocken, 610-397-0888; www.blackfishrestaurant.com
There's a reason the spare white rooms of this contemporary Conshohocken storefront are perpetually filled with crisply pressed, pastel-wearing, fine-wine-toting Main Line devotees. Chef-owner Chip Roman's BYOB easily remains one of the most sophisticated places in the western burbs to dine, with a focus on seafood that is both refined and inventive, whether it's sublime sashimi laced beneath heirloom radishes with sweet and spicy Japanese sauce, perfect grilled tuna, or Cape May oysters topped with fizzy clouds of frozen Meyer lemon soda that are the ultimate raw bar fantasy.
541 E. Girard Ave., 215-739-1700; www.kraftworkbar.com
Hipster style is displayed in all its pierced and tattooed glory in red-hot Fishtown's newest gastropub, a corner beer bar fitted with curly maple communal tables and a tool motif that's an ode to industrial days past. The seasonally minded kitchen had its share of stumbles, but some exceptional sandwiches, specials, and charcuterie, plus one of the area's best new draft beer lists and a good-energy room, make this pub a keeper.
Lacroix at the Rittenhouse
210 West Rittenhouse Square, 215-790-2533; www.lacroixrestaurant.com
The blowout gastro-brunch at this green velvet perch overlooking Rittenhouse Square remains one of the best reasons to put on your weekend finest. There are also value-worthy prix-fixe menus and occasional half-off wine-list discounts to keep the tranquil room humming the rest of the week. A recent a la carte meal, though, was a fine reminder of this young kitchen's talent, with items such as halibut over ravioli filled with cauliflower cream, and octopus with smoked hoisin and spicy Crenshaw melon, that meld elegance, innovation, and top-notch ingredients as artfully as any restaurant in town.
Nunzio's Ristorante Rustico
706 Haddon Ave., Collingswood, 856-858-9840; www.nunzioristoranterustico.com
Chef Nunzio Patruno's trattoria in the heart of downtown Collingswood has rightfully remained one of South Jersey's go-to spots for a fine family meal built around classic dishes. The big and bustling Italian Village space can sometimes feel stretched to its limit (as can the service), but a recent meal also gave us several reminders why Patruno has long been one of the region's most respected cooks, with spot-on renditions of tender osso buco and risotto Milanese, Dover sole filleted tableside, fantastic gnocchi, excellent amatriciana, and a tiramisu just like Nunzio's mama used to make.
205 S. 18th St., 215-732-6622;
Parc may have sapped some of Rouge's 18th Street see-and-be-seen mojo, but Rittenhouse Square's original parkside cafe can still put on a worthy feast for the eyes and palate. There's an updated menu from consulting chef Matt Levin that's added some smart new flavors (sweet corn soup; scallops with chanterelles and chorizo) to Rouge's classics (the famed big burger). And on a fine summer day, that skinny strip of sidewalk between Rouge's cafe tables is still Philly's premier public runway for the fashionistas to strut their stuff.
Twenty Manning Grill
261 S. 20th St., 215-731-0900; www.twentymanning.com
Audrey Taichman and chef-partner Kiong Banh have given their decade-old resto-lounge a homey makeover, replacing the once-trendy Asian fusion fare and black-leather chic with a warmer yellow bistro look and a broader menu with lower prices and neighborhood appeal. Order carefully, as this menu has rough spots in between hits such as the dumplings, iceberg salad, pork chop, and half-baked Toll House cookie. But this cheery corner space finally feels like the relaxed Rittenhouse hang it was meant to be.
Zinc Bistro a Vins
(not yet formally rated)
246 S. 11th St., 215–351–9901; www.zincbarphilly.com
You could be at a hideaway Parisian boite once you step inside this pocket bistro where the
corner zinc serves classic aperitifs (like refreshing Lillet), the Pernod-splashed snails mingle with melted leeks and walnuts, and the house special call-ahead duck gets pressed in a silver antique vise for one of the richest birds in
town. This gem's kitchen has finally improved enough to match the cozy room's charm. So
cue the berets and Hermes scarves, and come hungry. I
Contact restaurant critic Craig LaBan at 215-854-2682 or email@example.com. LaBan's reviews can be accessed through The Inquirer's archives at www.philly.com