Laurel

1617 E Passyunk Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19148, United States

A tight menu of creative French & American fare in a small, stylish BYOB bistro.

 

His albacore starter may be the best raw tuna dish in town, firmed ever so slightly in tepid olive oil before being dressed with the delicate sweetness of shaved Asian pears and a powder of frozen horseradish and yuzu "snow" that melted in mouth with a cooling sparkle. A bracing edge of mustard oil, chile-spiked ponzu, and fermented daikon cubes were the perfect foil to assertive Spanish mackerel seared crackly warm on the skin side and sashimi raw on the reverse. A study in Berkshire pork - loin roasted, belly braised, tender shoulder pulled then formed into a patty - was memorable for its elegant necklace of huckleberry, kale, and chestnut sauces.

Elmi's foie gras terrine was even more beautiful, a silken slab of creamy pink marbled with bitter cocoa and paired with a fine mince of cuminy, caramelized celery root - an earthy sweetness that gave the luxurious liver an unexpected exotic twist.

-Craig LeBan, Philadelphia Inquirer

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