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Sophia’s gets a decent two-bell review from Laban

Don’t know how we missed this one, but on Sunday, the Inquirer’s Craig Laban weighed in on Sophia’s at 1623 E. Passyunk Ave., one of our new neighborhood favorites.

The bar at Sophia's. Pic from Visit Philly

The bar at Sophia’s. Pic from Visit Philly

He found plenty to like…

Earthy black trumpet mushrooms encrust rosé-colored veal loins over vivid green chive butter, a nod to Lee’s old Oceana and Jean-Georges days. Deconstructed paella delivers a scoop of every chef’s favorite part – the crispy Calasparra rice – topped with a medley of perfectly cooked seafood with crispy chorizo in Pernod-scented seafood broth streaked with smoked paprika oil. Those briny oysters, dipped in yuzu-chile mignonette, were memorable.

… but he found that his high expectations from chef Christopher Lee – who got a rare four-bell review in 2007 at Striped Bass – weren’t quite met…

My biggest concern for Sophia’s is a question of consistency, as Lee (who says he hopes to soon relocate here permanently) commutes three days a week from New York. Chef de cuisine Oris Jeffers, Lee’s longtime sidekick at Striped Bass and Aureole, certainly does a solid job with this menu.

But my midweek visit was both Lee-less and less impressive than my weekend meal.

Nevertheless, two bells still means “Very Good” on the Laban scale, as evidenced in these tidbits:

The stumbles, though, were compensated for by some memorable flavors. Crispy little tacos made from fried wonton wrappers were a brilliant repackaging for tuna sashimi, diced with pineapples (for that al pastor touch) with shishito peppers, and a shallot-ginger glaze…

A lamb shank was the epitome of slow-braised soul…

The handmade ravioli stuffed with pureed chestnut and apple, shined with brown butter and scattered with Brussels sprout leaves, were as delicate as the shank was hearty…

So enough of Craig Laban. What do you think?

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