Neuf ‘a welcome change in the heart of the Italian Market,’ gets 2-bell review from Laban
Joncarl Lachman and Bob Moysan’s decision to open a new restaurant to follow up the successful BYOB that is Noord immediately marked this new spot as a must-try restaurant upon its opening in September. Noord has 3-bell status and a great reputation on East Passyunk Avenue, so this Restaurant Neuf had big shoes to fill.
Now that Neuf has been open for a few months at 943 S. 9th St. in the Italian Market, Laban stopped by and dished out a 2-bell review to the North African and French-inspired restaurant.
In his review, Laban touches upon how the Paris attacks happening on the day of his visit to Neuf affected his view of the restaurant. Overall, his review is positive, but he says that “several good ideas simply needed more focus.”
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Several good ideas simply needed more focus. Such as the Egyptian kusheri macaroni and lentil salad filled with rice that was clumpy and overcooked. Or the caponata-like eggplant salad that was bland and too ice-cold. Or a “spicy” goat leg stew that erred in the opposite direction, with spice that ran away to an all-out burn – a heat level more typical of India than the Maghreb, where seasonings are more aromatic than fiery.
When this menu hits the mark, it’s easy to see the appeal. Clove-spiced charmoula and grapes made roasted cauliflower irresistible. Underappreciated fennel is given a memorable three-way treatment – pureed into silk, stewed tender in lemony confit, shaved into crunchy salad sparked with cashews and tart grapefruit bursts.
Laban calls Neuf’s service “professional and well-informed without being stuffy.” He gives praise to not only the drink and food menus, but for “creat[ing] destinations that feel as effortlessly congenial as does Lachman.”
Read Laban’s full review here.
Have you given Restaurant Neuf a try yet? What do you think?