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LaBan on Fork: "four-bell potential"

Craig LaBan reviews the Eli Kulp version of Fork:

http://www.philly.com/philly/food/201...

http://www.philly.com/philly/video/BC...

Sounds seriously good, especially that Peking Duck "feast".

I've never been, but will have to put it near the top of my 2-do list for 2013...

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  1. Yes. I haven't been since the early days. Have to try it.

    1. I tried it right after they reopened with Kulp as chef, I thought I posted about it but I can't find it now, maybe I never did. Anyway, it was excellent, we did the "house menu" tasting menu thing and loved almost everything. Even the bread was great. Some standouts were the guinea hen, the burnt grain pappardelle (though by the end of the plate the "burnt" character was starting to overtake the dish), and the surf clam. We were a little sad when we heard that Terence Feury was leaving Fork, I always really like his food there, but after our first meal under Eli Kulp I think Fork actually made a big step up. Reading Laban's review makes me really want to go back.

      1. I haven't been since Feury left, but that short rib dinner sounds ridiculous. Will have to return soon!

        1. Went to Fork this blustery Saturday night and had a wonderful time!

          First off, the service and ambiance is very pleasant and warm while maintaining an urban, chic vibe.

          I did a la carte, since my DP did not want to go big with the degustation menu.

          The oysters were especially tasty with their shallot, vinaigrette dressing and a touch of oil. Next up I had their standout "Roots" salad, which was outstanding an I'm a salad guy. The Beets with oyster sauce sounds strange but was another excellent dish. I topped this off with the octopus, which was good and I liked the crispy potatoes, but it was not as tender as the octopus I had at Kanella about two weeks ago. The cheese plate was respectable with five different types of cheese (two goat, one cow brie, one hard cheese, and one blue), but it was heavy Vermont based and not quite as worldly as I would have liked.

          One special note was the bread was out of this world. I try to hold off on bread to not spoil the main courses, but here I got the sense they take their bread seriously and it showed.

          3 Replies
          1. re: dndicicco

            How many other restaurants have a tasting of breads as part of their tasting menu?

            Loved Fork both times I've been. The duck feast is as good as LaBan said it would be.

            1. re: dndicicco

              The bread there is indeed great, if you want to take some home they sell it to go at their space next door to Fork, High Street on Market.

              My only disappointment in my two meals at Fork has been dessert, a big step down in quality from the rest of the meal. I haven't been in a while though. Laban specifically called out dessert in his review as one thing holding them back from 4 bells so I'm hopeful they'll make some changes in that department.

              1. re: Buckethead

                I can't actually remember the desserts, so that probably says something.

            2. We were here recently and had mixed results. We will certainly return here for their pasta dishes and, oh yes, their bread which is just wonderful in very rustic ways.

              But the duck feast left much to be desired for me as I question how much of the feast was actually from the broken down parts of the whole duck presented to me before being returned to the kitchen. The breasts? Yes, and it was the highlight of the meal; perfectly rendered, seasoned, and cooked. But for the prosciutto (served as salad w/ seared heart) and the confit (w/ sauteed veg), it's likely that these were prepared from another duck as it won't be feasible under the circumstances, and they were not bad but somewhat ordinary, and quite overly seasoned in case for the confit. Meatballs could be easily from the said duck, and was delicious if unambitious.

              As we were finishing up the meal, we thought it would have been nice, even if it would have costed more, to either have the whole duck carved at the table, or at least have some more parts (wings/neck/offal) directly from the presented duck. My guess is, leaving the breasts out, less than 50% of the whole duck was represented in this meal. This experience unfortunately does not represent "Whole Duck Feast" for me.

              6 Replies
              1. re: Kurtis

                True, they do carry 'your' duck through the dining room to many ooohs and aaahs from other patrons, but as you so rightly said your stuff is not from that carried duck.

                True the meatballs and the breast are well done, but the main reason for getting the duck feast in the beginning was the confit of legs/thighs. Whether they were done on site or ordered from d'Artagnan l do not know but they were excellent, now little crappy vegetable and duck meat looks and reminds me of stuffing and is small, and when l had it immediately forgettable.

                Since they changed the feast l have not been back, to High Street yes, but Fork no. And it seemed on my last visit High Street had a menu of primarily pasta and a few entrees that did not appeal to my menucentric tastes. Oh well, things always do change.

                1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                  The duck presented to us did not appear too appetizing actually, with half-cooked pale appearance w/ much fat still under the skin from what I could discern. And, yes, it seemed more a show, one that did not deliver in substance, and a kind I don't appreciate in a restaurant.

                  1. re: Kurtis

                    If you want an impressive Duck presentation go to Zinc where they use a duck press at your table.

                    1. re: cwdonald

                      Thanks for this note, tho personally I rather see the press in action in their kitchen rather than at the tableside.

                      How's their duck presented?

                      1. re: Kurtis

                        Wild duck served two ways.
                        First service: The duck is carved and prepared table side. The breasts are removed, seared and served
                        with roasted potatoes and caramelized onions.
                        The carcass is pressed in a 1870 French silver press
                        to release all juices. The juices are flambéed with Cognac then reduced into a sauce which is used to cover the breasts.
                        Second service: The remaining legs and wings are finished on the grill are served on a salad.

                        1. re: cwdonald

                          Sounds nice, a classic canard au sang. Thanks for the nice description.