Jenkintown Restaurant Rings LaBan’s Bells

Craig LaBan, food critic for the Philadelphia Inquirer, has a well-earned reputation for high standards. He rates restaurants on a four-bell scale, and rare is the restaurant that rang all four. Most restaurants can content themselves with two.

This week, he ventured into the burbs, stopping at Keep, a new upscale bistro on York Road that occupies the space left behind by the well-regarded Mirna’s.

In his comprehensive review and profile, Leban assessment of the fare inspired this:

…there was in fact plenty of food on the creative small plates ($12 or less) and entrées (hovering quite reasonably in the low $20s). And all hesitations should be set aside by the substance of the well-crafted flavors on those plates. There were crunchy Brussels sprouts over a cheesy cacio e pepe sauce topped with the smoky shards of chips made from Benton’s ham. Slow-cooked carrots came glazed in mustard with caraway aioli and black bread croutons. A salad of bitter chicories — radicchio, frisée and Belgian endive — was cut by the nuttiness of sunflower seed pesto and the tart, pithy bite of a pureed lemon sauce. An artful ellipsis of beets dusted with an Egyptian sesame spice puree called duqqa was so aromatic, it carried me to a faraway bazaar. A swoosh of housemade ricotta set beneath it all added a fresh tang and creamy richness.

Keep serves dinner Wednesday through Sunday, 5-10 p.m. It is located at 417 Old York Rd., Jenkintown. Call 215-277-7947 for more information.