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If rave reviews and a resume that boasts stints at Le Bec-Fin and the Rittenhouse Tavern don’t make you want to drive the 90 minutes to try out Laurel, a hot new French American restaurant, then perhaps chef/ owner Nick Elmi’s status as a finalist on the 11th season of Bravo’s “Top Chef” will seal the deal. An intimate (24-seat) BYOB, Laurel incorporates sophistication, elegance and fine French dining with locally sourced food and friendly service. New to Philly’s popular “Restaurant Row” in East Passyunk (by the famed Italian Market) the sweet little spot features a four-course meal concept that begins with starters like torn New Jersey scallops with Jonagold apple, sea lettuce and razor clam and culminates with decadent desserts like caramelized white chocolate pudding with shortbread, plum and almond for dessert. The appetizers and entrees in between? Marvelous, mon cher. 1617 East Passyunk Ave., http://www.restaurantlaurel.com

—Simone Ellin

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