A THREE-SENTENCE restaurant review has led to a high-steaks lawsuit from Chops Restaurant (401 City Ave.) against


food critic

Craig LaBan

and Philadelphia Media Holdings, which owns the



Daily News


In his "Or Try These" sidebar to his Feb. 4 review of Fleming's in Radnor, LaBan called Chops, a popular Bala Cynwyd steakhouse, the "Palm on City Line," where he had a "miserably tough and fatty strip steak."

However, according to the suit filed by Chops owner Alex Plotkin, LaBan had a steak sandwich minus the bread, not a strip steak.

"No legitimate food critic would ever mistake, or compare, a steak sandwich with a strip steak," the lawsuit states.

Plotkin, who prides himself on Chops' chops, says in the suit that he had called LaBan about the review and that LaBan had "apologized for the 'confusion,' admitted he did not have a strip steak and 'saw [Plotkin's] point,' but would not publish a retraction in his column."

LaBan instead asked Plotkin to visit his online forum at philly.com where they could discuss the issue. Plotkin declined to participate in the online debate, the libel suit, filed in Common Pleas Court, states.

LaBan declined to comment for this story. His reviews have been credited or blamed, depending on whom you ask, with making or breaking restaurants. The critic is known to be extraordinarily protective of his identity during restaurant visits, employing disguises and aliases.

"We stand behind Craig's comments and we are going to defend this case vigorously," Rob Barron, general counsel for PMH, told us yesterday.

'Real World' cops back to work

Two Philadelphia police officers are back to work now after being acquitted in court recently of all charges stemming from an alleged assault on a third officer in May 2004 outside the 3rd & Arch street property that housed the cast of MTV's "The Real World: Philadelphia." Chief InspectorBill Colarulo confirmed yesterday that Dave McAndrews had returned to work in the 3rd District and Patrick Cavaleri had returned to work in the 17th District, the officers' previous posts.

The officers, both in their early 30s, turned themselves in to Internal Affairs in November 2005.

"They're back, they're reinstated and are active-duty officers," Colarulo said yesterday.

The accusing officer, who had been in plainclothes assigned to the "Real World" detail, is now a civilian fingerprinting tech with the Police Department, sources say.

MySpace pulls model's page

Chester County model Laura Grillo was shocked yesterday when she tried to log onto My-Space and found her profile had been deleted.

Grillo, who appeared in the May 2005 Playboy magazine, is devastated. "I booked SO many jobs through MySpace. It was the best marketing and networking tool for me," Grillo told us.

There were a number of revealing photos of Grillo on the social-networking site, which says it reserves the right to reject, refuse to post or remove any posting or to terminate a user's access without prior notice or liability.

She's working on getting her own Web site up and running.

Band may Settle for record deal

University of the Arts music student Willie Rose is the drummer of Settle, a pop/punk/dance rock band that's in the running for an EP deal with Epitaph Records through MTVU's "Best Music on Campus" contest. The trio, comprising Rose, his brother Nick and friend Dave Goletz, are among the final five bands. Settle songs can be found at settlemusic.net. If you like them, you can vote for them at bestmusiconcampus.com. *

If you have something you'd like to share with Dan, call 215-854-5963, or e-mail grossd@phillynews.com. To read Dan's recent columns, visit http://go.philly.com/dangross.