It hasn’t been an easy first year for the Water Works Restaurant. Floods , chef changes and middling reviews have all haunted the restaurant behind the Art Museum at the Fairmount Water Works. But now a year later things are starting to go right.
If you sit down with owner Michael Karloutsos, you can almost feel the post-traumatic stress. But drop by on a whim for lunch, the river twinkling below, and encounter the welcoming embrace of AndrÃ© Darwish, his eyes dancing, his linen suit just-so dapper, and, behold: You hear, afresh, the music of the place.
Darwish (like the Water Works itself) has come out of retirement, bored by days without opportunity for florid greeting and gracious seating, his stock in trade as a former maitre d’ at haute Le Bec-Fin. So before we order, before we fully register the newer touches – white tablecloths on the cafe tables on the veranda, imported shade umbrellas that twist in the wind (the better to avoid keeling over) – he sweeps an arm across the expanse of the Schuylkill, and the curl of waterfalls, and the silent freight tracks in the distance, and offers in a French accent heavy with affection and local pride: “Look, you are in Europe here, not in Philadelphia!”