On Wednesday night, Michael Solomonov hosted a media dinner at his newest venture, Main Line kosher restaurant Citron and Rose. If you’re not familiar with how these media dinners work, I’ll briefly explain.
The restaurant or, more often, the restaurant’s public relations firm–in this case, Profile PR, which reps Solomonov’s enterprise, the Jose Garces spots, among other popular places–invites a bunch of people from different media outlets to enjoy complimentary food and drinks.
At the worst of these media dinners, writers are crammed together at communal tables and fed a fixed menu, meaning that you, South Philly Review‘s Phyllis Stein-Novack and Chestnut Hill Local‘s Len Lear (publicists love Lear, because he loves to gush uncontrollably about their clients) get to exchange niceties while you’re both chowing down on the same exact plates, which are frequently mediocre, even though the restaurants know they are cooking for the people who may write about them.
Thankfully, Citron and Rose was an example of the best of the media dinners. I chose to sit at the bar with my guest, and we were free to order anything we wanted from the menu. Naturally, we went with the $79 rib-eye for two, which is, as Craig LaBan put it the other day, “an object of pure grill lust.” LaBan said that the 35-day aged steak, seen below, was “among the best cuts of beef I’ve eaten anywhere.” I’d say the same thing.
Unfortunately, I mentioned the two-bell Craig LaBan review within earshot of the gentleman seated to my left, none other than Georges Perrier, the man who pretty much put Philadelphia on the map as a dining destination.
“Fuck Craig LaBan!” shouted the former Le Bec-Fin chef. “Victor, please tell me, how does Craig LaBan get to become a fucking restaurant critic?” I assumed that the question was rhetorical. “Craig LaBan is a fucking asshole,” he added. Repeatedly.
An outburst wasn’t unexpected. Perrier had requested two seats for the evening, and prior to his arrival, which occurred about twenty minutes after my own, Solomonov jokingly expressed concern that his onetime boss might get a little rambunctious. And Citron and Rose is not a rambunctious kind of place. There are yarmulkes everywhere you look. Hell, the Deputy Israeli Consul was sitting a few seats away. “Sometimes stuff just comes out of his mouth,” said Solomonov. “Like, ‘I just shit a tit.’”
Perrier continued his rants as he drank half a bottle of Rioja, which was, he said, too sweet.
His subjects ranged from more LaBan hatred (“He must be half gay!” and “Craig LaBan is a fucking lunatic… I tell you, he is a fucking lunatic!”) to thoughts about the local restaurant scene (“Without me, there would be no other fucking restaurants in Philadelphia!” and “Why do people like this Bibou place? I don’t understand it.” and “Mica is a great restaurant”) and back again to the LaBan hatred (“Fuck Craig LaBan!”), only briefly taking breaks to nibble on his veal wiener schnitzel, stare at one of the comely hostesses (“Victor, I want to _______ her” — I honestly have no idea what the verb was, thanks to Perrier’s thick accent) and accuse Solomonov of stealing the Salad Lyonnaise from him.
The divorced Perrier also told me that he’s still living in Chestnut Hill (you can buy his home for $2.1 million) and that he’s thinking about writing an autobiography. Just before leaving, he leaned in and offered his review of Citron and Rose: “Good but too heavy.” And with that, he departed into the wintry mix, on his way to the St. James.