- Neighborhood: Chestnut Hill
- 8229 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA
- Cuisine: French
- Alcohol: Full Bar
- Meals Served: Dinner
- Price: $$
- Accepts Credit Cards: Yes
By the time Gary Cattley maneuvered his tuba into Paris Bistro’s basement, Drew Nugent & the Midnight Society had been ragging Tin Pan Alley curios for an hour already. The bar was full, and every table was taken. At the tip of the arrowhead-shaped room, wearing a brown double-breasted suit, Nugent faced a vintage 1935 Shure microphone lashed to a Walmart towel ring with springs and a bootlace, warbling into a miniature teakettle through a trumpet mouthpiece jammed in its spout.
Cattley, who’d concocted the microphone getup, smiled. Snaking past servers bearing crocks of French onion soup and parfait glasses of chocolate mousse, he squeezed onto the postage-stamp bandstand to join the unlikeliest recent development in Philadelphia nightlife: the Prohibition-era vocal jazz scene in far Chestnut Hill.
Tracking the long road from Oberon To Paris Bistro, Craig LaBan finds a chef (and a restaurant) that’s all grown up.
Begin with some of the bistro bellwethers. The French onion soup has a soulful balance of slowly caramelized onion sweetness and savory veal stock tinted with nutty sherry, the crock sealed with a proper lid of stretchy Gruyère cheese. The lobster bisque has a vivid crustacean richness, with well-steeped lobster flavor, sweet chunks of meat, and just a hint of cream and a flicker of cayenne at the finish. The salmon tartare is simple but beautiful, the fresh raw orange fish freshly minced and brightened with lemon and olive oil, then scattered with capers and a mimosa of grated hard-boiled eggs.
Two Bells — Very Good