With this weekend’s closing of Avance at 1523 Walnut Street, we thought we’d look back at the modern history of this most storied address. Check out our timeline history of the fall from popularity of what was the most famous restaurant address in Philadelphia.
Avance, the successor to Le Bec Fin, will close after service on Saturday night, October 11th. Michael Klein reported that the Walnut Street restaurant is a victim of economics. Chef Justin Bogle, who opened Avance ten months ago with high hopes, said, ” we can’t continue operating at this pace.”
In it’s time, Avance has suffered from lackluster reviews, the sale of the building by Georges Perrier and an eviction notice from new owners, Pearl Properties. Pearl Properties is the landlord for several restaurants including Pizzeria Vetri and the Chipotle that replaced Susanna Foo, but with the recent resurgence in Center City retail, the space has probably seen its last restaurant client.
As for Bogle, a Philadelphia native who returned home from New York as the youngest chef to earn two Michelin stars, he has no immediate plans.
Philadelphia has so many great new restaurants that it’s hard to keep track of what to eat where. Here’s a cheat sheet of some of the best plates in the city to try right now.
Michael Klein has the scoop. One day after we broke the news that Georges Perrier had lost 1523 Walnut Street in a sheriff’s sale earlier this month, the new owners have moved to evict Avance, the building’s current tenant. Read more »
Georges Perrier Loses Le Bec-Fin Building in Sheriff’s Sale (But It May All Be Part of an Elaborate Plan) [UPDATED]
UPDATE 6/12/2014: The new owner of 1523 Walnut Street has moved to evict Avance, the current tenant.
Storied Philadelphia chef Georges Perrier has owned 1523 Walnut Street since 1981. It housed his legendary French restaurant Le Bec-Fin, which closed in June 2013, making way for Avance, Perrier’s tenant. But now, Perrier has lost ownership of the building in a sheriff’s sale.
Interested in what Justin Bogle is doing with the bounties of spring at Avance? Check out the recently refreshed a la carte, tasting and bar menus.
The signs of spring are particularly noticeable in the five-course tasting menu, where ingredients include spring peas, morels, spring onion and rhubarb.
On the bar menu, a few new exclusive offerings have been added including “bacon and eggs.” a dish that seems similar to what Bogle served at the Foobooz After Dark with Bogle and Will’s Chris Kearse.
Avance Spring Menus (PDF)
Since we’re talking about happy hours today, here’s what the bar at Avance offers happy hour every weeknight from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. and again from 9 to 10:30 p.m. Select beers are $5 and specialty cocktails are $10. There is also a punch of the week.
As for food, oysters, duck terrine, a cheese plate and even the lamb burger are all discounted.
It looks like Lacroix (and the Rittenhouse Hotel in general) have done a bit of hiring and brought some new bodies into the kitchen and onto the floor.
The first is Tova du Plessis, who is coming aboard as pastry chef. That name sound familiar to you? It should. She did time at Le Bec Fin on the savory side as a sous chef, worked at Citron & Rose but, most notably, was the opening pastry chef at Avance, brought in by chef Justin Bogle to handle the sweet side of the menu. She was let go early on in Avance’s run (which, this month, might not be the worst thing in the world), but was quickly picked up by the team at Lacroix for this new gig.
There’s been a lot of talk lately about what kind of restaurant town we really want to be. In the Philadelphia magazine that’s on the stands right now, I’ve got an essay asking what it means to our restaurant scene when being merely great is no longer a guarantee of success. We’ve been writing an awful lot about Volver—Jose Garces‘s new high-stakes (and high price) gamble at the Kimmel Center which now stands as the most expensive dinner in town by a long stretch. And as we all know by now, between knee-capping reviews from both Craig Laban and our own Trey Popp, and a whole lot of people on the streets wondering if the storied Walnut Street address might be better off if it was just turned into a Jamba Juice and ignored until all the ghosts of Le Bec-Fin have departed, Avance is having itself a very rough month.
And now, with all this in mind, I just ran across this essay over at Esquire’s “Eat Like A Man” blog which essentially lays the blame for every modern sin in restaurant-dom squarely at our feet.