Bibou is reopening after a four-week-long renovation on May 15, and you’re going to have to follow a lot of rules to eat there.
On a rude March evening, with snow clinging stubbornly to the curb edges on South Eighth Street, the smallest dining room in town glowed like a sodium-vapor streetlamp in some nostalgic novel. Inside it was warm and yellow, and heavy coats hung on almost every chair. Forks clinked, voices rose and fell. A waiter shimmied past the two-seat bar, wended his roundabout way across the crowded room, and presented a table in the corner with two lowball glasses holding plain ice cubes—and a thought sprung involuntarily to my mind: Just like all Americans in Paris.
The Paris of South Philadelphia, I guess you’d have to say. But Bibou, Pierre and Charlotte Calmels’ BYOB has always felt like a bona fide French colony to the loyalists who bring their best Burgundies to drink with dinner here.
I recently had some friends from California in town and they were wondering where to go to get some 100% legal Foie Gras in Philadelphia. So I came up with this list of traditional and creative foie gras dishes.
Charlotte and Pierre Calmels of Bibou are ready for their next venture. The couple who run one of Philadelphia’s most praised BYOBs are heading to Rittenhouse Square and the Rittenhouse Tavern space in the Art Alliance building. Michael Klein reports that couple are turning Rittenhouse Tavern into a classic French restaurant with a liquor license and at a price point lower than Bibou.
No name is set but they’re hoping for an October opening. Restaurants have struggled at the Art Alliance despite its location, attractive interior and tranquil outdoor garden. But the Calmelses have made a name for themselves at Bibou and the restaurant is one of just five restaurants that have received Craig LaBan’s four-bell rating. Before opening Bibou, Pierre Calmels was Georges Perrier’s chef de cuisine at Le Bec Fin for six years.
There’s the glitz and the glam, and then there’s the humble and the honest-to-goodness, the unaffected and the unassuming. To each his own, but I prefer the latter.
I get a kick out of the quirky buildings’ awkward seating arrangements and tiny menus—menus that need not say much, and food that says all too much; the chef-driven and food-focused holes, often orienting themselves in such a way that the preparer and prepared are shown off, experienced only through an intimate three-part channel between the chef, his food, and his guest. When done well, the following few weeks (or longer) will pale in comparison. That’s why the tasting menu is so important; it’s a facilitation of exchange between the hand of the cook and the consumed palate it feeds.
Some tasting menus you’ll find in places that don’t deserve them, and others are just a second menu to the main. Some are only available on weekdays, but there are those you can only take part in on a single day: Sunday, perhaps.
Bistrot La Minette isn’t the only area restaurant getting in on the National Escargot Day fun. On Wednesday, May 23rd Southwark will be joined by Doug “the Snailman” Dussault of Potironne Company. Doug will be on hand to talk snails while Southwark’s kitchen serves up four courses (including dessert) of snail inspired dishes. Dinner is $45 per person, $65 with wine or beer pairing. The menu will also be available on Thursday the 24th.
Hospitality industry folk are welcome to celebrate Bibou’s third birthday this evening as Chef Pierre Calmels is going to celebrating at Amis’s monthly Industry Night tonight. Calmels will be making some of his favorite dishes and Brad Spence will be doing likewise.
Same deal as always. Free food and drink specials start at 10 p.m. and yes, there will be cake. Ice cream cake to be exact.
Industry Night with Bibou [Facebook]
Alan Richman and GQ come up with their 2012 list of the Ten Best New Restaurants in America and Chestnut Hill’s Mica makes the list. Richman says it is all about the food at Chip Roman’s follow-up to Black Fish.
We had Barnegat scallops with white chocolate sprinkled on top, enough to add a smidgen of sweetness, exquisitely done. We had Lancaster County chicken, rolled, fried, and stood upright. So much work. With it was bacon, pearl onions, fingerling potatoes, slashes of sour-cherry puree. Shows Roman’s training, a stint at Le Bec-Fin.
We had foie gras terrine, short ribs with celery-root puree, rockfish with sweet potatoes, black bass in brown butter. All came to the table lavished with accoutrements appropriate to the dish. Nothing showed up twice. Not a sauce. Not a drizzle.
In the article, Roman was able to give a shout out to another Philadelphia restaurant, The Farm & Fisherman. Roman says chef Joshua Lawler “just nails it.”
Richman named Bibou to his 2010 list, and we know how things have turned out for them.
Every time you hear a bell ring, it means that some angel’s just got his wings.
Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
Two quotes about bells, that sum up two distinctly different reactions to Craig LaBan’s resetting of the eating landscape in the region.
One of the most fun events of last summer was Zahav’s Down the Shore night. There were exceptional takes on boardwalk food from nine local chefs and then night turned into an epic dance party with a Journey cover band. It will be a hard act to follow but we’re pleased to see that “Captain” Michael Solomonov and his crew of Pierre Calmels (Bibou), Jennifer Carroll (10 Arts), Monica Glass (10 Arts), David Katz (Meme), John Taus (The Corner), and Peter Woolsey (Bistrot La Minette) are going to try with a cruise-themed night on Thursday, June 30th. The Zahav Boat sets sail at 6 p.m. with a $60 all-you-can-eat-and-drink night that will also include a ’70s DJ, lounge singer and karaoke.