On the surface, Warby Parker opening a new location on Walnut Street isn’t huge news. Sure, having the tech-based eyeglasses startup in town brings in more tax revenue, raises the city’s cool factor, and ups our retail game another notch. But it means a whole lot more than that. It’s a sign that Center City’s retail landscape has changed in a big way.
First of all, it’s going into the old Le Bec-Fin space at 1523 Walnut. For years, Le Bec-Fin was the pinnacle of fine dining in Philadelphia led by legendary chef Georges Perrier. But times change, tastes change, and it finally closed in 2013. Chef Justin Bogle tried to resurrect the space as the more modern Avance but that closed after just 10 months. Read more »
In keeping with our pretty-much-unbroken streak of posting about Kevin Sbraga every day (no, seriously), we present you with this. A nice little peek into some recipe testing with Georges Perrier happening at Juniper Commons. According to Sbraga’s Twitter, this is all about “Making sauces with the master.”
Kevin Sbraga [Twitter]
Le Bec-Fin may be gone, Le Bec 2.0 may be nothing but an unpleasant memory, and Avance may have shut out the lights for the last time, but Georges Perrier–the man who made 1523 Walnut Street–is certainly not forgotten.
And now, Paris Bistro in Chestnut Hill is hosting a dinner tonight in honor of Perrier (who has been a long-time friend of owner Al Paris) by serving the dishes of six chefs who worked for the iconic Philadelphia chef.
Kevin Sbraga, Nicholas Elmi, Pierre Calmels, Chip Roman and Robert Bennett, all of whom worked at Le Bec-Fin, will be serving hors d’oeuvres for the reception and one main course for the night. Each course will be paired with wines selected by Paris Bistro sommelier Wendy Wolf.
Tickets are $250, plus tax and tip. Service starts at 6pm. The proceeds from the dinner will benefit the James Beard Foundation.
Paris Bistro [f8b8z]
Crow & the Pitcher | Jason Varney
For food-obsessed Philadelphians, the first half of August unfolded like a rigged game of Two Truths and a Lie. In case you were down the Shore, let’s play. Pick the fib: The Ritz-Carlton turned over 10 Arts to a barbecue pit-master for a night; chef-cum-doughnut mogul Michael Solomonov came out in the New York Times as a self-described “crackhead” during Zahav’s early days; and Georges Perrier did a three-night gig at a restaurant that serves deep-fried pickles and a “Cool Ranch Dorito Omelette.”
Now, you already know the game’s fixed. All three are the God’s honest. But still, Georges Perrier—Georges “I declare war on Steve Starr” Perrier—moonlighting in a kitchen that crumbles junk food into the eggs? Well, that casts Le Bec-Fin’s legacy in an unexpected light.
The highbrow/no-brow tug-of-war has been playing out in Philly since at least the 2004 debut of Barclay Prime’s $100 cheesesteak, but Crow & the Pitcher (which marks chef Alex Capasso’s return to Philadelphia after seven years operating Blackbird in Collingswood) is our first restaurant to carry the yupster embrace of cognitive dissonance to what you might call a post-ironic stage.
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Last week we told you about Rittenhouse Row’s cool Culinary Collective, where eighteen restaurants were pulling out all the stops to create unique experiences between August 5th and the 7th. One of those special experiences will be at Crow and the Pitcher. Georges Perrier, who is often spotted relaxing at the Rittenhouse restaurant of Alex Capasso, will be in the kitchen preparing some of his most popular dishes from Le Bec-Fin’s past. A four-course prix fixe dinner will be available for $60 or a seven-course extravaganza will be $120. Seatings are available at 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
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On Monday, July 14th, Fond is hosting the legendary Georges Perrier, as he and chef Lee Styer prepare a collaborative dinner. The five-course menu will feature Perrier’s classic French cuisine in celebration of Bastille Day.
Reservations are limited, as there will only be one seating at 7 p.m., so call now. The five-course dinner is $90 and there is also an optional wine pairing.
Bastile Day Menu with Georges Perrier (PDF)
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.
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Ever notice how for the bold-faced and famous here, Philadelphia’s social scene resembles a high school? The dating pool is shallow, everyone knows everyone else, and a stroll down the hall (or around Rittenhouse Square) can lead to a memory-lane disaster. Maybe that’s why A-list magnet Roseanne Martin’s latest well-to-do beau is an out-of-towner. Smart move, girlfriend — and a departure for Martin and others whose love connections are local, notable and, like, totes complicated.
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Foobooz reports that the former Le Bec Fin will open later in the year as Avance with chef Justin Bogle. For more, go here.
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If you look on the back page of the new Best of Philly edition of Philadelphia magazine, you’ll see an interview with Georges Perrier, who finds himself without a restaurant for the first time in decades. (You’ll also find this caricature by well-known illustrator Andy Friedman.) Read more »