So for those of you who’ve been wondering whatever happened to the guy who used to run the kitchen at Avance, now you know. The weird thing? This is a sort of homecoming for Justin Bogle, because prior to his running off to New York City to earn his Michelin stars while cooking at Gilt, he got started as a cook under Jose Garces at Alma de Cuba.
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.
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)
Karl Marx once wrote that history repeats itself: the first time as tragedy, the second as farce. And Avance is what happens the third time around.
Ninety minutes, 120 bucks and one bite into dinner for four at 1523 Walnut Street, the successor to Le Bec-Fin and all its reboots was careening. We’d already been told our table wasn’t ready (as the minute hand smacked solidly against our reservation hour) and been sent to pay tribute at the downstairs bar. Two sips into cocktails there, and a hostess appeared to reclaim our glasses and ferry us past a bevy of empty tables in the soaring slate-gray dining room, bringing us to one of several more vacancies on the mezzanine. A self-congratulatory announcement prefaced the replacement of white napkins with black ones (for the benefit of the ladies’ pants, of course), yet when the silver tongs appeared later to replenish the linens a second time, it was back to white again.
And then, 20 minutes after we’d ordered an audaciously marked-up white to accompany appetizers, our server airily chirped, “The sommelier’s upstairs. I assume she’s having trouble finding it.”
City Paper’s Adam Erace dines upstairs and down at Avance. He finds plenty to like on both floors but falls in love with the bar and burger.
The bar is also where you’ll find my favorite thing at Avance. Garnished with onion marmalade, harissa mayo and feta, the perfectly cooked Border Springs lamb burger arrives on a bronzed, sesame seed-speckled potato bun, part of the restaurant’s extraordinary bread program. It is the finest burger I have ever eaten. That it’s served at the old Le Bec makes me love it, and Avance, even more.
Out with the old French guard and in with Avance at the former Le Bec-Fin [City Paper]
In the beginning, there was France—just this dumpy two-bit European country where everyone grubbed around in the mud, ate rocks for dinner, caught cholera and died at 34.
But over time, France became a colonial power. It went all over the globe picking fights. And everywhere they went, the French brought their armies, their ridiculous hats, their whores and, because they were French, their chef’s knives.
Everywhere they went, they pillaged the local cuisine, stole every good idea, then gave them all French names. To the French, codification was tantamount to ownership. The great French cookbook-slash-encyclopedia, Larousse Gastronomique? A world history of plundered cuisines.
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Drew Lazor profiled Philadelphia-born chef Justin Bogle in yesterday’s Daily News. The piece illuminates Bogle’s upbringing in Roxborough as well gives a look at what he’s cooking at Avance.
As promised, here’s a look inside Avance – chef Justin Bogle‘s new modernist temple on Walnut Street. You can see how he completely revamped the dining room (going with sleek and earthy in about equal measure, and stepping away completely from the Louis XIVth’s sitting room design style that died with the old Le Bec), rearranged the kitchen (yeah, that’s a giant dewar of liquid nitrogen in the corner–but don’t be scared), and finally did away with the mirrors and curtains in the downstairs bar–turning what once looked like the wet bar on a French playboy’s pleasure yacht into the kind of place where a normal human being might actually want to sit and have a drink some time.
Oh, and before you ask? Yes–all that natural wood is black walnut (much of it cut from single logs in order to maintain a matching grain between tables). Which I think is kind of a nice inside joke for a restaurant on Walnut Street.