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.
UPDATE after the jump
So I know we weren’t the only cynical bastards in town who were at least a teensy bit surprised to hear that Avance (which has suffered its share of troubles lately) was actually reopening after their summer break.
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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)
Foie gras mousse. Photography by Courtney Apple.
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.”
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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]
The latest issue of GQ features Alan Richman’s ranking of the top 25 new restaurants in the country. Right off the bat, his #25 is something of a surprise: Pizzeria Vetri. Here’s what he likes about the crust:
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Illustration by Kagan McLeod
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.
Avance replaces Le Bec Fin – with a Roxborough guy in the kitchen
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.
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So you guys know that Avance is opening tonight, right?
Well, for those of you who’ve been living under a rock, it is. Chef Justin Bogle and his crew are limiting the covers slightly tonight–holding the floor to just 60 people–but they’re going to be officially opening the doors for dinner service, and we stopped in to check the place out.
Let me just say this: It ain’t Le Bec Fin. Not even a little bit. We’re going to have a whole bunch of snaps from the dining room, the kitchen and the downstairs bar (which, having never been a fan of the old downstairs bar, is a VAST improvement) ready for you shortly, but for right now, that picture above? That’s tonight’s opening menu at Avance.
Here’s hoping that someday, many years from now, we all look back on this menu as a historical curiosity when Avance is celebrating its 42nd anniversary in the space that Le Bec-Fin once called home.
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