The Center City District now counts 412 outdoor dining cafes in just Philadelphia’s downtown area. Many a sidewalk has been turned over to eating al fresco. But if you’re looking to dine in the sunshine without the crowds, out of earshot of the SEPTA bus and away from the peering eyes of passersby, you’ve come to the right place. Here, our picks for the 12 best hidden outdoor dining spots in Philadelphia.
Le Chéri is blocking off the entire, well, block to celebrate Bastille Day on Tuesday, July 14th. With the street closed down, you’ll dance under the stars with DJ Robby Rob all night long. But, more importantly, you’ll eat a full buffet dinner with wine pairings by chef/owners Charlotte and Pierre Camels. We’ve got the menu below. They’ll have you fully wined and dined by the time the auction rolls around.
That’s right, there’s a silent auction and raffle, too. The only thing that’s not included in the overall cost, raffle tickets will be available for $5/ticket or $20 for 5 tickets. They’re raffling off 2 round trip tickets to Paris with Delta Airlines. There will be a whole slew of auction items to bid on (hence the wining and dining). Some of the more notable donors include the 76ers, Analog Watch Co, Bikram Yoga Northern Liberties, Bistrot la Minette, Fork Restaurant, Franklin Fountain, La Colombe, the Eagles and many, many more.
It being Thursday and us being in a retro kind of mood this week here at Foobooz World HQ, we decided to do our own little game of Throwback Thursday. But rather than asking for ridiculous photos of you passed out drunk in someone’s basement rec room with your parachute pants and Flock Of Seagulls hair, we’re looking for something better. What we want you to reminisce about are your favorite throwback dishes being served in Philly–what you like and where you go to get it today.
What’s that? You want some examples? We’re here to help.
D’Artagnan, the meat and charcuterie purveyor to many of the best restaurants around the country, is celebrating its 30th anniversary with a charity dinner party at Le Cheri. Yes, tickets are expensive. But we’re talking five courses with paired wines being prepared by some of the best chefs in the city, in celebration of one of the top purveyors in the business.
And the menu? It looks kind of amazing.
A few days ago, we posted a list of some of the best soups in Center City–a perfect little thing for a gray, cold day. But almost as soon as it went up, readers started commenting with places that we’d forgotten. And since the first post was never meant to be anything like a canonical list, we’ve decided to expand it here with reader suggestions–plus a couple of extra places that we just love.
So first, I finally got the chance to stop by the new(ish) Hippot Shabu Shabu, which opened a couple months back in Chinatown. I have two things to say about it right off the bat…
Pierre and Charlotte Calmels’ Le Cheri at 18th and Rittenhouse Square is now open for lunch Wednesday through Friday, from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. This is no bargain lunch however with appetizers ranging from $9 to $13 and main courses all coming in at over $20.
Le Cheri Lunch Menu (PDF)
Le Cheri [Foobooz]
Spring is in the air and it was very evident at the Philadelphia Art Alliance’s “Spring at the Mansion” party held Friday night in the jewel of Rittenhouse Square, The Wetherill Mansion across from the blooming park.
Black was out, and colorful dresses and dapper suits were in. Guests enjoyed a cocktail party under a tent on the closed Rittenhouse Street adjacent to the Wetherill before being led into the mansion for a delicious dinner prepared by the newly opened French bistro Le Chéri, whose rooms were decorated with springtime colors and flowers by Evantine Designs.
At 8 p.m. the Young Friends of The Art Alliance began their party under the tent. They enjoyed delicious treats from DiBruno’s and an open bar, and danced to the tunes of DJ Serop. A portion of the proceeds from the event will benefit the preservation and restoration of The Wetherill Mansion, home of the Philadelphia Art Alliance and the oldest cultural institution on the Square. Co-chairs for the evening were Nicole Cashman and Nigel Richards.
According to Trey Popp, the Art Alliance may have finally found its restaurant in Pierre and Charlotte Calmels’ Le Cheri. Popp bestows three stars on the French bistro, despite being served testicles under the guise of “pistachio fries.”
Calmels cuts his boudin noir—another “Bizarre” selection—with extra flour, pushing the sometimes-crumbly texture of that blood sausage into the realm of dense chocolate cake. Best I’ve ever had.
And if there’s ravioli on the menu, get it—even if it sounds boring, like the delicate cream cheese ones whose tangy fillings turned out to be infused with truffle peelings one night.
Three Stars – Excellent
YOU HAVE TO FIGURE that any ingredient is fair game in a menu section labeled “Bizarre.” But Pierre Calmels sure pulled a fast one on me at Le Chéri (which replaced the Rittenhouse Tavern after Nick Elmi left to open Laurel on East Passyunk). The only dish I didn’t like at the Bibou chef’s classically French makeover of the Philadelphia Art Alliance space was his lamb offal pot-au-feu, whose gutty broth occupied that uncanny valley that separates the authentic from the macabre. But oh, the “pistachio fries” floating in it! What culinary jewels, those mild and tender ovals bearing mosaics of crunchy nuts!
Only later did I discover the source of my captivation. “Ah, pistachio fries!” Calmels chuckled over the phone. “This is a way of saying ‘testicles.’”
Culinary jewels indeed.
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So here we are, just two days into the new year and already we’ve got some chef changes to report.
First off, Pierre and Charlotte Calmels of Le Cheri have let go their opening chef, Waldemar “Val” Stryjewski after a little more than a month (Le Cheri opened in the Art Alliance space on November 20). According to the Insider, it just wasn’t a good fit with the kitchen there needing less of a chef and more of a manager. No replacement has been named yet, but Pierre has been holding things together at Le Cheri since the start while longtime sous Ron Fougeray has been running the kitchen at Bibou.