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.
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.
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]
According to Craig LaBan, Pierre Calmels is hitting on all cylinders at his new Le Cheri. LaBan’s list of favorites appears to be most of the menu.
I can’t remember a better steak tartare than Le Chéri’s finely diced filet, edgy with Dijon and glossed with raw yolk, mounded atop the crispy potato lattice of fresh gaufrette chips. The onion soup is deeply sweet from onions caramelized for hours, but balanced with wine and stock, then sealed beneath the nutty tang of molten Comte. Familiar steak-frites gets an upgrade with earthy bavette (flat sirloin) and shallots soaked in Marchand de Vin gravy. The potatoes “Darphin,” crispy rails of shredded spuds in clarified butter, are the hash-brown sticks of my dreams. The choucroute is a classic crock of kraut beer-stewed to brown with bacon, foie gras fat, and house-made duck-pork sausage, then topped with a crispy blade of braised pork belly and mildly salted but flavorful duck confit.
Three Bells – Excellent
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
Le Chéri is now open in the Art Alliance building at 18th and Rittenhouse Square. The successor to Rittenhouse Tavern is owned by Pierre and Charlotte Calmels of Bella Vista’s much-praised Bibou. The chef de cuisine is Waldemar “Val” Stryjewski who comes from a.kitchen. The price point is less than that at Bibou with entrees ranging from $17 to $30.
For now the restaurant is BYOB but a liquor license is in the works. Reservations are already tough to land but a tipster informs us the bar is first-come-first-served.
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.
UPDATE: Unsurprisingly, we’ve already been getting questions from folks about this new program. One of the big ones? How much is it going to cost. I can now tell you that we just heard from COOK and they have decided that the 10 students chosen for the 1st semester of the COOK Masters Program will be going FOR FREE. Yup, you read it right: 20 hours of instruction by the city’s best chefs, and it ain’t gonna cost you a penny.
This is going to be huge.
No, seriously. For all of you cooks out there–for all of you apprentices, stagiers, externs, students and passionate amateurs, all of you up-and-comers, all of you line dogs aspiring for something more, all of you broke-ass, bone-tired, hard-working, up-by-your-bootstraps white jackets banging out 200 tables a night and reading cookbooks on the dock between dinner hits… Man, do I have some news for you.
Right now, as we speak, we here at Foobooz and the team at COOK are making plans for the first semester of the COOK Masters Program: A straight-up professional cooking school designed to give 10 lucky students the experience of a lifetime as they are personally trained by some of Philadelphia’s best and most successful chefs. Here’s the pitch:
After just one year and over five hundred cooking classes, COOK, Philadelphia’s premier demonstration kitchen, begins a new chapter with The COOK Masters Program: an instructional cooking series taught by some of the city’s and country’s biggest culinary names, for students who are truly passionate about pursuing a professional career in the restaurant industry.
And just wait until you hear who the instructors are going to be…
See that picture? That’s some of the best chefs in the city of Philadelphia acting the way chefs do when they either have a couple of bottles in them, or have all gotten together for some kind of diversion that only they truly understand and appreciate.
When it is the former, pictures don’t generally make their way out to the press. (Also, there’s usually at least one person not wearing any pants.) In the case of the latter, what comes of such gatherings is often funny stories, lots of good will and a killer dinner served to select members of the public smart enough to know a good thing coming when they see it.
In this case, what the above snap (of last year’s team) is celebrating is the 2012 version of the Bistrot La Minette collaborative duck dinner–a “Chef Invitational” being held on April 3rd at the aforementioned Bistrot, where 7 great chefs (plus one great sommelier) will gather to cook a dinner where every course focuses on duck.
But before you get to thinking that this is just another silly special event dinner (of the sort that seem to be popping up every other weekend these days), you’ve got to check out the menu. And of course, Foobooz can provide…