La Peg Goes American(ish)

This month's OurNightOut will be held at La Peg, Chef Peter Woolsey's lovely French bistro-inspired eatery in the FringeArts building. Proceeds from the bash will benefit upcoming programs at the Attic Youth Center. Tuesday, April 28th, 6 pm, $5 donation, La Peg, 140 North Columbus Boulevard.

So you guys remember back when La Peg was a French restaurant, right? Back when they used to do terrines and snails and onion soup gratinee?

Well you should because it wasn’t that long ago. La Peg (the second restaurant from chef Peter Woolsey, the guy behind Bistrot La Minette, which is one of the most unappologetically French places in the city) opened as a solid (if somewhat less traditional) outpost for all manner of froggery; a brasserie offering bone marrow with sauce gribiche, foie gras with pickled raisin butter, pan bagnat and potatoes rosti, all in the cavernous space attached to the Fringe Arts building.

But one of the other things that came out of wandering the floor during Philly Cooks last week? The news that Woolsey has pulled a major 180 and quietly (oh so quietly) turned La Peg into an American restaurant.

No, seriously. He pulled me aside while I was walking the floor and showed me the menu that he and his crew quietly rolled out a couple weeks back.

“You’re a northeast guy, right?” he asked. “Check it out.” And then he pointed to the New England clam chowder that now leads off the menu. “Real thin,” he said. “You know, the right way.”

That chowder wasn’t the only change, though. La Peg’s menu is now full of classic Americana–from the Waldorf salad and the Yankee pot roast to the clams casino and cedar plank salmon. He’s got two kinds of burgers on the menu now: An 8oz pub burger with lettuce, tomato, onion and a fried egg on a brioche bun and a 5oz “fast food” cheeseburger with onions, pickles, special sauce and Cooper’s sharp cheddar on a potato roll. There are wings, grilled brats, fried cheese curds and oysters Rockefeller; root beer floats and a banana split for dessert. And, seriously, the Frenchiest thing left on the roster are currently the fries. And even those come with cheese sauce on top.

Honestly? I’m kinda excited to get back and try it. Woolsey has always been a great chef and a dedicated traditionalist. This time around, he’s just setting his sights on a different tradition. And while granted, it’s weird that he’s doing this at a moment when Philly seems to be turning in a decidedly French direction (on the culinary high end, anyway), I do love an iconoclast in the kitchen.

La Peg [f8b8z]