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The Word on Le Bec Fin

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Came out tonight on channel 6. He is giving back his 5 stars and going much less formal. Here is a rough transcript and the news piece.

http://abclocal.go.com/wpvi/story?sec...

Now what would be considered the fanciest restaurant in the city?

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  1. I stayed up to watch the "big" announcement from George P. last night. Viewers were led to believe that he would either be retiring or closing Le Bec. Obviously not the case. He is making the restaurant more casual, allowing "jeans" to be worn, and offering an a la carte menu. IMHO, he is "giving back his 5 stars" before they are taken from him.

    Gorp512--probably The Fountain at the Four Seasons Hotel would now be the the fanciest, special occasion restaurant in Philadelphia.

    1. I'm truly mystified by this move. His downscaling and the return of accolades of his signature establishment makes no sense. There will always be an upscale market for the elegant three-hour, six course presentations that earned him five stars. Something must have gone amiss in the back of house.

      Good question as to the heir. Is anyone else close to five stars? How does Lacroix stack up?

      1. Yesterday afternoon, before the actual announcement on the TV there was an update on this situation on philly.com. They stated the announcement would be that he would be scaling back his menu and pricing for something more casual. I am taken aback by this. I assume there is always a market for the luxury diner. And what's up with the jeans? Not everyone wants to wear jeans out for a nice meal. Perhaps Sandy is right; he is 'giving' back his stars before they are taken from him. I wonder if his recent rating in that rag Philadelphia Magazine had a hand in this as well?

        1. Perhaps things are as Chef Perrier says: maintaining 5 stars took the fun out of the kitchen. Bravo to the man (or woman) who decides to stop playing someone else's game. Georges Perrier, imho, does not have to prove himself to anyone. I have memories of marvelous meals at Le Bec Fin, and I'm looking forward to the new incarnation for a different experience.

          1. Please...I hope he keeps that cote du boeuf. Can't live without that. This is very sad, but better for him to make the choice to downgrade, than to be in agony like Bernard Loiseau. What will happen with the furniture, chandeliers, restaurant silver? An auction, perhaps? I hope we will hear about it.

            1. First, I don't think it was a matter of giving the stars back before they're taken away. The man had 5! There would've been huge signs if there were plans to take back all 5 of his stars.

              Second, I can honestly say that I'm more than a little ambivalent about this news. Part of the Le Bec Fin experience is that formality, that immense service in combination with the wonderful food. In my opinion, the food alone would make LBF a wonderful restaurant still but it wouldn't make it a standout, special occasion restaurant. While it'll be nice to have a new, special-ish option for a workday lunch around and while I respect what Perrier wants to do, I kind of don't want the LBF change.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Ali

                Fountain and Lacroix will reign now.

                1. re: Ali

                  I believe you have to give back your stars when you significantly change the direction of a restaurant.

                  Very interesting move. I hadn't considered it in terms of an impending recession-didn't think the LBFers were affected by that kind of thing. I do have to say, I'm less upset about the change in menu/pricing than the nod to allowing jeans. Is there nothing sacred anymore?? 'Cause once they allow jeans, the jogging suited customers are right behind...with cell phones in hand.

                  1. re: elayne5

                    I'm so with you on this jeans thing. Do people really need to wear jeans to EVERYTHING?? Granted, I am not much for getting super dressed up, but a nice outfit sans jeans is not a big stretch. I can wear jeans to the local pub or the Thai restaurant, or the Mexican place. I'm not old, but I think this might be a bit of the 'dumbing down' theory. Next, they will welcome the jogging suits...as long as they are FILA or Juicy...

                2. Well I consider myself fortunate for having had the opportunity to dine there several times.

                  Good luck Chef!

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Chinon00

                    It was probably the right thing to do from a business standpoint. While many of us on this board appreciate a place like LBF, and think it worth while to occasionally put out the (considerable amount of) money for the experience, the appeal is limited. By all indications, the next year or two will be tough economically, and Georges could expect revenue to be down a lot while the expenses of running such a lavish place continue right on. By appealing to a broader audience, he is protecting himself (to some degree anyway) against the downturn.

                    Francis

                    1. re: FrancisdeR

                      I heartily agree with this post.
                      Times change. People's tastes change. The days of "elegant" tablecloth dining are passe to more than just a few, causing the restaurant scene to have to rein in and change their dining practices.
                      Perrier is far from stupid. He has his finger on the pulse of what's going on in Philly and he knows that his beloved LBF as it once was, is a thing of the past now.
                      I wish him luck with his new experience. I hope it pays off. He deserves it. He is a Philadelphia institution.

                  2. It is truly sad that a luxury experience like Le Bec Fin will be lost to so many . Le Bec was a haven of wonderful food and unrilvaled service unlike anything in much of the US I can understand giving up the stars, but going casual is dumbing down

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: joan1725

                      I'm only a little sad. While my meals at LBF were infrequent, I always enjoyed them immensely. The problem is that few people were regulars there. Once, LBF was the place to go for a special occassion. But, now, I'm just as happy to go to the latest BYOB. So, I suppose that, in some small measure, I am responsible for Perrier's decision. He deserves a lot of credit for having the courage to change course at this stage of his carreer.

                      On the other hand, I'm very excited to see what Perrier's going to do with the new concept. He is truly great chef and a perfectionist. Now that he feels free to have fun, I hope that his kitchen will be turning out some of the most creative food in the city. I just made a reservation to see if he can live up to this challenge.

                      1. re: Cruz

                        do post after you've been!

                    2. My dh's first thought was to run over there immediately before they have a chance to implement the changes.

                      1. I studied at UPenn in the early 70's, where I learned to tie a silk bow-tie and wear a starched white shirt with collar pins and a Harris tweed jacket and trousers with creases that sliced, while out to dinner on Saturday night.
                        This shift at LBF seems to be a response to the emerging audience of foul-mouthed, cell-phone-addicted, rattily dressed narcissistic brats who have no respect for tradition or manners.
                        Sad.

                        12 Replies
                        1. re: Veggo

                          I don't agree with your assessment. The "emerging audience" you've described is NOT the audience that frequented LBF, and, IMO, is not responsible for its demise. I believe it's more a matter of changing tastes and evolving choices among those patrons who contributed to the success of LBF over the years.

                          1. re: CindyJ

                            CindyJ, "changing tastes and evolving choices"?: please amplify. Does this have to do with diet, or denim? food or phones? attitude or aptitude?
                            Those patrons who "contributed to the success of LBF over the years" are no longer doing so, or there would be no reason to change the format. The old guard are either dead, infirm, or unwilling to share space with the denim cell phone brats. (Of course I'm being provocative, but it's not your mission to defend your generation's eroded manners).

                            1. re: Veggo

                              Is it your mission to defend your generation's sense of entitlement??

                              1. re: Philly Ray

                                I am entitled to nothing. I think we should respect one another. Courtesy. Manners. Politeness. Quietness. Cleanliness. Neatness. I would provide all this if I were dining 10 feet from you and never met you. Is that problematic, Ray? What is the wellspring of your hostility? I'm truly curious.

                                1. re: Veggo

                                  Personally I think it's great that we're teaching that older generation how to do things like use computers and the internet. Even if they do accuse people they've never met of being "foul-mouthed, cell-phone addicted, rattily dressed, narcissistic brats." (Sounds like someone needs to go back to the early 70s and learn those traditions and manners again).

                                  In any case, I have to wonder what kind of younger crowd he expects to attract with plates like a $56 Dover Sole dish.
                                  (Menu can be found here: http://blogs.phillynews.com/inquirer/...)

                                  Maybe I just have the old summer menu in mind, but it seemed a lot more "young" and up with the current trends (or at least with brighter flavors), whereas this seems a little more classic. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but it seems contrary to his goal. But I haven't eaten there, so I can't really judge.

                                  1. re: bagwhat

                                    Thank you for your thoughtful counsel, maam.

                              2. re: Veggo

                                Veggo - First let me set the record straight -- your rancor is misdirected. You and I are of the same generation. I was already a college graduate when you were first learning to tie your bow tie. So before you talk about "[my] generation's eroded manners," you need to get your facts straight. Clearly, EVERY generation has produced its share of boorish dolts. The generation I believe you are rebuking is the generation of my children, whose manners, lifestyles, and respect for others would make ANY parent proud, and who would be welcome in ANY restaurant in the world.

                                So, getting back to my original assertion, what I'm saying is that I don't believe the demise of LBF has anything to do with cell phones or denim. The restaurant scene in Philly has evolved and changed dramatically over the last decade, and so have the the dining preferences of restaurant patrons. Today's discerning restaurant customers have choices that didn't exist back when LBF first opened its doors. Even the "old guard" enjoy the more casual BYOs.

                                1. re: CindyJ

                                  I have to agree with CindyJ on this one. When LBF set the bar for fine dining in Philadelphia, there was so little to compete with the experience there. I am in the middle-age group and as I have seen the choices expand in the fine dining category, I am more apt to try a new spot every time we head down to the city. A while back, I was chatting with someone from the Chicago area, the comment was made: " You are so lucky to live in in a city with such great restaurants". At first I was thinking, really? Then I realized, they were absolutely correct! I am all about the BYOs these days. What fun!!

                                  1. re: crazyspice

                                    My dear friends in Germantown proudly host me on restaurant crawls in Philly; there has been a wonderful renaissance of eateries far beyond Center City. All we seem to do there is eat!
                                    But I always have to hit Koch's deli (43rd & Locust) for an almost impossibly thick sandwich.

                                  2. re: CindyJ

                                    Nicely said, Cindy.

                                    1. re: Mawrter

                                      Thanks, Mawrter. I do think I made my point. :-)

                              3. re: Veggo

                                Oh, I've seen well-dressed, foul-mouthed, cell-phone addicted, narcissistic businessmen at Le Bec Fin who had no respect for tradition or manners. It isn't as though the place hasn't seen its share of well-heeled buffoons.

                              4. Seems to me that his motivation is very straight forward...

                                After nearly 4 decades of being the pinnacle of fine dining in philly, and nearing 65 years old, the man wants to lighten up.

                                Says very clearly himself..I have nothing to prove.

                                It's not like its become a burger joint.

                                1. The trend is general-here in NY, we've seen a lot of movement towards the less formal setting and food...the NY Times today has a piece on French food in NY, and quotes Jacques Rachou (of the late La Cote Basque) as saying he had clients who wouldn't eat in the same room as jean-wearing clients...

                                  I'll miss Le Bec Fin, as a dining experience...but I think the days of such places are numbered.

                                  1. Here's a link to the new menu. Prices seem to be in line with many other higher end places in the City. A lot of the dishes seem to be imports from the old menu. I was hoping the Perrier would experiment with some new ideas. Maybe in time . .

                                    http://blogs.phillynews.com/inquirer/...

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: Cruz

                                      In addition to the jeans, does it bother anyone else that someone in Perrier's class of cooking can only come up with pasta and veggies in butter sauce or steamed veg for vegetarians?

                                      1. re: elayne5

                                        I know! That kills me. He used to make (special) a saffron vegetarian rissoto with reggiano and grilled vegetables. It changed my life and was worth the money.