finally went to bibou on saturday night...i was really looking forward to this, and im afraid my expectations may have been too high? the meal was very good, but the food did not really blow my socks off.
we ordered the foie gras and gravlax to start. the foie was delicious- served with the perfect amount of fruit (the menu states it was peaches, but i could have sworn it was pear) and a delicious raisin bread- the bread had a wonderful cinnamony flavor that was great with the foie, not too sweet. the fruit also was not cooked to the point of mealiness and had a nice bite to it, which i quite liked.
the gravlax was also good- it was prepared like a tartare with bits of chopped fish and herbs topped with a parmesan tuile. light and acidic. i really liked both appetizers, but i wont dream about either.
the main courses we chose were the scallops and stuffed pig's foot. the scallops were cooked perfectly and served with a very acidic, bright and herby vinaigrette. i was expecting a much heavier dish and was surprised by the lightness- the vinaigrette was tart and well balanced. quite lemony. im a big fan and would recommend the scallops as a lighter main course. i probably would not have been full had i not had quite a bit of the pig's foot, which is fried beautifully. the texture of a foot is quite gelatinous though so if youre not getting crispy fried bits on the fork, its a big mouthful of pig foot jello. the foot was apparently stuffed with foie gras but i could not taste it. after a few bites i had a hard time with this dish. the flavors became muddled for me, but my companion liked it very much so perhaps its just my taste. the lentils were cooked nicely, but i would have been happier with fewer of them on the plate.
shared the cheese plate- was good but ive had much better. liked the tomato jam quite a bit, and they brought us extra which was very nice of them.
plum tarte for dessert with almond ice cream- again, very good tarte but again i think ive had better. the almond ice cream didnt have a very strong taste, which i would have preferred
bill for two was $100- the restaurant is lovely, as are pierre and charlotte, and i had a great evening. but i couldnt help but think that the food at cochon, and certainly overtures when it was around, was just as good.
am i missing something here? perhaps i did not order well? i wanted to LOVE this place and i did not. i was excited about trying the tasting menu for another occasion but now im reconsidering :(
1009 South 8th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147
Oh my. I had to read your review a second time, to find the flaws, and all I can say is, I wish I had been there! It sounds like that old devil, high expectations, was responsible for your let down. Price, ambience, service, for $100--oh my, I gotta get back there.
I remember Overatures, and no way was it just as good as Bibou, although it was most pleasant.
That stuffed pigs foot does sound like a less than entrancing choice, other than for a person who lives and dies by pig. It also sound heavy and weird enough to have set your palate on edge for the rest of the meal. I think that may have knocked your taste buds for a loop.
Do give them another chance!
l think your review is very fair. The welcoming of the employees and owners is a major highlight of the place. As Pierre cooks for a broad group of discerning tasters some dishes will be liked by different strata of diners more than others. Have had the pig's foot, when more gently cooked and not for my taste, have also had it when almost overcooked and very crispy and wonderful. Le Puy lentils always won the dish for me. They do offal very well and generally have at least one 'strange' thing every night. The small octopus a few weeks ago was amazing. Many Philadelphia diners are conservative and Bibou cannot cook all items for those of us on the fringe, but most nights, there are superb unusual things on the menu. Yes, there are some nights where nothing appeals to me on the menu, but it is rare and to get those occasions when Pierre goes over the top is a big reason l am a 'regular'. Even on it's best night IMHO Cochon is a totally different bird. It is much funkier in service and style, not in a bad way, and when things are right there they can be great, but l find l rarely get lost in a dish there, as l often do at Bibou. Try Bibou again and figure out what they are serving that night that hits your sweet spot.
yes, ive heard that they do offal very well and was excited to eat some of the more 'strange' dishes, we should have opted for the bone marrow instead of the pigs foot- if it were easier to get reservations i would have waited for a menu that better suited my tastes! i made this reservation 2 weeks in advance and wanted to eat on saturday specifically, so unfortunately this time i could not be flexible. and i agree with your comment about cochon- i havent been in very long, it's probably unfair for me to compare them with bibou.
We adore Bibou and do not understand how you can compare it to Cochon. We only ate at Cochon once and had a satisfactory but not outstanding meal, whereas we find just about everything we order at Bibou superb. We don't think we would like the pig's foot so don't order it -- but the foie gras is superb! Like the snails very much too, even though snails are not our favorite dish. And my husband hates lots of things. However, we do not go on Saturday night -- that's not our favorite night to go out and as retired folks we can go out every night of the week.
We've eaten at Bibou about eight times since it opened last May and like you, have never had less than a great meal at what we consider a bargain price. Every time we brought friends who agreed and usually went back. I think you ordered just fine and you're not missing anything.
Not all our meals at Bibou are a revelation. I'm not particularly partial to the pigs foot and the sleeper on the menu is the simply cooked steak. Bibou isn't responsible for all the hype, but the hype increases expectations to an unreasonable level. IMO the same was true for Django when it was under the original owners. Pierre was executive chef at La Bec Fin for many years and his cooking chops make Bibou a consistently very good restaurant in a simple setting at an amazingly affordable price. I love it because it is on target for my conscious and unconscious sweet spot of what a restaurant should be. Cochon may hit your bulls-eye.
FWIW, I went to Overtures any number of times and liked it, but the food was not in the same league as Bibou, even though it was inventive, well prepared and used good ingredients. Just my opinion.
If you think it's worth spending another $100 go back to Bibou and see what you think.