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The new Le Bec Fin

The website isn't operational yet so I was wondering whether anyone had any details on the $150 five course prix fixe menu. Thanks!

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    1. Any reports on Le Bec Fin 2.0 yet?

      8 Replies
      1. re: deprofundis

        Went the first weekend after the reopening for dinner and loved it. The room, service and food are much improved -- reminded me a bit of Per Se, but without the view. It will set you back at least 500 per couple for dinner though; order a few decent bottles of wine and you're getting close to a grand. I wonder how they are doing from a numbers standpoint; always seems to be plenty of available seats at opentable.com.

        1. re: tbabes

          According to Eater Philly this week: "Reservations are already almost impossible to score."

          I don't know, but we went to opening night (review posted on y), which was sold out.

          1. re: ftarazu

            I just checked Open Table and there are tables for two available for tonight at 9 as well as for various times this week. So much for "impossible".

            1. re: Philly Ray

              Whether it is impossible or not, you'd have to be pretty optimistic to make a reservation for 9PM for a restaurant that only serves an 8-course tasting menu (not counting amuse-bouche or mignardises)!

              If I remember correctly, we were seated at 7:45 and left around 11. If there were more than 2 of us, and if we were drinking more, I'm sure it would have been longer.

              Is Chez Georges serving food yet? I have read it is open, but I'm not sure if that is just for drinks or the second kitchen is open for business.

              1. re: ftarazu

                Chez Georges seems like it would be more interesting than lunch, since the later appears to be a very similar just trimmed down dinner menu. Having been to dinner once, and given the very high price, I'm not that eager to go back for dinner any time soon.

                1. re: ftarazu

                  I wasn't debating who would want to eat at that time, I was countering the argument that reservations are impossible to get. Apparently, they are not. The reservations I saw for this week were for as early as 6:30.

                2. re: Philly Ray

                  Tis summer and the weekend Center City restaurant business is always way down through a few weeks after Labor Day. Tis also 100 degrees this afternoon. I would not project too much from tables being available today.

          2. FYI, I was just perusing open table for tomorrow evening and it looks like just about every participating restaurant has plenty of openings, including LBF and Vetri. The only one that appears to be completely booked is Bibou. Must be a slow week.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Hungryin theBurbs

              I think this week.. or the week that includes July 4th is the highest vacation week. Makes sense that the restaurants would be slower. This is a weird year as July 4th fell in the middle of the week.

            2. Anyone else been here since the re-opening? I was planning to check it out in a couple weeks but I haven't heard much, and I'm hesitant to spend that much for dinner without hearing a few more reports first.

              8 Replies
              1. re: Buckethead

                Foobooz just posted a Philly Mag review, for whatever that's worth.

                1. re: Philly Ray

                  Actually they didn't (I thought they had too, I guess they just wanted the click-through), they posted that you can buy the magazine and read the review now or wait till next week and read it online. I often agree with Trey Popp so I'll definitely read that before deciding. The Fountain is my backup (never been there).

                  1. re: Buckethead

                    We ate there shortly after they reopened and unfortunately I've forgotten some of the details. The menu was very limited -- two choices in each category, one of which was vegetarian. We were able to select a very nice dinner which we enjoyed -- but we would have liked a few more choices. There were some glitches in service -- we received 2 rolls and no more but we noticed that a neighboring table received the same 2 rolls we did, but then different bread later on and maybe a 3rd round of another type (I'm not sure). We'll give it another try later on.

                    1. re: Beulah

                      OK, thanks. So you're saying you're not in any hurry to go back anytime soon?

                      1. re: Beulah

                        That's the same method that both Per Se and the French Laundry use. 2 menus. One regular and one veg.

                        Considering the time and effort put into every dish, it's completely understandable at those establishments (not to mention the multiple other courses "from the chef"). I haven't eaten at the new LBF, so I can't say if that's the case there.

                        1. re: Boognish

                          Grammercy Tavern in NY is the same way. I really appreciate a restaurant that thinks about the progression of food, and it is different if you are just eating veggies versus including meats.

                          Thats my biggest complaint about Vedge.. you have to think hard about progression of food. Wish they put more thought into it.

                          1. re: cwdonald

                            Funny, I was looking at their menu yesterday and thinking the same thing. I'd really have no idea what/how to order there. Won't stop me from going, but pre-set menu might be a good idea for them.

                      2. re: Buckethead

                        Trey Popp's review is up now, 3.5 stars out of 4 but it reads like those stars are more aspirational than operational (he describes his first visit having some flaws overcome on his second visit).


                        I still don't know if I'm sold on going though. "Calf sweetbreads measured up to Bibou’s best" is nice but the tab at Bibou for a fantastic and extravagant dinner for two is less than the price of one diner's prix-fixe at LBF, it would be nice if the sweetbreads there did better than measure up against Bibou's.

                  2. Well, I did end up trying the new LBF recently and had a fantastic meal. It was better in every respect than my similarly-priced meal at Vetri a few months ago.

                    Service-wise, at Vetri, we felt rushed, courses were cleared and new ones appeared nearly instantly. At LBF, we were there for 3.5 hours and it felt like they were sad to see us go. At Vetri, our server was like a spokesmodel reading a script. At LBF, the servers seemed excited about the food they were serving and eager for us to try it. The sommelier at LBF personally introduced every glass of wine we drank and was able to answer any question we had, at Vetri I don't recall seeing the sommelier after we said we wanted to do the wine pairings. The whole service experience at LBF was just much more friendly, polished, experienced and professional than at Vetri.

                    The food was much better, too. My Vetri meal had its highlights, but it also had dishes that really fell flat, and a few that had me scratching my head wondering what I was paying $135 for. There were many more highlights at LBF, fewer misses, and at no point did I think to myself "I could make this at home with 50 cents worth of ingredients". The best thing we had was the dry-aged beef, the potatoes with it were done confit style and the combination of the potatoes and the beef was fantastic. Desserts were spectacular as well. There were two menus to choose from, vegetarian and non-, and the non-veg menu had two choices available for most of the courses, so really there are almost three different menus. I was part of a group so between us I think we had everything on offer that evening (though I didn't get to taste every single dish).

                    Another stark difference with Vetri was the wine pairings. I can't make an exact comparison because at Vetri they offer two levels of wine pairings, a $90 one and a $135 "Grand Riserva", and at LBF there's only one choice, for $115 or so. I had the $90 one at Vetri and the pairings were OK but there were no moments of revelation when the food and wine together elevated each other so far above what each tasted like on its own that your brain has trouble believing the sensations that are coming from your mouth. My dinner at LBF had one of those, and a few that were nearly as good.

                    Of course, this was a very expensive experience and I don't see myself spending that kind of money on dinner again for quite a while. But the new LBF makes it tempting.

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: Buckethead

                      Thanks for the review Buckethead. I have been thinking of trying Le Bec-Fin again and your review certainly made this more likely. Glad you had a special time. Did the $115 wine pairing at LBF include wine with all the courses?

                      1. re: FayeD

                        Yep, there was a separate wine (or dessert wine, or liqueur) with each dish. I left out this detail originally, but they were pretty healthy pours of wine too. I was feeling the effects by the time we left.

                      2. re: Buckethead

                        Care to share what some of the memorable dishes were? Now that they are not doing the dessert cart, did you have a large choice for dessert? Is there a cheese course in addition to dessert? And I hope they aren't doing the "Craftesque" schtick of sending you home with a muffin at the end of the night.

                        1. re: cwdonald

                          Some of the other memorable dishes included the foie gras (it's easy to like foie of course but this one had an excellent wine pairing), the corn veloute, and the rabbit confit. The dessert was part of the tasting menu, there wasn't a separate dessert menu. They were fantastic desserts so I didn't mind the lack of choices that much. I forgot to mention that there were mignardises as well and a couple of them were stupendous, particularly the little peanut butter cup. There were some very good macarons as well.

                          There was a cheese course, in my case it was a blue cheese souffle with tomatoes and walnuts, the other one was camembert and some variation on a Fig Newton, they were both very good.

                        2. re: Buckethead

                          one quick Vetri aside, that will hopefully not derail the LBF discussion.
                          In terms of your comment on rushed service, were you at an early seating or a late seating?
                          We have been twice, sat late both times (8:30 or so as I recall), and have never felt even 1% rushed. We are glacially slow eaters, and things still moved at a very graceful pace even by our standards. I'm wondering if the earlier seatings tend to move more briskly since they have to turn the tables. I think your point about the feeling that "I could make this at home with 50 cents worth of ingredients" is a very interesting one with some merits (though in all of my efforts with his two cookbooks I have not come as close to a worthy proxy as I might like to tell myself).

                          1. re: tfalbo

                            We were at an early seating at Vetri, and sat down around the same time at LBF. The specific dish that made me think "I could make this at home with 50 cents worth of ingredients" was the onion crepe. I understand that it's one of Marc Vetri's signature dishes but he wasn't in the kitchen cooking it.

                            1. re: Buckethead

                              BH. Excellent initial review and detailed followup responses; thanks very helpful indeed.

                              1. re: Bacchus101

                                No problem! One more thing on the topic of the dessert and cheese carts: I never really liked them at the original LBF anyway. Here's why.

                                Most mere mortals went to the old LBF a few times in their lives, if they were lucky. The cost made/makes it kind of impossible for a person of average means to eat there with any regularity. So when the dessert cart arrived with 20 or 25 different desserts on it, I didn't feel happiness at all the variety. What I was thinking was "there are probably 3 or 4 desserts on there that I'll like more than the rest, I hope I pick the right ones". I could never try them all and I always wondered if I had missed out on the best ones. Same with the cheese cart. The overwhelming variety of choices just left me thinking that whatever I didn't have must have been better than what I did have.

                                At the new LBF, they are confident enough to just say "this is the dessert this evening, we think it's good enough that you won't miss the cart". Ours were. And if you still need some variety in your dessert, there is the tray of mignardises.

                        3. Craig Laban's review just dropped: 3 bells.

                          He praises the "technical prowess" and creativity of the food throughout the article with only a couple minor complaints (which he admitted were "rare"), and compliments the service staff on their knowledge and professionalism. His comments about the food and service read like a four-bell review. As far as I can tell his only real problem is that the dining room renovations weren't extreme enough, and the place is expensive (no kidding).

                          He also ridiculously remarked that you can "eat just as well at a half dozen places" throughout the city at a "fraction of the price". Really Mr. Laban, which places would they be? The current four-bellers are Talula's Table ($100+), Vetri ($155+), The Fountain ($145+), Bibou (cheap, but a cash-only BYOB, and the food - while excellent - is not as intricate or creative as LBF), and Zahav (cheap, but an apples-to-oranges comparison and quite frankly the food doesn't measure up to the rest imho).

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: deprofundis

                            Around the time he reworked the bell ratings and handed out the new four-bellers, Laban said (somewhere, maybe in his restaurant chat) that he wouldn't give a place that has been open for less than a year 4 bells. That doesn't make much sense to me, if a place is worth 4 bells on day three, why not give it to them? Isn't that *even more impressive* than taking a year or two to reach that level? Is it just plain impossible for a restaurant to be fantastic in every respect before its 1-year birthday? Of course not.

                            But knowing that he has that criteria, the review makes more sense: since it's been pre-determined by him that it can't be 4 bells, he has to spend most of the review finding piddling excuses to justify rating it 3 bells. At a place that charges as much as LBF does, the difference between 3 and 4 bells could be the difference between them closing and staying open (at least in its current form).

                            1. re: Buckethead

                              I was thinking the exact same thing. I don't agree with the longevity criterion. If the place is operating at a 4-bell level after 3+ visits, is it fair to dock them a bell just because they haven't been open long enough? That could definitely make or break a place that asks $150 for dinner. If there is a chef change or a concept change, he could do a re-review. It's also kind of strange how he criticized LBF for being expensive, but he doesn't level that criticism against Vetri, The Fountain, etc.

                              1. re: Buckethead

                                I think the reason for the one year minimum is to ensure that the restaurant can maintain excellence long term.

                              2. re: deprofundis

                                well, his quote was "One can now eat just as well at half a dozen places, more casually, at a fraction of the price." So it's his opinion that there are six restaurants in the area whose food is just as good; and since he gave LBF 2.0 3 bell, not 4, presumably those 6 (or perhaps 4 + Bibou, Zahav?) can be found on the list of other 3 bell restaurants, while the ones you listed he considers to be better (and probably not less casual, right?)
                                I've no problem with the idea that a place needs to be around for a year to get a 4th bell, but if that's the only thing holding it back then the review should say so explicitly.

                                1. re: Bob Loblaw

                                  He said something along these lines in his restaurant chat this week:

                                  "With all the publicity, though, it is hard to forget that this rendition of Le Bec is essentially a new restaurant. And that I have never, ever given a brand new restaurant a 4-bell rating upon opening. It can take a couple years for a restaurant of this magnitude to hit its stride".

                                  I read that as "I *will* never, ever give a brand new restaurant a 4-bell rating upon opening", which he's said before. That's his choice, but something that should be reiterated in his review of a place that has been open less than a year and gets 3 bells (not just LBF). Most people reading his reviews don't read his restaurant chat and can't really be expected to know "oh, LBF has been open less than a year so 3 bells is the best they can expect". They'll just see the 3 bells and move on.

                              3. We had the great good fortune to be treated to LBF's 8 course tasting menu last night. The staff was professional and unobtrusive. My description for the menu is the food equivalent in the art world: advant garde. It felt experimental to me, which works if what you are eating tastes good, but I felt there was something missing from most of the dishes: acid, salt, heat; something. My first course choice was Osetra Caviar, Scrambled Parsnips, White Chocolate. This was just a few bites but after two small tastes I left the rest. It just didn’t work for me. The Grilled Octopus was deftly prepared but the accompanying veggies and sauce needed another element to make a Wow. My favorite course was the foie gras with beets, oranges, pickled turnips and hazelnuts. Delicious!
                                The cobia in the next course was overcooked and pretty plain and uninteresting. Lamb loin was well cooked and I loved the black chickpeas, but the overall dish had an element missing to bring together. I love a good cheese course and thought it was perfect. The final two courses, sorbet and panna cotta were good, but had a lot going on and not “slap your momma” good.

                                Arrogance alert: I wanted to go back into the kitchen (especially with the octopus dish) and add a hit of acid and a sprinkle of Aleppo pepper or something. This restaurant is definitely not where I would choose to go, even for special occasions, if I happened to be paying. I do wish them well, because we don’t have that many choices for very high end dining in Philly.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: asmith

                                  Interesting post. I had the same impression at my last visit to Lacroix...avant garde food that was missing something. Lots of work went into the fussy presentations, but I wondered if they tasted it. At least Fountain is still maintaining its standards at the upper end of Philly dining.

                                  1. re: asmith

                                    Thanks for the post. Interesting observations. Agreement here with sal on the Fountain.

                                  2. Here is my recent review:


                                    Obviously, I disagreed with the recent poster.

                                    1. Our dinner at LBF this past Tuesday was outstanding in every way. I won't write a detailed review of the menu (I have a long review up on Yelp for a previous visit), but we were a group of 11 and let Chef Abrams choose the courses to match wines for us (15 different wines). He also prepared one off-menu item for us.

                                      Dishes that stick out in my mind included:

                                      ~Hudson Valley foie gras, carrot, mache, hazelnuts, Cara Cara orange, brioch (see photo)--Perhaps the nicest piece of seared foie I've ever had

                                      ~36 day dry-aged beef sirloin, salsify, red onion marmalade, black garlic jus--the dry-aged flavor was exceptional, paired with a couple of Bordeaux

                                      ~I hadn't realized that the Cheese Cart is back (but not the Dessert Cart!). I had an Uplands' Rush Creek Reserved from Wisconsin, with orange puree, which is based on the recipe for one of the world's great cheeses, Vacherin Mont d’Or, and was amazing

                                      I enjoyed the caviar and cobia dishes, although the former would definitely be described as subtle (the caviar comes in a delicate white chocolate "egg shell").

                                      I'm not sure what the dessert was, but it was one of the nicest I've had in Philly over the past year. The mignardises are as good as Per Se's.

                                      Every course was excellent, the service exceptional, particularly the wine service (many of our bottles were decanted, and there was an unending stream of fresh glasses, bread, water...).

                                      The only thing that was missing was a visit to our table by the Chef.

                                      I've seen comments asking "why should I spend $150 at Le Bec, when I can get a tasting menu for $70 at Bibou?", which seems a silly question to me. I've been to LBF twice in the past year, and Bibou seven times, so obviously I love Bibou. But that is like asking which is better? Apples and oranges? I like them both, depending on my mood.

                                      With LBF you are getting much more formal, modern cuisine, in the city's most beautiful and historic dining room, with exceptional service (free valet!), and a great wine list. Is that worth more? Obviously it is. Whether it is preferable or not, is a personal decision.

                                      @PhillyBestBYOB on Twitter

                                      15 Replies
                                      1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

                                        Being there with you on Tuesday, your beef was the 'calotte' rib cap as well as a chunk of brisket, assuming we got the same thing.
                                        The Rush Creek was based on VMD'Or but not really there. It was my first time with this particular cheese and it showed very well, but texture was nowhere as smooth as VMD'Or.
                                        My only real complaint was why the breads which were brought from the kitchen to replenish our supply were ice cold, both the teeny baguettes and the croissants.

                                        1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                          They cannot be keeping bread in the fridge! It speeds staling.

                                            1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                              My bread was warm. What was up with your table?

                                              1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

                                                How interesting, while the croissants were very well made with butter, they were past cool, guess l sat at the wrong table.

                                                  1. re: cwdonald

                                                    Wow! Glad we got there while it was wonderful.
                                                    Maybe it will be again.

                                                      1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                        Apparently my timing isn't what it used to be. We went to the final night of the Georges Perrier era of LBF (unfortunately, I was a bit young for his opening night), and the opening night of the Walter Abrams era, but appear to have missed his exit by 3 days.


                                                        (Seriously, I'm shocked. Must be "creative differences", because his cooking was top notch.)

                                                      2. re: cwdonald

                                                        They've obviously been struggling, but unless they have some stud superchef waiting in the wings (not likely), I don't know that this was the right decision.

                                                        Abrams is a good chef. His food garnered critical praise from LaBan (who was never going to award them 4 bells no matter what). Most of us on here praised the food, myself included. My one lunch at LBF2.0, a couple months after they opened, showed a lot of potential. Based on recent visits from posters above, it sounds like they've been improving. The place has only been open what, 7 or 8 months? Maybe it was a bad idea to bring a locally unknown chef to town and come out of the gate with a $150 tasting menu. That's not the chef's fault.

                                                        Let's not forget that they are also losing their pastry chef (Abrams' fiancee), who by all accounts makes some really first-class desserts.

                                                        1. re: deprofundis

                                                          I thought it was an odd move, based on the positive reviews here.

                                                            1. re: asmith

                                                              yes and your review pointed to real problems with how the dishes were conceived and executed

                                                        2. re: cwdonald

                                                          Wow. Has to be bad news, Reviews had been pretty positive.

                                                          1. re: sal_acid

                                                            This from Eater...http://philly.eater.com/archives/2013...

                                                            I'm not sure Jen Carroll was such a smash at The Ritz, but she certainly is Philly.

                                                            If they swing away from a French type fine dining chef it would seem to require a rebrand and a renovation. That would be a big expense. And the money paid for LBF, was for LBF, not just any old storefront restaurant. Cheaper to shutter it perhaps.

                                                1. The big news today is that the chef, Walter Abrams, is OUT at LBF as is the pastry chef, his fiancee! A sous chef is taking his place temporarily.

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: Beulah

                                                    I h ave a reservation for March. Should I cancel????

                                                  2. I tweeted John Shields that he should apply for the Le Bec Fin job and he replied! LOL, didn't seem that interested.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. Delucacheesemonger, how was lunch at LBF?

                                                      1 Reply