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Le Bec-Fin Closing (They REALLY Mean It This Time!!!!)

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  1. Guess it's not that shocking given the recent turmoil, but still...wow. We tried it once before the first time it closed, but it was one of those special collaboration dinners with Chef Han of Han Dynasty (ie, ingredients associated with French cuisine prepared Szechuan-style). Worth trying to get a reservation before it closes (again) to try its regular menu?

    1 Reply
    1. re: msiangal

      We were there for the Handy Nasty night too! I later told Han he needs to put that dry pepper-style foie gras on HD's menu.

      We went to Georges Perrier's closing service, opening night of LBF 2.0, and just happened to be there during Abrams last couple of days. But I think I'm going to pass on further chronicling of the Le Bec Fin saga.

      Thanks for the memories.

    2. Call me a dinosaur but I would have liked to have seen this type of restaurant (la Grenouille):

      http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/23/din...

      10 Replies
      1. re: Unkle Al

        There must be a myriad of reasons a Le Bec-Fin revival did not succeed. No Georges, change in dining styles, other high end restaurants, the parade-passed-them-by, too much drama and other very good dining options now abound, to mention just a few I have heard. With the every day addition of high end residences in CC one would expect there to be plenty of deep pockets willing to frequent a remake of a landmark restaurant. Whatever the reason or reasons for the current failure ;the original Le Bec-Fin was a island of culinary achievement in a sea of, what was then, mediocre restaurants.

        1. re: Bacchus101

          I think the issue of change of dining styles is really under appreciated. Haute cuisine today is driven by a lot of different factors. French cuisine is less and less held up as the gold standard... We have graduated from being introduced to French cuisine by Julia Child and Jacques Pepin to a myriad of different culinary options.. regional italian, spanish, "american" (whatever that means) etc. And if this is a venture backed restaurant, these folks are really looking to turn a profit, so they are more willing to pull the plug. Its a shame, but there is a time for everything... I walked by the other day and I think it was the first time I noticed the fast food restaurant that had taken over Suzanne Foo.. the times are changing, and the chains are taking over prime real estate in Philadelphia.

            1. re: veganhater

              A long time ago... she still has a restaurant in the burbs. Its a quiznos or qdoba or something now.

              1. re: cwdonald

                It's Chopotle. The demise of a restaurant row on walnut st is mostly about rising rents--locally owned retailers are also getting pushed out in favor of chains that can pay them.

                You're right about the change of dining styles but I think the Le Bec 2.0 concept would have had a much better chance of succeeding if it had a different name. Trying to keep that, and the outdated decor, set a standard that may have been impossible to live up to. The Laban two bell review probably sealed the deal, and that review would have come off a lot less negative without the comparisons to The original Le Bec. I think there is a market for at least one more extravagant tasting menu restaurant in Philly but not with the baggage of that name.

          1. re: Bacchus101

            Bacchus - I really agree with you regarding Le Bec-Fin and the dining scene when it first opened. I realize I am dating myself but when I was attending Temple University, I worked part-time for what was then their music festival which had a magazine of some sort. I remember the ad manager contacting George P. not long after they opened and his commenting that business could be better. During the 40 some years in business, we enjoyed a number of lunches (mostly for special occasions like Valentine's Day) as well as dinners in both the original and current location. It was almost always a special treat. I do remember that the last time we dined there (and I think it was some type of Rue La La or other promotion) I was surprised at how casually some people were dressed. I would never consider wearing jeans or anything less than business casual to a restaurant like that but I guess lots of things have changed between the "baby boomer" generation and our offspring. It is kind of too bad because I think it is nice to get dressed up for dinner once in a while.

            1. re: Bacchus101

              I think I need to add one more comment and I am curious how other people feel? I have been to Vetri three or four times although not since they instituted their new policy. I think only one of those times was for the complete tasting menu on the weekend - it was a special anniversary for us and I also ordered the wine selections so quite an expensive evening. While I really enjoyed the dinners, I am not sure in my mind that they ever compared to the best of Le Bec Fin when it was in its heyday. It was always so super special then.

              1. re: FayeD

                I agree, at its peak LBF was the best. Although I have t o add that my palate was less educated back then and Philly had nothing to compare with LBF.

                1. re: FayeD

                  I agree Faye. I was also disappointed to see jeans at Vetri on a Saturday night.

                  1. re: FayeD

                    Fay we certainly agree with your posted observations, nicely stated.

              2. I am sorry to see Abrams and Fanucci leave, but it will be interesting to see what "The Restaurant Formerly Known as Le Bec Fin" becomes.

                We enjoyed several meals at the original LBF over the past few years, several at LBF 2.0, and there was no question that the latter iteration was much improved, with one of the best tasting menus in Philly. But at that price, it needed to be the BEST in Philly, and garner national attention to boot to really succeed. If they could have bagged Per Se's David Breeden, that might have done it. We'll never know.

                Rebranding and bringing in a bigger name than
                Abrams seems like a plan, although at the rent Georges is reportedly charging, it probably needs to be a major success just to break even.

                Bogle sounds talented, although he may be getting some credit for Gilt's 2 stars that should at least partly be due to his predecessors. Was he really the youngest Michelin 2-star chef ever (recent articles seem to be backing off that claim, referring to him as "one of the youngest")?

                BTW, we went to Georges Perrier's "popup" at Mica a week ago Tuesday, and it was the best meal we've had in Philly so far this year. The man can still run a kitchen.