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Tickets Needed For Volver

p
Philly Ray Feb 26, 2014 02:59 PM

Looks like he's going the Alinea route here. But for those prices, I'd like to know for sure if Garces is going to be in the kitchen on the night I am going. I think I'm going to wait a while on this one to see how it all works out.

http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/th...

  1. PhillyBestBYOB Feb 26, 2014 03:26 PM

    Are there any tasting menus in Philly that cost $250? What is the Chef's counter at Lacroix?

    For that price, they are basically saying it's going to be the equivalent of a Michelin 3-star.

    3 Replies
    1. re: PhillyBestBYOB
      p
      Philly Ray Feb 26, 2014 03:40 PM

      Lacroix's Chef's Table is $165pp, but it says "up to 12 courses" so I don't know if that price adjusts accordingly.

      http://www.lacroixrestaurant.com/chef...

      1. re: Philly Ray
        PhillyBestBYOB Feb 26, 2014 03:47 PM

        I suppose the $175-$250 range is dependent upon whether you get the caviar/foie gras supplements or not. So $175 is not completely outside the Philly ballpark, but it had better be amazing at that price. Also, it's not all that exclusive if they have 2 seatings and 35 seats, and Garces won't even be there most of the time. I might consider paying it if it was only 6 seats at the counter and I knew Garces was cooking for me (which is what it originally sounded like).

        1. re: Philly Ray
          g
          george2 Feb 27, 2014 06:55 AM

          I have been to Lacroix chef's table twice and IMO it's a bargain. They adjusted the price a bit when we wanted some more expensive ingredients.

      2. b
        bsims76 Feb 26, 2014 04:14 PM

        "Ticket purchase includes a table for two, four, or six guests, sparkling and still water, a 20 percent service charge and tax."

        Assuming the "20 percent service charge" = tip, it sounds like it's inclusive of everything except alcohol, so while still very pricey, perhaps not quite so much as seems at first glance.

        But yeah, at 34 seats and and two seatings a night, doesn't seem horribly "exclusive" and am not feeling much urge to go any time soon.

        18 Replies
        1. re: bsims76
          c
          cwdonald Feb 26, 2014 05:02 PM

          Not much different than the Zahav special dinner (though less available).

          I am curious whether the pre theatre will do better than the during theatre seatings. Its a lower price point, and clearly is convenient and aimed at their target audience of blue hairs that go to the Kimmel performances.

          1. re: cwdonald
            a
            alex1018 Feb 27, 2014 05:21 AM

            not much different, except double the price, the chef isn't cooking for you, and it's a worse chef.

            1. re: alex1018
              c
              cwdonald Feb 27, 2014 06:00 AM

              I predict that only the pre theatre flies. It is at a lower price point.

              1. re: alex1018
                caganer Feb 27, 2014 06:51 AM

                There's really no reason to assume that the person Garces chooses to run his kitchen when he isn't there will be less technically proficient than Garces himself.
                You're really paying for Garces' intellectual efforts in creating a menu, not his physical labor. Chances are once Garces shows him/her want he wants the professional chef will be able to produce those dishes just as well.
                It seems to me the only plus to having Garces cook your food is bragging rights (and it's dinner in Philadelphia, produced by a guy who's famous because of a really lame TV food network, so brag away...)

                1. re: caganer
                  a
                  alex1018 Feb 27, 2014 07:26 AM

                  oh i just mean that if a restaurant doesn't have its chef there, it's almost certainly not being creative on a daily basis... it's just recreating.

                  1. re: alex1018
                    b
                    Buckethead Feb 28, 2014 02:22 PM

                    And I don't know why you think if the chef isn't there, whoever is there is a mindless automaton cranking out copies of a dish and not putting an ounce of creativity into anything. Certainly Tim Spinner wasn't doing that at Garces' Distrito, or any number of other talented sous chefs and chefs de cuisine at restaurants around the city that have well-known chefs. I think that Jose certainly allows his chefs de cuisine some latitude when it comes to menu items and preparations, he certainly can't be micromanaging every menu at every one of his restaurants all the time.

                    This may not be an exact quote, but a long time ago I read an interview with Jean-Georges Vongerichten, and the interviewer asked him who cooks the food when he's not at his restaurant (Jean Georges). He answered "The same person who's cooking it when I *am* there." If that person is a good chef, the place will be in good hands. And sometimes, like bumble said in the case of Peter Serpico, the chef de cuisine turns out to be better than the chef.

                    Count me out if it's by ticket only, though...

                    1. re: Buckethead
                      a
                      alex1018 Mar 3, 2014 05:41 AM

                      I don't think that generally. My evidence is that Garces' menus rarely, if ever, change significantly. Thus, there's isn't a lot of creativity going on. I know how restaurants work.

                      1. re: alex1018
                        c
                        cwdonald Mar 3, 2014 05:56 AM

                        It really varies by restaurant alex. JG Domestic and Garces Trading Company changes things seasonally, others less so. But unless you are a small restaurant that changes its menu daily/weekly, most restaurants have a set menu and then specials. Even at Amada, Tinto and Distrito I have been offered specials. Specials really are the only place that creativity is evident on a daily basis in most restaurants (again excluding small chef driven restaurants that change their menus daily/weekly.).

                        1. re: cwdonald
                          a
                          alex1018 Mar 3, 2014 06:24 AM

                          i'm simply saying that every restaurant at this price point IN THE COUNTRY, basically, changes their menu every single day. raise your hand if you think Volver will.

                          1. re: alex1018
                            c
                            cwdonald Mar 3, 2014 06:30 AM

                            I disagree with your assertion. Vetri doesnt change its menu every day. It adds and substracts some dishes but doesnt overhaul its menu every day.

                            Another example is Morimoto. The omekase menu is pretty set, with a few dishes varying based upon ingredient availability. I think you are over blowing the variation.

                            Also, a restaurant to gain consistency is better off not changing its menu every day. In the case of Volver given that a lot of the people dining there will be either attending a performance or going for a special occasion, you do not have to worry about serving the same dishes to regular diners.

                            1. re: alex1018
                              d
                              dndicicco Mar 3, 2014 07:03 AM

                              I disagree. Most chef's tasting menus do not change every day. That's a lot to ask. If one comes a few times in a row, they may switch up one or two courses for you, but the whole menu change I do not see.

                              1. re: dndicicco
                                a
                                alex1018 Mar 3, 2014 07:13 AM

                                yeah of course i mean parts of the tasting. not literally the whole thing.

                                like here's the point: if your menu is 12 courses, and 10 of them stay the same, you aren't going to get people going more than 1x for 250/pp. you just aren't. And furthermore it's offensive and lazy. If 10 courses stay the same, you obviously aren't using the best, most seasonal ingredients, and you aren't pushing the envelope. So why would someone ever go there instead of Avance, which is like three blocks away, cheaper, and better?

                                1. re: alex1018
                                  b
                                  Buckethead Mar 3, 2014 08:34 AM

                                  I'm not sure how you can say Avance is better than a restaurant that hasn't opened yet. Maybe we should wait until we actually eat the food before signing Volver's death certificate?

                                2. re: dndicicco
                                  p
                                  Philly Ray Mar 3, 2014 09:18 AM

                                  Morimoto's claim is that you will never get the same omakase twice.

                                  1. re: Philly Ray
                                    c
                                    cwdonald Mar 3, 2014 09:30 AM

                                    And they do that by asking if you have had the omikase before and when the last time you had it. They unlike a lot of restaurants do not mind doing a tasting menu where the dishes are different for different diners.

                    2. re: alex1018
                      b
                      bumble Feb 28, 2014 09:29 AM

                      I don't know why you keep thinking it's going to be a worse chef. It hasn't be announced who the chef de cuisine will be. Perhaps this person may be fantastic but you've already decided it's going to be bad. Thomas Keller isn't always in the kitchen at Per Se and it is difficult to get a booking. Momofuku Ko brought people based on David Chang's reputation but it was Peter Serpico's cooking that kept people coming. And I would say Serpico is a better chef than Chang. I trust that since this is suppose to be his showcase restaurant, that Garces has put a lot of thought into picking a very capable person.

                      1. re: bumble
                        p
                        Philly Ray Feb 28, 2014 12:49 PM

                        Natalie Maronski...

                        http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/th...

                  2. re: bsims76
                    a
                    arepo Feb 27, 2014 05:04 AM

                    Only tastings? No menus? What about dietary constraints?
                    This sounds pretty highfalutin' for this kid.
                    As they say on "Shark Tank" -- "I'm out!"

                  3. a
                    alex1018 Feb 27, 2014 05:24 AM

                    The problem isn't that it's tastings, the cost, how many seats there are. The problem is that it's all of that for Garces' food executed by a sous chef. What has Garces ever done that convinces you his restaurant could possibly be worth this. At amada--his crown jewel--the menu hasn't changed for six years, and he hasn't been in the kitchen in even longer. It's completely preposterous and will be a massive failure.

                    I put the over/under on three months before they introduce an a la carte menu, and six months before they dumb down the tasting menu and stop selling tickets entirely.

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: alex1018
                      a
                      arepo Feb 27, 2014 05:39 AM

                      You said it Alex!
                      Philly isn't SF or NY. I doubt it will fly here.

                      1. re: arepo
                        a
                        alex1018 Feb 27, 2014 06:35 AM

                        fwiw, i think this could work depending on the chef and the size of the restaurant. if that's not true, then it's an indictment of the philly dining scene.

                        1. re: alex1018
                          j
                          JanR Feb 27, 2014 06:53 AM

                          I'm thinking it might work because it's the Kimmel Center. If people are willing to pay the ridiculous parking fee there, they might go for it. The monied crowd might make it a success.

                          1. re: JanR
                            d
                            dndicicco Feb 27, 2014 06:51 PM

                            Why such a negative undertone to the "monied" crowd? If anything, Philly needs a lot more of that type and less of the broke all-you-can-eat buffet crowd.

                            1. re: JanR
                              j
                              jhpark Feb 28, 2014 07:48 AM

                              I'm surprised the Kimmel agreed to this concept. A year or two ago they kept talking about how they were trying to get more random street traffic into the Kimmel, and wanted it to be a hangout space apart from any concerts. This restaurant seems to foster the very opposite.

                              1. re: JanR
                                Bacchus101 Feb 28, 2014 08:24 AM

                                The problem the Philadelphia Orchestra is having is an aging membership. They have stated the need to refresh their membership. All concerts I have been to this year have been well attended. While I am not a kid, the house was filled with patrons obvious much older. The greying of the membership is a huge and acknowledged problem. The induction of music student at no or little charge is a good thing but these students will most likely be supporters in the future as it is their focus. They will not fill the seats of all the grey heads currently supporting the orchestra. This move of the high priced restaurant does not help and I know it has offended many of the current supporters.

                                1. re: Bacchus101
                                  sal_acid Feb 28, 2014 08:34 AM

                                  Agree that Volver is the wrong tone, if the goal is a younger audience.

                                  The reasonable target audience would be NPR-listeners. How does one lure that set? What is their equivalent of a sports bar? TVs with PBS, MSNBC and C-Span?

                                  1. re: sal_acid
                                    j
                                    jhpark Mar 9, 2014 09:15 AM

                                    Coffeehouses, I think. I would have set one up with real food, like HIgh Street on Market, or something along those lines... Presumably with a lower price point, though an emphasis on the whole 'farm-to-table' thing might give that crowd an excuse to spend more money than necessary.

                            2. re: arepo
                              PhillyBestBYOB Feb 27, 2014 01:57 PM

                              Well the ticketing concept already does work in Philly, specifically the Kitchen Counter at Zahav.

                              It might work at Bibou too.

                              It would have to be a place that would be constantly sold out weeks/months in advance. There are not many places in Philly like that.

                              Currently Laurel, I guess (they are taking reservations for June I heard).

                              1. re: PhillyBestBYOB
                                Delucacheesemonger Mar 4, 2014 05:19 AM

                                And Shola at Studio Kitchen

                          2. j
                            JanR Feb 27, 2014 06:00 AM

                            Just say no.

                            1. p
                              Philly Ray Feb 27, 2014 08:01 AM

                              Here's a handy list of prix fixe dinners in Philly and their associated costs...

                              http://www.phillymag.com/foobooz/2014...

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Philly Ray
                                PhillyBestBYOB Feb 27, 2014 02:11 PM

                                Wow, that really makes me not want to go there!

                                Although personally, I don't think 4 courses (Sbraga) is a tasting menu. That's what I'd call Prix Fixe. To me, a tasting menu has to be at least 6-7 or more. The idea is to try the all the variety and creativity a chef has to offer. How can you do that with 4 courses?

                                1. re: PhillyBestBYOB
                                  l
                                  lowereastrittenhouse Feb 27, 2014 02:32 PM

                                  Yes, the list is of prix fixe dinners, not just tasting menus.

                                  1. re: lowereastrittenhouse
                                    PhillyBestBYOB Feb 27, 2014 03:17 PM

                                    Apparently I can't read titles.

                                    But then it's comparing apples and oranges. MK is 16 "courses", Sbraga is 4. What's the point of that comparison?

                                    McDonalds: For when you only have $4.

                              2. d
                                dndicicco Feb 27, 2014 06:50 PM

                                I'm really scratching my head as to how Garces could justify those prices. Maybe it's super exclusive ingredients, mounds of caviar, ostrich, shaved truffle on everything, gold leaf on wagyu beef.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: dndicicco
                                  sal_acid Feb 28, 2014 07:23 AM

                                  Reading Bacchus' (now locked) thread I have to agree. Pricey, unpleasant space to dine. Terrible concept.

                                  I should pay you money to get a reservation? F that. And F you Jose, for the attitude. May Volver fail miserably. Can't wait for the press release saying that Philly "wasn't ready for the concept"

                                2. Bacchus101 Feb 28, 2014 07:31 AM

                                  Looks like I had overlook this previous post in my anger. I am still baffled by the Kimmel management. With the small space and limited seating they may fill the place. But it will do little to change the hair color of the audience, which is need for its survival and may also offend some long time supporters; some of whom I know are quite annoyed.

                                  6 Replies
                                  1. re: Bacchus101
                                    b
                                    barryg Feb 28, 2014 08:46 AM

                                    Imy understanding is that a large part of the restaurant will be a bar with a la carte food options, are ok with that? My issue is that I read that the bar will be focused on champagne and caviar, also not exactly what many younger patrons look for or can afford.

                                    Something on the price level and vibe of Tinto would be idea, appeal to young and old.

                                    1. re: Bacchus101
                                      bluehensfan Feb 28, 2014 08:50 AM

                                      Is it me or is JG becoming preoccupied with making $ versus offering higher quality food these days? In the old days you would go to Amada and great a truly outstanding meal. More recently you have Rosa Blanca (meh), GTC going through many changes to try to get it's footing, and now this? I mean it's nice to have an Iron Chef in town but he seems to be following Morimoto-think.

                                      1. re: bluehensfan
                                        c
                                        cwdonald Feb 28, 2014 08:52 AM

                                        I think he is also getting more into catering. JG Domestic essentially does not offer dinner anymore and has turned into an elite place for lunch for employees at the Cirra center or for a quick happy hour while praying your Amtrak or Septa train actually shows up.

                                        1. re: cwdonald
                                          bluehensfan Feb 28, 2014 09:17 AM

                                          Well with SEPTA being so reliable that's a cash cow I am sure...

                                          1. re: cwdonald
                                            b
                                            barryg Feb 28, 2014 03:16 PM

                                            Seems to me he is into very low risk projects these days. Most new projects are in casinos or other developments where the constructions costs are covered and maybe rent is based in revenue. I'm sure the kimmel is covering most or all of of the cost of fitting out volver and given that he has the concession contract for the kimmel I wonder if he is paying any rent at all.

                                            1. re: barryg
                                              a
                                              arepo Mar 1, 2014 07:45 AM

                                              After reading Philly.com's review
                                              W-A-I-N-S?*

                                              *why am i not surprised?

                                      2. c
                                        cwdonald Mar 3, 2014 05:59 AM

                                        For anyone going to Brewers Table on Sunday and you have the elite tickets, you will be experiencing Garces new kitchen, and Garces will be cooking. (He has done demonstrations at past years Brewers plates and is a big supporter of Fair Food Philadelphia). I am curious to see how the Kimmel will be as a space for Brewers Plate, but I suspect that Garces is using this as a soft "launch" for the Volver space.

                                        1. sal_acid Mar 3, 2014 05:06 PM

                                          If you have a second visit to Volver,is it called a re-volver?

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: sal_acid
                                            PhillyBestBYOB Mar 3, 2014 06:46 PM

                                            "It smells of... farts, my mother's farts."
                                            ~Penélope Cruz, playing Raimunda, in Volver (2006)

                                            1. re: PhillyBestBYOB
                                              Delucacheesemonger Mar 4, 2014 05:22 AM

                                              If Penelope and Javier are there, l will buy tickets.

                                          2. c
                                            cwdonald Mar 9, 2014 07:15 AM

                                            Interesting follow up piece on Volver in the Inky today, including dealing with the trend for ticketed meals, and how frequently Garces is going to be there (3-4 nights per week.. ).
                                            http://tinyurl.com/lclnslu

                                            5 Replies
                                            1. re: cwdonald
                                              Bacchus101 Mar 9, 2014 07:38 AM

                                              If this contributes to the survival of the Philadelphia Orchestra then even though it disenfranchises the very segment of the population that is needed to increase membership and fill seats then I suppose it is a good thing. And/or if it provides funds to eliminate the plastic Walmart chairs and tables and transform the lobby into a welcoming environment rather than a spotlit aircraft hanger then it is a great addition. BTW I know people on the wall who will not dine there and who think it is at cross purposes to the goal of the orchestra.

                                              1. re: Bacchus101
                                                b
                                                barryg Mar 9, 2014 07:57 AM

                                                1. If it benefits anyone, it is the Kimmel Center organization, not the Orchestra.
                                                2. The article states that the "investors" are just the Kimmel, the state, and a Garces. I suspect the Kimmel and we taxpayers ponied up the vast majority. So if thing flops, or just fails to make estimates (perhaps by having to lower prices), the Kimmel will be out a lot of cash. Given some of the decisions that the Kimmel has made over the years, I really hope they havent been swindled by a charismatic Iron Chef who saw an opportunity to take a risk with Other People's Money.

                                                That said, it's crazy that the Kimmel doesnt have a decent bar to get a drink and a snack pre/post-show. I hope at least that aspect succeeds.

                                                1. re: barryg
                                                  Bacchus101 Mar 9, 2014 08:19 AM

                                                  If one believes that benefiting the Kimmel Center does not benefit the Orchestra and vice versa then I suspect that the relationship between the two, which to even of a causal observer should be obvious, is not understood. But thats fine if the additional revenues can make improvements in the Kimmel Center, even if those improvements are not seen as benefiting the patrons or the orchestra, it is a good thing. However one wants to define it.

                                                  1. re: Bacchus101
                                                    c
                                                    cwdonald Mar 9, 2014 08:36 AM

                                                    Please remember that there are other groups that use the Kimmel, such as various chamber music organizations (they dont even use Verizon hall.. ).

                                                    With regard to the statement that there is not a good bar to get a drink at the Kimmel, frankly I do not find any bar in any of the better musical locations to be useful.. be it the Met, other places at Lincoln Center , Chicago, London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Berlin or Hamburg. That said, there are usually enough places close enough to the venues to get a drink that it never bothers me. I understand concessions are really there first to support the music, rather than to be customer friendly. I prefer venues when you can pre order your drinks ahead of time and they are ready at intermission. Other than that I have no expectations of a good bar in a music venue.

                                                    1. re: cwdonald
                                                      b
                                                      barryg Mar 9, 2014 02:39 PM

                                                      I suppose you are right abut the bar situation. I would spend a lot more money there, though, if they had a better selection of booze and food that wasnt crap.

                                            2. b
                                              Buckethead Mar 10, 2014 08:59 AM

                                              Laban has a pretty good piece on this topic today: http://articles.philly.com/2014-03-09...

                                              Garces twice refers to Volver as "luxe". He does say he plans to be there 3-4 nights a week, but with a big part of the draw being his presence in the kitchen, we'll see if a 50% chance of having Jose cook some of your dinner will be enough for people to pre-pay $300/pp or whatever.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: Buckethead
                                                c
                                                cwdonald Mar 10, 2014 09:17 AM

                                                Its the same link I posted above. I thought it was interesting that it was seen as a way to prevent the no show... as if no shows are that consequential at the high end.

                                                1. re: cwdonald
                                                  b
                                                  Buckethead Mar 10, 2014 12:16 PM

                                                  Oops, my mistake.

                                                  I was a little surprised that the no-show rate for reservations at Garces' places is 4%, I'm not in the restaurant biz but that doesn't seem like such a huge problem to me.

                                              2. d
                                                deprofundis Mar 11, 2014 11:46 AM

                                                I can't see this place working. Way too expensive, and way too many seats. Just because people are willing to pay $150-$200 for a pair of orchestra tickets doesn't mean they're going to pay $700+ for dinner. Vetri's like 2 blocks away, has 10 fewer seats, has a significantly lower price point, and even *they* can't fill the room most nights. Someone upthread suggested that the idea is that a meal would start at $175 and climb to $250 with supplements. I think that's not correct. I suspect the idea is more like "dinner on Saturday night = $250, dinner on Tuesday night = $175". That's how most ticketed restaurants work.

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: deprofundis
                                                  c
                                                  cwdonald Mar 11, 2014 12:01 PM

                                                  They do have variable pricing, based on day of the week, and occasion. I suspect you are correct that the 175-250 range may vary based on both day of the week, and the menu they are planning on serving. I could see a 250 truffle menu.

                                                  They have two seatings a night, pre theatre, and during the performances. During the performances is definitely aiming at a different crowd and I do not think these folks are necessarily the blue haired orchestra subscribers.

                                                  And your comparison with Vetri is really interesting, considering they are actually planning on expanding their restaurant to the apartment above their restaurant as well. I wonder if they might go away from prix fixe but I am just totally speculating.

                                                  1. re: cwdonald
                                                    d
                                                    deprofundis Mar 11, 2014 12:07 PM

                                                    I think the room above Vetri is just going to be for private events. I'd be surprised if they did away with the prix fixe.

                                                    1. re: cwdonald
                                                      Delucacheesemonger Mar 12, 2014 03:31 PM

                                                      Spoke to Vetri principals a few weeks ago and they feel for the lower price points they have 8 other restaurants so l would also be amazed if the revert back to a la carte after being on prix fixe currently.

                                                  2. PhillyBestBYOB Apr 1, 2014 06:59 PM

                                                    Well, here's what Volver will be serving. Looks kinda Eleven-Madison-Parky to me.

                                                    http://www.phillymag.com/foobooz/2014...

                                                    Pity they don't say their squab is "broasted"!

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: PhillyBestBYOB
                                                      d
                                                      dndicicco Apr 2, 2014 02:47 PM

                                                      Looks great to me! Thanks for sharing. This is right up my alley, although I'm worried my wife will think it's too heavy and not want to go. ;)

                                                      On second thought, the hand plate is freaky in a bad way, and even I think twice on $175 pp (since we're talking at least $500 for two with drinks), and I'm a food snob, so I don't see how this is sustainable every night of the week. How many seats is it?

                                                      1. re: dndicicco
                                                        PhillyBestBYOB Apr 2, 2014 04:49 PM

                                                        40 seats, maybe not counting the lounge (or shampane bar or whatever)?

                                                        1. re: PhillyBestBYOB
                                                          d
                                                          dndicicco Apr 9, 2014 01:45 PM

                                                          Interesting. I really hope it works out. I love the location.

                                                          On a slight tangent, I went to Sbraga with my wife for the first time this Monday and really enjoyed it. Apparently Kevin Sbraga himself was not in the house, but I enjoyed the decor, the service (Yuni our waiter, if I'm spelling that correctly, was great and of LBF heritage), and especially the food. Everything was well paced since I had an event to attend afterward, and they did not really bat an eye. I found the price point very attractive to boot. :)

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