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Feb 26, 2014 02:59 PM

Tickets Needed For Volver

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.


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  1. 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

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


      1. re: Philly Ray

        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

          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. "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

          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

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

            1. re: alex1018

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

              1. re: alex1018

                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

                  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

                    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

                      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

                        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

                          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

                            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

                              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

                                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

                                  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

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

                                  1. re: Philly Ray

                                    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

                      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.

                  2. re: bsims76

                    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. 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

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

                      1. re: arepo

                        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

                          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

                            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

                              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

                                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

                                  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

                                    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

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


                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Philly Ray

                                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

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

                                  1. re: lowereastrittenhouse

                                    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.