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Le Cheri

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If not for the fact that the noise level (as is the case in the majority of venues these days) was too loud, I would have to rate Le Cheri as the finest meal I have had in Center City in a long time.
Not only is it in an historic landmark that is appealing to the eye but the design is quite lovely with watercolor frescos on the walls.

The tables are set apart enough from one another that you don't feel like you are jammed together.

The small bar is a convivial place -- we actually struck up a conversation with a lovely young couple while waiting for our friends to arrive.

The food is beyond description and one can immediately tell that there is a talented chef behind the doors of that kitchen.

This location has seen its share of woes with untimely closings but this time I think Charlotte and Pierre Calmels, long known by a more popular name, Bibou, have found the right "recipe" for success.

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  1. Nice review. I didn't find it loud on two Saturday night visits. What time were you there Arepo?

    2 Replies
    1. re: JanR

      7:30 dinner, and I must admit that there was one table of 4 that was over-the-top loud so maybe that was it, although our companions mentioned that they also had heard that it tends to be loud. We even discussed the possible reasons that this is happening more often than not. Our conclusions were, that the past places were big on carpeting, heavy drapes, heavier upholstery and fabrics, etc. in place of today's wooden floors, lighter furniture, more lightness and metal -- which I happen to prefer, but I guess you pay a price for these upscale designs.

      1. re: arepo

        I've been twice, and it was sold out both times (although the bar wasn't full), and I wouldn't call it either quite or loud. Somewhere in the middle. But I'm not particularly sensitive to noise.

        I bet Le Cheri is getting a crowd that is on average a little older than some of our other trendy restaurants, so perhaps that may explain some of the comments you've heard?

    2. So pleased to hear the continuing great reports on the food here. I do love the venue and have been most pleased, even under pervious proprietors, to dine on the courtyard in fair weather. We are awaiting the return of friends who have made us promise we will go our first time with them. On the noise subject, your followup comments regarding the effect of the decor is quite logic as a contributor to the problem. I have also noticed it seems to be a Philadelphia issue more than other cities I visit on a regular basis. Friends from other cities have made similar observations. I am not sure how valid this is based on a limited sampling in either parties observations.

      1. May be off base but my reason for noise is that while a corkage charge exists, the wine brought by habitues of Bibou here pours freely and is of the highest quality, thus some get a bit swoozled and their volume level goes up.
        Does not happen at Bibou as much as it is so much smaller.

        9 Replies
            1. re: Delucacheesemonger

              Isn't the corkage charge pretty high here - like at least $20 a bottle?

              1. re: FayeD

                I suspect the wines this group brings makes it worth paying the corkage.

                1. re: JanR

                  It's $20 or $25, I forget. But why does that seem so bad? Even in Philly that isn't on the highest end for a place with a liquor license.

                  Think about it this way: using the example of Petruce et al that I posted earlier today, they are selling a $15 bottle of a nice Beaujolias Blanc for $58, which is less than $15 + $25 corkage.

                  Of course, at Le Cheri, there's not much point in bringing a $15 bottle of wine, unless you just have to have it. Le Cheri's markup on their own list is unusually reasonable (<3X I think), and it is a small but quite interesting list.

                  Another unusual example in Philly is Vedge, where you can BYOB for $25/bottle, or buy wine off their list which is marked up exactly $25 over retail (wholesale = retail in PA). Either way, the restaurant gets their reasonable $25 profit. I love that concept.

                  1. re: PhillyBestBYOB

                    Le Cheri's markup is 1.8x. And Charlotte got some pretty good bottles i think. It's a really good list.

                    1. re: alex1018

                      That has to be one of the lowest markups in the city.

                2. re: FayeD

                  Yes, corkage is $20 a bottle which doesn't really pay for itself if you are bringing an ordinary bottle of wine under $20.

                  1. re: arepo

                    I wouldn't bring an ordinary bottle of wine to this type of restaurant. But let's say I had some wine which originally cost me around $75. If the mark-up is around 2 times, than the restaurant would charge around $150. In that case, even a $25 corkage feel would be worth it.

          1. Our third visit to Le Cheri this past Saturday was as good (or better) than the first two. Another couple joined us. It was their first time and they loved it. Everything was superb but I wanted to mention a standout dessert: basil and avocado crime brûlée. We were fortunate to have Delray as our server. He said the pastry chef would make it again if popular. Everyone should request it because I want to have it again!

            1. Probably not news for most of you, but Le Cheri has opened lunch hours on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. Sounds fun!

              3 Replies
              1. re: dndicicco

                Wed, Thu, Fri. No weekend lunches.11:30-2

                1. re: jhpark

                  Anyone seen the menu? Is it lunch portions of their mains? Is it a set menu?

                  1. re: jhpark

                    Oops -- my memory's off. Thanks! I haven't seen the menu, I wonder how long until they offer brunch.

                2. Here's how our dinner last night went. We really loved it:

                  If the forecast is not too hot, request a table in the garden in advance. It fills up before the dining room and it's lovely and quieter. We shared a steak tartare with gaffrettes, one of the best tartares I've eaten. My husband had the quenelles which were in the most delicious lobster sauce. I had the pork cheeks with homemade tagliattelle. The pork cheeks were almost the consistency of confit and the noodles were so light. Unfortunately, unless, you order the vegetarian entrée or the salad lyonnaise as a starter, there aren't many vegetables on the menu. There are no a la carte sides. The wine list is not gigantic, but lots of interesting mid-priced choices. We had a delicious Sancerre rose for $48 that the wife-owner recommended. There's an interesting cocktail list, but my husband had his single malt and I was not up for a cocktail. If you're really hungry, save room for cheese before dessert or instead. There's a nice list and some interesting dessert beverages. I would have loved to try one, but I was the designated driver. We shared a fig tarte with an under layer of mascarpone and a dollop of homemade peach ice cream. The tarte was really a puff pastry, very flaky and delicious. The ice cream was not very sweet, which I like, but also, unfortunately, there wasn't much peach taste. Very good espresso. They have presse (?) also. Not a cheap meal, but worth every penny.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: middleagedfoodie

                    Thanks for the review. So, you can specify outdoors? I thought I was told it was on. First-come basis.

                    1. re: JanR

                      On second thought you're right. We got there and asked for it. Sorry.