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Aug 15, 2014 06:42 AM

La Peg -- New Brasserie Opening next week

Is anyone going to the soft launch of La Peg next week? I'll be there Tuesday evening.

Here's a glimpse at the rough menu. It seems a little confused to me, in that they place the desserts prior to the Large Plates, but I think this is only a draft.

I like the bevy of options, as it seems they're trying to be big, boisterous, and accessible. Basically, a less intimate BLM, which makes sense since they're going for the brasserie feel. The trio of salads looks interesting.

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  1. The menu is a bit confusing as it is currently organized. Some of the items look very interesting to me and the prices seem moderate. Quality and quantity of the offerings, service and the venue will be components of the experience: I look forward to early impression. The boisterous should be the least of their problems in Philadelphia.

    1. Hi,

      We removed that menu from the post, that we found on Facebook, because Peter said it was an in-progress and quite incomplete look at La Peg.

      1. Went to a soft launch last night and had a fantastic evening. The decor of La Peg is extremely impressive. There's almost a steampunk vibe to it, in that they kept some of the old water pump equipment but modernized the whole venue. When some people mention they like the tall ceilings thing, this place will put that notion to shame -- it's cavernous, two stories, but you still feel warm and inviting.

        The menu may be one of my favorite aspects, as there is a good deal of creativity yet some brasserie-standards. BLM was a little too traditionally Bistro for me; La Peg branches out more.

        I had a number of fish dishes:
        - Tuna tartar - loved this, as it was lite and refreshing but had a touch of bite to it with a spicy sauce
        - Scallops with chicken jus and roasted artichokes - may be my favorite dish. Two scallops, but the broth and perfectly roasted artichokes made it filling and memorable in an excellent way
        - Trout with potatoes - a more homely dish, not as inventive but savory in a good way. If you like crispy skin, you'll like this. Very akin to BLM's version except smaller (~2-3 ounce portion)
        - Sea bass with olives and tomatoes - this fish was more succulent, and the sauce and tomatoes more inventive (~2-3 ounce portion)
        - Salmon with zucchini and lentils - listed as a larger dish, and the salmon was a healthy 7 ounces. As you can probably tell, I'm a fish maniac, and this was also outstanding, which is a good sign for such a staple these days. The zucchini was cooked perfectly and melted in your mouth yet somehow retained its texture and flavors. It complemented the buttery smooth salmon perfectly, yet at the beginning of your bite you'd feel the crispness of the salmon skin. The lentils offered a similar crisp texture yet mixed with a sense of creaminess

        I skipped on desserts, yet this was very broad ranging. You can do the traditional French fare, opt for a plethora of house-made ice creams, including a fun take on some sundaes and sorbets, and finally a selection of cheeses. I thought this was indicative of La Peg's menu, as the cheeses ranged from a crowd-pleasing brie to a more pungent epoisse. You can cover a lot of ground here.

        My dislikes? I really loved the building when I was in it, and enjoyed the Fringe Arts vibe. I was a little nonplussed pulling up to the area, however, as I had images of bad clubs in the area, although the scene was much more alive in a good way than I expected.

        4 Replies
        1. re: dndicicco

          Great detailed early take! Given all the choices available in-our-fair-city; how likely would you be to seek a near term revisit? How did they do on the boisterous?

          1. re: Bacchus101

            And did they tune down that chaotic menu that was impossible to read?
            Nice as it may be, my heart belongs to his Bistrot La Minette and I feel somehow robbed.

            1. re: arepo

              haha, the menu wasn't necessarily tuned down, as all the items listed were there, but it was reorganized to be cogent. :)

              It's a very different experience than BLM, IMO, although the emphasis on sauces and some French staples (fresh baguettes!) are certainly present.

              If anything, the small plates vibe plus larger options reminded me of a French version of Amada or more closely Zahav, considering the level of cooking. That's a high bar, I know, but instead of hummus/laffa, you're getting fresh baguette and butter, salatim vs. trio of salads, small plates vs. small plates, larger grilled dish vs. larger plate, good dessert lists and coffees.

              I'd be interested to see from a biz perspective if they can keep up the fresh, in-house standards to such a varied menu. I imagine the inventory costs will be much higher than BLM, although the space in general is much larger and should benefit from some ground traffic from the arts scene there.

            2. re: Bacchus101

              Great question! Considering the breadth of the menu and the uniqueness of the spot, I'm very likely to go back. I've hit most of the main foodie destinations, although Laurel (problem getting a res), Little Fish, and Townsend are all on my to-do list.

              The boisterousness was maybe a 6-7 out of 10, but it wasn't a distracting one more so energetic. I think this had to do with the soft launch and the excitement of trying a new spot, although the central location of the bar and the two storied theme will lend well to giving La Peg a certain dynamism. Caveat here was that this was an invite-crowd, so probably grayer and more sophisticated than the usual set. I imagine it'll be a little more on the boisterous, loud side but not sure at this point!

          2. Does anyone know what the parking situation is? Is street parking available?

            4 Replies
            1. re: sylviag

              When I have gone to Morgan's Pier (across the street) I have usually been able to park on Delaware Ave or on the side street just north of Race St. But there is a parking lot on Delaware Ave north of Race also (with weird hours it seems to me)

              1. re: Bigley9

                My husband hates to use parking lots, so that would be a last resort.
                He is pretty good at finding street parking.

                1. re: sylviag

                  Parking seemed tight to me, but I'm from the 'burbs, so anything fewer than 15 million open spots seems strained to me.

                  There seemed to be a small lot right behind the Arts building, but I wasn't sure if it were public or private. I parked in one of the lots on Delaware Ave across the street. On a Tuesday evening all the street parking was already taken. I would imagine street parking would be a rare find on the weekends.

                  1. re: dndicicco

                    I came back here because I realized I should have said I have only been to Morgan's Pier on weekdays, not weekends and that is when I have been able to park. I am adventuresome when it comes to parking - whatever that little street is that comes in between Race and Callowhill - leads to a small residential area and it always seems to have an available space or two.

            2. I went to La Peg this weekend and had a less positive take. Like dndicicco, I liked the space a lot and was pleased they'd used soundproofing to make an industrial space bearable for noise level, even on a busy weekend night. But the cooking was hit or miss, and I wouldn't consider it remotely on par with Zahav. In my view, it was a notch or two below Good King Tavern, which does casual French better. At La Peg, I felt there was an indecision whether the restaurant was supposed to be an accessible, affordable place (Lionshead lager on tap?) or a chef-y small plate destination.

              There were some definite missteps: the lentil salad (lentils undercooked and lacked any flavor other than raw onion) and desserts that sounded good but were mediocre (ice cream sundae lacking sufficient topping and cake with out-of-season fruit). The rest I ordered was OK, but not terrific. For most, I could make better versions at home. The one dish I would go back for was the crab salad, which had a great combination of tarragon and cayenne.

              Mind you, the evening I went there were some MAJOR service issues, so I'm not sure how much that colored my opinion or affected the food. Hopefully they get those ironed out. I felt bad for the waitstaff having to go up and down those steps to the upstairs area.