Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

PARC Bistro.


Vadouvan
 Share

Recommended Posts

After a sneak preview, the interior has gobs of atmosphere and easily the best baguettes in the city made in house.

Killer bathrooms.

Bistro is back for real.

Cool. They're really moving on this: when I got a look on Friday, the place was still very much under construction.

Food & Drinq has the menu. Decent prices, and really real bistro/brasserie food. They even have braised rabbit and coq au vin as plats du jour.

Now I'll go pray for a decent wine list.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Inside buzz on the cocktails and wine look promising. I can't reveal my source, but I have no doubt there will be interesting choices.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Gotta give Starr credit for how a project comes together. There are swarms of workers all over the place. This morning, alone, all the awnings went up and the signage - plus a colony or carpenters sawing and hammering away. It's impressive, for sure.

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

Twitter

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Lets hope this atones for his closing of the Bleu Angel, from which I only had one (excellent) meal, cooked (I believe) by Shola Olunyolo himself. 'Bout time we had a REAL French bistro in Philly, will hopefully save me trips to NYC to visit one of my favs, Le Gigot. :smile:

"Nutrirsi di cibi prelibati e trasformare una necessita in estasi."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The shame, the embarrassment - a searing skewer straight through my ego. I am no longer dry-run worthy.

Scootered past Parc. Saw there were some folks dining both inside and out. Aha, late lunch. Not to be. Even though the hostesses manning the door were quite taken by my orange goggles, they would not budge. A dry run; invited guests only. I will have to wait for Monday.

I even trying dropping Shola's name. Alas, they had never heard of him - and there were so many people in the kitchen....

I did get a photo copy of their menu - more insult - my copy shop, the closest at two blocks away, didn't do the copies. But the menu does look great. Today I would have done apps, summer pea soup and the charcuterie platter. Or maybe a salad niscoise or the lyonaisse.

Dinner - I'd head for the daily specials. I'll be especially interested to see if they assemble a proper Friday bouillabaisse.

Assuming my ego recovers and if their cooking skills are up to the menu, this is the sort of place that could force me to move to one of the condo's above them. My current four blocks away may be too far.

Edited by Holly Moore (log)

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

Twitter

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Everything we tried was very good. Onion soup and Brandade de Morue starters were done great. Leg of Lamb cooked perfectly came with a nice gorgonzola polenta and Moule Frites were very tasty, some of the best fries around. Desserts were wonderful, especially the lemon tart. They opened live today, so I would get over there and check it out asap. The place is beautiful.

Previn Inc.

Supplier to Fine Restaurants.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Made it to Parc today for my typical 4 PM lunch, or as Parc calls it, "L'Apres-Midi Menu" which is served from 3 to 5 PM. "L'Apres-Midi" translates to "only 6 menu choices available."

I could accept such a vastly reduced menu in just about any kind of restaurant except a bistro/cafe - a sophisticated bistro/cafe at that, where it is expected some of its customers will opt for late lunches and dinners. That is what bistros are about - being there when one needs them. Most of the Parc's lunch menu is also on the dinner menu. It is not like they are pulling their lunch line to get ready to serve dinner.

On the lunch menu and dinner menu - both country pate and their charcuterie platter: country pate, prosciutto, sausage, and duck rillete. On the L'Apres-Midi" menu, just country pate. I tried. My server tried. But rules are rules and the kitchen stood firm. No 4 PM charcuterie platter for me. Forty minutes and all of the Inquirer and 3/4 of USA Today later, the pate arrived.

My other complaint, to date at least, is Parc's dining room bureaucracy. The first hostess could not seat me. I had to wait five minutes for another hostess to return from seating another party. We're talking 4 PM and a dining room a third full at best.

I complain because I love the place. This is what I have been waiting for since the best restaurant ever in Philadelphia, the Commissary of the late 70's, expanded to a second storefront before closing. I intend to be a regular which means the only child in me has to keep whining until Parc adapts to my requirements, even though this is Parc's second day open to the public and they deserves some slack.

I had a basket of their terrific, baked-on-premises crusty coarse bread, along with very good butter, to help me bide my time waiting for my order.

The country pate, also excellent, though the portion bordered on small for $12. I'd rather pay a buck or two more, and get more. But it is on the menu as an appetizer. Nice presentation. Cornichons, fantastic pickled pearl onions, mesclun, and Pommerey mustard.

I tried the chocolate pot de creme for dessert. Very good. And only $10. Desserts range from $8 to $10 which is great, because I'll be eating there a lot and I really should not be eating dessert very often.

I sense Parc and I may be in for a very long, rewarding, and frustrating love/hate relationship. How French.

Edited by Holly Moore (log)

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

Twitter

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I went to Parc last night at 9 pm, and overall I found it a very unpleasant experience.

When we walked into the dining room, we were all in shock over the noise level. It was quite possibly the noisiest restaurant I have ever been in. It was equivalent to a rock concert without the benefit of the music. We asked to be seated in the back (near the kitchen), because it was slightly quieter there. My voice was hoarse from yelling across the table after about 10 min.

Our table was also seated under a fan. It was very windy. Very very windy. To the point where my eyes got dry. We asked twice to turn the fan down, and once the manager came over and said he would take care of it but nothing ever happened. It would have gone a long way to make me feel better if he had come back to our table and explain that he was not able to lower the fan.

Anyway, on to the more important part - the food.

We loved the bread. It was quite good. We added a little salt to the butter and thought it was all pretty great.

We started with the charcuterie platter, the salad Lyonnais, and the escargot. The charcuterie platter was quite good, the salad Lyonnais was fine, I have had much better, and the escargot had a nice sauce for the bread but the escargot did not really add to the dish.

The entrees - 1/2 roast chicken, leg of lamb, duck confit, steak frites.

I thought the leg of lamb was quite good, although it was rather cold. The combination of the lamb being pre-sliced and under the gale force wind from the fan made it cold in about 2 min. We had the polenta put on the side which I think was a good call. The polenta was good, but I was glad to have it separated from the lamb.

The steak frites was okay. The steak was pretty mediocre and tough/sinewy, but the frites were very good.

The duck confit had a nice salad with it but the duck itself was rather dry.

I did not like the chicken at all. It was mushy and tasted salty and saucy but not particularly like chicken. Others at my table found it passable, but I just did not like it.

We asked for the check before being offered dessert, because I could not stand to be in there any longer. While it is a pretty restaurant, it was sooooo noisy, it was pretty unbearable.

Next time - go to Cochon, get much better food, better service, and a higher level of comfort for half the price.

I do hope they will start selling their bread by the loaf though, I would easily pick up a baguette on the way home from work (if I bring along some ear plugs).

I believe pics of our meal will be posted at some point soon. And possibly a slightly (although not by much) more favorable report. Others at my table said they would come back for the bread and the charcuterie platter if they went at a really odd time to avoid the noise. I am not going back any time soon.

Edited by rae (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was with rae and a couple of others at dinner last night. I concur with most of what she said.

The noise was a huge problem. I can understand the SRO wanting a certain level of chatter in the place to make it seem exciting and lively, but this is way over the top. It was just horrible. If we had only been able to sit near the bar and the main room, where the noise was loudest, I don't think we would have stayed.

It's kind of shocking that the SRO wouldn't have taken steps to prevent this from being such an issue. The place is covered in tile. A lot could have been done to mitigate this issue.

Anyway, the food. The bread was truly excellent, as was the charcuterie platter. It could be very nice to make a snack or light meal out of this at Parc at an off-hour.

The mains were problematic. The chicken was indeed mushy. There was some speculation as to what might have caused this; we think it might have been over-brined. In any case, though, the sauce it was in was cloying. It was one of those standard brown demi-glace based sauces (didn't taste much different from the one on the leg of lamb). The dish was not particularly chickeny.

The steak frites was OK. It was a hangar steak, and it was unusually thin, but long (in fact, curled over itself). The meat itself didn't seem of great quality; it was a bit sinewy and didn't have a whole lot of flavor.

The fries, A+.

The duck confit was a disappointment. It was dry and a bit too salty and not all that flavorful.

I agree that the leg of lamb was the best main course, but it was cold by the time we got it. Not just not warm, but actually cold.

Overall I was expecting much better. I didn't expect to be wowed, but I did expect to have solid food; I was hoping that this would be a go-to spot for good, solid food on the Square. As of now it isn't, imho. A "bistro" should be able to make a great roast chicken and steak frites blindfolded. This isn't complicated food.

Edited by dagordon (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yikes. I am slated to go tonight for dinner but am dismayed but Rae's report. Do you think if it were less noisy and windy, you would have thought the food was better? Dining is an all around experience and I am - at least - hopeful that maybe 2 shaky legs of the triangle hurt the 3rd? Regardless, I am on my way tonight.

I edit after dagordon's report as well. It is indeed true - roast chicken, mussels and steak frites should not be an issue for any place throwing around the "B" word. It's the sine qua non and if you can't handle those - what are you doin'?

Anyway, I will see for myself in a few hours. Will alert the mrs about the noise.

Evan

Edited by shacke (log)

Dough can sense fear.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm going to have to agree pretty completely with my wind-blown dining companions David and Rae, the overall experience at Parc was a mixed bag.

On the upside:

It's a lovely space, indeed evoking a bustling French Bistro or Brasserie. The light is low, and a little yellow, which makes photography a challenge, but it's a pleasant, and authentic-feeling look in general.

They make a good Sazerac cocktail. (Sure I should have just had a glass of wine, but I'm just back from New Orleans, and not happy about having to leave that city, so I'm weaning myself slowly... )

The staff was very nice, and service was generally very good. It would have been nice it the manager had just come back and told us what was up with the fans, after promising to turn them down, but he assured us that he'd take care of it, nothing changed, and we never saw him again. Maybe he's still looking for the controls...

We got a very weird, funky glass of wine, and they were very prompt and professional about pouring a replacement and making sure that it was OK. As it turns out, it is a very odd Shiraz in any condition, but that first glass we got was sour and acrid and way more funky than it was supposed to be. The replacement, apparently from a new bottle, was significantly better, and they handled the situation well.

The bread is excellent. We loved the baguettes, and liked the heartier, darker bread too. When we first asked for bread (it may have been coming anyway, but we were desperate for a taste... ) we got a fairly modest selection, which we powered-through in about 35 seconds.

gallery_23992_6114_75478.jpg

Shortly afterward, we snagged someone walking by the table and asked for more bread, and to her credit, her response was "I'll make sure that happens" not "I'll find your waiter" or some other evasion. And indeed, a very short time later, we got a much more generous basket.

gallery_23992_6114_71755.jpg

I'm only a little embarrassed to say that we came pretty close to finishing all that.

Also, the charcuterie was very good.

gallery_23992_6114_131289.jpg

There's prosciutto under the salami, and what I think was duck prosciutto on top of that, all of which were delicious. The country pate and duck rillettes were both quite pleasant, but the unexpected star might have been the chicken liver mousse, which was creamy and airy and intense all at once. Extra points for good cornichons and pickled onions.

On the down side:

As reported above, it's freaking deafeningly loud. This place puts the "din" back in dinner. Yes, I know noisy restaurants are very common these days, and I generally put up with it, but this was viscerally unpleasant. It's a big tile room with a lot of people in it, it's almost inevitable, and sure, part of that Brasserie vibe is a bustling energy, but I've been in similarly-designed restaurants that didn't leave my ears ringing. There was enough about this restaurant that I liked that I want to return, but unless something serious changes about the acoustics, I think I would only do so at a really slow time. It's very possible that most people don't get all tense and irritated in blaringly loud environments, so maybe it won't be an issue for most folks, but I was having a very hard time relaxing and enjoying my food, let alone hearing the person sitting next to me.

This could be just an early-days quirk that they'll figure out, but it was rather cold, and very windy, under the ceiling fan where we were sitting. Yes, it was a hot day yesterday, but the A/C was on, the place was not hot, and certainly didn't need the fans cranking so hard that they literally kept blowing out the candles on our table. Picture that amount of breeze, enough that it blows out candles, blowing constantly across your food. It gets cold REALLY fast. Our lamb dish, as Rae mentioned above, was very tasty, one of our favorites, but was cold almost instantly because the sliced meat was subjected to a constant cold wind.

The majority of our food was in a middle zone - not at all bad, but not incredibly thrilling either, and we actually do get thrilled by a good steak frites, or a perfectly roasted chicken.

gallery_23992_6114_160311.jpg

The Lyonnaise Salad was good, I'd probably get it again, but it was missing a little spark, I think mostly in the dressing, it needed a little more bite, or intensity or something... But not bad.

I didn't get a good photo of the escargots, but they too were good, but not transcendent. I liked the garlicky sauce soaked up with the nicely-toasted rusks, and the snails were tender, but didn't taste like much themselves. I suspect we're still pining for the Pif snails, and these are a different style, which may be an unfair comparison. Regardless, overall good, but not a must-have.

gallery_23992_6114_98637.jpg

Frites: excellent. The steak had a good solid beefy flavor, but that was about it. The compound butter was pretty subtle, and relatively sparse, and there was not much of a sauce, maybe just juices, which could be OK, but it just wasn't as vivid as it should be. This dish at Blue Angel was not much different in composition, but tasted WAY better.

My chicken picture is kind of blurry too, and you know, it looks like a roast chicken... I liked it more than Rae, but I completely agree that the texture was not good at all, it had a mushy, mealy feel that I can only assume comes from brining. I can't imagine what else would to that to a chicken.

gallery_23992_6114_54257.jpg

The lamb was delicious, one of our favorite things all night. As we whined about above, this dish, probably because it was sliced, suffered most under the fans, or maybe it wasn't all that hot when it arrived, but we can only imagine that it would have been even more delicious hot. As Rae noted, this is normally served on top of polenta, so don't be surprised if yours doesn't look exactly like this. The polenta was good with this, we got it on the side. If I had any complaint, it would be, as mentioned above, that the sauces on everything seemed a litle too similar, as if there were one huge pot simmering back in the kitchen labeled "Le Sauce."

gallery_23992_6114_73244.jpg

I've had lots of duck confit like this, enough that I feel like it might be a style, not a flaw. But if so, it's not my favorite style. It had good flavor, but was just too dry for my taste. The duck confit at Standard Tap, or one we got as part of a tasting menu at Matyson were much more tender and moist, while still gaining that concentrated flavor from the preservation process. Again, not bad, just not something that I MUST return for.

So overall, I'm just not sure what to make of it. As mentioned above, this stuff isn't rocket science, and we're not impossible to please. I've been quite happy with meals I've had at Balthazar in NY, at Brasserie Jo in Chicago, at Jeanty at Jack's in San Francisco, at Blue Angel here in Philly, and at Paris bistros so small and undistinguished that I didn't bother noting their names. So I don't think we're holding this place to an impossible standard, it just left us a little cold, in a few senses of the word.

I wouldn't hesitate to go back some time at an off-hour and have some bread, the charcuterie platter, and try some more from the menu. But I might have to sit outside, or avoid a table anywhere near a fan.

Of course, it is early days, and some of these things, like ceiling fan control, might be still in the process of being worked-out. I hope so - I like the look and feel, it's got the kind of food I'd love to eat on a regular basis, and the prices are not totally out of line. We'll see...

Edited by philadining (log)

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

are they using skirt steak for the steak frites? i don't think i've ever seen hangar so thin it folds over on itself? was this justa presentation thing?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You're right, it looks a bit more like a skirt steak, but I'm pretty sure it was a hanger.

I've never been served one that looked quite like that in a restaurant before, but I bought a whole hanger once that had some sections were vaguely that shape.

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have to admit that despite the above reviews from people I trust, I was still fully prepared to show up and immediately drink the Kool-Aid. Bistro cuisine is my sweet spot and I was so looking forward to it from Vadouvan's first post.

Sadly, I have to admit that this place was just solidly mediocre. I think I will avoid adding more downers to what was stated above and suffice it to say that the food is about a B/B-.

Granted I am a bread snob. The baguettes we were served suffered dreadfully from the humidity of the 100 degree day or were baked the day before. The darker sliced wheat boule was excellent.

I avoided some of the plates Phil and the gang mentioned above with some exception. I had the roast chicken and it was pretty good. Definitely not mushy so hopefully that was one loner fowl. I started with the beet salad which was just ok - not much to say about it. Normally, I would bee line to lyonaisse and steak frites.

My wife had the charcuterie and was a bit put off by the smoked prosciutto and some spicy sopressata like meat. I did not try it but she remarked that it was not the traditional plate she enjoys for the style of cuisine. Also, she had moule frites - the mussels were way too fishy (perhaps a bad batch but this should not be) and we got the fry 'dregs', the tiny overly done bits at the end of the basket. The next table got a fresh cone a few minutes later. The meal was disappointing by then so I didn't ask for a fresh batch. It was already too late.

One saving grace - we ate outside. When we walked in, the din was intense so we found an open table outside.

We skipped dessert and walked over to Capogiro for a mood lift.

So I am not an early adopter and hope if Holly sticks it out can keep us posted to their progress. Until I hear things have shaped up, I will not go back. Too darn bad. Service has a learning curve and they were trying very hard and we appreciated it. The basic plates should be good right from the get go.

Edited by shacke (log)

Dough can sense fear.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Bistro cuisine is my sweet spot and I was so looking forward to it from Vadouvan's first post.

Ahhh..... Sir Shacke.

My comment was simply about the interior.

You have to admit the interior does look cool if you remove the Rittenhouse Mongol hordes mobbing the place, sadly it may become a victim of it's own success.

Perhaps they should have closed off the back dining area for noise abatement.

The real question is probably that it's doing about an average of 800 covers a day, it must be a challenge to pay attention to the food.

are they using skirt steak for the steak frites? i don't think i've ever seen hangar so thin it folds over on itself? was this justa presentation thing?

Bill

Some restaurants pound out hanger steaks to flatten them so they cook faster and more evenly that why it look like a flank, I think it makes it stringy and dries out quickly.

Hanger steak of all the cuts out there pretty much needs to be cooked SV, end of story.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ahhh..... Sir Shacke.

My comment was simply about the interior.

You have to admit the interior does look cool if you remove the Rittenhouse Mongol hordes mobbing the place, sadly it may become a victim of it's own success.

Perhaps they should have closed off the back dining area for noise abatement.

The real question is probably that it's doing about an average of 800 covers a day, it must be a challenge to pay attention to the food.

Well that makes me feel better, since I figured someone was actually serving you food and concentrating on said task at the sneak peek.

It certainly fits the Starr mold which is hipness first and food second (this is not meant to say the food is bad - it can often be quite good). The interior is indeed nicely done and according to the Mrs. ,coming back from the loo, the bar area was already quite the meat market.

Evan

Dough can sense fear.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Made it back to Parc on Thursday for another late lunch. With my lunch hours and Parc's inflexibility - their bare-boned 6 item plus raw bar menu between three and five, I will never have access to the bulk of their menu. Explain to me again why a Bistro like Parc, with most of the lunch menu carried through to the dinner menu, must take a two hour siesta in mid afternoon? Bunch of prima donna wusses back in the kitchen.

Service was much more snappy this time. Bread came immediately. My cheeseburger took maybe fifteen minutes. I didn't mention the knee high walk-in cooler dining room temperatures in my earlier post. Figured it was a matter of fine tuning their HVAC system. Still kind of chilly down there, but better.

gallery_14_105_2614.jpg

I ordered my cheeseburger medium rare and 2/3rd of it was just that. Once pie wedge sector came in at medium to medium well. Haven't had that happen very often. Interestingly that same sector, along with the fries, was over salted. The medium rare sector of the cheeseburger was very good. The reddish green tomato slices served on the side - reminiscent of Little Pete's.

gallery_14_105_21535.jpg

OK, what is all this hoopla about Parc's fries? "Frites: Excellent." "The fries, A+." These are mere shoestring, fast food fries - fresh cut, twice fried - but not all that much better than modern day McDonald's fries, fresh out of the fryer, and not as good as McDonald's fries, back when they were starting with whole potatoes.

Friggin' fast food generation. Get over shoestring fries. Thicker cut fries, as in the 1 cm cut Belgium pommes frites, when properly fried, are far superior.

Edited by Holly Moore (log)

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

Twitter

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...