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Vadouvan

PARC Bistro.

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You're right, it won't be happening at Parc, at least not to the degree in the quote. I can see a mix of Rittenhouse Square residents sprinkled with not-so-starving artists and students, teachers, shop keepers and tourists. But the menu prices are high and the ambiance and door guardians can be intimidating; most like discouraging some "workmen" and truckers.

Carman's fills that description rather well. So does Little Pete's.


Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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Actually, you're right about Carman's, but there's a fit issue there too -- namely, you have to enjoy having the proprietor as an intimate part of your meal if it's not too busy.

It's been way too long since I've been there to eat. Maybe the next time I take a "work from home" day, I'll trek down, laptop (or newspaper, or sudoku puzzles) in tow.


Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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I’ve been in Philadelphia for the past week and after eating all of the things I can’t readily get in France I was feeling a bit homesick and so stopped by Parc for the late lunch. The space itself is beautiful and with a bit of imagination it wasn’t hard to envision that I was back in Paris sitting along blvd Saint Germain.

The menu is, unsurprisingly, an American interpretation of French cuisine and doesn’t really reflect the best of French bistro cuisine today, but I loved my warm shrimp salad with avocado, shaved fennel, arugula and beurre blanc. The bread was great and could rival, and even beat, some bakeries in Paris (unfortunately you can get a lot of bad bread in France!) and I was pleased to see Badoit, which I had never seen in the States (although, I don’t get back often so maybe this is commonplace now).

I think Steven Starr has done a tremendous job with the décor and if I lived in Philadelphia, I would certainly go back to try more of the menu. One faux pas, there was a pretty glaring grammar mistake on the card they gave out, so, before they reprint they might do well to have a French speaker do a quick proof read.

It would be great if some of these places sent their chefs to Paris for a tour of some of the best bistros, to bring a more modern style of French cooking to the States but all in all, it was, as they say, pas mal du tout.


www.parisnotebook.wordpress.com

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The French bistro or whatever as a place for all people to go is a thing of the past... The real American equivalent is indeed the diner, like Pete's on 17th, where you actually will see truck driver guys in booths next to dudes in suits using laptops. It's the only truly democratic dining in Philly.

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We went to Parc a couple weeks ago, Saturday for lunch. The food was very good, with a special mention for the charcuterie and the bread. The service was so bad that they ended up spontaneously comping our appetizer after it took over forty-five minutes to materialise. I'd love to go back for the food. I don't know if I will for the service. Pricing.. is what it is.

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I'm not sure whether I prefer Parc's view of Rittenhouse Square more on a sunny summer day or during the drama a gray, stormy November afternoon such as today.

Their french onion soup and salad Lyonnaise with poached egg both served me well, cutting through the damp chill.

The place was maybe a third full and has a much more welcoming and linger-encouraging feel about it than when it is running at full bustle.


Edited by Holly Moore (log)

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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'And I am made Shiva, destroyer of brunch'. First Cafe Sud, then Ugly American, now Parc... I swear we have to stop going to places for brunch lest we run out of chefs.

In actual content: we bought a baguette from them, now that they sell them separately. They were.. definitely not like the ones you have at the restaurant. I wonder if the chef had already left?


Edited by lfabio2007 (log)

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My assumption was that Dominique Filoni left/was encouraged to leave Parc after LaBan gave it only two bells. I can't imagine Stephen Starr was thrilled with that rating.

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I had a wonderful meal at Parc last night! Admittedly, I live about four blocks away, so Parc tends to be a go-to place for "the basics," but on a rainy Tuesday night, what we had couldn't be beat. There are some new additions to the menu, one of which is pan-seared cod over a "smear" of brandade with cockles. I don't know who was in the kitchen last night, but this thing was freakin' fantastic--the cod was perfectly cooked (and a very high, ocean-tasting, fresh, quality piece of fish at that), the brandade was perfectly flavored (not over salted, yes, salt cod can be over salted), the cockles weren't tough, and the broth was a brillilant fish/garlic/butter/lemon combination. So silly to say about a Starr joint, but man, I did not want the last bite of that dish to come! DC had moules frites--the frites were perfect. Moules were very solid--not the best ever, but definitely solid.

Damn that was a good meal. Only clinker was Parc's inability to prepare a "super-dry" vodka martini. But I'll happily sacrifice that and get wine instead in exchange for that cod. I can still taste it.

So big question: who came up with that dish, and who was in the kitchen last night?


Edited by Peter Johnson (log)

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In my experience, both working in and eating at, Starr joints instruct their bartenders to not add any vermouth when someone asks for a martini excepting when they ask explicitly.

Maybe the bartender last night was more classically trained. You might be better served by asking for chilled vodka up or just vodka on the rocks.


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matt o'hara

finding philly

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....Only clinker was Parc's inability to prepare a "super-dry" vodka martini....

No such thing exists. You want a vodka up, ask for a vodka up. Bartenders, no matter how good at their job, are not clairvoyant, and everyone's definition of "Dry", "Extra Dry" or "like the Sahara" is utterly subjectve. If you ask for a "martini" you are implying that you want a cocktail that is a mixed drink, with vermouth in it. If you want Grey Goose up with olives then you should ask for that and not blame the bartender for your lack of communication skills. Sorry to sound snippy, but I get tired of trying to read minds when folks ask me for a martini. I unfailingly have to pull teeth to get them to admit that they don't really know what they want, because they've never made one at home, and have no clue as to whether they actually dislike vermouth, or just think they do. Life would be simpler if folks could walk up to a bar and say "I'd like a 6:1 Bombay martini up with olives, please." Because a martini is actually a gin drink... :smile:


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

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Sorry if I was unclear in my post (which was supposed to be about the FOOD, but as long as we're on the subject): I did really know what I want, I do make them at home, and I understand there's "no such thing"; my preferred method, as unorthodox as it may be, is one spritz of vermouth from a "misto", because I typically like _that_ much vermouth flavor. But I assume that's not a standard bar acoutrement, so I ask, without fail, for "a stoli martini, up with olives, no vermouth." Every time, every place (unless I want a traditional martini, in which case I say so--but do specify the gin. So I don't think my communication skills are lacking--but I certainly can't control what goes from my table back to the bar via the server. The first time, however, it was clearly about a 2/3 mix (yes, I know that's traditional); I did have to send that one back. The second time, it was still "vermouthy," so they either used the same shaker or the same glass.

Either way, the point I was trying to make--was that the food rocked.

Seriously, though, Katie--as a bartender yourself (I surmise), if you have any hints beyond how I asked to get what I want (would never try to get someone to read my mind), I'm all ears! :smile:

....Only clinker was Parc's inability to prepare a "super-dry" vodka martini....

No such thing exists. You want a vodka up, ask for a vodka up. Bartenders, no matter how good at their job, are not clairvoyant, and everyone's definition of "Dry", "Extra Dry" or "like the Sahara" is utterly subjectve. If you ask for a "martini" you are implying that you want a cocktail that is a mixed drink, with vermouth in it. If you want Grey Goose up with olives then you should ask for that and not blame the bartender for your lack of communication skills. Sorry to sound snippy, but I get tired of trying to read minds when folks ask me for a martini. I unfailingly have to pull teeth to get them to admit that they don't really know what they want, because they've never made one at home, and have no clue as to whether they actually dislike vermouth, or just think they do. Life would be simpler if folks could walk up to a bar and say "I'd like a 6:1 Bombay martini up with olives, please." Because a martini is actually a gin drink... :smile:

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so I ask, without fail, for "a stoli martini, up with olives, no vermouth."  Every time, every place (unless I want a traditional martini, in which case I say so--but do specify the gin.  So I don't think my communication skills are lacking--but I certainly can't control what goes from my table back to the bar via the server.  The first time, however, it was clearly about a 2/3 mix (yes, I know that's traditional); I did have to send that one back.  The second time, it was still "vermouthy," so they either used the same shaker or the same glass. 

Why not just ask for a "stoli up with olives"? As a martini contains vermouth, it's at best confusing to ask for a "martini" of any kind without vermouth. Is it that you want it served in a martini glass?

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If I were you I'd solve this even more simply by carrying an atomizer with vermouth in it and asking for Stoli up. :D

I personally like 3:1. I know, how odd, right?


Edited by mattohara (log)

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matt o'hara

finding philly

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A good friend from my ad agency days, who had intensely studied such things, maintained that he received more vodka ordering a vodka martini with no vermouth than when he ordered vodka straight up.

He also said the best martinis (the most vodka) were served at Chinese restaurants.

He also came up with "piece of the rock" after an evening of research.


Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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....Only clinker was Parc's inability to prepare a "super-dry" vodka martini....

No such thing exists. You want a vodka up, ask for a vodka up. Bartenders, no matter how good at their job, are not clairvoyant, and everyone's definition of "Dry", "Extra Dry" or "like the Sahara" is utterly subjectve. If you ask for a "martini" you are implying that you want a cocktail that is a mixed drink, with vermouth in it. If you want Grey Goose up with olives then you should ask for that and not blame the bartender for your lack of communication skills. Sorry to sound snippy, but I get tired of trying to read minds when folks ask me for a martini. I unfailingly have to pull teeth to get them to admit that they don't really know what they want, because they've never made one at home, and have no clue as to whether they actually dislike vermouth, or just think they do. Life would be simpler if folks could walk up to a bar and say "I'd like a 6:1 Bombay martini up with olives, please." Because a martini is actually a gin drink... :smile:

I guess we are off the topic a little, but let me back up Katie here. If what you want is a glass of chilled vodka with olives in it, it ain't no martini. No martini of any kind. Some individual decided that everything served in a cocktail glass is a martini. Not to long as go I was in a place and was handed the "martini" menu. And there it was the "Manhattan Martini". People can drink what they want, but I don't care for "Manhattan Martinis".

Katie, perhaps you and I can get rich quick by huckstering battery powered vermouth misters to bars.

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Peter:

Perhaps my comments were not aimed you specifically. Didn't mean to sound so bitchy, but honestly, it irks me that folks drink what they think is trendy, or what they're "supposed" to drink without ever giving it any real thought at all. Taste is completely subjective and one person's "extra dry" is not for everyone. Most people don't even realize what that means. If you think about it, dry vermouth makes the cocktail taste more "dry" than just straight vodka or gin, so really the cocktail becomes "drier" the more vermouth you add to it. Reverse logic and completely counterintuitive, but true.

If you want vodka up with olives ask for that. If you request a "martini" then presume that there will be some variable amount of vermouth in it. Actually a small refillable perfume atomizer with some Noilly Prat in it kept in your pocket should solve your problem completely. Sephora has disposable ones they give away perfume samples in, and I'm certain any number of such receptacles can be found online.

Mike - I think that's our marketing angle. We'll get rich selling personal vermouth misters... :wink:


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

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A good friend from my ad agency days, who had intensely studied such things, maintained that he received more vodka ordering a vodka martini with no vermouth than when he ordered vodka straight up.

This is probably true. If you order a chilled vodka, a lot of places may just give you a shot of vodka shaken with ice. If you order a vodka martini, you know you're going to get a big glass full of vodka.

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Right but they're going to charge you 12$ for that. It's something to keep an eye on. I used to know servers that would make up crazy charges on Aloha. They'd hit the "up" button twice, which would add another dollar. They'd hit "double" when it really wasn't. Make sure to check your receipts!


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matt o'hara

finding philly

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Peter:

Perhaps my comments were not aimed you specifically.  Didn't mean to sound so bitchy, but honestly, it irks me that folks drink what they think is trendy, or what they're "supposed" to drink without ever giving it any real thought at all.  Taste is completely subjective and one person's "extra dry" is not for everyone.  Most people don't even realize what that means.  If you think about it, dry vermouth makes the cocktail taste more "dry" than just straight vodka or gin, so really the cocktail becomes "drier" the more vermouth you add to it.  Reverse logic and completely counterintuitive, but true.

If you want vodka up with olives ask for that.  If you request a "martini" then presume that there will be some variable amount of vermouth in it.  Actually a small refillable perfume atomizer with some Noilly Prat in it kept in your pocket should solve your problem completely.  Sephora has disposable ones they give away perfume samples in, and I'm certain any number of such receptacles can be found online.

Mike - I think that's our marketing angle.  We'll get rich selling personal vermouth misters... :wink:

I can think of more than a few movie references that probably reinforce the idea that a "dry martini" contains nearly indetectible amounts of vermouth.

One is from a film in which the character requesting the martini says, "Spray vermouth in the room and walk through it." A similar line in another movie instructed, "Whisper 'vermouth' over the glass."

Get exposed to this enough and you too will misunderstand. Perhaps a counterpropaganda campaign is needed, both for the benefit of the bartending profession and of those who truly prefer just a hint of vermouth in their martinis.

Back to Parc for a minute. I finally got to eat there as part of a Philadelphia Speaks meetup, and found the food good, as the food is usually at SRO establishments. But -- as I've come to realize -- Starr's true genius is in creating a stage set. Parc is simply his biggest and most complete stage set yet. The food matters, sure -- serve mediocre food in a fabulous stage set and you won't get repeat business -- but it is merely one element in an elaborate dramatic production, one in which the diners are the lead actors.


Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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I went to Parc for the second time, with my wife, tonight, and we hated it. For one, it is extraordinarily noisy, easiest the noisiest restaurant I have been to in Philly. I had the steak au poivre. While the meat was fine and cooked the way I ordered it (and quick), the preparation was easily the worst I have ever tasted. My wife's bouillabaisse was also terribly salty and really not at all appetizing, though its seafood looked okay. I cannot recall what I had the last time I went there but I did not like that either (that was shortly after its opening). Its bar is quite a scene, which I guess might be a good thing for some people.

So I am sorry, but I just do not like it.

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Since it's Bastille Day, we became Francophiles and visited Parc for the first time today. We got there at the stroke of noon before crowds descended on this gorgeous day and got a table in the shade on the 18th Street side.

She Who Must Be Obeyed went for the hanger steak. She likes her meat medium (I've tried to convert her to at least medium rare, but she's from Wisconsin). The steak was nicely sized but inedibly tough; she attributed it to the quality of meat, I to the degree of doneness. But maybe it was just a lousy muscle. We told our server and she quickly offered and took it away; it took awhile for the replacement to get back to the table, but it was much better. (And cooked medium rare, btw; SWMBO ate most of it and left the rarer bits in the center for me. Chewy, as I would expect, but tasty. The replacement properly came with a fresh haystack of frites. She loved her glass of rosé (sorry, I don't know which one it was).

I went for the charcuterie plate as a starter. All I left on the plate was a couple of slices of the boar sausage; it tasted fine, I just don't like this style of dried salami so much. Everything else was perfect, including the fat-topped chicken liver mousse.

For a main I went for moules frite, and they were perfect. They were small mussels, which I prefer to the larger ones (in my experience, the Belgians and Dutch prefer the biggies, the French the smaller ones). The butter enriched sauce was good, if over salted. Nonetheless, I asked for more baguette to sop up what I could; only my lack of dexterity stopped me from lifting the bowl and slurping it to my lips.

The frites were good, and what most people want, including SWMBO: shoestring cut. I'm still waiting for a thicker cut frite akin to the Brussels style.

My $4 Kronenbourg special hit the spot.

Desserts. SWMBO was going to resist, until she saw profiteroles on the menu. She thoroughly enjoyed them. I went for the ice cream, mixing a scoop each of caramel and pistachio/currant ice creams, and dark chocolate sorbet. A fitting finish. And we walked away with a freebie baguette and two-piece box of truffles in celebration of Bastille Day.

All it all, a delightful way to leisurely enjoy a 100 minute lunch. Service was excellent, the food exactly what I expect for simple brasserie fare, the setting, apart from one truck spewing fumes, perfect. Parc is, as others have noted, a stage. I liked the show. Though I think Brasserie Jo in Chicago does it better.

A question for discussion: why is it called a bistro-brasserie? Seemed more like the latter than the former, to me. And I've never before seen a place billed as both. To me, a bistro is usually a smaller, family O&O establishment; brasseries a bit more beer-centric and larger operations. Parc certainly has aspects of both (bistro is more wine-centered, as is Parc), but its menu and ambience more brasserie-like.


Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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