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Bibou


mattohara
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Finally made it to Bibou (but unfortunately forgot my camera). There were six of us and many items on the menu looked good, so we ordered the entire menu, plus the 3-4 specials they had that night.

The items that stuck out in my mind were:

Oxtail terrine - delicate, yet packed with flavor. An umami bomb.

Marrow Bones - this was a special for the night. Bones cut lengthwise, topped with a mixture of mushrooms, parsley and breadcrumbs if I recall correctly.

Triple Casserole - Well cooked, making the tripe melt in your mouth.

Foie Gras - perfectly seared with Griotte cherries.

Pieds de Porc - pigs feet on french lentils. Crispy on the outside, gelatenous on the inside

Hanger Steak - frankly we were going to skip this, but glad we ordered this as the steak had a nice char outside, but perfect tender and pink on the inside.

Noix de Saint-Jacques - Perfectly cooked scallops on a puree of cauliflower and saffron cauliflower florets

Loup de mer - the crispy skin and sea-sweet flesh of the bronzino went well with the marrow red wine sauce.

Cheese Plate - showed more personality than the typical cheese plate in the city. My favorite was a cows milk cheese from Burgundy, who's name escapes me at the moment.

While a majority of the dishes we enjoyed were very well cooked, we could not help but wish for some more seasonal ingredients featured on the menu, including some lighter dishes, especially in late spring/early summer.

There was plenty of good wine that we enjoyed thanks to my dining companions, including a mature 1975 Château Léoville-Las Cases.

Service was friendly and baring the occasional reminder to replenish the bread, quite efficient. The few seats get filled quick, so make sure you have a reservation.

So, overall, while I would not compare my experience at Bibou to Per Se or other 3 star Michelin dining experiences, it certainly is worth experiencing the authentic family bistro ambiance and early days of what I am sure will be a noteworthy successor to Pif.

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The Smiths went back to Bibou on Sunday to try the tasting menu.

It consisted of:

- Chilled summer squash consomme, duck tenderloin brunoise

- Braised oxtail terrine, organic red beet salad

- Seared scallop, saffron cauliflower puree and florets, rhubarb lemon vinaigrette

- Roasted bone marrow

- Seared foie gras, griotte cherries and posched pears

- Hanger steak, sauce au poivre, sauteed potatoes and green asparagus

- Cheese plate: Valencay, Edel de Cleron, Roquefort, served with tomatillo jam and poached pears

- Blueberry pie

All was very good, well prepared and highly enjoyed. The scallop, bone marrow, foie gras and the cheese plate particulary stood out.

This was the best bone marrow I have ever enjoyed!

I would like to clear up what may be a misperception by some readers. I have favorably compared the preparation, inventiveness of the chef, quality of ingredients, etc (ie., what you eat) to what has been served to me in certain world class restaurants such as Per Se. I never meant to say that the overall experience is the same as in these vaunted restaurants. How can a tiny bistro in south philly compare with the pomp and circumstance of a Per Se or Inn at Little Washington?

However, while atmosphere and fawning service means something in the end, it is meaningless unless the food is world class and that is the class of the food at Bibou which, by the way, is served in a friendly and efficient manner in a small but pleasant room at a fraction of the price.

One of the things that bores me quickly with a restaurant is when the menu does not change. While a number of the core items such as scallops and hanger steak may be always on the menu at Bibou, the prep changes constantly and this is where Pierre shines as small changes completely change the nature of the dish to keep you interested.

This week is Birchrunville Cafe and The Whip Tavern, then back to Bibou next week.

ENJOY!!!

Edited by The Smiths (log)
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We had a really stupendous dinner at Bibou on Saturday. My wife and I took my parents there for their 35th anniversary. The food was outstanding. Between the four of us we had:

Appetizers

-smoked salmon

-rabbit terrine

-escargots

-porcini mushrooms & squab special

Entrees

-hanger steak with potatoes & asparagus (x2)

-bronzino

-pied de porc

Dessert

-lavender creme brulee (x2)

-tarte aux myrtilles

-strawberries & chocolate

Service was excellent; our waiter looked familiar and said he'd been at Buddakan and Osteria previously. Charlotte and Pierre are incredibly charming and welcoming. Everything was executed so smoothly that it's amazing they've only been open a few weeks.

BROG, a beer blog
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  • 2 weeks later...

Enjoyed our third meal at Bibou and it appears that we’re considered regulars. Charlotte knows my name, gave us French/European kisses (a peck on each cheek) and Pierre came out to greet our table before returning to the kitchen. But that may have been because he was called before he could make the rounds to other patrons. We always bring guests who’ve never been, this time NYC foodies.

The four of us shared our appetizers of marrow bone, foie gras, escargots and a mushroom fricassee. Mains were Pieds de Porc, Noix de Saint-Jacques, and a veal medallion special. Desserts were a blueberry cobbler and something else I forgot because I was too full to share much.

The good news is that everything was excellent, as usual. The bad is that because the menu is limited to about five items per category with only two of them that are different from the last visit, the menu is already looking too familiar. That didn’t keep me from wanting to return the following week with some other visiting friends.

We'll give it at least a few more weeks, but as busy as Bibou is, they may not be turning a profit. There are 30 seats and we were told that the break even point is 2.5 turns. Saturday evening they had reservations for about 50. I knew profit margins for restaurants were slim, but not razor thin.

There should be a full review in the August Philadelphia Magazine and something online from the New York Times.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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I wondered about this too, Mano. We had more tables at Pif and they were easier to turn (no white linens, flowers, etc.). It's tough!

edit: Charlotte just emailed to let me know that she's not sure where the 2.5 turn thing came from. they're happy where they are and profitable with even a single seating. she wants to make sure people don't feel rushed!

Edited by mattohara (log)

--

matt o'hara

finding philly

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I wondered about this too, Mano.  We had more tables at Pif and they were easier to turn (no white linens, flowers, etc.).  It's tough!

edit: Charlotte just emailed to let me know that she's not sure where the 2.5 turn thing came from.  they're happy where they are and profitable with even a single seating.  she wants to make sure people don't feel rushed!

The waiter (damn, I forget if his name is Robert or Michael) told me.

I'm delighted they're profitable with even a single seating.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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  • 2 weeks later...

I had a really satisfying, promising first visit to Bibou recently. Some highlights:

An early season amuse of chilled cantaloupe soup made for a great taste bud teaser, sparked with strips of savory duck prosciutto and a generous twist of black pepper. Escargots seems poised to be the signature appetizer; on our visit, though, it was the only somewhat disappointing dish of the evening, the richness of a mushroom demi-glace and slightly heavy-handed seasoning obscuring the flavor of the snails themselves. I found no such issues with our other starters. The decadence of seared foie gras was balanced by the sweet and sour tang of plum chutney and the tannic earthiness of toasted walnuts, while a terrine of quail mousse set aside a simply dressed salad and pickled red cabbage provided rustic satisfaction.

The manageable scope of the menu helps Bibou escape the pitfall of far too many restaurants, where small plates all too often outshine the main courses. Here, the plats principaux are the stars, with Chef Calmels displaying a deft hand with proteins and bringing out the best in the innate flavors of market fresh vegetables. Hanger steak, the beef course on our visit, was spot-on medium rare, spiked by an assertive yet delicious green peppercorn sauce. Meltingly tender duck confit sat atop a warming, soulful tousle of linguine – slightly overcooked in the French fashion – sauced with duck jus and a fricassee of artichokes and sweet cherry tomatoes. As good as were the meat dishes, the flétan may just have been the star of the night, a perfectly seared fillet of halibut set atop a bed of lemon-poached cauliflower couscous played very well with the pungent sweetness of curried butternut squash and raisins.

Aside from the sorbet and ice creams, which are sourced from nearby Anthony’s in the 9th Street Market, desserts are made in-house. Both chocolate cake, based on a recipe from Charlotte’s grandmother, and peach pie were well executed and made for a comforting, unostentatious finale to our meal.

You'll find a bit more detail, along with some photos, at: Bibou.

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  • 4 weeks later...

We celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary on August 7th at Bibou.

Everything went perfect and we loved Bibou.

We had, the foie, escargots, cucumber and duck soup, and a tripe special.

We also had the pigs feet, and a squab special

For desert we had a cheese course and the fig tart.

The cooking is soulful and delicious. It was a pleasure for my wife and I to get back to rich well prepared full flavor French food. This sounds silly, but we have been eating so much Asian food and sushi as well as modern cuisine for our special meals. This food was like being welcomed home, and a reminder of why I love eating in the first place. The tripe was extra special and was a stand out dish.

Combined with some world class 1999 (our wedding year) French wine, everything was perfect. Clean appropriately sized glasses were served with each wine opened and we tipped for this appropriately as well.

This is not Per Se, nor would it receive a Michelin star, but the food is one star and the service was just as it should be and I cant think of a better way we could have celebrated our 10th. Bravo!

Nate Conner

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  • 3 weeks later...

If I were a betting man, I'd wager LaBan will review Bibou within the next six months and give it three bells.  It's right in his sweet spot: a young couple opening an ambitious BYOB.  Also, having been executive chef at Le Bec Fin for five years and a stint as sous chef at Daniel in NYC, Pierre has, at least for Philadelphia, major cooking chops.

Today LaBan gave it Three Bells, (I love it when I'm right!) plus there's a good review in the NY Times: Bibou

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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  • 2 months later...
  • 1 month later...

I posted this in the Paris thread also, but I'll be heading to London in January for my brother's birthday. The day we're flying over happens to be on my girlfriend's birthday, so since we'll in the air for most of the day I'm making it up to her by taking her to Paris for a night. Since neither of us are even remotely familiar with French cuisine, I made a reservation for Bibou the week before we leave so we could give ourselves a crash course on what to expect once we're there.

When I say that we're unfamiliar with French food, I seriously mean it. I have had escargot twice, at the dearly departed Brasserie Perrier and Django, and thought it was delicious. I have had terrine once (I forget what type) at similarly defunct Ansill, and it was simply not for me. At least at the time. And I have NEVER had foie gras. Over the years my tastes have been changing and I have been trying diligently to break the chains of my pizza/cheesesteak/chicken upbringing. I think this will be a huge step in the right direction. The braised pig's feet sounds like something that should not be missed, so if it's on the menu when we go I'll definitely get it. Anyone have any other suggestions of things we should try before actually going to Paris? From the other thread, it seems that Parc would be a waste of time.

I would kill everyone in this room for a drop of sweet beer...

Homer Simpson

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I apologize in advance for confusing things for you, but...

First, I think it's a nice idea, and you should go to Bibou in any case. And I'm glad you already made a reservation, because it's probably going to get even harder to get in here now that Alan Richman named it as one of the ten best new restaurants of 2009 in GQ Magazine. The food is very good, and you can probably get some small sense of a general style of French cuisine, although any one restaurant will only give you a tiny part of the picture. There's a lot of variety in French Cuisine as a whole.

BUT, despite the numerous accolades given to the foie-stuffed pig's foot, I'm not sure I'd recommend that as one of your two entrees. Of course, you never know, perhaps you'll like it, but for me, it's not among my favorite dishes there. It strikes me as too rich, too unctuous, too much of a soft, gooey texture. But that's me, lots of people seem to love it, maybe you will too. I do love the lentils it's served with... but I found a little bit went a long way. In either case, I wouldn't say it's any more or less French than most other things on the menu. I've quite enjoyed everything I've had there, so get whatever looks good, I'm just suggesting that you don't get fixated on the pig's foot.

You could always ask Charlotte (the Hostess/manager/co-owner/chef's wife) for advice on what to order that she thinks is most representative of a typical French meal.

And BTW, Parc is a fairly accurate representation of a half-way decent French Bistro, they serve many classic dishes, so you certainly could familiarize yourself with a different small slice of French cuisine there. Between the two, the food's better at Bibou, but Parc has a larger menu, and one more typical of classic mainstream bistro or brassierie food, if you're trying to learn names of dishes or find some things you like.

The bigger suggestion I have is to not worry about it. Go to Paris, eat some food, I don't think you really need to get in training for it, it's not going to be SO alien. It couldn't hurt to learn some menu terms before you get there, or plan some dishes you especially want to try, but you'll be fine even if you don't. Gazillions of people visit there every year, and usually come back raving about the food, even if it's from a cart on the street. Or even if you end up at a super-swanky restaurant, you might find that you like, or don't, one particular chef's version of this thing or that.

Relax, and enjoy.

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

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Relax, and enjoy.

Amen to that brother. My quick stop in Paris is going to be much less academic and much more focused on getting drunk and eating well. Thanks for the head's up on the pig's foot.

Yea I had to make my reservation after Jan 10th for anything before 9pm. Bummer, but I'm sure it'll be worth the wait.

I would kill everyone in this room for a drop of sweet beer...

Homer Simpson

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Paris is a great food city. You can have a great meal at a bistro, a 3 star restaurant, the local fromagerie, the Marché and even some great ethnic food.

If you want a meal at a 3 star, make a reservation ASAP. You can also enjoy some "fusion" cuisine in an intimate setting at places like L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon (but then again, he has similar concepts in NYC and Las Vegas).

In short, you (almost) can't go wrong with food in Paris.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Unfortunately I just had to cancel my reservation for tomorrow night, two people, 7pm. So now there should be an opening if anyone is interested.

I would kill everyone in this room for a drop of sweet beer...

Homer Simpson

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I've been there when there was a cancellation and saw that they changed Opentable to reflect the opening. Also (not that I use Twitter :wink: but) I know they sent out tweets when a party of 8 (!) cancelled on New Years Eve with very little notice.

So, I think it definitely pays to check last minute.

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