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.

Le Bec-Fin at Rittenhouse Row Festival


Holly Moore
 Share

Recommended Posts

My friend Nadine strongly disagrees. "It's outdoors forchristsake. They were busy getting ready for Saturday evening service."

Our disagreement - Le Bec-Fin's presence at the Rittenhouse Row Festival, on Walnut Street, in front of the restaurant. They were selling squares of various pastries, no issue there. What struck me the wrong way was their presentation.

RitRow-LeBec.jpg

Servers in casual wear, no effort to display the pastries dramatically, none of the elan one would expect from a world class restaurant - nothing to distinguish them from the other restaurant presentations. Indeed some of the lesser restaurants easily out-classed Le Bec-Fin's presentation.

So was Nadine right?

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

Twitter

Link to comment
Share on other sites

what restaurants stood out in your opinion? they all kinda looked the same to me, with the generic white signs and whatnot. i honestly didn't pay much attention to the dress of the servers though.

and thanks for telling me about this thing! i had no idea it was happening.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

what restaurants stood out in your opinion?  they all kinda looked the same to me, with the generic white signs and whatnot.  i honestly didn't pay much attention to the dress of the servers though.

and thanks for telling me about this thing!  i had no idea it was happening.

I wasn't paying that much attention to dress either, until I got to Le Bec-Fin. The dress was just one aspect of my disappointment. I have a certain level of expectation for one of the top restaurants in the country and it just struck me they were making a minimal effort. A five star restaurant should never mail it in.

As to the restaurants that presented themselves with style - My top three would be Roy's, DiBruno's (a specialty Italian deli, actually), and the 12th Street Cantina. Also Loie for attempting and pretty much carrying off authentic pomme frites.

RitRow-Roys2.jpg

RitRow-Pig.jpg

RitRow-12thSt.jpg

RitRow-LoieFries.jpg

and, of course, McCormick and Schmick's with their giant crab.

RitRow-GiantCrab.jpg

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

Twitter

Link to comment
Share on other sites

i thought the band up by 20th was quite good. hesaidshesaid i think was the name.

unfortunately, the only thing we got from the festival was a glass of champagne. we were waiting until we got hungry, so we could get a M&S crabcake, and a crabcake from Striped Bass, but one thing led to 5 drinks and we found ourselves sitting outside of some resaurant sipping bloody marys and watching that fashion show thing. for about 5 hours. :blink:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

... but one thing led to 5 drinks and we found ourselves sitting outside of some resaurant sipping bloody marys and watching that fashion show thing.  for about 5 hours.  :blink:

And, to think, W.C. Fields implied one can't have a swell time in Philadelphia

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

Twitter

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The dress was just one aspect of my disappointment.  I have a certain level of expectation for one of the top restaurants in the country and it just struck me they were making a minimal effort.  A five star restaurant should never mail it in.

Ever since Robert Bennett left and opened Miel, the level of professionalism in their presentations has gone down, IMHO. I remember some of the truly DAZZLING displays that were put together for Le Bec at various food events in years past (most notably the annual S.C.A.N. benefit) that were just stunning to look at, and to taste. Your picture is a far cry from that. How truly sad :sad:

and, of course, McCormick and Schmick's with their giant crab.

RitRow-GiantCrab.jpg

Ohmigosh - that poor dude in the crab suit must have been DYING in there in today's heat and humidity. I was working indoors at a wine tasting and I thought I was going to melt! Ack! I'm surprised the poor guy didn't need mouth-to-mandible resuscitation!

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

I'm surprised the poor guy didn't need mouth-to-mandible resuscitation!

:blink:

groan.

Sorry - I couldn't resist! :biggrin:

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

What was up with the crabcakes? Ubiquitous. Seems that's the only idea a lot of stands could come up with. They must stand up well to pre-cooking and long warmer times. I did have one from SB, and it was good, though the chips were WAAAAYYY too salty. The Ecuadoran shrimp ceviche (+mojitos) at Alma de Cuba was also a hit in my book (and, like Tommy, I could, errr, enjoy the fashion show w/runway-side seating. Coolest creation: Davio's cheesesteak springrolls. They really worked! Forgettable crab rangoon from Wok. Godawful yellowfin salad hoagie from Opus 251 -- the bread was the texture of rubber. Potstickers from Audrey Claire/Twenty Manning were pretty good. I got the same feeling about the LBF pastry table and skipped it. When's Miel opening the Rittenhouse Square outpost, I mean inpost?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please elaborate on this festival for an outsider who desperately wants to know more. We have a food festival in Chicago (The Taste of Chicago), if that's what you want to call it, or as Maggiethecat's husband calls it, "sitting on a curb eating dough on a stick."

Please start from the begining and tell me about the Rittenhouse Row Festival like I know nothing about it, because I don't know anything about it.

I can't weigh in on the disappointment factor over Le Bec-Fin's presentation from the photograph. other than to ask if Georges Perrier made an appearance? Perhaps he stood behind his staff swearing or asking random passersby if they want to -- well, you-know-what him. Still, would that add to the disappointment, or would it improve things dramatically? :biggrin:

Please consider this my request to attend this festival with one or all of you next year. Is it always the second weekend in May? And where are some good reasonable places to stay in the area. I'm thinking Maggiethecat and Lady T just might be with me (hint, hint you two). :biggrin:

Thanks for the post. Great pictures.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

aurora,

click me. it should work.

oh man, i forgot that i had an egg roll from Wok. the only reason was that everything else was closed, and after 37 beers, i needed *something*. oh, and, i got Kia's (from Trading Spaces) autograph. pretty cool.

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

The Rittenhouse Row festival alone is not worth a trip to Philadelphia. Rittenhouse Row is a merchants' group that pretty much follows west Walnut Street, and it's cross streets, from Broad Street (14th Street) to 20th. All merchant members, including restaurants, are invited to participate. The closest thing to that in Chicago would be a similar promotion by the Michigan Ave merchants north of the Loop, though not as much "depth", merchant wise, along Walnut Street.

Each merchant gets a white canopy with their name on it. What they do with the space is up to them. The famous Walnut Street restaurants participating included Le Bec-Fin, the Striped Bass, Brasserie Perrier, and Alma de Cuba. I don't remember anything by Susanna Foo.

Back in the late 70's and early 80's Philadelphia used to have a grand restuarnat festival, similar to Chicago's. We closed off the Parkway (a beautiful boulevard that runs from City Hall to the Rocky Stairs (AKA the Art Museum). But after a rainy cancellation where restaurateurs were stuck with tons of food and a change in city administration, they wussed out and the Restaurant Festival has been no more.

The Restaurant Festival has been replaced by The Book and The Cook Festival which runs over a couple of weekends in March. Famous, semi-famous and not-at-all famous cookbook authors are invited in and paired with Philadelphia restaurants. Some of these pairings can be a lot of fun, some ho-hum. It depends on how well the author and the Philadelphia chef hit it off and also on how much of a showman the author is.

Any weekend is a good weekend to tour Philadelphia restuarants. We'll keep you well fed and then some. Summer may be the best time, because the locals abandon the city for the shore and the Poconos making reservations far more attainable for all manner of restaurant.

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

Twitter

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please consider this my request to attend this festival with one or all of you next year.  Is it always the second weekend in May?  And where are some good reasonable places to stay in the area.  I'm thinking Maggiethecat and Lady T just might be with me (hint, hint you two). :biggrin:

aurora,

also, i'd urge anyone who is planning on visiting philly to read this thread. it was a great resource in planning my trip. those folks in philly sure seem eager to help.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please consider this my request to attend this festival with one or all of you next year.  Is it always the second weekend in May?  And where are some good reasonable places to stay in the area.  I'm thinking Maggiethecat and Lady T just might be with me (hint, hint you two). :biggrin:

Thanks for the post.  Great pictures.

it would be awesome if you and t and maggie came east next year.

as far as the festival, holly's right, it's not really big+expansive+diverse enough to warrant a special trip that you want to build other stuff around.

it is worth building it into a trip with something else as your anchor, like a restaurant/exhibit you may be especially interested in.

Herb aka "herbacidal"

Tom is not my friend.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

it would be awesome if you and t and maggie came east next year.

What he said. We'd be delighted to show you around. We were just discussing how much we'd like to meet some of you Chicagoan eGulleteers with Tommy and Mrs. Tommy the other night.

as far as the festival, holly's right, it's not really big+expansive+diverse enough to warrant a special trip that you want to build other stuff around.

it is worth building it into a trip with something else as your anchor, like a restaurant/exhibit you may be especially interested in.

All this is true. I'd come to see an exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Currently there is a "Degas and the Dance" exhibit until the end of the month, but there are usually two or three BIG exhibits per year.

The Book & the Cook festival can be great if there are specific chefs and/or restaurants you are interested in. You can get an idea of what that's like at their website Book&theCook The Philadelphia Wine Festival was also great this year and I would hope would be equally good next year too. I posted about that HERE

And again, this is a great city with tons of history. There's plenty to do and see even if there isn't a "special event" going on. Just ask Tommy. You can come here and just eat for four days! :laugh:

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

i'll take it a step further. tell me some stuff you're interested in, and i'll sorta play event planner/travel agent for you and throw some stuff out, you can tell me what works.

Herb aka "herbacidal"

Tom is not my friend.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What he said.  We'd be delighted to show you around.  We were just discussing how much we'd like to meet some of you Chicagoan eGulleteers with Tommy and Mrs. Tommy the other night.

katie's right on this one. if fact, we all sat there and said "those chicago people seem really cool."

anyway, philly is certainly a place to go for a couple of days with or without a street festival. it worked out great for us, as we were getting tired of running around and eating. a nice afternoon of soaking up the "sun" and having some cocktails worked perfectly.

:biggrin:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the detail. OK. The Rittenhouse Festival is not a great reason to visit, but who really needs a reason?

Thanks for all the "Chicago is cool" accolades. You warm our hearts. It's an interesting group, and we're pretty tight.

Summer is pretty booked, but would you be open to a weekend visit in the fall? That will give Mags and Lady T some lead time as well. I would love to meet all of you.

Hmmm. What am I interested in? I don't know yet. Here's what I know about Philadelphia:

* "City of Brotherly Love"

* A statue William Penn stands atop City Hall, but people think it's Benjamin Franklin because Benjamin Franklin is everywhere.

* Benjamin Franklin is everywhere.

* The Liberty Bell is there. It's broken.

* Independence Hall is there

* Trading Places was set there. Parts of the city were filmed for the movie.

* Philadelphia was the home of "Angie."

* There's a giant clothes pin, and it's rusty.

* Cheesesteaks are a big deal (no Cheez Wiz for me, please).

* Oh, and a few restaurants -- Vetri, Pasion!, Le Bec-Fin, Fountain Restaurant, and Morimoto come to mind.

I'm going to check out Katie and Tommy's links. Give me a day or so to be specific.

Herbacidal, you are on. Plan away!

I have a feeling the Rittenhouse Festival may still be a cut above The Taste (commonly, unfortunately regarded as "The Aftertaste").

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hmmm. What am I interested in? I don't know yet. Here's what I know about Philadelphia:

* Cheesesteaks are a big deal (no Cheez Wiz for me, please).

When in Philadelphia, do as the Philadelphian's do. The real born and bred Philadelphian's - those who grew up in South Philly a block and a half from Pat's. Ordering a cheesesteak without wiz is like ordering a Chicago dog with no neon green relish. You need to try a "wiz with" at least once no matter what preconceived notions might be clouding your judgement.

Two museums you must visit. The Mutter Museum and the Mummer's Museum. Later, during the test, you will be asked to compare and contrast the two.

And of course you will want to run up the steps of the Art Museum humming "Feeling Good."

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

Twitter

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hmmm. What am I interested in? I don't know yet. Here's what I know about Philadelphia:

* Cheesesteaks are a big deal (no Cheez Wiz for me, please).

When in Philadelphia, do as the Philadelphian's do. The real born and bred Philadelphian's - those who grew up in South Philly a block and a half from Pat's. Ordering a cheesesteak without wiz is like ordering a Chicago dog with no neon green relish. You need to try a "wiz with" at least once no matter what preconceived notions might be clouding your judgement.

Two museums you must visit. The Mutter Museum and the Mummer's Museum. Later, during the test, you will be asked to compare and contrast the two.

And of course you will want to run up the steps of the Art Museum humming "Feeling Good."

Alright. I'll make a go of the Cheez Wiz, but you should know something...I don't do the glowing green relish. Shhhh. Don't turn me in :unsure:

Rocky Balboa! How could I forget Rocky Balboa! I am now complete...an "in the know" Phildelphia tourist seeking a little refinement.

Isn't the song, "Gotta Fly Now?"

Does this mean that I should put Rittenhouse Row out of my mind?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the detail.  OK.  The Rittenhouse Festival is not a great reason to visit, but who really needs a reason?

you can always find a reason to visit anyplace, if you want to go enough.

the reverse is also true.

Thanks for all the "Chicago is cool" accolades.  You warm our hearts.  It's an interesting group, and we're pretty tight.

glad you're tight. key point, we never said chicago was cool, although it probably is and i want to visit sometime within next 12 months.

we said the chicago group on egullet was cool, b/c from the posts it looked like you're having a blast. the fact that you're tight and pretty passionate about stuff, willing to organize things, etc. is what makes it all work.

what it all comes down to is, what makes any place special is the people; they are the context an individual operates within, they are who a tourist interacts with, they are who create the rest of any structure that a tourist or any individual wants to visit, see, explore, etc.

* The Liberty Bell is there.  It's broken

yup, in chinese, my family calls it the broken bell.

* Benjamin Franklin is everywhere.

yup, if you wanna do the historic thing, you can even meet him. he's a busy guy, popping in on big social shindigs, always visible in historic area, no wonder his hair is white. :biggrin:

* There's a giant clothes pin, and it's rusty.

yup, one of the most well known outdoor sculptures in US, from what i hear.

most people refer to the building it's in front of as the clothespin building.

didn't know it was rusty though, i figured they woulda thought of that ahead of time when building it.

* * Trading Places was set there.  Parts of the city were filmed for the movie.

yup, if you wanna see the streets, that's probably doable. but every city has streets/neighborhoods with brownstones, old houses, etc. In other words, they're nice, but not particularly special to a visitor.

actually, first thing that came to mind was the cable tv remodeling show. hee hee.

* Philadelphia was the home of "Angie."

no idea what movie that was until i googled it. geena davis did it, and it came out in '94, and i don't remember it at all.

I have a feeling the Rittenhouse Festival may still be a cut above The Taste (commonly, unfortunately regarded as "The Aftertaste").

me wonders if there has been a decline in festivals in general. especially the smaller community oriented ones, as opposed to the big ones able to get major moolah behind them. not that book and cook isn't nice. remember reading that recent article about the bella vista/italian market festival.

www.gophila.com is a good reference.

and mutter museum is great for medical oddities and stuff.

anyway, whenever i go to chicago, you can help me plan my trip. :laugh:

wow, i just saw, i use yup a lot. wonder what that says about me?

Herb aka "herbacidal"

Tom is not my friend.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Rocky Balboa! How could I forget Rocky Balboa! I am now complete...an "in the know" Phildelphia tourist seeking a little refinement.

Isn't the song, "Gotta Fly Now?"

You're probably right. I used to be the account supervisor on the Gino's Hamburger advertising account and we adapted "Gotta Fly Now" with the lyrics, "Feeling good now, feeling good at Gino's." I am easily confused.

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

Twitter

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Rocky Balboa!  How could I forget Rocky Balboa!  I am now complete...an "in the know" Phildelphia tourist seeking a little refinement.

Isn't the song, "Gotta Fly Now?"

Yep, that's the song. Written by Bill Conti (music), and Carol Connors and Ayn Robbins (lyrics). It was nominated for the Oscar for best song, but lost out to "Evergreen" by Paul Williams and Barbra Streisand. But we all know which song everyone really remembers, don't we!

Great pics, Holly! You're making me wish Bruce and I were living in driving distance already!

Edited by SWoodyWhite (log)

We'll not discriminate great from small.

No, we'll serve anyone - meaning anyone -

And to anyone at all!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Now, what are the words again to "Gotta Fly Now"?

It's "GONNA Fly Now." And the immortal lyrics:

"Trying hard now, its so hard now, trying hard now..

Getting strong now, wont be long now, getting strong now..

Gonna fly now, flying high now, gonna fly, fly, fly."

I lobbied hard to make this the song that my wife and I would come down the aisle to at our wedding. Alas, some dreams must remain unfulfilled...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...