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Brunch at Lacroix


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For a special occasion, I took She Who Must Be Obeyed to brunch this past Sunday at Lacroix at the Rittenhouse Hotel.

What a treat, even if the tab did reach $117 before tip for the two of us (just one drink apiece).

The fish table was superb. Among the delicacies: House-smoked salmon, trio of American caviars (paddlefish, salmon and American white sturgeon, I believe), gigantic shrimp (I normally avoid "cocktail" sauce, but Lacroix's version zings with fresh tomatoes), smoked trout, whitefish salad, and peppered and plain smoked mackeral.

The hor d'oeurve table was even more impressive. A variety of salads (beet, potato, string bean with feta, etc.), Asian-inspired rolls, meatballs impaled on lemongrass spears, tiny savory fried vegetables cakes, savory frittata, mini ham and cheese in pastry, etc, etc., and so forth. Many of these treats were quite labor intensive, including the eggshell filled with scrambled egg, or a canape with incredibly thin layers of a creamy spinach spread between eight or nine sheets of even thiner wrapper.

We ordered the hot buffet rather than individual entrees. This meant a trip to the kitchen! Amid the immaculate stainless steel work stations and white-clad staff we had our choice of, among other items: bacon, a delicate breakfast sausage served in sauerkraut as if it were a minimalist choucroute, pain perdu, boneless quail with couscous, beef wellington, a cassoulet made with a particularly meaty French broad bean whose name I do not recall, veal ragout, rack of lamb, creamed leaks, various potatoes, assorted veggies. My favorite among the kitchen offerings: porc salé (braised pork belly) with a fruited stuffing.

And then there was the dessert table. Mocha opera cake. Coconut cream mousse. Lemon meringue, raspberry and ganache tartlets. Pistachio swirl cheesecake. Chocolate Irish coffee terrine. Chocolate and vanilla ice cream and mango sorbet, with whipped cream and raspberry sauces on the side, as well as fresh raspberries and blackberries.

Oh, did I mention the croissants and pastries in the bread basket placed on the table soon after you are seated?

Yes, there was lots of food. But its goodness did not rely on quantity (you can go to Old Country Buffet for that). The skill, subtlety and creativity of preparation is what sets Lacroix apart, and Sunday brunch is no exception. For example, the pastry chef found a way to infuse raspberry essence into the pâte brisée. The breakfast sausage was incredibly refined, but clearly still a breakfast sausage (is "delicate breakfast sausage" an oxymoron?). The combination of onion and grapefruit in the beet salad exceedingly well-executed. Everywhere, essential flavors were enhanced, not obliterated.

I shall return! Not too frequently (my budget can stand only so much extravagance), but I shall return.

Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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So wait, I have a question: how did the $117 come about? I mean, is it a set price, or do they charge you a price for the buffet plus supplements for additional more expensive items, or is it a la carte, or what? Just curious.

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Set price + drinks + tax. The "hot buffet" was priced at about $48 per. You could also order entrees rather than the hot buffet, with prices ranging from low 40s to low 50s, if I recall correctly. The two cold tables, desserts and coffee are included with all options.

Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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  • 8 months later...
  • 3 weeks later...

Had brunch at Lacroix today and I have to say this is one of the best brunches I have ever had. Here is a recap of our experience:

Reservations were originally made via OpenTable for a weekday lunch, but since I wanted to try a variety of dishes, I changed the reservation to Sunday Bunch. This is what was available on the Brunch Menu

Started with the HORS D' OEUVRES and raw bar. While almost everything tasted great, the dishes that I think need special mention were the Quail Egg with Ratatouille, Salmon Tartar (not on the menu, but in the pic), Chicken Curry Dumplings and Asparagus and Veal Tongue with Truffle Vinaigrette.



We also tried the soup of the day, which was a root vegetable bisque. It was good, but not spectacular (wasn't expecting it to be). Then we went for the Hot Buffet, which is served in the kitchen (I would have got it anyway, just to see the kitchen). It should be noted that this is a section of the kitchen were the cooking has already been done and the food layed out, so don't expect the chef to be calling out orders in there....the pictures will explain what I mean...

Hot Buffet Station # - Soft boiled eggs, Quail Eggs with Braised Beef Short Ribs, Roasted Duck (I think) and wife (not on menu).


Hot Buffet Station # 2 - Sautéed Potatoes, and 2 other dishes I can't remember


Hot Buffet Station # 3 - Chicken Fricassée with Saffron and Escargots, Spelt


Hot Buffet Station # 4 - Roast Duckling with Seckel Pears and Cognac Sauce, Venison Cannelonis, Lobster Oeufs en Cocotte? (although menu says chowder, it was changed...for the better...more on this later)


Hot Buffet Station # 5 - Roasted Baby Lamb Chops, Carved Beef Wellington, Roasted Organic Turkey. The sauces are Lamb Au Jus (almost as thick as a Demi Glace and very tasty), Madeira sauce for the beef and Chanterelle gravy for the turkey.


Here is a close-up of the food on my plate (clockwise) - Lamb chops, Beef Wellington, Spelt, Venison Cannelonis, Roasted Duckling and Chicken Fricassée with Saffron and Escargots


Here is a close-up of the Lobster Oeufs en Cocotte? This dish had a smooth soft custard bottom, lobster (tail and claw) and what seemed with a light curry sauce....hmmmm...delicious....one of my favorite dishes of the meal.


Here is another masterpiece...braised beef short ribs with Quail egg. The sauce had a deep beef/veal flavor, and the meat was tender. Top that with a perfectly cooked soft boiled quail egg and I am in heaven :biggrin:


By this time, Desserts, as tempting as they are, required true determination to indulge in (wifey chickened out by then). I had planned for this meal by limiting the previous night's dinner and skipping breakfast (I also ended up skipping dinner tonight as I am still full from the meal, nearly 11 hrs later :wub: )


This place also makes their chocolates (which are the best in the city) and are only sold at the hotel/restaurant, so I had to get a box of these. If Forrest Gump is correct in saying..."Life is like a box of chocolates...you never know what you are going to get", then the person who is lucky enough to be eating chocolates from this box has nothing to worry about as each piece is delicious.


We both opted for the "Wine Duet", which was a house champagne (sorry, don't remember the name as it was not a mainstream one and your choice of their a Pinot Gris or a Hardy's Cab Sav. We got the Cab).

Service was as expected for a 4 star restaurant, attentive and courteous.

Overall it was a great experience and if I lived closer to the city, I would be coming here every Sunday (OK, at least 1-2/month) and weigh an additional 50 lbs :laugh: .

My Rating - Highly Recommended and I will be returning here soon !!

Hope this is helpful for those planning a visit.



Edited to add: Jean Marie Lacroix (the chef/owner) was not in the kitchen today (apparantely recovering from a New Year party last night), but we did run into him on the way out.

Edited by percyn (log)
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Yes, the hors d'oeuvres are included. The Hot Buffet is optional, and I would highly recommend it to eGulleters (my wife was not that crazy about it, as she did not eat many of the dishes on there... you can lead a horse to the water... :rolleyes: ).

Of-course the wine and box of chocolates were extra.

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If we had a place like this in Vancouver, I would certainly start saving my money today. The food looks fantastic! Really, I can't say how envious I am!  :wub: Are the hors d'oeuvres included in the buffet? Those look especially good.

Let me know the next time you are in Philly....my treat :biggrin:

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i mean, seriously, that menu is insane.

so anyway percy, come by and introduce yourself if you come. i'll be the nine foot tall gargoyle with thrashing worms for hair, clanking bronze gauntlets for hands, and giant frankenstein boots. i'll be wearing tattered rags and i'll be accompanied by a strikingly lovely young female mortal who was foolish enough to give up her chance at a normal life for an eternity of meals such as the above.

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I was originally sold on Lacroix's brunch by the pictures, but today the City Paper (p50) published a blurb on January 6/6:30pm Wednesday reservations doing walkthroughs of the kitchen. I took a look at their website and they've updated it to include sample menus and prices for all their meals. Of note they're also offering the latest $$$$ trend of a chef's table:

"The Chef’s Table allows guests to dine in the heart of Chef Lacroix’s kitchen with a tasting menu up to 12 courses, priced accordingly, created that evening by Chef Lacroix. Up to 7 guests may dine at The Chef’s Table."

I'd really appreciate it if the $$$$ people going to Studiokitchen do a head to head face off with Lacroix's chef's table with photos + review. TIA.

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holy moly, rlibkind, you were right on the money with this recommendation. brunch at lacroix is crazy, rich, and expensive and totally worth it.

to expand on the things mentioned above, the dish in the egg coddler was a lobster pot du creme.

what we had that i didn't see on your menu was a foie gras custard, which could very well be the richest thing i've ever eaten.

those little fried ravioli things were filled with pumpkin.

the vegetables at the serving station were sauteed potatoes, a root vegetable braise, and braised cabbage with apples and chestnuts (aside: if you ever get a chance to eat an entire braised chestnut in one bite: don't).

the one downside for me was that the creamed spinach with quail egg was overcooked from the heat lamps. the plate was really hot to the touch and the egg had gone rubbery. the short ribs were amazing.

oh and that thing on the metal spoon in rlibkind's pics, is a smoked duck breast with pine nut brittle. damn good.

one of the main highlights was chef lacroix graciously welcoming us to the kitchen and thanking us for coming, and serving up the chicken fricasee and spelt himself. obviously a guy who likes seeing people enjoy his food.

we gorged like i rarely do; dinner last night was a small bowl of potato-leek soup and a salad, and that was all we could handle, eight hours after the fact.

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oh and that thing on the metal spoon in rlibkind's pics, is a smoked duck breast with pine nut brittle.  damn good.

I'll take credit for starting this "Expensive, expansive, exceptional" thread, but not for the photos. The images were posted by Percyn and they are enticing me to make a return visit! After all, it's only been eight months since I was first there for brunch!

Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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holy moly, rlibkind, you were right on the money with this recommendation.  brunch at lacroix is crazy, rich, and expensive and totally worth it.  we gorged like i rarely do; dinner last night was a small bowl of potato-leek soup and a salad, and that was all we could handle, eight hours after the fact.

Echo that! We took my aunt yesterday and there is nothing I can add to the above. I had just about one of everything with the exception of a couple of Jamison Lamb chops. The meal will last you into the evening. The menu is really more like a combination of dinner and breakfast. We were trying to rename it as "brinner" or "deckfast". Man those oysters were fresh!

We're thinking chef's table next.

Jim Tarantino

Marinades, Rubs, Brines, Cures, & Glazes

Ten Speed Press

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you guys wanna hear something weird? on saturday night i got a call on my cell phone. the person said, 'lacroix?' i got kinda confused, thinking that maybe it was lacroix restaurant calling me. i said, uh, what? she said, is your address 220 w. rittenhouse square? i said, wait, this isn't lacroix. she said, is this (some mangled version of my phone number, which is apparently lacroix's number)? it wasn't.

but isn't that weird, that i'd get that wrong number the night before going there?

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