Saturday, September 6, 2008

Brasserie Perrier: Philadelphia, PA

UPDATE: As Of Jan 2009, The Brasserie Perrier is CLOSED. A casualty of the economic breakdown of America. Oh well...more good eats will be found in Philly. And many have yet to be discovered.

Brasserie Perrier 1619 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103

Relaxed, unpretentious atmosphere where great French classics are prepared alongside surprising favorites.

In the city of brotherly love, this restaurant deserves every bit of love that I am able to bestow upon it. Brasserie Perrier serves up Asian and Italian inspired French food for the well-heeled masses of Philadelphia. Here is where Georges Perrier decided to let his hair down and let us get comfortable with French cuisine. Le Bec-Fin, the Brasserie’s older brother and Perrier’s first brainchild, sits a mere block away tucked as not to seem to be looking over little brother’s shoulder.

There is a new menu now with emphasis on the brasserie. It’s less café and more of a bistro with printed menus. The prix fixe menu is still making leaps and bounds into diners’ hearts. If the BP burger, ground prime sirloin, shredded beef short ribs, seared foie gras, black truffle cheese, pomme frites (more than a mouthful, dare I say) for $29 seems like a stretch, it is. Most other menu items aren’t nearly as elaborate or come with much fanfare.

My favorite dining partner and I skipped lunch and went straight for the old-fashioned Sunday dinner to see if dinner was as much fun as lunch. We started with the charcuterie platter. Man cannot live by bread alone, but the bread, alone, was the best part of the platter: Boucheron, country pate with sherry-soaked pistachios, proscuitto, and all the usual suspects of accompaniments. But the bread: crusty, buttery French bread slices…

I had boeuf bourguignon with gnocci, he the Appellenzer, proscuitto, and pesto stuffed chicken breast. My gnocci were dense nuggets more akin to floured dumplings than ethereal potato pasta. The beef melted away into the stew’s gravy. Sadly, no mushrooms or pearl onions were seen or tasted. The glorified chicken cordon bleu, did deserve a blue ribbon. The skin was crispy and the meat, oh-so juicy; the pan sauce surrounding the breast was full of round meaty flavors accented with crisp lemon and a perfunctory rosemary sprig. Disappointed was I, that the boeuf’s pork belly was not crispy or delightfully tender and juicy. This was the daily special and I assumed it would have been the best item on the menu. Delighted to find that my partner really dug his chicken, I overlooked the pork belly faux pas. One hundred percent spot on, however, were the sides. Lobster macaroni gratin. My favorite. Nodules of lobster nestled in a pot of macaroni made my heart melt. Molten pieces of buttery, creamy sea fare. The haricot verts, jumbo asparagus, and garlic spinach seemed to have been picked right before service and were very delicious.

I’m not a dessert fan, but I will indulge to “settle” my food. The dining partner and I shared the chocolate caramel crème brulee. I prefer my crème infused with vanilla but it was ok as far as brulees go. It tasted of burnt chocolate pudding with paltry berries laid on top. I should have tried the trio of ice creams or sorbets but this diner is cautious of allergens, and frozen confections are usually full of them.

The service was the subtle highlight of the meal. My water glass was refilled without me having to think about it. Our plates came at the same time, were taken away at just the right moment. Every time I stepped away from the table I came back to a folded napkin at my place setting. Our waiter was knowledgeable, attentive, and unseen unless we needed him. Then he appeared out of thin air to answer our silent beck and call.

Brothers, sisters, aunts, and uncles should all know the joy that is the Brasserie Perrier.

1 comment:

Deborah said...

Thank you for this, and so well written. I am only an hour out of Phili. I will have to make it a point to pay them a visit.