after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

Le Bec for $40? Mais Oui!

with 2 comments

t says: We mentioned Le Bec was closing soon and have spent many sleepness nights wondering whether doing that $40 dinner option was worth it.  And now, here to rescue us from our despair is the latest additions to the cast, a and v!

a saysAnd the verdict is… definitely worth the (lower) price of admission. The $40 menu is very small and certainly not typical Le Bec Fin extravagance. It is, however, focused and well executed. We ordered everything on the menu and were particularly impressed by the watermelon salad and stuffed quail. The steak was quite good and made more interesting by the pea pommes puree. In the end, the star of the show was the dessert cart. The pastry wizards at Le Bec still know how to satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth and the staff ensures you do not leave wanting. Service was extremely attentive and unpretentious, especially the sommeliers. The $40 wine list that accompanies this menu is lacking but use this as a reason to admire (and order from) their regular list. We had a red and a white, both (French) under $65, that were wonderful. I think the lax dress code (read: Hawaiian shirt and jeans) takes away from the ambiance but, thankfully, most diners used business casual as a baseline.

v says: Elegance, refinement, and sophistication come to mind when someone mentions Le Bec Fin. As evidenced by the clientele and service, this Philadelphia institution no longer characterizes such luxury. This is not to imply that the service is lacking, but rather that it attempts to meet the coarse population it has come to serve. In order to stay relevant, Le Bec Fin attempts to exude opulence while remaining accessible.  While this is a respectable mission given the direction taken by most Philadelphia restaurants and the current economy, it no longer serves the needs of its niche market.

At the same time, this accessibility enables a broader range of individuals to try the richness and delicacy of French cooking. The 40$, four course meal is worth the dessert, which was the best part of the meal and absolutely compensated for the lacking cheese course. In the end, I left the meal satisfied and contemplating the current role of Le Bec Fin in the Philadelphia food community. Is it obsolete? Should it go back to fulfilling the needs of its intended market? I wonder how my experience would have been different in its heyday – sans the Hawaiian shirts. The sommelier was quite partial to wines from near his birthplace in Lyon even sharing a colorful French idiom, “We drink Burgundy and we piss Bordeaux.”

Written by afterdinnersneeze

4 August 2010 at 10:52am

2 Responses

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  1. rch says: We went last summer for their $40 menu, and it was also BYOB night (who knew Le Bec would have BYO night??). The food was awesome, and although you can definitely see why there’s less of a market now for that super-formal French experience, I’m really glad we had a chance to experience it. I second on the dessert cart!


    12 August 2010 at 9:47am

    • t says: Yes, I remember they had a BYO promotion last year – that sounded awesome! I know that a would probably have loved to bring a bottle from his collection. (I just realized that the letter “a” as the initial for a cast member is going to be rough – oh well!)


      12 August 2010 at 9:52am

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