after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

mon cheri, Le Cheri

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t says: The gang (a, v, g, and me) had the good fortune of going to Le Cheri on its second night open.  Would the Calmels be able to breathe some life into the ridiculously awesome location just off Rittenhouse that had been seemingly cursed to fail? (RIP Gardenia and Rittenhouse Tavern).  Let’s find out …

November 2013, Thursday Dinner, Party of 4.  We were happy to see lots of familiar faces, like our favorite server Ricky and Charlotte and Pierre.  They seated us promply (we had made a last-minute reservation through opentable, so I’m not sure they were expecting us), and gave us their menu.  The first impression was that this was a much larger space than Bibou.  While we knew it from going to previous restaurants in this location, I forgot just how much additional space there was.  The second was that the decor was a little haphazard.  On one hand there were sizable wine glasses, white tablecloths, and darker woods, but on the other, the walls were a peculiar color and the finishes weren’t as nearly upscale.  So was this place supposed to be more casual than Bibou – more like a bistro?  But can you really be more casual than Bibou?  Hmmmm – it’s only the first week, so we’ll see how things shake out with the decor.  No – we’re not expecting something as sensation as a Starr-ified or Garces-ified restaurant, but at least with a little bit more focus.

Now for the food:

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these little cheese ravioli and buttery sauce were amazing.  they were like little puffs made to carry the buttery sauce to your mouth.  It was a delicious and rich dish that still had a hint of ?chive?/herby length.  Wonderful!  And they coupled so exquisitely with our wine of the evening: 2012 Massican “Sauvignon” Sauvignon Blanc.  The wine, made by Dan Petroski, had a broader palate than the lightning-in-a-bottle 2011, but still finishes with a snap of citrus so forceful it could give you whiplash.  It cut straight through the butter like a frickin’ lazer.  B-e-a-u-tiful.

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welcome to the new escargot: as you can see, this is very different than the normal escargots than one can find at Bibou – gone is the classic snail-like dish, and in its place is a shallow bowl where the escargots are paired with chicken “oysters”, cauliflower, and some kind of parsley-laden broth.  And let me tell you that this was CRAZY-good.  It was much lighter than any rendition of escargots that Bibou has ever had, and the snails are smaller … BUT, the light and lively flavors danced on forever on my tongue.  I was forced to savor the seconds that went by.  If only the snails were a smidge larger …

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this blurry picture is of the lamb pat-au-feu.  The broth was deep and lamby, while the pieces of lamb were moist and tender.  I wish that the sweetbreads had some color on them to add some depth, but overall this was a solid dish.

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this blurry picture was the most surprising dish of the evening: boudin noir.  While it looks like a puddle of fudge or poo or whatever, I assure you that this was mindbendingly surprising.  I imagined that boudin would be very hearty or rich, especially after having boudin at other restaurants.  However, with a single spoonful, it was apparent that there was one part of thick rich boudin and one part of a light fruitiness (no, not literal “fruit” – more of a figurative light-and-agile-like-a-fruit.  I’m not sure how this is accomplished, but both a and I were stunned.  It’s worth trying again because I want to be able to understand it better.

The unpictured dish was the short rib and pasta which was downright amazing.  It’s everything that you’d imagine a pasta by Pierre could be.  The shortrib was perfectly cooked, as was the pasta.  I thought I was sitting in Melograno or something (except the portions were much larger here).  Very nice indeed.

We did get a chance to chit-chat with Pierre, and while we were privileged to pick his brain and get some insight into the inner workings of Le Cheri and Bibou, we won’t put it here – we don’t wanna start any rumors.  We’re just happy to be able to talk with Pierre to show him the smiles that the food he cooked put on our faces …

So yes … go to Le Cheri – and live up that BYO-ness while you can!

Written by afterdinnersneeze

3 December 2013 at 9:42pm

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