Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Restaurant Week: Le Bec-Fin Edition

Luckily for Penn students, the beginning of each semester perfectly coincides with Restaurant Week in Philadelphia, a time when many elegant restaurants open up their doors by offering a reduced price menu. I thought, how better to celebrate my arrival back in Philadelphia with a three course lunch at Le Bec-Fin, one of the area's most infamous dining establishments, at the unheard of price of $20?

A friend and I made the trek out to 15th and Walnut on a Thursday afternoon between classes. We were promptly seated in the restaurant's main dining room, complete with hanging crystal chandeliers and gold-accented crown molding. The tables were rather close, likely to accommodate more patrons during Restaurant Week. Only a few minutes after placing our order, the first course came out. I ordered a salad of mixed greens adorned with a white balsamic and walnut oil vinaigrette. It was quite refreshing. The balsamic definitely had a kick to it, which I appreciated, and the walnut oil imparted a light, fruity flavor. We were served our main course quite quickly as well, which consisted of a filet of salmon cooked medium-rare topped enhanced with ground pistachio and coffee all over a parsnip purée. The salmon was wonderfully cooked and tasted very fresh. However, to my disappointment, the coffee and pistachio were barely detectable. The final course, Gâteau le Bec-Fin, was a delightfully fudgy layer cake made of a rum-soaked chocolate génoise. It was a great way to cap off a nice meal.

Service was prompt – almost too prompt – as if they wanted to churn customers quickly for Restaurant Week, which is perfectly understandable. The food was well executed and tasty, but certainly not inspiring. I'm certainly glad I went, if for no other reason than to say that I dined at Le Bec-Fin, which at one point was one of the nation's most influential restaurants.

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