Monday, April 30, 2012

Knocking It Out of The "Parc"

Picture-perfect Parc.

A glimpse of the authentically Parisian menu.

Bread basket, rye, sourdough, baguette

Bread basket, cranberry walnut bread

Wild Mushroom Tart, truffled fondue

Warm Shrimp Salad, lemon beurre blanc, avocado

Croque Madame, grilled ham, fried egg, sauce mornay

A picture truly paints 1000 words, as these snapshots from my experience at Parc indicate. Stephen Starr is an expert at creating the immersive experience, evoking particular atmospheres and transporting the diner to a new environment. I honestly felt like I had taken a trip to Paris over the course of one lunch outing. To start the experience, guests can choose to dine al fresco with a gorgeous view of Rittenhouse Square (especially perfect with Philly's sunny springtime weather as of late) or inside the airy space of the bistro. We opted for a mix of both, sitting inside next to a window overlooking the street.

The complimentary bread basket is delivered to your table as soon as you order. From the French baguette with its crisp crust to the hearty cranberry walnut bread laden with its namesake ingredients, there is sure to be something to please a variety of taste buds. My companion and I went on to share the Wild Mushroom Tart, a sizable hors d'œuvre with layers upon layers of flaky pastry dough. Its redolent aroma intoxicated both of us. The flavors of the creamy truffle fondue were intense, but not overpowering, complementing the tender, earthy 'shrooms quite nicely.

The croque madame was served open-faced, with mornay sauce in place of the usual slices of Emmental or Gruyère cheese. The sauce was a bit too rich for my taste and thickened rather quickly upon being served. (It may just be my personal taste, though.) Fortunately, the savoriness of the salty, thickly-cut ham countered it nicely, as did the soft toasted brioche. The classic French sandwich is usually accompanied by a small side salad, but the waiter was kind enough to sub in the pommes frites I had heard so many good things about. Indeed, they were some of the best fries I've had in Philly: long and thinly-cut, with a crisp exterior and just enough potato interior, perfectly complemented by sweet ketchup. The refreshing shrimp salad was also well-received: it was an excellent balance of flavors, combining the tang of the lemony emulsified butter sauce with the richness of the buttery avocado, and textures, from the lightness of the leaves to the meatiness of the plump shrimp.

In short, Parc indeed knocked this meal out of the park.

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