If you’re heading to Philadelphia to dine at the legendary Le Bec Fin, here are five things you should know about the Walnut Street restaurant:
1. The menu is all prix-fixe. If you’re eating in the main dining room, you’ll have three menu options: The eight-course chef’s tasting menu for $150, which offers up a fixed selection of French-influenced fare; the $150 Menu du Jardin, which features eight different vegetarian options (including dessert and cheese); or an $85, four-course La Carte menu, which gives you a choice of an appetizer, second course, main course and dessert among several possibilities. We actually think the four-course La Carte offers the perfect amount of food — we’ve left full and satisfied but not unbearably stuffed the way we sometimes do after elaborate tasting meals.
2. But there is a cheaper alternative. If you still want the Le Bec Fin experience, but are looking for a more wallet-friendly dinner, you can dine at Le Bar @ Le Bec Fin, the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star restaurant’s downstairs bistro-style lounge, which serves an à la carte menu of French comfort food (think coq au vin or beef Bourguignon followed by a maple pot de crème).
3. This isn’t the old Le Bec Fin. Le Bec Fin was originally opened in 1970 by Georges Perrier and drew acclaim throughout the 1980s and 1990s as one of the best French restaurants in the country. However, Perrier sold the restaurant to one of its former managers, Nicolas Fanucci. After a brief closure, during which Fanucci revamped the interior space, the new Le Bec Fin reopened in the summer of 2012. Now the menu places more of an emphasis on local, seasonal cuisine rather than classic, elaborate French fare.
4. It’s surprisingly high-tech. You’ll still find the twinkling chandeliers and gilded molding on the walls, recalling a bygone era of fine dining. But the restaurant is definitely at the cutting edge of technology — all food and beverage menus are presented on iPads. We really enjoyed scrolling through the wine list, easily finding bottles by varietal or region, all with the tap of a finger.
5. Don’t bring the kids. There’s no music in the dining room at Le-Bec Fin, which can result in a very formal and hushed atmosphere. This isn’t a spot to bring the little ones or even really a great spot for friends catching up; save it for romantic tête-à-têtes (make sure to request the table close to the fireplace) and power business dinners.