Philadelphians don't need to get on a plane to experience France. One stylish bistro, Parc, located just off the picturesque Rittenhouse Square and steps away from Philadelphia City Hall, offers sidewalk seating so guests can watch passersby while enjoying dishes and drinks that pay homage to all things Paris. Even the square itself was designed by a Frenchman, and a feature statue of a lion and serpent was erected as a kind of representation of the French Revolution.
Parc carries the theme well, with seating that accommodates over 70 patrons. "Parc is a lightly perfumed love letter to all the City of Light has to offer, written in a distinct Philadelphian hand," Parc claims on its website. Seven days a week, breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served, and for days in which the weather is less than ideal, diners can settle into an ambiance of vintage decoration and wooden chairs. Floor-to-ceiling windows allow ample light to fill the space as generous menus of food and drink are perused and tables quickly fill with customers enjoying croissants, glasses of wine, and crusty pieces of freshly baked bread.
Menus For The Francophile
Opened on Bastille Day, sidewalk awnings welcome guests while decor picked up at vintage French flea markets color the interior. When creating the concept, owner Stephen Starr dispatched workers to Paris to take notes. From tiles that could've been taken from a European cafe to doors from actual French bistros, the restaurant looks like the set of a French film. It's no wonder Starr's careful attention to detail has helped him win accolades from James Beard, and with French music playing and candles casting shadows throughout the space, it is no wonder this is a destination in which reservations are recommended.
Whether you're craving café au lait, fresh croissants, or a charcuterie board, Parc is determined to satisfy appetites. For breakfast, diners choose from cinnamon-topped oatmeal, French toast served with maple Chantilly cream, or enjoy pain au chocolat with coffee. "Breakfast really makes me feel like a C-list celebrity in the best possible way, and the dreamy quiche Lorraine and that French toast definitely helps, not to mention THE bread basket to end all bread baskets," one Instagrammer gushed about Parc's morning spreads. During the lunch hour, oysters and clams, escargots, steak tartare, and Niçoise and beet salads provide an ample selection of meal choices, and diners can dive into pasta Jardiniére and steak frites to quench more demanding hunger pangs.
Dinner specialties of the day include lobster risotto, bouillabaisse, and Coq au Riesling. Fruits De Mer -- stacks of seafood -- pile onto tables alongside charcuterie boards and crispy artichokes. Salads made with fish, seasonal greens, and fennel pollen cream are dressed in an assortment of vinaigrettes, and classic recipes such as beef bourguignon and scallops Provençal keep bellies and mouths satiated. Brunch menus are equally gratifying, with pastries, sandwiches, and eggs to tuck into. Celebrity chef Robert Irvine has given the restaurant's ambitious culinary efforts a nod, telling our Tasting Table team, "Outside of Paris, this is some of the best French cuisine you can get in the whole world."
In addition to a French-inspired wine list, pastis, absinthe, draught and bottled beers, and cocktails like Lady Marmalade made with Cazadores Blanco, orange marmalade, and lime; Nouveau Basilic mixed with gin, Dolin Genepy, cucumber, basil, and sparkling water; and Ms. Piaf concocted with cognac, sparkling rose cider, lemon, bitter keep palates moist. Teetotalers can sip Citron Pressé before desserts are brought to the table.
Delicate profiteroles, Baba Armagnac, and crème brûlée are the perfect end notes after a sumptuous experience. "These profiteroles from [Parc] are like little pillows of happiness," one Instagram user oozed. "They are light and fluffy, airy and sweet. The pastry chef is a magician, and I will always end my meal with these glorious clouds." After dining at Parc, you, too, may feel like you're in the clouds, perhaps over Europe.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.