Le Bec Fin

Still the flagship of Walnut Street's Restaurant Row, Le Bec-Fin oozes elegance and sophistication, welcoming Philadelphians as well as legions of visitors from around the globe. Crystal chandeliers suspended from 20-foot high ceilings shed grace upon an urbane space framed in muted beige, micro-suede walls. Elegance reigns. Black-garbed servers proud to carry on a cultivated, renowned tradition are attentive and ubiquitous. Cuisine at Le Bec-Fin remains the touchstone for gauging the city's culinary vibrancy. Peppering an exquisite, classic French menu are the Chef's latest creations each underscoring his gastronomic savvy as well as the eatery's global pantry.

A Flagship in the Philly Restaurant Fleet

As the city of Philadelphia started prepping for the nation's bicentennial celebration in the mid-seventies, Chef Georges Perrier, the irrepressible French immigrant and proprietor of Le Bec-Fin, was firmly establishing himself as an incontrovertible figure in the City of Brotherly Love. He opened the doors of Le Bec-Fin in 1970 and by decade's end, his eatery was a de rigeur stop for the newly created class of Philadelphia foodies – a decidedly non-native species that Perrier almost single-handedly cultivated, inculcated and propagated. More impressively, Le Bec-Fin morphed into a venerable pilgrimage destination for foodies far and wide. In subsequent years, legions of chefs who apprenticed in Perrier's kitchen launched their own regional establishments. Thanks to Le Bec-Fin's seminal role in those dynamics, Philadelphia today boasts one of the nation's finest food scenes.
 
For 26 years, Le Bec-Fin has remained a celebrated eatery along Walnut Street's renowned Restaurant Row. That moniker itself owes its origin to Le Bec-Fin's arrival there in 1983 [prior to 1983, Le Bec-Fin called 1312 Spruce St. home]. In its now venerable Walnut Street location, Le Bec-Fin resides in the beating heart of the business district, a stone's throw from Philly's handsome City Hall, and two blocks removed from the kinetic glam of the Avenue of the Arts.
 
Outside the doors of Le Bec-Fin along Walnut Street, pedestrian traffic bustles to the pulse of the workaday world from which the upscale restaurants that populate the attractive thoroughfare offer welcome sanctuary. The historic Art Deco exterior of Le Bec-Fin's Walnut Street location, attractive and understated, belies the elegance housed within. Inside the doors, the allure of the main dining room draws mojo from the spectacular chandeliers mounted high above. These crystal pendants sparkle luminescence into a gracious, well appointed space bounded by 20-foot walls chicly painted a soothing tone of muted beige. The separation between tables in this spacious room that accommodates 80 diners abets intimacy and privacy.
 
Perrier's waitstaff ranks among the finest anywhere. Black-garbed, cravatted servers and multi-tasking staff bustle helpfully and unobtrusively throughout. Each member of this team is studied in his métier, conveytin to each guest that he or she alone is the server's raison d'être for the evening. Dining here celebrates the leisurely pace of a gracious European-styled multi-course meal.
 
To reboot James Carville's political truism for gastronomy however: It's the food, stupid. To stay atop the pack in Philadelphia's competitive restaurant market, the food has to be conceptually sound and consistent. It is. Some other classic French restaurants have fallen by the wayside, victims of a stolid refusal to adjust or update. In contrast, Le Bec-Fin has ushered in numerous guest-focused/ friendly innovations to accommodate changing tastes as well as change-deprived pocketbooks. Nothing however is done to the detriment of quality.
 
The menu roots in the classic-French tradition, with coherent nods to other cuisines. Le Bec-Fin's dishes never come across as contrived or heavy-handed efforts at fusion, or con-fusion as the case may be elsewhere. Delicacy in preparation and presentation is the defining characteristic that distinguishes Le Bec-Fin.
 
Delicately diced and charged with verdant shallots, Chilled Maine Lobster is garnished with mixed greens. The lobster payload hunkers down in the large recessed center of a massive concave white plate perforated with scores of circular holes. Four chunks of grapefruit spoke out around the plate. This concave dish rests atop a second plate which is flat and pooled with lavender flowers. The server – if you're lucky, it might be Georges Perrier himself – pours boiling water through the perforations. A heady cloud of lavender wafts skyward infusing the crustacean with additional sweetness. Notable in this preparation is how finely and delicately the lobster is diced and how much more flavorful it is than whole lobster.
 
Veal Sweetbreads treat the eye as well as the palate. A coddled egg stretches across lobe-capped sweetbreads delicately dusted with herbs. The duo lazes atop a tangled bed of arugula and artichoke. Long red slivers of roasted red peppers outline the plate's circumference. For silkiness and sweetness, the fork-tender sweetbreads [an ample portion, I must add], vies with foie gras. Punctuated by stingy arugula and the pursey juices of lemon vinaigrette, the result is a coup de résistance. Chilled Seafood Salad convenes a medley of calamari, lobster, shrimp, crab, scallops and baby clams in a notably light apple cucumber consommé. The appetizer is served in a huge concave white plate [white plates are the canvas of choice for Le Bec-Fin's culinary artwork]. The ensemble heaps together inside the plate's large recessed center in a presentation conceived for both visual appeal and functionality since the presentation enables the juices of the consommé to mix more universally and effectively with the seafood.
 
I confess: Le Bec-Fin is the only place in the world [and I'm including France] where I occasionally fall off the no foie gras wagon. In Le Bec-Fin's rendition of this standard, fresh apricot purée domes languorously on the outer border of a maroonish pool of Sauce Rouennaise. A lush island of foie gras looms in the midst. The sauce adds powerful riffs to the sensuous texture of the foie gras, while the apricot puree lends subtle fruity finish.
Vibrant ruby coupons of medium rare Roasted Veal Loin glisten adjacent to a mound of hazelnut pommes purée pooled in white peach natural jus. Plated with an ethereally tender and luscious globe artichoke, each bite is scored with a harmony of delicious juices in a symphony sans faux pas.
 
Nowhere is the kitchen's striving for perfection more evident than in the Roasted Diver Sea Scallops – a creation that expertly balances a diverse slate of ingredients. The scallops are so light they're practically buoyant. Sauce Béarnaise, sublime and redolent of tarragon and lemon, lays a delicate hit of just-right juiciness. White asparagus poached in lavender lends verdant textural heft while a slice of peach chips in subtle fruity undertones.
Legendary in the Quaker City are Le Bec-Fin's cheese and dessert carts. Mere “come-down” courses at some establishments, here these final courses are booster jets. The Chef scours the world for superb cheeses. Each day, a varied, varying selection of more than a dozen different cheeses beckons from the classy cart that wheels up tableside after the main course. Do save room for the cheeses [and do save room for the desserts as well]. On our most recent visit, Valdeon, a blue Spanish cheese, Bobiola, a pungent Piedmont goat cheese, Nord Hollander, a nutty 6-year Gouda from Holland, Tomme de Savoie, a French alpine cow cheese, Delice de Bourgogne, a silky sweet triple crème from Burgundy were a few of the delights that treated our palates.
 
As for the Le Bec-Fin dessert tray, it's fair to say that bona fide Philadelphians rank this four-decade icon up with the Liberty Bell as a Quaker City treasure. In contrast to the Liberty Bell however, there's nothing cracked or non-functional about the Le Bec-Fin dessert cart. This beautifully crafted dual-shelved cart rolls its super-charged cargo of fruits, pastries, ice creams, tarts, mousses, and various other indescribables to each table to cap off the repas. Even the most unwavering weight-watcher cannot resist its veritable tsunami of temptations. Plums with cardamom, strawberries with Gran Marnier, flourless chocolate cake, chocolate espresso cake, fruit tarte, and pistachio mousse represent a fraction of the cart's bounty. Pastry Chef Jesse Prawlucki gift for presentation and creativity is impressive. So are his confectioning resources. Chef Perrier has constructed a special room devoted entirely to chocolate-making. Willie Wonka would be wowed. The special freezers, tables, ovens and utensils allows Le Bec-Fin to match the efforts of the finest of chocolatiers.
 
In recent years, Le Bec-Fin has reached out to become more affordable and attainable. Recently the innovative eatery, à la Radiohead with its “In Rainbows”album, offered a “Pay what you feel the meal was worth” special. In summer 2009, there's a $35 prix fixe dinner that includes an appetizer, choice of Scottish Salmon, chicken, or 8-ounce Prime Rib Eye, and the legendary dessert carte. Lunch choices include a $35 prix fixe, an express lunch including soupe du jour/ field greens salad and the Lyonnaise burger for $15.23 [Le Bec-Fin's Walnut Street address], or à la carte choices.
 
From its heralded opening in the seventies to the present day, Le Bec-Fin has held high the torch of gastronomy in Philadelphia. It remains the bellwether of Philadelphia cuisine -  another Philadelphia bell that's weathers on in perpetuity.
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Reservations


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Restaurant Info

  • Address: 1523 Walnut Street, Philadelphia PA 19102
  • Cross Street: 16th Street
  • Location: Center City | Center City West
  • Cuisine: French |
  • Cost: $$$ | Moderate | $50 - $75
  • Category: Fine Dining
  • Star Rating:
  • Reservations: Recommended
  • Dress Code: Business Casual
  • Meals Served: Lunch | Dinner |
  • Parking: Street | Public Lot | Valet Parking |
  • Payment Options: VISA | Amex | MasterCard | Discover | Diners Club |
  • Corkage Fee: N/A
  • Staff: Christophe Tassan | Sommelier
    Georges Perrier | Executive Chef
  • Phone: (215) 567-1000

Business Hours

Monday
Main Dining Room | Dinner 5:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.
Tuesday
Main Dining Room | Lunch 11:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Main Dining Room | Dinner 5:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.
Wednesday
Main Dining Room | Lunch 11:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Main Dining Room | Dinner 5:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.
Thursday
Main Dining Room | Lunch 11:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Main Dining Room | Dinner 5:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.
Friday
Main Dining Room | Dinner 5:30 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Main Dining Room | Lunch 11:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Saturday
Main Dining Room | Dinner 5:30 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Main Dining Room | Lunch 11:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Sunday

Features

  • Catering Services
  • Private Room
  • Prix Fixe Menu
  • Tasting Menu
  • Winning Wine List
  • Valet Parking
  • Happy Hours
  • Lounge / Bar
  • Free Wi-Fi

Occasion

  • Romantic Dining
  • Dining Alone
  • Business Dining
  • Meet for a Drink
  • People Watching
  • Quiet Conversation
  • Special Occasion
  • Quick Bite
  • Trendy / Hip
  • Celebrity Spotting

 


F.A.Q. - Frequently Asked Questions

No, but you may BYOB on Monday nights where there is no corkage fee in the main dining room and bar
Yes, your parking options are valet or street parking.

Menus

Lunch

Les Entrees

Plat Principal

Lunch - 5 Course Degustation ($55.00)

  $55/person, 5 courses


5 Course Degustation

Dinner Menu ($80.00)

  Four Courses $80: Les Entrées, Poissons, Viandes, A La Carte Dessert. Six Courses $120: Les Entrées, Poissons, Intermezzo, Viandes, Sorbet, Pre-Dessert, Dessert Carte. Grande Degustation $185 (Wine Flight $95): Of our multiple offerings, the “Grande Degustation” menu brings forth the true peak of our Chefs’ creativity. A spectacular selection of demi tasting courses created upon your order, and exclusively for your palate. This is undoubtedly the ultimate adventure at Le Bec-Fin.


Les Entrees

Poissons

Viandes


Map

Restaurant Address: 1523 Walnut Street, Philadelphia PA 19102

User Reviews

Wonderful  

dinning by myself, coming in from out of town, found the service and food as good as the last I was in which was the best possible. Yum!!

Lunch and a show  

My daughters and I enjoyed a wonderful lunch before seeing the "Lion King". The service was unquestionably the best we have ever had, as was the food. It was quite a wonderful experience that we will remember for a very long time!

Le Bec-Fin  

First time visitor. Great place, prestigious, very nice. Service excellent! Champagne was great! Amazing food. Over all great experience. Would recommend to anyone. It will be on my list of fine restaurants.

5 Stars continue to shine  

Le Bec Fin continues to be the hallmark dining experience in Philadelphia. Elegance and superior service are only exceeded by culinary masterpieces from the world's greatest Chef. This is the ultimate dining adventure.

Please don't ever go away, Le Bec Fin  

Lke being in France -- or heaven. Don't miss the terrine of foie gras.

Bob a petit!  

The subtlety of excellent service blended with the elegance of presence brings the patron an experience that is met by but a few restaurants found in this country. Bravissimi!

Great food and exprience  

Loved the ambience and food. The taste and showmanship of the food was great. We felt like a king & queen in our castle.

Incredible Dinging Experience  

My wife and I went to Le Bec Fin to celebrate our 15th Wedding Anniversary. We don't normally eat so lavishly, but the entire dining experience was wonderful and we will always remember the night. The service and the food was more than just eating at a nice restaurant, it was an overall sensory experience that was far beyond superb!!!!!!!!! It was worth every penny. Save up and celebrate!

Perfect 10 - in EVERY way!  

Le Bec Fin is one of those "must do" restaurants. It's a five-star experience - at a great value. The staff was professional AND very friendly, the somm knew his stuff, the atmosphere was lovely, and the meal was first rate. Worth the trip from VA to Philly. We'll be back soon! Bravo George Perrier!

50th wedding anniversary  

A visit to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary.Outstanding food in very pleasant surroundings with very personable service. This was a return visit and was as memorable as our previous experience. Thanks to all.

A wonderful treat  

Le Bec Fin did not disappoint on any note. The food is beautifully prepared and served and every bite is wonderful. The staff is formal but warm. The atmosphere is like walking into a closed beautiful vessel.

Exhilatating  

This is a training exercise for paradise, all was exceedingly fabulous. The food was prepared with a flair of showmanship you mostly hope and dream about. We truly were treated with dignity and care. The patrons excitement livened the evening, I could tell a delightful time was had by all. Overall we were very pleased and while the prices are somewhat high for the average dinner experience it was well worth the treat ourselves approach for the evening

Dining at Le Bec Fin  

Fantastic dining experience. Exceptional service, food and atmosphere.

Hooray for Le Bec Fin  

Le Bec Fin lives up to his long time reputation. Staff was friendly, informed and non-intrusive. Superb setting and fabulous desserts--as always. Will definitely return soon--celebration or not!

Restaurant Week a Most  

Great expierence would suggest this trying Le Bec Fin during reataurant week (more affordable) to get a true taste of the Le Bec Fin dinning expierence

Bec Fin  

Very good restaurant for special occassion.

Le bec fin  

Great evening out

my first time at Le Bec Fin  

This restaurant should not list as 4 and half stars. I would give it 2 and half stars in grading.