I bike down 18th Street daily on my way to work and my favorite stretch is from Spruce to Walnut Streets. The beauty of Rittenhouse Square, the sidewalk café tables of Parc and the occasional trumpet scale wafting from the Curtis School of Music, makes me feel like I’m apart of a Demy film. All I need is a jaunty baguette in my bike basket.
Yesterday, rather than simply biking past Parc, I went inside for breakfast, my first visit since it opened last year. Daniel is leaving soon for a summer teaching gig in North Carolina, so we went out for an informal send-off. Seated near a window with a view of the park, lush and green on this rainy morning, it was a calming way to start the day.
The most commonly heard complaint about Parc (when you can actually hear each other) is that the acoustics are poor. As the large bistro gets crowded, and it often does for lunch and dinner, it becomes incredibly noisy. Arriving for breakfast at 8:30am on a Thursday, I encountered a practically empty Parc. Maybe 15 people were quietly chatting or drinking their coffees alone while reading the paper, so noise wasn’t an issue.
Daniel and I both dislike it when brunch places try to “tart up” their dishes. Why does French toast need to be stuffed with pineapple chunks in ricotta, covered with vanilla maple syrup plus peach compote plus candied nuts plus chestnut whipped cream? Now I know some of you kitchenplay readers like the sound of that, which is fine. I just prefer less complicated dishes, particularly when I’m still waking up in the morning…
The simplicity at Parc was refreshing. The menu offers an elegant selection of traditional egg and bread dishes. Pain perdu with apples and hazelnut butter caught my eye, but I am more of a savory person when it comes to breakfast/brunch, so I selected the ham and Swiss omelette. Daniel opted for 2 eggs any way (preferring sunny-side up) with a side of Nueske bacon. Both dishes came with Lyonnaise potatoes.
And the food was just fine. The ham and Swiss omelette was just that, eggs folded around chopped ham and melted cheese, adorned with speckles of parsley and chives mixed into the raw egg. Daniel liked his eggs and toast. And while his potatoes were fine, mine were a tad too salty. The bacon, from Nueske’s Applewood Smoked Meats, was nice and crispy, but a little too one-dimensionally smoky. The coffee was dark and strong and frequently replenished by our attentive server.
So the food didn’t blow me away, but like most of Stephen Starr’s ventures, it was the total experience that made the visit a lovely one.
Postlude: Later on I went to Happy Hour at the Continental Mid-town Roofdeck, one of my favorite spots in Center City. I noticed some changes on the menu, and apparently it was just updated this week.
But thank God the grilled octopus is still being served, just as oily and lemony and tender and delicious as always. I'm including it in this post just cause it's so pretty...
Two Stephen Starr spots in one day? He just might have to be my June Crush-of-the-Month.