- The entrance to LeBec-Fin hasn't changed
- The new salon before the dining room entrance. Diners can have a drink while they wait for a table, or head downstairs to Chez Georges.
- The new dining room, with new carpet, wall fixtures, and tables and chairs.
- Nicolas Fanucci and Georges Perrier
- The new table and chair sets are deep blue against white.
- The new carpet pattern. Dramatic and classic at the same time.
- The updated kitchen has a new plate and coffee service station.
- The team building the new, bright, open kitchen.
- Some of the old stoves are in place, framed by the new toys for Chef Abrams
- Chef Abrams (left) watches the crew work furiously.
Le Bec-Fin's second coming is slated for June 12, but we got an early look at the progress behind the closed doors at 1523 Walnut Street. New owner Nicolas Fanucci has the crews working around the clock as the opening date soon approaches, and everything looks beautiful even at this early stage. The new entryway salon is just about complete, and the new carpet and dining room furniture is in place, as well.
Eater sat down with Fanucci and his new chefs, Walter Abrams and wife-to-be Jennifer Smith, about the Le Bec-Fin experience in 2012, and what we can expect from the menu and a surprisingly green kitchen.
"After being the GM at The French Laundry, there aren't too many other places you can go for a new challenge," said Fanucci. "But, this is one of the few opportunities that could have come about as a next step."
Fanucci said that Le Bec will offer an experience unlike any other in Philadelphia, especially when it comes to service. "We want to have a relationship with our diners that they can't get anywhere else. To really know them, their likes, their lives," said Fanucci. "We have a system in place for that, and to bring about a return to that kind of hospitality that has mostly disappeared."
Free valet parking will be available as part of the new Le Bec-Fin, and Fanucci hopes diners will take advantage of it. Since taking over the restaurant, Fanucci said he has spent every minute considering every last detail. "This is a life's dream, and we will do it right," said Fanucci. "How often do you have the opportunity to own one of the greatest culinary institution in America?"
The dining room now has 11 tables, down from 18 in LBF's previous life. "The salon took away some space, but we also didn't want to cram people in for more seats," said Fanucci. "We sat down and realized that even 12 tables were too many. Every inch is important to the diners and employees, and it needs to be perfect."
Chef Walter Abrams said that the upstairs dining room will have a $150 tasting menu of 8 to 10 courses, that can be mixed and matched from different options on the menu. "You can expand the tasting at any time, or pick anything on the menu to be on your tasting. There will be dishes not listed, too, that we'll be serving."
Abrams added that his menu will focus on purveyors and farms, and he will have local farmers specifically growing ingredients for LBF. He mentioned that he will also be providing compost for the farms where he's purchasing produce, to add to the "green" factor of the kitchen. "Le Bec is known for extravagance and sophistication. There's no reason it can't also promote sustainability and the farm life cycle at the same time."
Pastry chef Jennifer Smith said that there will still be a very deep dessert program, even though the cart is gone. "Modern desserts don't lend themselves to the cart, which was mostly cakes. We will have a multiple-course dessert menu, just not one under a domed cart, but it's still a focus for this kitchen."
The new Le Bec-Fin sounds like a marriage of the best from the past and the best from the present in a classic setting. The re-opening of Philly's most famous restaurant will be a big day for our city, and the man behind the re-birth of a culinary landmark.