Philadelphia's restaurant universe has yet to see a Michelin star, namely because the Michelin folks haven't graced us with their presence yet. In an interview between Newsworks and Lauren Davis, Michelin North America's public relations coordinator, Davis explains, "It's not that Philly doesn't have any good restaurants, it's that we're not currently evaluating the restaurants there; that's not to say we wouldn't find some that are star-worthy. We're just not there."
But what Philly does have is the attention of Forbes Travel Guide, the successor of the Mobil Travel Guide — the same one that gave Le Bec-Fin five stars when Georges Perrier first opened on the Walnut Street scene (and then demoted it to four stars in 2000). Currently, only two Philadelphia restaurants have any nods from the Forbes inspectors: four-star Lacroix, and as of today's announcement, Volvér, on the board with five stars.
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Volvér, meaning "to return" in Spanish, offers a culinary meditation and represents Garces' return to his most influential culinary experiences across the globe. While the menu has experienced some structural changes since the restaurant's opening in 2014, today Volvér serves eight- and 12-course tasting menus. The shorter menu is essentially a subset of the larger one, and wine pairings are available for both. The menus span the world while also showcasing regional specialties, including locally raised meat, poultry and seafood, as well as produce from Garces' Luna Farm, a sustainable, organic 40-acre plot in Ottsville, Pennsylvania, named for his family's dog.
A recent visit to the Philadelphia restaurant included such dishes as chawanmushi (a Japanese egg custard) with teriyaki-glazed shortrib, pickled pearl onions, shiitake mushrooms and puffed nori; an Ecuadorian-style ceviche with tomato gelée and popped sorghum; and John Dory with crispy cabbage, roasted potato crema, caviar and a brown butter jus. One menu item that's been on the bill of fare from day one, however, is the signature "KFS" â Garces' playful riff on Kentucky Fried Chicken, which features brined squab and chicken sausage fried with his own version of "11 herbs and spices," served with a biscuit, squab gravy, celery root slaw and a light corn purée.