Chef Peter Woolsey, known for Bistrot La Minette and La Peg, is bringing a different kind of French restaurant to Philadelphia’s changing North Broad Street corridor. Gabi, opening this fall at 339 N. Broad, is a casual all-day French cafe with breakfast, lunch, brunch, and dinner menus, and a full bar.
“In America, there is such a wide range of available cuisines; in France, most of the restaurants are French. But most French people don’t have the money or inclination to eat out at the Michelin-starred gastronomic temples that made French cuisine so famous every night of the week,” Woolsey says, “So French restaurants in France come in all shapes and sizes ... The most accessible of them all is the French cafe, which is analogous to the American diner.”
A typical French cafe, Woolsey says, serves espresso and pastries in the morning, cheap lunches for local workers in the afternoon, and dinners “for families looking to take a night off from cooking.”
“They provide quick and affordable meals, with a certain expectation of what should be available on the menu,” he says. “That’s what we’re bringing to Philadelphia at Gabi.”
Woolsey, who speaks French and visits France often with his family, is opening the restaurant with co-owners Kenneth Bush, coming from his role as executive chef at Bistrot La Minette in Queen Village, and Brad Histand, the general manager at La Peg in the FringeArts theater building on the Delaware River.
The menu they’re planning includes classics like French onion soup, nicoise salad, escargot in roasted garlic-parsley butter, steak tartare with egg yolk and baguette crisps, steak frites with a red wine shallot sauce, and crispy duck confit in orange sauce. Most of the dishes are under $20 (the escargots are six for $8; the thick grilled steak with a tall pile of salty fries is $25). At the bar, expect on-theme cocktails like the French 75, along with beer and wine from France.
The restaurant’s look is Art Deco.
Gabi will be open from 7 a.m. until late night seven days a week. It’s slated to debut in October.