It goes without question that—regardless of food quality—all of Stephen Starr’s restaurants have their own aesthetic. Parc, the second Starr restaurant addition to the glamorous Rittenhouse Square neighborhood, is decadent in every way.
Of course, decadence will cost you, and Parc is no exception. However, it should be noted that money spent here easily matches the quality of the food, making Parc a pricey but worthwhile experience.
With a décor that blends old-fashioned elements with a contemporary flair, the restaurant has an invigorating visual appeal. Constructed with rich browns, the venue avoids flashy color. Integrating the outside with the interior has also been with carefully thought out, with an open-aired presentation and a large number of outdoor tables facing the square. The aesthetics alone are pleasing.
The food is even better. Parc takes its cue from France, so the dishes borrow from traditional French cuisine. There is a small raw bar menu, which feature oysters, lobster and shrimp. The shrimp cocktail ($16) is the only item that is poached, and the shrimp are notably fresh and very large. The French onion soup ($9) is a signature and a must-try. Trust me, you’ve never had French onion soup this good before. The pissaladiere ($10) is a tart pizza-like option with goat cheese, onions and olives. Even normally bland macaroni and cheese ($9) is light and delicious here, perfectly flavored with truffles and seasoned with breadcrumbs.
On the entrée end, try the salmon, which is exceptionally fresh though basically prepared, accompanied with a creamy celery root puree ($26). The only slight disappointment was the beef bourguignon, a broth of pasta, potatoes and onion ($22). Though the beef literally melts in your mouth, the other ingredients never seem to distinguish themselves, resulting in a bit of a hodgepodge.
Finish everything off with crème brulée ($8) for dessert, a French favorite. Again, like everything else at Parc, even the normally dull brulée is exceptionally rich and creamy. That seems to be the case with most of the food here. Every dish is carefully prepared and almost of all are surprising in some way or another.
Save up some cash and dine on the Square with Parc before the chillier weather sets in.
227 South 18th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103