March 4, 2010

Bibou BYOB French Fine Dining in Philadelphia

 One of the poshest French restaurants in Philadelphia is Le Bec Fin.  With its white linen tablecloths, crystal chandeliers, and five star service, it is the place many go to celebrate big moments in life.  Given our budget, though, we didn't go there this time.

Instead, we went to a restaurant opened and run by a former chef at Le Bec Fin:  Bibou BYOB.  Chef Pierre Carmels, who also worked at NYC's Daniel, opened this small, cozy restaurant in Philly.  Bibou BYOB's menu is easier on the wallet without sacrificing the flavor of good French cuisine.   Think Le Bec Fin on a (relative) shoestring budget.

Philadelphia is home to many BYOB restaurants due to strict and difficult-to-obtain alcohol licenses.  With no corkage fees, going out to eat in Philadelphia becomes so much more affordable than in other urban centers.
We loved the intimacy of Bibou BYOB. We felt like we were in a charming bistro in Paris - especially with authentic touches like butter from France.
The Rabbit and Garlic Terrine with salsify salad ($9) was rich and creamy with large pieces of garlic within the meat.  Enjoying this homemade terrine makes us wish we could live the rest of our days in a French farmhouse kitchen.
The Escargots came without their shells as a snail ragout with fava beans, mushrooms, and tarragon ($13).  We couldn't help but use the bread to finish up the remaining earthy broth after eating the snails.
Pied de Porc:  Braised pig feet stuffed with foie gras and served with French lentils ($26).  Imagine enjoying a hearty lentil stew and having it topped by the largest piece of meaty bacon.  This was the savory experience we enjoyed while devouring this dish.  Unlike the pig's feet we've eaten in Chinese restaurants, this version was deboned to accommodate the foie gras making it much easier to eat.
Bone marrow special ($20):  This was a very accessible version of bone marrow.  This marrow was removed and cooked with bread crumbs and trumpet mushrooms.  The mixture is then put back on the bone and served with two sides: a light yet creamy mustard green salad and roasted potatoes.
The Bone Marrow mixture tasted like the richest Thanksgiving stuffing! 
The Lemon meringue pie ($8) was delicate and very tart.  We enjoyed it with French Pressed Kahwa Coffee ($2) and the complimentary, homemade meringues that were light as air.

Our favorite part of this dining experience?  Having Chef Carmels stopping by our table (he made a point of stopping at every table in the restaurant) for a few minutes to chat about our meal.  We mentioned how much we enjoyed our dishes and asked about the seasonings and ingredients used.  To our pleasant surprise, many of the dishes were simple to make - he just uses very good ingredients and lets their natural flavor shine through.

If we were ever to open a restaurant, we would model it after Bibou BYOB.  It is authentic, yet accessible; friendly, yet professional. 
Bibou BYOB is located at 1009 South 8th St (btwn Carpenter and Washington Aves) in Philadelphia, PA.

Bibou on Urbanspoon


  1. All looks divine...very curious about the bone marrow dish!

  2. @Evelyne - Thanks! The bone marrow dish was delicious! Having a breaded preparation with mushrooms made it more substantial than the traditional, pure marrow preparation. As you can see, it actually was a lot of food. We have enjoyed bone marrow as an appetizer, but this preparation merited it as an entree!

  3. An excellent meal here! La Bec Fin, I suppose, is no longer the fanciest since Georges Perrier gave away the five stars to make it a more casual restaurant, so disappointing. There's another five star in town though, the Fountain restaurant that I'm looking to check out soon.

  4. Oooh - great tip here for those of us who will be in Philly on a shoestring budget and attending a French teachers' conference! Added to my list!


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