Philadelphia has a five-star restaurant again.
The Fountain, where chef Rafael Gonzalez took over earlier this year, is one of only 22 such-honored restaurants in the United States and Canada. It had four stars last year, as did Lacroix at the Rittenhouse, which repeats in 2010 with four stars. The only other five-star restaurant in Pennsylvania is Lautrec at the Nemacolin Woodlands resort in Farmington, Pa.
Philly's last five-star joint was Le Bec-Fin, but chef-owner Georges Perrier relinquished the award last year when the restaurant changed concept and bagged the prix-fixe menus that were its hallmark.
You may remember when Mobil downgraded Le Bec-Fin to four stars in June 2000. Perrier slipped into a deep funk that did not lift until November 2002, when -- after numerous staff changes and a $500,000 freshening of the decor -- Le Bec regained the fifth star.
Under Gonzalez, only the third executive chef in Four Seasons Philly's history, the Fountain has achieved some impressive word-of-mouth, including a four-bell review from The Inquirer's Craig LaBan.