Sunday, November 29, 2015

La Petite Dauphine: Stylish cafe for Rittenhouse

Le Bec-Fin alum David Smith is setting up on Walnut Street.

La Petite Dauphine: Stylish cafe for Rittenhouse


The north side of the 2000 block of Walnut Street contains a stretch of grand brownstones that hark back to the mid-19th-century.

What a great setting for a restaurant (as owners of the casual Bards, Irish Pub, and Rum Bar know).

The block is getting some upscaling. In a few weeks, Jean-Georges alum Greg Vernick will open Vernick Food & Drink at 2031 Walnut.

Here's a new one I can tell you about: Next door to Vernick, at 2029 Walnut, Le Bec-Fin alumnus and unabashed Francophile David Smith is putting together La Petite Dauphine, an upscale-casual (but fun) coffeehouse and BYOB cafe, in the high-ceilinged salon. He is targeting mid-May.

The name is a play on Marie Antoinette before she became queen of France, and Smith - who came to Philadelphia in his past career as a private butler - wants to stress luxury. 

At first, La Petite Dauphine will offer pastries from Au Fournil and coffees (7 a.m. to 10 p.m.). A limited all-day menu will include foie gras, goat cheese tarte, sandwiches, salads and quiches. Afternoon tea will be served Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Dinner service will begin later in the year.

The building housed the BYOB Orfeo from the mid-1990s till about 2000, when it lapsed into lounge land (Magazine, Strongbox). Smith has plastered the walls (they're now architect white) and put in bamboo floors.

Smith also has spruced up the exterior of the building, polychroming the window security grilles and the banisters of the front steps with gold leaf as well as placing new planters in the front. 

You'lll also see the "pavillion royal du France" or the "King's standard" flying outside - not the traditional French tricolor. This is a meant to be a whimsical nod to the royal concept prior to the revolution.
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About this blog
Michael Klein, the editor/producer of, writes about the local restaurant scene in his Inquirer column "Table Talk." Have a question? Email it! See his Inquirer work here.

Michael Klein
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