Lacroix loses luster

Signage greets guests to Lacroix. (David M Warren / Staff Photographer)

Downgraded 1 bell

There's no better seat in the city than one of the velvet green chairs beside the window at Lacroix at the Rittenhouse. With a perch overlooking the park, and an epic brunch buffet of inventive little bites stretching from the entrance right into Lacroix's gleaming kitchen, this has always been my family's place for a special Sunday meal.

Too many kitchen changes, though, have finally taken a toll. From founder Jean-Marie Lacroix to Matt Levin to Jason Cichonski and now chef Jon Cichon, the brilliant concept of this gastro-brunch remains intact. From the raw bar to the creative hors d'oeuvres (Black garlic shoofly pie!) and twists on carving-station classics (Negroni-glazed salmon; Wagyu brisket), there are still many delights. But there were also startling misfires: soggy "chicken-and-waffle" panzanella; a gray blob of rye bread-lobster pudding that shouldn't have seen the light of a $59 brunch.

Of even more concern was Lacroix's performance at dinner, when my duo was wedged between loud tables of 10, and the meal went downhill from there. I did love two dishes: sunchoke agnolotti bobbing in clear broth beside truffled cubes of chicken mousse; and a superb hamachi with beets. But the distracted server forgot to clear our appetizers before the entrees arrived.

By the time they circled back, my $42 lamb was cold, its peanut sauce congealed. The redo was hot, but shriveled and gray. The third try, well . . . The formerly four-bell Lacroix never needed a three-peat.

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