1523 Walnut St.
Philadelphia , PA 19102
Neighborhood: Center City
Parking: Valet parking costs $18 nightly.
Handicap access: Wheelchair accessible.
Related reviews: Avance has a way to go to live up to its address
Cuisine type: Modern American
Meals Served: Dinner
Style: The successor to Le Bec-Fin couldn’t be much farther from it in look and style, from the austere dark dining room to the hypermodern aesthetic that drives chef-partner Justin Bogle’s ambitious menus. There are genuine qualities, from inventive cocktails to fine house-baked breads and great ingredients. But the dishes too often stumbled over self-conscious complexity, exacerbated by awkward service that, by the end of a three-hour-plus, exorbitantly priced tasting meal, did not make a strong case for the future of fine-dining at this legendary address.
Specialties: Lamb burger (bar only); “bacon and eggs”; Jerusalem artichokes; foie gras; chawanmushi with cauliflower and scallops; striped bass with truffles; pork neck with rice grits; dry-aged duck; roasted maitakes with cocoa nibs and pickled squash; rhubarb with toasted rice ice cream; breads (smoked wheatberry; Armenian rye); Elixr coffee.
Alcohol: The serious 550-label wine cellar covers most regions of France — though at steep triple-cost markups , even on the substantial 60-bottle “bargain” list under $80. Be wary of wines by the glass that often exceed $20 for the good stuff (Selbach-Oster Riesling Spätlese, $23) and far more for prestige wines poured through the Coravin system (1987 white Rioja from Lopez de Heredia, $71 a glass). Finding a suitable red by the glass under $20 was problematic. But the inventive cocktail list was a highlight. Try Johnny Utah, Arnaud’s Special, and Panda at the Disco.
Weekend noise: Wide table spacing and cushy banquettes tune the dining room to a very comfortable 81 decibels. (Ideal is 75 decibels or less.)
Hours: Dinner Monday through Thursday, 5:30-10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, until 10:30 p.m.