120 S. 17th St.
In the Sofitel
Philadelphia , PA 19103
Neighborhood: Rittenhouse Square
Parking: Valet parking costs $12 with validated restaurant discount.
Handicap access: Wheelchair accessible.
Related reviews: Liberté
Cuisine type: French
Meals Served: Lunch - Mon. thru Sun. Dinner - Mon. thru Sun. Late Night - Mon. thru Sun.
Style: The Sofitel has transformed its lobby bar into a chic lounge-restaurant with a French-themed menu, sleek decor, and aspirations to be more than a hotel amenity. The execution, though, has been comically poor. The modernized bistro menu (coq au vin "drumsticks") reads well, but tasted like it was reheated by amateurs. Service was often clueless (broken corks, spilled soup), and the loud soundtrack - what's up with the '80s pop? - was the awkward icing on a half-baked concept.
Specialties: Tartines (bresaola with pickles and horseradish relish; Bayonne ham with Brie cream; truffled mushrooms; charcuterie (pate; chorizo); cheese (Valencay; Morbier; Pennsylvania Noble; Livarot); beet salad; striped bass; Vacherin.
Alcohol: There is an extensive bar of spirits, and a medium-sized list of international wines, with an emphasis on French, but the bottles are obnoxiously overpriced up to four times retail. Pay $74 for a $16 Cotes du Rhone? Please! Stick with the more modest selection by the glass (a ripe Sicilian syrah from Arancio), respectable beers on draft (Affligem Blonde), and some of the well-crafted cocktails, such as the pear-scented "Liberté" or Sage Collins.
Weekend noise: An ear-buzzing 83 decibels, but only because the DJ couldn't manage to turn the dining room music down. (Ideal is 75 decibels or less.)
Hours: Lunch daily 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Dinner nightly 4-10 p.m.