Today the Inky’s architecture critic, Inga Saffron, turns her attention to newly rebooted Le Bec-Fin, and the quasi-makeover that the restaurant’s new head honcho, Nicolas Fanucci, gave its hallowed halls prior to opening it back up earlier this week. As is always the case with a Saffron-penned piece, it’s rock solid, and provides plenty to chew on, such as whether or not today’s restaurant-goers who are more accustomed to less-than-fussy small plates and casual dining will go for, as she puts it, spending “their Saturday evenings in a hushed jewel box.” We’re guessing that as long as Fanucci and his chef Walter Abrams can deliver on their promises, the answer is yes. Still what we found most interesting about the article wasn’t so much the details on the decor, but rather that it carries forward one of the biggest myths about the legendary restaurant.
In her analysis of Le Bec’s re-do, and what it means for the new owner and the dining institution’s ability to fill its tables going forward, Saffron writes, “Fanucci was determined to restore the restaurant to its Michelin-starred glory.”
Georges Perrier racked up a mighty impressive collection of accolades during Le Bec’s heyday, which it should be noted was an incredibly lengthy run that spanned nearly four decades. However, it was never awarded a single star from Michelin. In fact, to date, there are no Philadelphia restaurants that have been bestowed the prestigious honor. The only U.S. cities that the Michelin Guide covers are New York, Chicago and San Francisco. Michelin briefly published guides for Los Angeles and Las Vegas, but has since stopped.
At one time, the less prestigious Mobil Travel Guide honored Le Bec with a five star rating, and AAA gave it five diamonds. On Perrier’s watch, Mobil demoted the restaurant to a four-star status back in 2000. That star was restored in 2002.* But in 2008, when he switched over to an a la carte menu in an attempt to relax the stuffy vibe, he forfeited that ranking.
*This posted has been corrected to show that Le Bec-Fin lost its five-star Mobil rating in 2000, and regained it in 2002.
Will Le Bec-Fin’s old-school charm translate to new world of restaurants? [Changing Skyline]