One night we’re eating in a tourist dive, the next night it’s very old South taste and class.
Thursday night we dined at Chez Philippe, the super-upscale dining room in the Peabody Hotel. The menu is very modern, the service is straight out of the 1940’s, the room itself is out of the 1840’s. The experience was completely delightful.
The high ceilings make the room seem larger, but in fact it’s quite small and barely seats 40 people. The other side of the room:
The four-course prix fixe menu has sufficient variety to be interesting without so many options your head hurts. I started off with the chilled English pea soup.
Rich, thick, bright with the taste of the peas. The burrata cheese is an excellent addition to almost anything. I can never pass up a chilled soup.
Second course, sea bass with marinated fennel and beurre blanc.
Perfectly cooked, the fish just melted at the touch. Slices of elephant garlic on top added just a mild, measured accent to the easily overpowered fish.
Gail had the lobster bisque, A dollop of lobster salad surrounded by soup.
After the fish course, a palate cleanser. This is really just an excuse for a tiny dessert in the middle of the meal. Strawberry sorbet topped with meringue.
On to the meat course; passing on the filet, the pork tenderloin or the Colorado rack of lamb, I went for the venison.
Tiny medallions of medium rare Bambi, with itty-bitty sculpted pearls of potato in a demi-glacé. The meat is mild and very fine-grained, not the least bit gamey.
A meal like this deserves a great dessert. I chose the strawberry soufflé with chocolate creme anglaise. It would have been nice to get a photo before someone dove in, but I’m just not fast enough.
Service is magnificent. Signore Garozzo has a tender stomach, and chooses to eat only pasta with butter and cheese. Chez Philippe doesn’t serve that. Nonetheless, the guest must be catered to. I don’t know how, but a plate of linguini appeared, just to the Maestro’s liking. These people know how to take care of their customers.
The pace of the meal is, shall we say, temperate. Very measured and slow–you are expected to savor this meal, not rush it If you’re in a hurry, go to Burger King. The dishes are presented to everyone at the table at one time, by a crew of runners. After the meal we were presented with lovely chocolate coffee cakes to enjoy the next morning, and a handwritten thank you note signed by all the wait staff.
Chez Philippe is an experience, not just a meal. It is an event to be cherished and remembered. Not cheap, but not as absurdly expensive as its equivalent in San Francisco or New York. They are only open Wednesday through Saturday, for both lunch and dinner.
The difference between dining and eating