The Rittenhouse Hotel’s upscale French eatery Lacroix is beautifully ironic. The eatery’s recently revamped dinner service—breakfast was the only thing being served until April of this year due to COVID—puts its focus on simplifying French cuisine, but even the most simplified of dishes become exquisite when here.
At the helm of Lacroix’s kitchen is Executive Chef Eric Leveillee, who previously worked in Rhode Island at the James Beard Award-nominated Cook & Brown Public House (under Chef and Restaurateur Nemo Bolin), and both the recently closed Marigold Kitchen and Whetstone Tavern in Philadelphia.
Leveillee has said in the past that when thinking of his dishes at Lacroix, the aim is to “reimagine French cuisine by distilling the processes and leaving only what is necessary behind.” Well, necessity is quite posh in their book, and it’s delicious.
The revamped dinner menu at the establishment made its debut last month, and on it was a few unique, yet comforting options. Highlights include a grilled lobster with beef fat and wild berries; a filet of salmon with portage and sea salt; an onion tart tartine with apple and mustard; a dover sole with beurre blanc; the even more recently-added A5 wagyu with sauce périgueux and fresh wasabi; and much more.
The menu is essentially bringing diners back down to the minimalistic level showcasing a select few sections donning vegetables, meats, seafood and cheeses—and the rainbow array of accouterments, perfectly paired with the star of each dish certainly stand out.
With the fresh-faced menu also came the option for a “carte blanche” ($145.) Said to be a bit more individualized, this curated portion of the menu spans seven dishes and an optional wine pairing (price ranges)—and it’s as delightful as it sounds.
At a spot where elegance is served on a platter, taking advantage of the added experience is one worth the culinary trek. The carte blanche offers what most of us want when going out to eat: Many choices, all of which are bursting with flavor and presentation—and the best part of course, they’re chosen for you. Although it may seem a bit intimidating, it’s meant more so a guide, and most dishes being built on a more simplified base certainly help add to the elevated experience.
For instance, most of us have had some form of salad before. At Lacroix, it’s a roasted lettuce base with warm fromage blanc, hazelnut, and brown butter. Potatoes are another quintessential ingredient in many cuisines. At the Rittenhouse hotspot, it’s a risotto of new potato (all hand-sliced with precision by the way) with Kaluga caviar and chive. Chicken is also a go-to for many. And here, it’s incredibly prepared with sorrel, English peas and savagnin to perfection.
The carte blanche and full menu also feature seasonal ingredients (such as asparagus and ramps,) and some more traditional French fare (including their spin on a beef tartare), all of which are incorporated into the array of offerings, and it’s all tied up in a bow with perfectly paired drinks.
Whether or not you choose the wine pairing with your carte blanche meal (or with an a la carte dine), you can easily find your perfect vino counterpart. The list (or shall we say book) of drinks, especially wine, is massive—and it should be, with their own 4,000 bottle wine cellar on site. The libation offerings are curated by experts, and passionate ones at that.
With the chops that Lacroix has, it comes as no surprise that the staff is as knowledgeable and excited to present you with the drinks and food as you are to try them out. The comparisons made to find exactly what you might enjoy on the menu is a fun prerequisite to the dining experience (one wine was said to taste like “a sunny day on the beach”—and it truly did) and the service from start to finish is choreographed to melt into the atmosphere perfectly.
The beverage program also features a thoughtful seasonal cocktail menu from head bartender Amy Farrell at Bar 210 at Lacroix, and the Bar itself would make for a wonderful solo drink, or, pre-dinner meet-up spot for those who fancy an evening, well, fancy.
Perhaps the biggest draw to dine here besides the food however is the backdrop of the picturesque Rittenhouse Park. When sinking your fork into a piece of perfectly plated bluefin tuna, you can glance over to see the park come alive, any time of day or night.
Lacroix is also open for breakfast, and the menu spans some traditional items (such as sourdough pancakes, house-made pastries, avocado toast and eggs benedict), to a little more bombastic (think a petit dejeuner, “Eggs in Purgatory” option, full breakfast platters, and more).
Lastly, Lacroix is also reopening Afternoon Tea at the Mary Cassatt Tea Room on May 19. This experience, according to its site, offers “an intimate daily escape to celebrate an age-old tradition.” There are a few options in terms of time and experience, all featuring tea menus from around the world and a selection of sweets and savories, many with a seasonal twist.
Whatever time of day you head to this citywide escape however is deemed to be simple, relaxing, and always, refined. The elegance is worth the trip, and the comfortability when there seals a deal even sweeter than dessert (which, of course, is decadent here).