We've told you before how much we love Parc Restaurant on Philadelphia's fashionable Rittenhouse Square. But we're not sure we've ever completely explained why.
Yes, we love the location. The square is scenic and memorable no matter the season.
And yes, we love the people watching. The city's greatest characters are here and it's grand to watch them come and go.
Plus, the service is always unfailingly professional but with absolutely no pretenses. It's almost as if the management and the servers have a sixth sense about how you want to be treated and why.
On top of all that there's the atmosphere -- a brasserie that's marvelously authentic down to the smallest detail.
But as with any great dining spot it's the food that keeps us coming back.
At lunch, we love the croque madame. This is a variation on the croque-monsieur, a French twist on grilled ham and cheese. Traditionally, instead of dipping the sandwich in egg before sautéeing in butter (as you would for a croque-monsieur), you grill the sandwich first and top with homemade Mornay Sauce, cheese, and sunny-side up egg.
Now, the funny thing is we don't eat ham and eggs at home. But just look at the croque madame (below) as it was recently served to us and note that it comes with a lovely side salad. We ask you: Who can resist it?
Like everything at Parc this croque madame is consistently excellent. Every time you order it, it's positively perfecto! And we truly feel that it's the simplicity of it that makes it so wonderful. Let's face it: The simplest dishes are always the best because the food must stand on its own, unadulterated and properly prepared. There's no place for the ham and egg to hide here. So, they have to be good.
And, if an egg is this good then one should be enough.
And it truly is, as it is served on a divine slice of thick French bread.
Which brings us to the bread at Parc.
At this restaurant a basket of bread (real, cooked-on-the-premises fresh bread) is always brought to your table. It's just another touch of hospitality you won't soon forget because the bread is probably the best in the city.
The cranberry nut bread here is renowned. It's so crunchy and sweet you'll become addicted to it. And look at that section of baguette. It's extraordinary!
And we cannot finish talking about Parc without raving about the warm shrimp salad with lemon beurre blanc and avocado and the smoked salmon tartine with horseradish crème fraîche, capers and red onions.
We show them (and everything else) exactly as they were served to us. All superb!
Finally, did we mention the city's best restaurant manager, Carol and our very favorite waiter, Drew? Well there, we did.
Every single time, for all these reasons Parc lives up to its outstanding reputation.