Our special birthday celebration was today--the big 70 for my husband. WE were last there for lunch, 5 years ago; also a big occasion--his choice in both cases.
Part of my reaction is colored by recent sophisticated eating experiences. My socks were knocked off in 1998; perhaps I'm too blase to be wowed like that in 2003? But, I don't think that was the whole issue.
The room is lovely. Not as formal, or high French intimidating, but quite understated and tasteful. There are structural changes to the room that are subtle. Considering that they are reputed to have spent what--$1 million, or was it two, the result looks as if it had been there for ages. Nothing dramatic. Just restful. Service is pleasant, ever-present, gracious, and right on.
Value? AT $45 for lunch, this is no longer the great value it was at $35 five years ago. Portions are smaller; maybe verging on skimpy, but satisfactory for lunch. My choices were not mind-blowing, even though I enjoyed them. Hubby found flaws in his cauliflower soup--too thin, and not flavored highly enough of cauliflower. The sauce on my papperadelle with lobster was very thin, and flavorless actually. No excuse for that. Acccompanying disk of minced shank meat was superb. VEnison roulade filled with goodies (forgot!), juniper berry saucing, potatos were lovely, but they did suffer a tad by comparison with the Venison I had recently at Avalon in West Chester.
Now the dessert choices are somthing that has not changed. EVery choice was fabulous--and I carefully picked four of them! Best in show: the lemon merangue tart. And the way the dessert cart was presented: "This is our fun course", and specific suggestion to taste as many of the desserts as you would like made it a pleasure to do just that.
Overview: Something to do once in a lifetime in Philly; not necessarily something to be repeated, given other fine dining choices. Big plus: tables are not close together; sound level was very quiet--a big positive for pleasant dining.