Erica C., University of Delaware
With Philadelphia only 45 minutes away, it has always shocked me how little I hear of students driving in for a meal. It seems as though going out to eat in Philly has become a special occasion retreat for University of Delaware students, and special occasions only. I must admit that I fall into this trap as well, only taking the trip only a few times a semester. Finally though, I have found a reason to keep going back- Parc Restaurant. This Valentines Day, the meal I enjoyed there on Rittenhouse Square may just push me to change my attitude and stop by more often.
We chose Parc because their pommes pureé had been on a Food Network show, “Best Thing I Ever Ate,” and we wanted to see if their rendition could possibly live up to that kind of hype. It did.
The night started off rocky when the three parking lots closest to the restaurant, in Rittenhouse Square, were all filled up. 30 minutes later, after a few more failed attempts to park the car, we finally stepped out of a lot on West Rittenhouse Square and walked to the restaurant, located on 18th street and Locust. The red awning-ed, typical French bistro exterior was immediately welcoming—and after the frustrations we faced earlier in the night, we felt happy that thus far, the exterior matched our hopes for the food.
When we walked into Parc, the space was packed- obviously the rave reviews in the Philadelphia Inquirer, City Paper and Philly Style a few years earlier hadn’t worn off. I started off the night ordering escargot served in hazelnut butter, a dish I haven’t found done this well since I studied in Paris my sophomore year. This twist on the classic parsley, butter, and garlic sauce added depth of flavor, and the crunch of the toasted garlic baguette slices served with it were one of the single best bites I’ve eaten. They almost overshadowed the escargot, which were also excellent. My boyfriend, Jon, got the chicken liver mousse, which was creamy and delicious although slightly overwhelming without the addition of the accompanying grain mustard and radishes.
Next came the seared sea scallops with hen-of-the-woods mushrooms, squash, and pancetta. While I found the sweetness of the squash overwhelmed the scallops, the earthiness of the mushrooms complimented the dish beautifully and balanced out the sweet starchiness of the spaghetti squash. Jon went for the braised lamb shank with couscous and yogurt sauce. The lamb fell off the bone with tenderness. The couscous was similarly well executed, although had an odd sweetness that did not necessarily mesh well with the lamb.
Lastly, our waitress suggested the bread pudding, and she was definitely correct in calling it their best dessert. The pudding was almost deconstructed, with separated bread and custard sections, and covered in cinnamon ice cream. The perfect end to a delicious and extremely filling meal.
While I know $29 entrees may not fit into the weeknight budget for most college students, I would highly suggest Parc for one of those Philly-occasions. The atmosphere and food were completely reminiscent of a quaint French bistro, and if you can find somewhere to put your car, it’s a great night.