624 S 6th St
Philadelphia, PA 19147
Let me start by saying I am not a crepe person. I have nothing against them, but I never developed the passion for thin pancakes with food folded inside – I just couldn’t see the allure. That said, my foray into “all things crepe” came as a bit of an immaculate inception, so I did my best to keep an open mind and an empty stomach.
Beau Monde is a pillar of the stretch of Bainbridge Street (one block south of South) that houses a variety of eclectic shops and people, including the infamous club L’Etage (meaning the level above in French), which shares the same address.
The restaurant and venue are owned and operated by Francophiles Jim Caiola and David Salama, who made the jump from working in the arts to the restaurant world in 1998, with the grand opening of their creperie on the first floor at the corner of Sixth.
The inspiration for the crepe-heavy menu came from Jim (on the right, below), who cut his teeth working summers at his French uncle’s creperie in Chicago, rising through the ranks from bus boy to head waiter in his early teens. Given the uncle’s roots in Brittany (the home of the crepe), this traditional French pancake served as the perfect canvas for many variations, and allowed for a broad range of creativity in their menu.
Given the duo’s passion for art and design, it’s no surprise that the kitchen’s offerings are visually stunning, as well as incredibly delicious. We started with a couple of cocktails from their modern classic list, including the “horse’s neck” an amber drink containing Makers Mark bourbon, aromatic bitters, and spicy ginger beer, and the “Coquette Punch” sporting Beef Eater Gin, Grand Marnier, lemon, and a splash of club soda.
Both were delicious in their own way, with the prior evoking a smoky, writer's drink-of-choice, while the latter brought to mind sitting on the porch (or stoop if you will) during a hot summer night.
There was no way to begin this meal without trying their rendition of the classic French onion soup. Always a sucker for this cheesy, beefy indulgence, the-soul soothing broth was the perfect way to kick off an extravagant meal on a chilly winter night.
Based upon recommendations by both owners and staff, the crepe choices were whittled down to just two: the grilled chicken breast with leeks, olives, goat cheese, and lemon butter and the the scallop, tomato, and herb butter varietal.
Before I go into details, I want to mention the size of their portions. They were large, even by my fat-kid standards. Each selection came with a little sample of the contents on top, a convenient way to remember which is which.
The “grilled chicken with leeks, olives, goat cheese and lemon butter” combination was packed with tender chicken breast and plentiful, delicious leeks. The tangy goat cheese played well with the briny olives, and the lemon butter added some richness and acidity that really brightened the dish.
The “scallops with tomato and herb butter” crepe had a generous smattering of the nicely seared shellfish throughout and the well-seasoned tomato sauce was bolstered, again, by a generous application of compound butter.
Both were a hit, and the ability to taste the full spectrum of the menu, from citrusy chicken, to savory seafood provided a delicious adventure for my taste buds.
When dinner was finished, there was no room left at the inn for dessert. Or so I thought. Given my commitment to journalistic excellence and penchant for culinary gluttony, ordering a sweet crepe was a given.
The “apples, toasted almonds, brown sugar, caramel, and vanilla ice cream” crepe came highly recommended. It contained apples, which means it was not even bad for me… It was like a deconstructed apple pie, with the requisite melting vanilla ice cream on top. It wasn’t overly sweet, and was just impossible to stop eating.
There was a special, parfait-type layered desert (non-crepe) that the waitress brought out, complimentarily. It was prepared Neopolitan style, with layers of fresh berries and cream served with a side of cabernet sorbet, a decidedly French (and delicious) twist. Before I knew what was happening, both plates were empty.
God I love this place.
Beau Monde offers a an impeccable eye for quality finishes - both in their food, and in their decor. It's a fantastic establishment and a welcome breath of fresh air when you're stuck in the dingy filth of the South Street district.
Look for David and Jim in the news this year, future plans for the successful couple include reopening the landmark NYC eatery/sculpture garden The Tavern on the Green.