Ultra hip Patou is truly a place to see and be seen. Located on Market Street amidst Old City’s most popular restaurants, Patou stands out for serving gourmet French food with chic style. Acclaimed Head Chef and owner Patrice Rames (creator of the successful Bistro St. Tropez) styles his fare after his hometown in the French Riviera and serves it in an atmosphere that exudes trend and style. French food that lacks pretentiousness while thriving in flavor, an extensive list of fine French wines and fruity cocktails, complete with innovative interior design and attentive service, Patou has given Rames—and Philadelphia—another success.Read More ...
Patou is one of Philadelphia’s premier spots for French food served with chic style. The restaurant joined Old City’s neighborhood in 2004 and since then has done more than its fair share to bring great French fare and exciting night life to Philadelphia. The name “Patou” comes from the childhood nickname of Head Chef and Owner Patrice Rames. The food is influenced primarily by Rames’s hometown in the French Riviera and the restaurant itself is truly a site to see and be seen.
The interior design of Patou portrays brilliance and exudes modern, chic style. Fiery oranges, reds, and deep magentas dominate the intimate bar and dining area. Abstract art mixed with various photographs hang on the walls. Spots of turquoise here and there are perfect, contrasting shocks of color. Little accents such as candles afloat in martini glasses are placed strategically around the smooth, polished bar and add contemporary character to the ambiance.
Two large doors at the front of this room open up so that diners can dine on the sidewalk in nice weather. The patio radiates a romantic ambiance with simple, silver bistro sets and soft white candles at each table. Amidst the hustle and bustle of Market Street, this is a prime spot for people watching.
But there is more—a larger dining area hides behind a long flowing linen cloth that serves as a room divider. The room behind this cloth is vast and features a very high, sky-lit ceiling. It is spacious and airy and is lit dramatically with blue spotlights. The colors are cool and contrast the other room’s warm colors. Abstract expressionist paintings adorn the wall and resemble curvy seascapes. The curves of the paintings flow into the curve of an adjacent wall divider that resembles a yacht sail. Circle-shaped mirrors of varying sizes hang on the wall beside it. The whole place is alive with curves and movement. With the skylights, cool colors, and seascapes, the room may cause diners to feel they are aboard a luxury cruise ship.
Behind the yacht-sail-shaped room divider sits a large exposed kitchen. It occupies the back of the dining room so that diners can enjoy watching Rames and his talented staff as they create their French-Riviera flavored masterpieces.
We are lead to a beautifully decorated table in the center of the room. Flowing white tablecloths hang from all of the tables. A few seating arrangements feature bright colored couches that offer closeness for an intimate date and also add a shock of color amid the otherwise calm room. We are given frosted square plates for the beginnings of our meal. As we admire the uniqueness of the tableware, our server mentions that Rames picked the plates up during a trip to Greece—a bit of information that adds to the eclectic value of the decor.
Rames, formerly of Le Bec Fin and current owner of Bistro St. Tropez, cooks up the lush tastiness of French food without the frills and pretentious airs that usually come with this style of cuisine. But while the food lacks frills, it does not lack quality or rich taste, and the prices are fairly reasonable to boot.
A basket of fresh French bread arrives, accompanied by a delicious paste consisting mainly of garlic, pesto, herbs and salt. We select a couple of cocktails while we wait so that we can relax and take in the elements of design that are executed so well in the dining room. The Riviera is a fruity, green cocktail with a strong and sweet essence of melon—a great drink to sip on while enjoying friendly conversation and overlooking Patou’s tempting menu selections.
We order a couple of salads to precede our meals. The Classic Caesar with chicken is delicious with tasty fresh greens, warm tender cuts of sautéed chicken breast, crunchy garlic croutons and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese. The Caesar dressing is light and flavorful.
The Cobb Salad has chicken added to it as well and is simply delightful with fresh greens, thick cheesy dressing and bits of bacon and black olives. A bottle of Rhine Riesling, chosen from Patou’s extensive wine list that features a surplus of fine French, Italian, and German wines, goes great with the salads and is light and vivid.
The Carrot Soup, something you certainly don’t see on every menu, is a different way to begin the meal. It is served cool and is almost the consistency of a light, creamy mousse. It’s slightly sweet and tastes of carrots and faintly of sweeter spices like nutmeg and ginger.
Patou offers a plethora of entrées that feature fresh seafood. The Salmon is a fresh, delicate filet of salmon pan-roasted and bathed in a luxuriant red wine sauce. The warm fish is accompanied by French lentils, and caramelized fennel. The texture is lush and the flavors are intense and fragrant. Salmon traditionally goes well with Pinot Noir, and a glass of Coteaux du Verdon Pinot Noir is bold and alive with floral aromas.
The Coq Au Vin, is a dish featuring braised chicken. A large helping of warm, tender chicken is doused in a lush red wine sauce and is plentiful in juices and flavor. The helping of potatoes au gratin that comes along on the plate is thick and cheesy with a crunchy baked topping. Onions and carrots are arranged on the plate as well and taste great combined with the sauce and a mouthful of chicken. Paired with a glass of Château la Casenove Syrah that is very rich and has an essence of plum and blackberry, this dish is far from a disappointment.
The French are well known for their rich, tasty desserts, so we decide to try two traditional French desserts for our last course. The Crème Brulee is creamy and smooth vanilla flavored flan underneath a crunchy sweet, caramelized top. We are not disappointed with how sweet and silky this traditional French dish is served at Patou. The Tart aux Pommes is a sweet and spiced apple tart suffused with a scoop of frosty, rich vanilla ice cream. The taste of the warm, flaky tart and cold creamy texture of the ice cream blends well together. We peruse Patou’s long list of after dinner cocktails and wines, as well as traditional coffee or espresso. The Kir Royale, a mixture of champagne and Chambord, is a good choice to accompany any of Patou’s desserts.
When it is time to say au revoir to Patou we are well sated. As we walk back out onto the lively streets of Olde City, already making plans to come back soon, we confer that Rames is truly an expert at bringing food from his native land of the French-Riviera to the city of Philadelphia. It is because of this that we will most definitely become regulars at Patou.
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