Full Complement · Lunch

Beau Monde, Philadelphia: An Affair To Remember

THE craving for crepes struck today, so I wandered down to 6th and Bainbridge to check out Beau Monde. I’ve been told of this place many times; the first time, Susanna couldn’t remember the name of the restaurant and I walked right past it and ate somewhere completely different before realizing what I’d done.

But this…this was worth the six-month wait. It seems as though Beau Monde and I have been in a strange, self-perpetuating sort of flirtation; we both know we exist, and we look coyly out of the corner of our eyes at each other, but we’re always waiting for the other to make the first move. So today, I decided to take the plunge and commit. I picked up my wingwoman (because every food venture is, at its heart, a romance), and made my move.

Beau Monde, the coquette, played hard to get. We were invited upstairs to the “waiting” bar, to chat and drink coffee until our table was free (by the by, Beau Monde makes its own Bloody Mary mix, which got 4 thumbs-up from those clustered around the bar). The wait wasn’t long–Beau Monde is not an unreasonable flirt–and we traipsed back down the carpeted stairs and deposited ourselves at a window table. A couple of conversation points later (“what’s the meal between lunch and dinner–dunch? lunner? lundinner?”), our two crepes were brought forth with great panache.

And here’s where the romance really kicked in. Beau Monde is a very appealing place. It’s dimly lit, with a fireplace and small candles stacked onto the table once the early evening sets in. Vines scale the walls against gold and green backdrops; the large windows invite a sort of pastoral reflection, even as you look out onto the skateboard shop across the street. Voices carry; conversations build and flow. Our “dunch or lunner” conversation made its way across the tables, and by the time we left, the people next to us were debating the same point. Beau Monde makes you feel wanted, welcome, and adored.

The menu itself is quite extensive, and open to interpretation. The house recommendations really do earn their title, and even so aren’t above a little preening. Ask a server for further recommendations. For instance, my wingwoman got the Mushroom, Swiss Cheese, and Roasted Almonds ($10.50) savory crepe and added grilled chicken. At the table beside us–the same one belaboring the differences between “lundinner” and “dinch”–they raved about the Creamed Spinach, Grilled Chicken, Tomatoes, and Swiss Cheese ($14.75). For me, Beau Monde proposed the Coq au Vin, Swiss Cheese and Herb Butter ($14.00) crepe.

Coq

Our love affair will gladden the hearts of statues. “Winter must be cold for those with no warm memories” and all that, but Beau Monde has gifted me with a treat that will warm my darkest, hungriest days. The buckwheat crepes are both healthy and light (as declared by our neighbors to the other side), delicious and tender. The crepe itself does not overwhelm its fillings; and the main ingredients, like a sneak preview (Oh, Beau Monde! You classy ecdysiast!), garnish the top of the crepe, tantalizing the senses before you even cut inside.

But Beau Monde does not restrict herself to the savory; she, like any mysterious femme fatale, has depths. She coyly offers soups, salads, appetizers, and fabulously indulgent dessert crepes. There are weekend brunch additions (mostly eggs, but bacon and avocado grace this menu option as well), a wine and drinks list, and two full bars. Milk for tea and coffee is served in a cow milk jug, just like the one my grandmother used to have. Beau Monde, beneath her worldly, cosmopolitan exterior, is the quirky girl-next-door with too-thick eyeliner and a book of scribbled poems in her back pocket.

Just my type of girl.

-bisoux