What if the best foie gras dish in Philly was at a hotel restaurant?
Catering to guests and attracting locals are both necessary aspects of standout urban hotel dining, and though it isn't easy to find the right balance, chef Justin Perdue has the chops. During his time as sous chef at Sixteen at the Trump International Hotel, the restaurant was awarded a Michelin star. He landed in Philadelphia this spring, determined to bring Liberté at the Sofitel up to a comparable level.
Although he can’t do much to help the atmosphere at the ground-floor Rittenhouse dining room (furrowed off the lobby, with decor that can’t decide if it's '90s or '70s, and a soundtrack to match), Perdue is making a serious play with his food.
Even as he builds his network of local producers, the chef already has enough connections and know-how to put out a menu of exciting plates that showcase top ingredients in interesting and delicious ways. Here are five don’t-miss dishes that make it worth a visit to Liberté this summer.
120 S. 17th St.; 215-569-8300
Instead of the more common strawberries, Purdue matches the soft Di Bruno Bros. cheese with blueberries marinated in fig vinegar, offering a burst of fruit that’s just sweet enough to highlight the grassy flavors in the cream. Get a piece of pickled mushroom on your fork to add an earthy tang ($12).
Stone Ground Polenta
If you’re splitting this appetizer with someone, don’t blink, or they might scoop up the entire panko-coated crispy soft egg before you have a chance to appreciate how well it goes with the toothy polenta and wild mushrooms ($12).
Seared Alaskan Halibut
Even when fish is cooked to that magic point where it flakes apart but still isn’t dry, a confit of leeks this good is going to steal the show ($26).
Foie Gras Crème Brûlée
Creamier than any custard, the whipped foie beneath the crackling sugar canvas is rich and full of umami, with a metallic iron tang that is soothed by plump bing cherries strewn across the plate’s top. Go ahead, lick the bowl ($17).
You need only your fork to cut apart the thick chunks of beef sitting between slices of herbed potato roulade — after being seared, the meat is poached gently in butter, making it softer and richer than it deserves to be ($32).