Photos: Inside Le Cheri, Now Open in Rittenhouse
With today’s opening of Le Chéri, Pierre Calmels is back in Rittenhouse Square. Along with his wife Charlotte, with whom he owns the highly acclaimed Bella Vista BYO Bibou, the former Le Bec-Fin executive chef has turned the dining room in the Philadelphia Art Alliance into a classic French bistro.
A menu of traditional French plates will be served at nearly 70 seats across two dining rooms and a bar (though the restaurant is currently operating as a BYO until final liquor-license approval comes through). Because his staff at Bibou is so well trained and so good at what they do, expect to find Calmels himself at the new spot, guiding its launch and making sure his vision is executed perfectly.
The kitchen at Le Chéri is nearly four times the size of the one at Bibou, and it’s outfitted with lots of high-end equipment, mostly chosen by chef Nicholas Elmi when he was opening Rittenhouse Tavern there for NYC-based management group Restaurant Associates. (“We did call Nick to ask what one of the ovens was for,” laughs Charlotte.)
Joining Calmels on the line are a.kitchen alum Val Stryjewski and Richard Cusack, who had worked with Calmels before and begged the chef to let him know if he was ever opening a second restaurant. “I’m starting small, just five others and me in the kitchen,” Pierre tells us, adding, “It will be tough on them to begin with, but they’ll emerge better chefs and able to handle anything. A burning desire to learn is what I look for in a cook.”
Click through the slide show for more details and a photo preview of the new Center City destination.