A blend ahead: Lacroix combines fine dining techniques with a homey, seasonal approach to produce dishes like beef with potatoes, kale powder, and black trumpet mushrooms (FOREGROUND).
It’s not unimaginable to attain enlightenment through one’s experiences at Lacroix, the award-winning restaurant perched on the second floor of The Rittenhouse hotel and condo. Transcendence really is possible here: through a refined breakfast or lunch, memorable dinner, or an incomparable Sunday brunch. With a windowed façade beholding one of Philly’s loveliest vistas—scenic Rittenhouse Square—Lacroix is like a calm internal extension of that bucolic park beyond.
This same aesthetic purity is palpable in the culinary expertise of Lacroix’s young executive chef, Jon Cichon. At 32 years old, and a protégé of the restaurant’s iconic namesake and original chef, the masterful Jean-Marie Lacroix, Cichon crafts a global menu imbued with his mentor’s ever-present inspiration and using classic seasonal ingredients. “We’re excited to have access to the best purveyors, farmers, and foragers who are bringing us spring’s first fiddlehead ferns, ramps, and morels,” says Cichon, who has served as executive chef for nearly five years. “We’re going forward with super-green, crisp flavors, and a bounty of good, vegetative crunch.”
During dinner, guests of Lacroix can enjoy the exquisite tasting menu—four courses (complemented by an additional array of amuse-bouches, small bites, and petit fours) for $79, or the eight-course Chef’s Tasting for $125. In order to glimpse Lacroix’s inner workings, the chef’s table seats up to seven inside the kitchen. “Each menu offers an element of surprise,” Cichon says.
Executive Chef Jon Cichon.
At a recent visit, my wife and I savored each tempting plate as they were served in succession: a pristine striped marlin starter splashed with refreshing cranberry vinaigrette, ripe avocado slices draped atop minted and toasty quinoa, butternut squash ravioli with tender duck confit and elegant white truffles, and, for our main course, a sliced revelation of perfectly seasoned wagyu beef sided by cauliflower florets and fresh kale. The finale, a dessert trio, included a miniature gold leaf-flecked bourbon pecan pie, bringing to our faces the sort of rapturous smiles that bespeak volumes about the culinary program at Lacroix.
More of an event than simply a meal, the popular Sunday brunch is a relative bargain at $75 per person. From 11 am to 2:30 pm, a tempting array of stations are displayed. The seemingly infinite selection includes raw bar specialties, house-cured charcuterie, hors d’oeuvres, salads, and signature entrées, along with tasty sweet endings by The Rittenhouse’s pastry chef, Tova du Plessis.
Her savory creations are also a main component of afternoon tea, served from 2 to 5 pm each weekday, within the charmingly dainty confines of the lobby’s Mary Cassatt Tea Room. It’s a polished bastion of fine custom china, smoky-gray scoop-backed salon chairs, and high arched doorways leading out to a shaded stone courtyard, where scented teas and Cichon’s lighter fare can be enjoyed alfresco.
Lacroix’s cocktail and liquor programs bolster the 78-page wine menu.
Equally noteworthy is the beverage side of the equation. Lacroix’s sommelier, the prim and professional Justin Timsit, notes, “Spring gives us lots of flavors: citrus, tangerine, stone fruits, and apricot, and floral components, too. I try to pair beverages with these food profiles in mind.”
Having compiled a panoramic wine list—a 78-page tome spanning aperitifs to Zinfandel—Timsit can now offer his varietals in The Rittenhouse’s new Library Bar, which joins Bar 210 at Lacroix. Made cozy by cushy leather chairs, a working gas fireplace, and one of Philly’s top mixologists, Pablo “Papi” Hurtado (a past winner of the prestigious European top bartender championship), this alluring hideaway is yet another place in which to enjoy Lacroix’s exemplary fare and libations.
Cichon is honored to carry the mantle of his mentor. “Even though [chef Lacroix] is no longer technically involved at The Rittenhouse, I still call him ‘Chef,’ and I like to get his [insights] on key decisions.” Lacroix’s culinary spirit may still be very much a part of the experience here, but it is Cichon who is taking the restaurant to the next level. 210 W. Rittenhouse Sq., 215-790-2533