Brunch Review: Brunch at Beau Monde tasted like “summer on a plate”
South Philadelphia is traditionally known as the place to go for all things Italian in the city. Therefore, I was particularly excited to try Beau Monde, a traditional Breton style French creperie located in the heart of South Philadelphia for brunch this past weekend. Beau Monde was founded in 1998, and has been serving up sweet and savory crepe combinations ever since. They have been featured positively in many publications throughout the years such as ZAGAT, Style Magazine, and Best of Philly. They also currently boast a solid 4 Star rating on Yelp. The bar was set, and expectations high!
My dining companion and I arrived onsite at approximately 12:30pm for a 12-noon reservation because, parking. I had called to inform the hostess of our late arrival somewhere between circling the restaurant for the 5thor 20th time. Luckily, she was very gracious and accommodating, both on the phone, and in person when we arrived. The dining room was slightly on the smaller side, but quaint. The walls are painted a soft sage green, and there are hints of greens and metallic gold in the paintings and décor. There is also a small lovely fireplace in the middle of the space, and a charming, rustic looking bar to the far right of the room. Our hostess escorted us to a lovely table on the left side of the restaurant right next to the window. From there, I could see that they also had some limited outdoor seating available, which normally would have been my preference if it had not already felt like Satan’s armpit outside (yay, heat advisories.) I had noticed when we walked in that there were steps leading to a second floor. The hostess informed me that it is a dance and nightclub space only open in the evenings. A French Euro-Pop discotheque? Perhaps. I was intrigued, but also famished, so I decided to save exploring for after the meal, or maybe attend one night to witness the magic for myself.
A moment after we were seated, Desiree, our waitress, approached us and introduced herself. She mentioned that they have excellent mimosas and bloody Mary’s, and asks if we would like to start with one. I unfortunately declined, despite the fact that I’ve never met a mimosa I didn’t like, only because I knew we were heading to the Piazza at Schmidt’s Pop Up Beer Garden later that afternoon, and I would already be imbibing enough for a small army, hence, wanting to pace myself. We instead elected to start off with coffee which was quite delicious. It was hot and tasted very fresh, not at all like it had been sitting in the pot for hours, as can sometimes be the case when you order coffee at 1pm. They served the cream in a small ceramic dish shaped like a cow whose mouth was the spout, which was a whimsical touch, and entertained two 30-year-old adults far more than it should have. After bringing our waters and coffee, Desiree mentioned the specials, and the Salad Du Jour immediately caught our attention: Grilled romaine, local tomato vinaigrette, avocado, corn, with a side of crostini. We ordered the salad, and I opted for the chef’s recommendation of the bacon, mushroom blue cheese crepe, and my guest ordered the poblano pepper and avocado crepe. Both are considered to be breakfast/brunch crepes as they contain eggs. We also ordered a side of potatoes and bacon.
Looking around while waiting for our salad to be served, I noticed the wait staff were all very well groomed and classically dressed in black, while the hostess was in a cute summery white dress. I appreciated the effort because for someone who mostly frequents areas like Northern Liberties and Fishtown to brunch, the bar and wait staff tend to have that “I just rolled out of bed 3 years ago and have been working here ever since” look to them. I also appreciated how attentive the entire wait staff seemed to be to all guests who were dining with them. The room was only about half full of guests while we were there, and they ranged from a large family with a toddler, to gossiping girlfriends, to a handful of younger and older couples. It was a nice mixed crowd, despite the slightly pretentious vibe being given off by the space.
When our Salad Du Jour arrived, it looked and tasted like summer on a plate, and I’m only slightly embarrassed to admit that I actually said that out loud while eating it. It was fresh, lemony, zesty, creamy from the perfected ripened avocado, the corn was sweet and provided a nice crunch, the grilled romaine was smoky. It was absolutely delicious, and my favorite thing we tasted that day. The crostini it was served with was crunchy and crispy, and was accompanied by some type of spread that looked and tasted like a super chunky ceasar dressing (in the best way possible.) After our salad was devoured, our waters and coffees were refilled (as they were many times throughout the meal, which I really appreciated as a constantly thirsty individual.) Next up was our crepes and breakfast sides. We were disappointed to find out the potatoes were really under done, and a few pieces were raw in the middle. The flavoring they were tossed in (tasted like bacon fat and onion?) and the cheese they were sprinkled with were delightful, I only wish they had been thoroughly cooked and crispy. The bacon was bacon, there was nothing special to it, and as someone who prefers crispy bacon, it was slightly chewy. The crepes however were very good, and I admit I am not a bleu cheese fan but I wanted to respect the recommendation of the chef and give the bacon bleu a try. The inside of the crepe was creamy, like a delicious cream of mushroom soup, and the runny yolk from the poached eggs swirled deliciously with it. There was a small tanginess every couple of bites due to the bleu cheese, but nothing that was really over powering. The biggest surprise was that the bacon in my crepe was crispier than the bacon side, even after being submerged for several minutes in the yolk and mushroom cream river- riddle me that? My partners crepe (which I also tasted of course) had a tex-mex thing going on with tomato, avocado, roasted peppers, and scrambled eggs. It was topped with a guacamole which was just as amazing as the fresh and ripe avocado in our salad. Where do these people get these perfect avocados? Inquiring minds want to know!
We each completed about 75% of our rather large crepes, and commented on how, if the place was more casual, and more cost friendly, this would be the perfect hang over brunch- nice large portions, rich, filling, creamy: all good for soaking up excess alcohol from the night before. Our waitress returned to fill our coffee cups one more time and asked if we would like to try one of the sweet crepes for dessert- my heart said yes, but my stomach had to regretfully decline. She did however bring out a small dish of freshly made apricot compote garnished with pine nuts, courtesy of the chef, just a small taste of something sweet at the end which was very thoughtful.
Overall, I would say that our experience was very positive. It is not difficult to see that they have a lot of good things going for them at Beau Monde. The chef and kitchen staff know flavors, and know how to plate. My suggestion would be to continue to use those fresh, local ingredients, like those in our salad, and there will be many happy and satisfied diners in their future. The only real snafu of the day was the potatoes, which unfortunately wasn’t getting past these Irish folks. I am not sure if I would return for brunch, unless I had a real hankering for Breton style Crepes, not because they aren’t good, but I just don’t know if they are $25-for-a-thin-pancake-filled-with-stuff, good. I believe if their prices were a little lower, all the seats in that dining room would be filled for brunch, and beyond.
I wouldn’t mind, however, checking out the upstairs at some point for a full-on French dance party, so long as the berets are optional.
Slightly stuffy interior, awesome staff, delicious coffee, great salad du jour, raw potatoes, expensive, but good crepes, possible euro-pop discotheque?
Beau Monde is located at 624 South Sixth Street.
One block south of South Street at the northwest corner of 6th and Bainbridge.