Ardmore’s the Bercy Lives up to the Hype

The French brasserie is right on the money.



A sampler featuring oysters, king crab, marinated razor clams, and assorted crudo. Photography by Steve Legato.

Whereas some restaurateurs hit upon a successful concept and run with it repeatedly, Joe Monnich and Justin Weathers embrace the subtler art of diversification. It’s exemplified by Stove & Tap, the popular neighborhood bar they run in Lansdale, and Exton’s Al Pastor, their energized nod to modern Mexican cuisine.

Now, they bring us the Bercy, repurposing an imposing century-old 10,000-square-foot former bank building in Ardmore that once housed the Haverford Trust Company and, more recently, Primavera Pizza Kitchen. The duo’s vivacious French-style brasserie is named after an equally lively district in Paris. The theme should come as no surprise, considering the two first met while working together at Rittenhouse Square’s Parc, Stephen Starr’s well-established Parisian-style eatery.

Inside the Bercy. 

Executive chef and co-owner Joe Monnich.

And while the Bercy emulates Parc’s approachable bistro menu, the atmosphere is much different. There are handsome wood room dividers and a lofty ceiling from which pleated light shades suspend like giant upside-down chef’s toques. A sexy horseshoe-shaped bar is seemingly ready-made for beautiful people, and a salon-like second-floor mezzanine stands out colorfully with its teal banquettes and candy-cane-hued light fixtures. Credit Villanova’s Balongue Design for an overall vibe that feels more like a clubby steakhouse than a French bistro with the requisite rattan chairs and Édith Piaf soundtrack.

A striking example of the  Bercy’s unique décor.

French bistro fare isn’t supposed to be innovative—it just needs to be well executed. To that end, Monnich adeptly orchestrates his own modern take on the classics. Fresh seafood like raw oysters, a tuna tartare Napoleon layered on a vivid sliver of watermelon radish, and succulent lobster cocktail make for terrific starters, as does the Pernod-laced escargots and the tempting assortment of fromage, charcuterie and pâtés. The brandy-spiked, pistachio-studded foie gras brûlée is so decadently moussey it’s like fluffy forcemeat nougat.


Related: Take a Look Inside Ardmore's the Bercy


Foie gras brûlée with pistachio mousse. 

When it comes to entrées, most of the usual brasserie suspects are here. Steak frites range from a petite 8-ounce flank cut to a grand 22-ounce bone-in ribeye. Done to Escoffier-caliber perfection, the Duroc pork chop is a juicy tomahawk cut finished with whole-grain and Dijon mustard, green peppercorns, fried lardons, green apples, and mustard seed. A weeknight special, the cured duck confit is but one of several dishes that benefit from the brick-encased gas and wood-burning rotisserie that spins away behind the far end of the bar.

Hot off the rotisserie at the Bercy.

Though breads were still being acquired from outside sources during my visits, Monnich was confident that in-house baking would begin soon. Meanwhile, pastry chef Adrienne Davison—yet another Starr alum—is doing some wonderful things. For her tarte tatin, she substitutes strawberries and rhubarb for apples. Her scrumptious profiterole is whimsically flipped—vanilla bean sauce in lieu of the usual chocolate, and chocolate ice cream instead of vanilla.

Rotisserie duck with cipollini onions and summer peaches.

I recognized sommelier Steven Gullo from his time at King of Prussia’s Mistral. At the Bercy, he presides over a smart selection of mostly French wines offered by the bottle and carafe. On the cocktail front, the restaurant’s signature namesake drink is much like a pineapple-infused Stoli Doli, only with a splash of Chambord.

The Bercy may not be quite at Parc’s steady-as-she-goes level of execution, and service lapses still happen on occasion. But Monnich and Weathers are betting big on this leviathan space—and they know it takes many bodies to fill it. “We hope it will be a community-based restaurant that everyone can relate to,” Monnich told me.

And from the happy crowds I’ve seen thus far, it appears he’s getting his wish.

7 Lancaster Ave., Ardmore, (610) 589-0500, www.thebercy.com.

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