Restaurant Review: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


Michael Franco worked at Philadelphia’s Le Bec Fin for years, beginning his tenure by wheeling the elegant barrel-shaped cheese cart through the dining room. Eventually shifting his attention to wine, he learned the skills of a sommelier through Le Bec’s extensive cellar. Now he has his own place, Baril, French for barrel and an echo of Barrel’s, the name of a South Philadelphia bar his grandfather opened in 1959. Where Le Bec was gleaming gilt and crystal chandeliers, Baril is a down-to-earth neighborhood bistro, but Franco goes out of his way to source a dynamic selection of wines, from Bru-Baché Jurançon to Bancroft Vineyards’s Pennsylvania-grown chambourcin. The menu sticks to French bistro classics—coq au vin, onion soup, ratatouille—and don’t miss the Bordelaise Burger, topped with caramelized onions, mushrooms and aged cheddar. Or skip dinner and go straight to cheese; the elegant cart, a gift from Perrier, is the very same one that Franco pushed at Le Bec Fin.