Back in February, we took a trip to Philly with Nina Compton, Jacqueline Pirolo (of The Saint Austere) and our favorite lovebirds Michael Pirolo & Jennifer Chaefsky. The mission: pay their old friend Justin Bogle a visit who overtook the Le Bec-Fin space with the launch of Avance.
At age 28, Bogle became the youngest chef to earn two Michelin stars, which he maintained for three years at Gilt in New York. This is also where our fellow travelers met Bogle and not only worked together but also lived together for quite some time with Jen and Mike.
We started with pre-dinner cocktails beneath Avance at its bar. We found great concoctions and clever names such as “You Should Be Kissed And Often” which had Bison grass vodka, house apple shrub, lemon, shiso leaf, granny smith apple and the “See You Around The Bend” with gin, sage, lime, rosemary, strega.
Avance’s decor is beautifully minimal and monotone. Everything in shades of gray, which is a perfect match for the food that was American avant-garde, artful and impressive. Every dish we had was pretty much perfect and got better and better as the courses progressed. Even our local chefs were taken back by how ridiculously perfected the courses were. From creative plates of “Cauliflower Chawanmushi” with Nantucket bay scallop, Meyer lemon foam, trout roe, dehydrated cauliflower, and dashi; to Bogle’s take on meat and potatoes, “Prime Strip of Beef” with alliums, spinach cooked in beef fat, smoked potato, pickled onions and foie gras butter. Our personal standout dish was “Brassicas” – broccoli stalk, floret sauce, roasted turnips, brussels sprouts, smoked cabbage purée – all winter vegetables that were roasted, smoked and dried.
And lets not forget about the “Gin & Tonic Dipping Dots” palette cleanser before dessert – “Carrot Cake” with carrot custard, Mandarine ice, granola, espresso powder, sassafras espuma. Accompanied by their in-house barista serving single origin, chemex brewed coffee such as Ethiopian Yirgacheffe.
And to think this was only the beginning of Avance.