You won’t have to fly across the Atlantic to experience the tastes of Southern France, this December 2016 Restaurateur and Chef Michael Franco has launched Baril, a neighborhood bistro, only steps from Rittenhouse Square Park. Chef Ken Wallace has joined the team to help create a menu inspired by the comforting cuisine of Provence, France. We stopped by to enjoy weekend brunch and were thrilled to discover their brunch menu is also available to diners 10-12 pm late night Fridays and Saturdays! Dinner is also served Tuesday through Sunday evenings.

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Baril is French for “barrel” and the name of the restaurant pays homage to Franco’s grandfather’s long-ago South Philadelphia bar called Johnny Barrel’s, which was located at 18th and Sigel Streets. The new restaurant features farmhouse-style southern French fare. Exposed brick walls and reclaimed barn wood lend the space a farmhouse-chic feel. Franco sources ingredients from our region’s agriculturally rich small farms and creameries. A hydroponic garden fuels the creativity of both the mixologists and kitchen staff, growing fresh herbs and vegetables in house. Cheese is also an integral part of the new Baril; a Christofle cheese trolley is presented table side and holds over a dozen artisan selections.

Baril is an ideal neighborhood gathering spot featuring live music performances every Wednesday and Sunday night. The bar takes a page from the kitchen’s cookbook using herbs from the garden to inspire its seasonal and classic cocktails. Boutique liquors hand crafted tinctures, shrubs, and a variety of house made bitters ensure an unforgettable experience. Look for unexpected, creative pairing suggestions that go beyond wine.

“Baril is an extension of my home, I want guests to feel the same way like they are in a friend’s house sitting around the table drinking, eating, and exchanging stories” says Franco.

Baril, where the motto is eat well, drink often, offers the perfect combination of seasonal French comfort-food, carefully curated wines and handcrafted cocktails. Seasonal and sustainable ingredients meets heartfelt hospitality at your favorite neighborhood bistro. Baril is nestled just off Rittenhouse Square Park at 267 South 19th Street in Philadelphia.

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We started off with some cocktails, happy to see The Juice Diet from the former Crow & The Pitcher was still on the menu. This savory cocktail includes kale juice, lemon, ginger, agave, and We also enjoyed the Owl’s Brew Mimosa which was to our delight a glass of sparkling hard cider with fall spices on the rim instead of the Classic Mimosa which features orange juice and champagne.

Sweet and savory diners alike will be pleased with the brunch selection. Those with a sweet tooth will thoroughly enjoy the Blueberry Pancakes with maple butter, fresh berries, syrup, and whipped cream. The Stuffed Funnel Cake French Toast also seems a tempting choice, so we settled for the Funnel Cake Fried Bacon. This unique dish is exactly what it sounds like, bacon fried in funnel cake batter. Yes, it is better than you could possibly imagine and you won’t find this dish anywhere else.

Diners can also enjoy classic brunch plates like Eggs Benedict, Omelette, Bacon Egg and Cheese Sandwich, or Brunch Burger which is served on vanilla battered brioche with applewood smoked bacon, aged cheddar, fried egg, and syrup. You cannot go wrong with the brunch menu options at Baril.

We loved the Chicken Confit Hash served in a child’s sized cast-iron skillet with onion, potato, and sunny side up eggs. Our favorite may have been the Croque Madame, which is a traditional French bistro dish similar to a sandwich made with country ham and gruyere them topped with decadent cheesy sauce mornay and a fried egg. The Croque Monsier is the same dish, but without the fried egg.

Impress your date next Tuesday with their special Valentine’s Day menu offered for $50/person. Dinner will pair perfectly with their wine list. The hand curated wine list features bottles from the southern wine growing regions of France: Languedoc, Roussillon, and Provence. Franco is passionate about finding value-driven, hidden gems, tasting every bottle before allowing them on the list. Selections range the gamut and the variety will please even the most discerning of palates. Reservations can be made easily via OpenTable.

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