When I was little, my grandmother enjoyed lunching at what was then Woodward and Lothrop's. Or Garfinkle's. Either way, before the one giant department store chain ate up all of the others, there was such a thing as the store cafe. It existed on the opposite end of the spectrum from the food court, perhaps on another plane. Ladies lunched there, enjoying themselves and exuding elegance. High tea was often served. Those days are mostly gone. Or so I thought.
Brasserie Perrier offers an update. Situated in the middle of Boyd's on the mezzanine level, decorated in posh purple and silver with leather accents, I couldn't help but feel like I was playing grown-up, being pampered and fully enjoying my retail experience. Meeting two friends there, I felt like I was part of a scene from a romantic comedy or chic lit book. I reclined comfortably in my plush chair with leather pillow and gazed upon Stuart Weitzman's latest red pump.
I relay this atmosphere since this is a lot of the charm to be had here. The menu offers a fairly standard line up of salads and sandwiches that you might expect. I chose a more hard core french cafe offering of the Croque Madame, with ham and cheese on thick white bread, topped with two eggs, sunny side up with bechamel sauce. Although somewhat predictable in taste, I nonetheless enjoyed it. We all started with the french onion soup. While appropriately decadently topped with gruyere, the cheese was far from browned and it lay on top of croutons rather than a slice of baguette. Otherwise, it was delicious and perfect on a rainy day. My friend got the beet salad, cutely served in a molded cup form which, to this day, still impresses me.
We lingered over coffee (I confess, lingering is one of my favorite pastimes lately). Our hipster waiter indulged our holding the table even after the place started to fill up around 1:00. Among larger life issues, we also managed to talk purses and fashion and I relayed my fear that the Boyd's retail folks would see me for the Target shopper I am and escort me out once I came near the designer labels. Nevertheless, for that moment, I felt like a grown-up. A rather affordable excursion, too, with soup, sandwich and drinks coming to $24 each with tip. And a delightful "ladies" lunch.
Brasserie Perrier at Boyd's is located at 1818 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, Pa, and is open Monday through Saturday, 10:30-3:30.