The Pickled Heron

By Phyllis Stein-Novack
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 11 | Posted Jul. 18, 2013

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The Pickled Heron, which is located in the heart of Fishtown, is a small, French-inspired BYOB that offers dinner Wednesdays through Sundays.

Photo by Staff Photo by Kathryn Poole

When Le Bec-Fin closed last month, a floodgate of memories came over me. I savored chef Georges Perrier’s distinctive cuisine on numerous occasions. When it changed owners, I did not have the heart to walk through the door as people told me it was not worth it.

As I mused about the glory days of Le Bec-Fin, I began to crave French fare. Bastille Day was fast approaching, so I surfed the Web and perused the Zagat Guide for inspiration.

I happened upon The Pickled Heron, a small, cash-only BYOB carved from a town house just like the original Le Bec-Fin. Edward and I have driven by it several times, and since the restaurant offers French food, I was game to try it.

The dining room features bright tangerine-colored walls, white linen and colorful artwork created by local artists. We brought along a sauvignon blanc and a bottle of Côtes du Rhône. Our delightful server placed our white wine in an ice bucket as Edward and I discussed the small menu.

The Pickled Heron does not serve classic French fare, but there is a hint of its technique and style.

I began with a salad of baby greens ($9) while Edward decided on an appetizer of tomatoes with homemade mozzarella ($12).

My salad consisted of a small mound of overdressed baby arugula, a few sliced radishes and bits of mild cheese. The salad fell flat because it lacked seasoning and was doused with too much olive oil. I could not detect any lemon juice or vinegar. The French love their radishes, so I hoped they would shine here.

Local tomatoes are in season. We expected thick slices of red, ripe, juicy tomatoes with fresh mozzarella and basil. This starter featured multi-colored baby heirloom tomatoes, a few small slices of mild mozzarella and a hint of fresh basil topped with olive oil. Unfortunately, the tomatoes were quite tart. Baby heirlooms are sometimes quite acidic and require herbs, a hearty cheese and classic vinaigrette to tame their flavor. Suffice to say, both starters were disappointing.

We did enjoy the warm bread and soft butter that arrived with our appetizers.

When I saw a dish with duck sausage ($24) on the menu, my heart and taste buds headed to France. Two slices of boneless duck breast were coated in a thick batter and either baked in the oven or pan roasted. It was difficult to discern the cooking method. The batter was a golden brown and crumbled as I cut into it.

Duck should be served medium to medium-rare. This version was slightly overcooked. It also lacked seasoning. The sausages, on the other hand, were uncommonly tasty and filled with the flavor of fresh garlic and herbs. Small half-moon slices were mixed into ratatouille, the Southern France casserole made with zucchini, yellow squash and tomatoes.

I am not a huge fan of ratatouille, but at least the vegetables were not a bit overcooked. My plate also contained two rectangles of a savory cake-like confection made with chicpea flour. It was akin to polenta in texture. I liked that it was creamy inside, and properly seared on the outside.

Edward’s lamb ($25) fared better than the duck. Several boneless slices were roasted medium-rare and set upon a first-rate risotto redolent with the flavor and color of fresh mint. The nicely seasoned and very tender lamb married well with the creamy risotto that spread out on the plate. Batons of seedless cucumber were scattered on the meat after they received a quick braise. Minted cucumbers are a French classic. In all, we enjoyed this entrée.

Local blueberries are in the market, so I could not pass up homemade blueberry cake with vanilla ice cream ($6). I make blueberry pound cake in the summertime, so we were surprised to see a cute eye-appealing confection shaped like a cupcake. It was not a bit sweet and the ice cream added a rich flavor that we enjoyed.

The Pickled Heron has promise. Service was excellent. Our server kept the corks so we could tote home our wine, filled our glasses without asking and gave us fresh silverware with each course.

I just wish the menu featured classic French fare with a modern twist.

Two-and-a-half tips of the toque to The Pickled Heron. 

The Pickled Heron

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Comments 1 - 11 of 11
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1. Angela said... on Jul 18, 2013 at 10:53AM

“I must have missed the announcement that Frankford Avenue was now in South Philly.”

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2. MS said... on Jul 18, 2013 at 12:19PM

“My thoughts...this restaurant is not very far from south Philly and it's no big deal to leave south Philly to go to a nearby restaurant.

I would like to see reviews of restaurants that maybe would appeal to a broader audience.

Who I am kidding...I'd like to see a review by a different reviewer too.”

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3. Marty Medals said... on Jul 18, 2013 at 12:55PM


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4. Angela said... on Jul 18, 2013 at 01:03PM

“Fred, I'm not at all concerned about the South Philly diners being reviewed, a diner, is a diner, is a diner. I don't mind at all when the reviews are sparsed every couple of weeks with a different locale, I like getting out of South Philly too. I must object though when week after week there is not a review for a South Philly located restaurant. East Passyunk Avenue is FULL of new restaurants and old restaurants that could do with a revisit.”

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5. MS said... on Jul 18, 2013 at 01:18PM

“Angela - you raise a good point. look at south Philly and it's a good sized piece of real estate. that's pretty diverse yet week after week reviews of restaurants in west Philly, Fishtown, etc.

I like to read about the different restaurants but some centering in SP would be nice.

Again, I think that more mainstream restaurants would also be an improvement.

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6. Marty Medals said... on Jul 18, 2013 at 07:10PM

“I hesitate to talk about how a newspaper name for South Philly cannot provide a restaurant column that reviews places in Sough Philly!
Unless of course the writer has something on the publisher to keep her job?

I will in the very near future write and publish in this comments section alternative restaurant reviews of exclusively South Philly Restaurants every week the regular review fails to locate in South Philly.

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7. MS said... on Jul 19, 2013 at 02:40PM

“Hate to say it but the anonymous person is being quite rude. Just because a restaurant is priced lower doesn't mean that food quality or taste is dimished.

Read the NYT or the PI or you'll see plenty of higher priced establishments pushing food that isn't equalin in quality to it's elevated price.

Adventuresome??? That's interesting because much of what's written about by PSN isn't appetizing to me. However week after week of this is a bit too much.

The other week it was a disposable bowl of soup for a very high price.

All in all I'd rather not read you pithy comments.”

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8. Passunk Post said... on Jul 19, 2013 at 03:35PM

“Actually, last week she wrote about Paloma, which is in South Philly. What's the big deal?”

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9. Dennis Searson said... on Jul 22, 2013 at 06:59AM

“Why all the fuss over a neighborhood newspaper? Who cares”

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10. Marty Medals said... on Jul 23, 2013 at 04:34PM

“Dear Anonymous , if that is really your name,
My interest in reading resteraunt reviews in this paper is to find great places in South Philly to enjoy a good dinner out. The style of cooking, the cost of the food is secondary to the need I feel to find places in South Philly that my wife and I will enjoy going to.
Reading about restaurants in other parts of Phildelphia or in the subarbs, leaves me cold. The reviews may as be about great places in Manhatten NY for all I care. Last time I looked, there were over 47 restaurants within walking distance of 10th and Carpenter. Yet there ate fewer than five reviews in the last several years for that area alone in this paper.
Reviews of just BYOB's in South Philly could fill this paper for years.

So, as I stated above, I will be the one secret reviewer. When ever this paper fails to review a South Philly restaurant , I will.
Thank you.”

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11. MS said... on Jul 24, 2013 at 10:07AM

“Interesting comment from Marty.

I kind of/sort of agree...:)

I wouldn't mind seeing restaurants very near south Philly Fisstown or West Philly really do seem a bit out of the way for a neighborhood newspaper.


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