As you walk into the Renaissance Hotel at the edge of center city, Chez Ben immediately sticks out. With a beckoning aroma of syrup and pancakes and a retro–futuristic design, it’s difficult to stop your mouth from watering at the get–go.
Strolling into the flashy ambiance of shiny marble tables and the unique wall of binary numbers, you can spot plenty of booths and a classic, rustic bar on the other side. There’s a distinct Sunday brunch date vibe at Chez Ben. Here is a place where you can slowly relish your dishes over a discussion about the latest news in global politics with your close friends.
Peeking at the menu, the restaurant doesn’t fall short of options. Not only is there an abundant assortment of drinks and choices of American or French cuisine, but Chez Ben also makes sure to mention that it accommodates gluten–free individuals, such as myself. The prices may make you hesitate, but it’s important to note that the quantity makes up for the cost.
First off came the $3 assorted teas. Emphasis on “assorted,” as the waitress strolled out with a selection of eight choices, each more rare than the standard option you can find at other restaurants. After some deliberation, we picked the green tea, a heavenly verdant concoction perfect for soothing a parched throat.
Selecting the $14 All–American Breakfast, I was impressed at how convenient it was to remove the bacon from the order and replace the wheat toast with a gluten–free option. There was a slight delay in getting the food because of a miscommunication, but a personal apology from the manager and its removal from the check showed Chez Ben’s dedication to creating a welcoming dining environment.
With poached eggs, breakfast potatoes, toast, and fruit salad, the All–American Breakfast is more than just an appealing meal—it’s a well–balanced start to the day. Although slightly runny, the poached eggs melt–in–the–mouth when topped with sprinkles of salt and pepper. The fruit salad and toast are equally crunchy and bring an element of sweet juice that takes your mind waltzing through the dance floor. The centerpieces, however, are the breakfast potatoes, a savory set of sublime spuds that are clearly from another planet.
We also sampled the French Pancakes ($13), a stack of the titular food topped with honey, walnuts, and goat cheese. The latter serves as a sharp flavor that smoothly counteracts the oiliness of the nuts, while both mesh with the saccharine honey and pancakes to give rise to an explosion of taste. It’s the breakfast pancake you’re looking for to get the day started off on the right foot.
All in all, there was little to complain about. The potatoes and the pancakes steal the spotlight, mixing neatly with their respective dishes to generate an ideal balance of sweet and savory. Chez Ben brings French–American to life and should be a destination for any day of the week.
TL:DR: A quality way of uniting French and American cuisine, creating bursts of flavor to satisfy your taste buds.
Location: 400 Chestnut St.
Sun—Mon: 6:30 a.m.—10 p.m.