Just a quick stroll away from Rittenhouse Square lies a quaint little storefront, its doors opening to the cozy world of My Loup. This modern French–inspired bistro, established in May 2023 by Penn alumna Amanda Shulman (C '15) and her husband and fellow chef Alex Kemp, puts its own twist on classic Québécois French–Canadian cuisine by incorporating dishes with local farm–grown ingredients and Philadelphian quirk.
As my friend and I step into My Loup, we are immediately greeted by a convivial family of servers, chatting and laughing around. The ambiance of the restaurant was pretty intimate, with a darkly lit, woodsy dining room and a bar. Flickering candles line muted floral wallpaper, and small heirlooms, photos, and trinkets decorate the wall–to–ceiling bookshelves in the dining area.
Though we dine on a late Monday night (with this restaurant being the current place to be in Philadelphia, a reservation isn't easy to get), the restaurant is bustling with energy, from couples on date nights to friends catching up over cocktails. The charming atmosphere is soundtracked by an eclectic music selection of Chicago and Delta blues and light folk rock, featuring classics like "I Just Want to Make Love to You" by Muddy Waters and "Maggie May'' by Rod Stewart. The casual yet chic demeanor of the restaurant embodies a space that is undeniably French–inspired but also radiates Americana charm.
Throughout its establishment, the founders of My Loup have been rooted in a mission to celebrate homegrown Philadelphian farms. The menu changes daily, reflecting a commitment to seasonal offerings that depend heavily on the harvests of local produce businesses, such as Jack’s Farms, an organic vegetable and herb farm in Pottstown, Pa. While introducing the night’s menu, our hostess Jillian shares that each dish could be constantly reinvented with different ingredients—for instance, a striploin entree with root vegetables may feature butternut squash one day and Japanese turnip the next, depending on what the farms provide.
Our dining experience at My Loup is nothing short of exceptional. We begin with the ham and cheese croquette, a delightful deep–fried, melt–in–your–mouth comfort food, with the only downside of having a steep price of $8 apiece. The crispy breading melds nicely with the creamy minced meat filling, and the acidity of the pickles seamlessly cuts through the butteriness of the meat and cheese.
We follow with the clams casino prepared with poblano butter, bacon, and lemon, a delight for seafood enthusiasts. The spicy notes from the chili peppers and the slight sour tinge of the breadcrumb toppings provide a creative amalgamation of flavors, and though the clams are slightly overshadowed by the kick of the other ingredients, there is a good balance of umami with the zesty components.
The entree we select is roasted chicken served with "Safta" matzah balls and root vegetables in dill. The dish evokes the warmth of a Sunday roast dinner, and the chicken's crispy savory skin provides a satisfying contrast to the tender meat. The dill tinges the chicken broth with a delicious citruslike minty undertone, and the meaty and soft matzah balls taste extremely comforting and homey. (For good reason, because its name on the menu directly translates to “Grandmother’s matzah balls.”) Portions are ample, easily satisfying two diners.
Dessert at My Loup is a delightful surprise, as every guest is served a complimentary tasting of two autumnal–themed flavors of the restaurant’s housemade ice cream and sorbet. The apple cider ice cream has a milky base with notes of cinnamon, clove, and pumpkin spices and fuses magically with the light and airy freshness of the green apple sorbet, which has a sour and fruity water–ice–esque texture. Essentially extracting the best parts out of a delicious apple pie, the dessert brings hearty reminiscence of the lovely fall season and serves as a perfect end to a wonderful meal.
As we are putting on our jackets and heading out the door, the maître d' sends us off with some words of advice for two out–of–towners: “There are two things you need to know about Philadelphians. We’re extremely stubborn, but we’re also extremely loyal.” And with how My Loup balances the unique palate of French cuisine with grounded homestyle dishes paying tribute to Philadelphia, those notes sum up the essence of the restaurant itself too. With its friendly sophistication and deep connection to locality, My Loup is a remarkable product of this stubborn but proud city.
TL;DR: Modern French Canadian–inspired bistro centered on celebrating locally sourced ingredients and Philadelphian charm.
Location: 2005 Walnut St.
Hours: Closed on Weekends, 5 to 10 p.m. Mondays through Fridays