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Bistro La Bête: Chef Michael O’Halloran goes French in South Philly

The chef is setting up at Ninth and Morris. He owned Bistro 7 in Old City for more than a dozen years before rising rents drove him out.

Earl Grey tea and vanilla bean mille-feuille at Bistro La Bête, 1703 S. Ninth St.
Earl Grey tea and vanilla bean mille-feuille at Bistro La Bête, 1703 S. Ninth St.Read moreCOURTESY BISTRO LA BETE

Michael O’Halloran, who wowed 'em for 14 years at Third and Market Streets in Old City with Bistro 7 followed for a short time by Dos Rosas Taqueria, is resurfacing on or about April 27 with an old-school French BYOB in South Philadelphia.

Bistro La Bête (“The Beast”), a 38-seater with a planned 15-seat patio, will take a former coffee shop at 1703 S. Ninth St., just off the corner of Morris Street and not far from the East Passyunk Crossing hubbub.

Menu, which he is still fine-tuning, will feature escargot, flambe whole duck (done tableside), pork paillard, chicken braised in creme fraiche and olives and buttermilk-fried with vadouvan spice, duck-liver mousse, and braised meats, as well as some newer approaches. O’Halloran said he is going for “approachable and unfussy. I’m not going for precious. This will be closer to ‘eating’ than ‘dining.’” Entree prices will be mainly in the $20s.

“This feels like a space you could cook food from 50 years ago and get away with it,” he told me, referring to the old building’s inherent elegance, which includes pressed-tin ceiling and plaster walls.

O’Halloran is aiming to soft-open on or around April 20.

Hours at the start will be 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday. Sunday dinner will begin shortly after, followed by weekend brunch.

Reservations will go through OpenTable, though he plans to leave plenty of room for walk-ins.