For 31 years, The Fountain at the Four Seasons has been the go-to restaurant for special occasions.
With dinner service ending on Dec. 27 as the hotel begins counting down to its closing next June, we cast about for readers' memories to supplement our tribute to the staff.
Here they are - funny, touching, indelible.
Steve D.: In September 2012, my fiance (now wife) and I went to The Fountain to celebrate a recent promotion at work with a nice dinner out over Labor Day weekend. I specifically wanted to go to a restaurant with a 'jacket required' rule. Among all the fine restaurants in Center City, there aren't many. We anticipated this being probably the most expensive restaurant we would ever visit (just the two of us). We had never been to The Fountain. The restaurant was empty as it was close to 9 p.m. when we arrived. We sat right at the window with a view along the Parkway. The sommelier made great small talk with us a recommended the wine. My wife and I extended every courtesy to each other in conversation: 'pass the salt, please,' 'isn't this lovely?' 'you look marvelous.'..
"Then Jay-Z walks in. I lock up. The Made In America concert on the Parkway kicked off the next day, so he was in town a little early. My fiance and I instantly have the same following reaction. 'Where's Beyonce?' Turns out, she wasn't coming in that night, but a few other members of the crew were there.
"The entire dynamic of the meal changed. Since the restaurant was empty, it wasn't hard to hear every word he said, plus he was right in my line of sight.
"I told my fiancee, 'Quick! Take your ring off.
"'Why?' " she asked.
"'Because I'm going to propose to you here at the table all over again, and then we're going to go ask H-to-the-izzo for his blessing.' This was probably the greatest idea I've ever had in my life.
" 'No. I'm not doing that,' she replied. I couldn't believe it. Unfortunately I could not convince her otherwise.
"We turned from two mature adults having a nice dinner into two starstruck kids acting all goofy and barely saying a word to each other so we could overhear any part of his conversation.
"With our bill paid (whoa!), I told her that I was going over to say hello. I walked over, introduced myself, and said, 'Mr. Carter, I enjoy your music very much, and I hope you have a great time in our city.' Then I told his crew, 'Happy Labor Day!'
"That's our one and only Fountain experience. It turned out to be one of the best celebrity-meets ever for us. Wish I got a picture, though. Or that blessing for our wedding."
Margie Santiago: "After attending Christmas Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul last year, I made the trek across the street and treated myself to breakfast at The Fountain. I will never forget that beautiful experience. The atmosphere was so classy. The food, delicious. Service, impeccable. I dined alone but that did not matter. I enjoyed the peace and quiet and being alone with my thoughts in that beautiful place. A wonderful memory ... I hope to get back there this Christmas."
Barry Genkin: "I was eating breakfast the Friday of the U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club. I was interviewing someone for a job; however, to my left was Tom Watson and to my right Arnold Palmer. It was impossible to focus on the business at hand. In fact, I can't even remember who I interviewed, but I vividly remember my short and hopefully unobtrusive dialogue with these two golfing legends, who could not have been nicer."
Doug Goldberg: "One of my favorite memories was probably a dozen years ago. My wife and I were enjoying the full tasting menu and [sommelier] Melissa Monosoff was pairing wines for us. It was the first time we'd met Melissa and she was probably in her 20s. She was doing an amazing job, as always. When we got to dessert, which was a rich chocolate something that I can't really remember, Melissa paired it with a blueberry wine and the combo was really good. When she came to check on us, we asked her where the wine was made she kind of sheepishly told us it was from Jersey. We all shared a laugh. Afterward we became good friends (missing her and wishing she would move back to Philly) but this was the first time we'd met and it made our night at the Fountain."
Jason Carfagno: "I have fond memories of Sunday brunches for my grandmother's birthday at the Fountain. As a kid, I didn't know what the Four Season was, or how to react to it. My mother would instruct my brother and I to be on our best behavior, she would over dress us, and we would gaze with amazement when we first entered. The Fountain was certainly special, and I'm sure they weren't thrilled with the idea of having two children in there at the time. I'll always have fond memories of Nana's Birthday Brunch on a Sunday in November."
Don Giordano: "I only ate at the Fountain once and it was several years ago. I remember thinking the food was excellent but can't recall what I ate. The vivid part of the memory was seeing Georges Perrier at a nearby table with a blonde who was half his age and twice his height. The sommelier kept pouring him glass after glass of different wines that I can only assume were way out of my price range."
Joanne Dimuzio: "The most memorable evening was when we were having a drink at the bar and Michael Jordan walked in. I was so excited to see him that close up and personal, but my husband would not let me go up to him and say hello. He didn't want me to bother him. I told my husband that I would nonchalantly get on the dance floor and slither over to his table. The room/experience will certainly be missed and I hope once the move happens that it can live up to the high standard of service and presentation."
From former Inquirer reporter John Shiffman, the time he traded an interview for lunch at the Fountain: Click here.
Dan McFaul: "My wife and I went there the night we got engaged. To this day, Karen talks about the scallops as being the best she has ever ordered. The service was exceptional and the staff went out of their way to make that night special. They brought us dessert with 'Congratulations' written in chocolate drizzle on the plate. The atmosphere was great and the overall experience sold us on the hospitality and service of the Four Seasons. Because of that experience, we stayed at the one in Maui and have had drinks, dessert and dinner at the hotels on the Big Island in Hawaii, Jackson, Wyoming and New York, New York. We were sad to hear it was closing."
Kristin and Keith Neiswender: "We chose the Fountain for our anniversary dinner 17 years ago. It was the first time we had left our infant son with a babysitter. Needless to say, I was a nervous wreck. However, once we entered the dining room, I was transported by the impeccable service and amazing food. As luck would have it, another young couple sat next to us...with their infant son in tow. I'm sure they initially thought I was insane, as I couldn't take my eyes off the baby. We ended up striking up a great conversation and soon joined them at their table for dessert. Three hours later, we left smiling and satisfied. What else can you ask for from a fine dining experience?"
Pat Ciarriocchi of CBS3: "For the last 30 years, virtually every 'important' celebration for us was there – when we celebrated our wedding, my 30th anniversary at CBS3 … or when we wanted to 'dress up' for a special night alone or with friends. Our most memorable was dinner the evening after our wedding. It capped the first full day of being married. My husband and I felt like royalty. The dinner was exquisite. We've experienced the culinary excellence of every chef – from the beginning with Jean-Marie LaCroix to now, Bill DiStefano. Some of my favorite moments would come at the end of our meal… when somehow, I found a special treat tucked next to my purse. Pastry Chef Eddie Hales' chocolate brownies! How did they always know… how to make their guests feel as if they were the only ones in the dining room? The extraordinary waitstaff - Vince Russo and Jim Miller - and all of their colleagues gave The Fountain, the ambiance which has made it a Philadelphia classic. We await the birth of a new generation of the Four Seasons Hotel. In the meantime…To the Fountain - Cheers! In Gratitude for showing us how to be five stars."