by Derek Lee
Our newest WC Dish writer Derek joined me for dinner the other night at Georges’ on the Mainline. Here’s his mouth watering follow-up.
As part of a group, I recently was invited to dinner at Georges’, the Wayne-based suburban outpost of the Georges Perrier restaurant empire, to preview the new ‘Butcher Shop’ menu. This collection of thick slabs of center-cut prime meat is obviously geared towards Main Line carnivores who have no desire to trek into downtown Philadelphia to get their high-end steak fix. Days later, having finally recovered from my food coma, I can report that the steak does not disappoint, either in quality (stellar) or portion size (ludicrous).
Having not been to Georges’ since shortly after its debut as Le Mas Perrier almost nine years ago, it was refreshing to see that the space, designed by Marguerite Rodgers, remains relatively unchanged from the years of transition. Having heard of the transformation of Le Mas Perrier to “Le Mas,” then simply to “Georges’,” I was concerned that the transition away from haute cuisine would have also compelled changes in the decor, and I was glad to have worried for nothing. The vaulted ceilings, stone fireplaces, and fine attention to detail, inspired by Provence and buttressed by antiques from France, are all still there.
Herb Lotman, Perrier’s business partner, is clearly proud of the beef that is served on the Butcher Shop menu. Holding court prior to the serving of the first course, he points out that the cuts that are served at Georges’ are even better than standard USDA Prime steaks (only 2% of beef qualifies for the Prime grade), as they are center cuts of Prime beef, only four to a cow. Verbally, Lotman certainly makes a compelling argument for the Butcher Shop menu, but it’s Executive Chef Jeremy Duclut’s skill in preparing these exquisite specimens of beef that seal the argument. I’ll get to that part in due time. A narrative about a meal, like the meal itself, shouldn’t be rushed.
Our meal began with a presentation of a trio of Georges’ appetizers, all of which focused on top quality shellfish sourced from South America. Designed to give us a small but representative sample of what was available, the appetizer plate showcased a jumbo lump crabmeat cocktail, two jumbo shrimp, each the size of a baby’s fist, and a perfectly prepared crabcake topped with microgreens. The crab and shrimp evinced the purity of flavor that can only come from truly fresh seafood, and the crabcake continued Perrier’s tradition of being a superlative example of what a crabcake should be – lots of crab, no filler, sauteed to perfection, served plainly.
For our entrees, our group covered all of the bases and ordered the gamut of items on offer from the Butcher Shop – strip steak, bone-in cowboy, petit filet, and the veal chop. With a measure of thanks to dining companions who are all too willing and generous in sharing their order, I was fortunate to be able to sample all four selections.
My entree, the strip steak, was a 14oz platform of perfectly medium-rare goodness, seared to perfection on the outside, a uniform crimson throughout, with no bone to interfere with the coordinated attack of my knife and fork. The meat possessed that telltale mineral flavor that’s indicative of beef that’s been aged.
The 18oz bone-in cowboy steak was tender enough to be able to pull bites off of the bone just by holding it down and dragging away with a fork. Better known as ribeye, the texture of the cowboy steak made a pleasant contrast with the sturdier nature of the strip. I may even have preferred the taste of the cowboy steak to the strip.
My sampling of the 6 oz petit filet made me want one all for myself, only not in petit size. Do they come in ultra-grande? One comes to expect filet to be tender, just due to the nature of this cut of beef, but never with this degree and depth of flavor. Diners who have typically regarded filet as a compromise of flavor for tenderness are encouraged to give this one a shot.
The veal chop was an immense bone-in portion that delivered the more delicate taste of veal in the form of a massive 14oz payload. Though a little heavy in the kitchen’s application of salt and pepper, this chop is an absolute must-buy for Main Line veal fans.
Georges’ has clearly fashioned an approach to the Butcher Shop menu which respects the meats and focuses your palate on the quality of each cut. Each item on the Butcher Shop menu is served unadorned, just a really big piece of meat on a plate, save for a dusting of salt and pepper, and Chef Duclut says that there are no plans to serve any of the traditional sauces, such as bearnaise, as accompaniments. This permits the true flavor of each steak and chop to shine, without the distraction of cream sauces or assertive herbal notes. Based on what I sampled that evening, it’s a winning strategy.