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“Nice little café” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Caribou Cafe

Caribou Cafe
1126 Walnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19107-5883 (City Center East)
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Ranked #471 of 3,785 Restaurants in Philadelphia
Price range: $1 - $40
Cuisines: French
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Romance, Outdoor seating
Dining options: Breakfast/Brunch, Lunch, Dinner, Reservations, Late Night
Dining style: Casual Dining
Neighborhood: City Center East
Cross street: 12th Street
Transit: Take the Broad Street Line to Walnut, or the Market-Frankford Line to 11th Bus Lines: 23,47,21,42
Milwaukee, WI
Senior Contributor
32 reviews 32 reviews
19 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
“Nice little café”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 4, 2013

Was quite chilly outside, so we just decided to stop in for a drink and a small bite. Was great food. Service was a little slow for really no one there, but overall good and I would stop again when warmer when they have the wall opened up to outdoor seating.

Visited April 2013
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165 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Rating summary
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Any
English first
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Senior Contributor
37 reviews 37 reviews
18 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
“Great atmosphere and good food”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 1, 2013

Stopped in with half a dozen friends for an evening of pleasant eating and good local micro-brews. Atmosphere was not noisy, perhaps because it was a Tuesday night.

Visited February 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Albany, NY
Top Contributor
128 reviews 128 reviews
56 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 69 cities Reviews in 69 cities
185 helpful votes 185 helpful votes
“OK but not great”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed April 25, 2013

Ate dinner at the Caribou tonight with the hubby. Overall our experience was OK if nothing special.

Accessiblity: the first floor and the outside seating is accessible without steps or large door sills. Outside would be almost impossible to maneuver a wheelchair or large walker in the tight space. First floor has sufficient room to carefully maneuver either.

Note: there is no heater outside, so choose the spot judiciously. We were glad we opted to eat upstairs: could still hear the music, but the noise from the downstairs bar was somewhat muted, and we were not shivering as we would have been had we opted to eat outdoors. It is only April afterall.

Service: we were on the second floor, with one very busy waiter trying to cover all the tables. It appeared that they use a “team service” approach with one waiter taking orders and being the “team leader” and other people doing things like filling water, delivering meals, clearing tables. Our waiter was really hustling, the helpers not so much. They delivered me the wrong meal. It was impossible to get anyone’s attention to point out the error until a different person came with the correct dish and apologized for the error (about 5 minutes later). The “lead waiter” was fully aware of the shortcomings of the service, and apologized for the long waits, and thanked us for our patience with him. Our thought after sitting and watching him for an hour is that he was working as hard and as fast as he could, it was just too many tables for one waiter to give “attentive service” to. We tipped him appropriately because any delays were not his fault.

Our dinner: We started our meal with the escargot in a garlic butter cream sauce with brioche. The escargot were very good. Perfectly cooked, not at all chewy or tough as they sometimes are, and the sauce complimented them quite nicely. The brioche was a nice touch. The person who delivered our appetizer immediately realized that we never received any bread, and hurried off to get us some. Once the bread arrived (a very good classic French rustic bread, crunchy on the outside, with a great texture) we used it to sop up the remaining sauce on the plate. A very nice start to a meal.

Hubby ordered the cassoulet. This is a dish I make at home (I am of French descent), and he laughingly told me he was going to do a “throw down” to see whether mine or the restaurant’s was the winner. It is said that there are as many cassoulet recipes as there are cooks in France, but they all share a common theme of a slowly cooked casserole of white beans and sausages, lightly seasoned with tomatoes and spices, along with goose or duck, pork, lamb or other meat. The cassoulet at Caribou Café can best be described as “deconstructed” a popular term in current culinary chic these days where the ingredients are segregated so one can “taste the individual components.” Basically it was a very well executed duck leg with bread crumbs on top, with overly tomatoed, under spiced white beans and a piece of sausage. Pork, one of the classic ingredients was totally missing. While hubby enjoyed the duck, this could in no way be mistaken for a slowly cooked casseroulet. . .it was separate parts place in a casserole dish and heated through. He thought it might have been just as well served on a plate as a duck leg, with a side of white beans and tomatoes. If you are looking for traditional cassoulet, look elsewhere. Hubby declared the wife the winner of the cassouolet throw down.

Because restaurant portions are always way more than I can comfortably eat, I ordered an appetizer for my entrée (braised short ribs served with tomato gnocchi and a petite salad). To the waiter’s credit, he explained that the accompaniment was not really gnocchi, it was more like a polenta cake. I ordered it anyway, but thought “Really? Gnocchi and a polenta cake are not even close! Why would the menu say that?” Never got an answer, just be aware that the description on the menu may not resemble the dish you receive. The petite salad was quite good, lightly dressed with a perfectly balanced vinaigrette dressing. The polenta cakes were alright (no tomayoes) if not notable, and the beef was braised until it was quite tender, but lacking of any assertive beef flavor. So the most successful part of the dish was the salad.

Food is cooked to order so it is reasonable to expect somewhat of a wait for your food, which did not concern us. We were not in a hurry so it was not an issue. If you are in a hurry, this may not be the best choice for you.

  • Visited April 2013
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Food
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Top Contributor
69 reviews 69 reviews
31 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 36 cities Reviews in 36 cities
45 helpful votes 45 helpful votes
“Lovely Evening”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 14, 2013 via mobile

Good, basic French fare. Nice feel, live music on a Saturday night. Helpful staff. Overall, we will return.

Visited April 2013
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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“Great Lunch Spot!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 4, 2013

I love Caribou Cafe! It is a fantastic spot for a quiet lunch at the bar, a glass of champagne with friends, or an evening of entertaining clients. The location is very convenient to area hotels, theatres and most importantly, my office!

  • Visited April 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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