Philadelphia’s Newest French Wine Bar Also Serves Hot Dogs in Baguettes
Chloé Grigri’s parents still tell the story. She was about 10 years old, sitting on a family friend’s terrace in the South of France, when someone asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up. Without hesitation she replied: “I want to drink wine.”
Born and raised in Philadelphia, the 31-year-old spent summers visiting her father’s family in Aix-en-Provence. After flying into Paris, the family would drive south, stopping along the way at vineyards and farms in Burgundy. On one of these trips, they stopped to visit a friend’s wine cave.
“They made wine, and little goat cheeses. I was tasting the cheese, and in France, it doesn’t matter how old you are, you taste the wine. Tasting both of them together, my mind was blown,” recalls Grigri. The experience left a lasting impression, both days later when she was asked about her future plans, and years later as she chose her career path.
Grigri and her father, Bernard, own Le Caveau, a new wine bar in Philly’s Bella Vista neighborhood. Chloé started out working in the textile production department at Anthropologie before opening the French tavern-inspired Good King Tavern with her father in 2013. “My dad’s from the South of France, and he’s always cared a lot about bringing that culture of food and wine into this country,” she says. “It was such a part of my life growing up. Every memory I have in France with my family is sitting around a table with wine and probably way too much to eat.”
In the six years since opening Good King, the restaurateur has expanded her wine knowledge, meeting winemakers and exploring family-run vineyards and tiny wine bars in small towns on her twice yearly trips to France.
“For me, wine is so much more than just what’s in your glass,” Chloé says. “It’s the people behind it, and the stories that connect those people. There’s a certain magic in wine that I’ve seen there that doesn’t totally exist in this country.”
So she sought to bring it to her corner of Philadelphia. The idea behind Le Caveau was to introduce Philly to a wine bar in the spirit of her French favorites. One is the iconic Septime La Cave in Paris, which Chloé describes vividly: “You walk into that room and you’re packed like sardines—everybody’s standing up, holding little bowls of olives and a bottle of wine in one hand, and pouring rounds to strangers.”
A cozy, second-floor space, Le Caveau (which translates to “the wine cellar” in French) has exposed-brick walls and an oak bar, with framed vintage Provence magazine covers lining the walls. The wine list—a collection of her personal favorites—features over 130 bottles that range from accessible to splurge, including Les Bonnes Blanches and Moussamoussettes Pét-Nat, from natural wine world darlings Famille Mosse.
And just like in the Parisian bars that have inspired Le Caveau, the food is secondary to the wine, though no less appealing. The concise menu includes salmon rillettes and duck liver mousse, charcuterie and cheeses that compliment the wine, and endearingly, a hot dog. A French hot dog, specifically. It was her father’s idea, who fondly remembers buying them from his local tabac as a child in France, and one day he sent her the machine. The stainless-steel contraption has four stakes, each one for removing the interior of a baguette, and warming it before piping in dijon mustard and a hot dog. So far, it’s been a popular pairing for guests. (Grigri notes only one table has asked for ketchup so far, and it was a group from France.)
And while the bar sells wines by the glass, the whole idea is that patrons buy bottles to share: “It sort of keeps you anchored at the table, or anchored in a conversation and committed to the people who are with you in that moment.” Chloé says that it will take time to build that specific vibe at Le Caveau, but she’s seen glimpses of her vision coming to fruition, like, say, when strangers sitting next to each other at the bar share their bottles of wine. While snacking on French hot dogs.
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