Philadelphia, PA - Every Bastille Day for the past 24 years, restaurateur Terry Berch of Fairmount landmark London Grill has appeared in full powdered-wig regalia as her alter-ego, Marie Antoinette, and on Saturday, July 14 beginning at 5:30 p.m., she will don her corset and bustle and shout “Let them eat Tastykakes!” one last time, all while tossing 2,000 Butterscotch Krimpets to the crowd, for her final Bastille Day Block Party.
The annual celebration, co-hosted by nearby Eastern State Penitentiary, brings thousands of revelers to the neighborhood for live music, politically charged performances and the centerpiece of it all: Berch herself and a colorful reenactment of the storming of the Bastille, after which the assembled “mob” joins Berch at London Grill for a lively party.
The final Bastille Day performance is free to the public (click for details). In addition to Berch’s Marie Antoinette, the spectacle is expected to feature Edith Piaf (portrayed by John Jarboe, artistic director of The Bearded Ladies experimental cabaret troupe), as well as appearances from Joan of Arc, Benjamin Franklin, Vladimir Putin and a six-foot-tall French baguette. Expect commentary on the Philadelphia public education system, the American Healthcare Act, racial injustice, alternative facts, the travel ban and the border wall; Berch held a 2016 election-night party to watch the results come in and has been famously outspoken in her criticism of the Trump administration.
To celebrate the French national holiday, Ocean Prime, one of Center City’s most gorgeous seafood and steakhouses, is offering a French delicacy Foie Gras Appetizer ($22), served with seared foie gras, braised short rib, cauliflower pomme purée, rainbow kale and maple Demi glacé, from Monday, July 9th through Sunday, July 15th.
Better still, guests looking to indulge in Bastille Day reverie can pair the Foie Gras Appetizer with a glass of Louis Jadot Pouilly Fuissé from Burgundy France 2015 for a total of $40.
Berch has owned London Grill since 1991, and in addition to maintaining a thriving business, she has earned a reputation for her tenacious nature: as a businessperson, as a champion for the local craft beer scene, as an activist and as a social director of sorts, regularly hosting gatherings for holidays that bring all walks of life to the intersection of 23rd Street and Fairmount Avenue. Her annual Bastille Day Block Party began as a way to drum up business for her unassuming neighborhood bar and restaurant has transformed, after more than two decades, into a massive all-day party attended by thousands – and a beloved Philadelphia tradition. The final gathering will serve both as a party and as a fitting send-off to her Bastille Day antics, which have brought joy and color to Fairmount for more than two decades. Of course, guests are still encouraged to stop by London Grill any time for the famed hospitality and craveable food that have made it a landmark in the area even as Philadelphia has transformed around it.