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Chamber Spotlight: 'Sips' Brings French Flavor to Phoenixville

The bistro and bar opened on July 20.

If Fabien Chaigneau looks familiar to you, it’s not just because he has one of those faces.

The owner of Sips Bistro & Bar, the upscale French restaurant that opened Friday on Bridge Street, comes to the borough from posh Jersey resort the Bungalow Hotel; which he managed when it was featured on the late Bravo series 9 by Design.

But now back in the borough, and off the small screen, the Frenchman is focused on bringing a similar upscale dining experience to his adopted hometown—at a price that isn’t prohibitive.

“I’m going to be a real traditional French restaurant. Like where I grew up. A place you can come with a date, with a friend to have a good time, but is cheaper than [restaurants of similar quality],” Chaigneau, 32, said days before the opening of his first restaurant.

Sips’ entrees—which are prepared by former Great American Pub chef Jerry Petrus and include, to name a few, duck confit, bouillabaisse, and banzino—run between $17 and $24. The objective, Chaigneau says, is to be less expensive than the nice places and nicer than the less expensive ones. In other words, bourgeois quality at proletariat prices.

Chaigneau added that Sips will have a kids menu and, for particular eaters, he emphasized he carries vegetarian options and is able to alter dishes to accommodate most food allergies.

“American diners will look at a menu and try to make their own dish,” he joked, “but I’m trying to make people experience something new.”

The venue itself is of a piece with that goal. The 118-year-old building seats about 100; including a brick courtyard in the rear that holds 40 and a 15-seat original bar at the front of the house. Sips also has a 25-spot parking lot.

When Chaigneau is able to begin serving alcohol—he is still waiting on a liquor license from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, but is allowing customers to bring their own bottles in the interim—he will carry an all French wine list, a unique docket of cocktail offerings, and a few choice craft beers.

The owner promises specials seven days a week and a daily happy hour, but emphasized that Sips, name notwithstanding, is a restaurant first and foremost.

“I’m not a beer and a shot place. I’m not carrying Coors Light. I’m not carrying Miller Lite. There are places here where you can get Guinness. Where you can get a Miller Lite and sit outside," he said.

"I’m trying to catch somebody else here."

A guess: he’ll catch plenty.

James Smith July 25, 2012 at 12:52 PM
The name is a bit vexing? Siroter Fr. (to sip or savor) would have been nice.
Todd Palmer July 25, 2012 at 01:40 PM
Never say 'cheaper,' say 'more affordable'! I'm also vexed by the name but that's spilled milk now and I am looking forward to my first visit!
Greg Hytha July 25, 2012 at 10:00 PM
I applaud any and all efforts of enterprise here in Phoenixville. It's a beautiful building with a rich history. I will also be visiting soon with a few of my French speaking friends.... Au revoir...
Jim L. July 26, 2012 at 12:49 AM
It would be nice for those not familiar with Bridge St in Phoenixville if you noted just exactly where this establishment is, And what did it used to be ?? Is it the old Hotel Chester at Bridge and church Sts.????? The defunct closed Moon Saloon??? Why do you assume people know where it is. Unfortunately I'm finding the stories covered on patch lately are not complete..I.E. no name's given for offenders of DUI arrest's......incomplete coverage.......it did not used to be that way.
Cliff Story July 26, 2012 at 03:16 AM
I'd like to know where it is, too! My family and friends are always looking for new culinary experiences that won't melt our credit cards.
Tom Sunnergren July 26, 2012 at 03:18 AM
Sips is at 400 Bridge Street gang. Sorry for the omission.
Bill N. July 26, 2012 at 04:41 PM
I'm happy to see the gorgeous Hotel Chester building in such better shape than it was while under the Moon Saloon name. I think the fact that craft brews, etc. will be only be offered will keep some of the former Moonie riff-raff away (keep the dealers at Prima!).
. July 26, 2012 at 04:57 PM
I was wondering why the owner was focusing so much on not being a dive bar considering he was more of a fine dining establishment but now that the actual location has been posted, it makes sense. The Moom Saloon was a dump. Want-to-be Delaware Ave joint where fist fights happened more than not. Glad to see something worth while going in. I may have to stop by for dinner and support this place.
Joanne Fundy Jones July 26, 2012 at 05:14 PM
Cannot WAIT to try this new place! Thank you!
Kathy July 27, 2012 at 06:13 PM
I am going back tonight for the third time in a week. The food is amazing. Hoping to watch the Olympic Opening Ceremony tonight in the bar while eating Steak Frites and sipping wine.
Jonathan August 01, 2012 at 04:18 AM
I've dined at Sips three times now and I've had great meals so far. The servers we had were nice and knowledgeable. The back patio is exactly where I wish I could dine year round! We brought our wines thus far but I'm excited to see the wine list! And for those of you kinda afraid of fancy french restaurants - don't worry. The menu is french comfort food, portions are generous and the chef puts out intelligent dishes. And if any of you can remember what the Moon Saloon used to be, you're in for a bit of surprise - think restaurant impossible 10x. This place is exactly what Bridge St needs.
Maryann August 03, 2012 at 02:02 AM
Tonight, after enjoying a wonderful meal and amazing desserts, I found myself calling several friends to let them know what a great dining experience I had at Sips. We were a party of eight and each of us enjoyed all of the meals. The owner was friendly and helpful. The indoor porch and outdoor patio are beautiful and comfortable settings. We will be be back, often...and with friends.

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