May 08, 2017
Some hotels boast a central location. Some boast luxury. The Sofitel Philadelphia, while it does have both those admirable features, can boast about something no other Philly hotel has: half a million bees on the rooftop.
Why is that something to brag about? The bees aren't pests. They're working for the hotel.
The bees, 15 stories up, pollinate a rooftop garden where herbs and vegetables are grown for Sofitel's contemporary French restaurant Liberté Lounge.
Forget farm-to-table; this is rooftop-to-table.
Everything grown in the garden is used in the spring lunch and dinner menus. As for the bees' honey, it's used in pastries, salad dressings and cocktails.
Each hive's honey is unique. How honey tastes, as well as its color and texture, depends on where bees get their nectar and pollen and depends on the season.
Below are a few of the new seasonal menu items from Liberté Lounge's new executive chef Edward Hancock.
•Crispy Pork Belly – with tomato confit, braised kale, roasted garlic aioli and rye
•Cape May Crab Cake – pico de gallo, salsa verde
•Grilled Asparagus – with naked tomatoes, Reggiano, pea tendrils and tomato emulsion
•Lemon Verbena Crème Brulée - with honey shortbread
•13th on Sansom cocktail – Elijah Craig bourbon, jalapeño, ginger puree, lemon juice, bitters and honey
•75006 cocktail – Cîroc, St. Germain, grapefruit juice and rosemary
For one thing, spending the summer on a scorching roof isn't an issue for a bee.
"Bees can do hot. There was a study done in 1954 where [bees were placed] in lava fields in Italy and left for two years. The bees did just fine with temperatures exceeding 154 degrees," Shump stated.
Bees thriving in an urban environment isn't a concern, either.
"Paris has had bees in the city since the 1850s. They have one of the oldest beekeeping schools in the world."
The Sofitel Philadelphia, which blends French and American styles, is located at 120 S. 17th St.