Tonight (Sept. 9) is the premiere of Carmel Cafe & Wine Bar at 372 W. Lancaster Ave. in Wayne, previously the site of HogFish Bar & Grill and its predecessor, Flavor.
The transformation is dramatic. During my visit Saturday to photograph, curious Radnorites wandered in for a look-see and could not stop oohing-and-ahhing.
It's dark and sexy in a chain sort of way, which is about right because Carmel has five locations in Florida. (Why open in this area? Co-founder Terry Ryan, who was behind the posh Oceanaire during its brief tenure in Center City, was born and raised in Camden. Also behind Carmel is Chris T. Sullivan, who headed Outback years ago.)
Carmel's concept is Mediterranean-inspired fare (which they call "Mod Med"), available in small and large plates. The basil grilled salmon, to name one, is $12.49 or $16.49. Wines are available in three-, six- or nine-ounce pours or by the bottle.
Prices are refreshingly reasonable. Ryan says the check average (without alcohol) is about $20 a person. Menu is here.
The entire restaurant - from the back-of-the-house operations to the guest menus - is run off of iPads. You'll get one or two iPads, which show and describe each dish and even offer wine pairings. You can either order directly off of them or allow a server to enter the order. Either way, the kitchen gets a jump on the order.
The 160-seater has three communal tables and a semiprivate wine room.
Hours will be 4-10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 4-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 3-9 p.m. Sunday.
Weekday lunch will be added later.
Carmel opens amid some mighty keen chichi bar competition in the area, what with Peppercorn open for one week down the street; White Dog Cafe newly reopen after a fire; Paramour in downtown Wayne; and the future opening of Estia Taverna at 200 Radnor Chester Road.