Thursday, September 18, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

POSTED: Wednesday, September 10, 2014, 12:20 AM
Vesper Club, 223 S. Sydenham St.

The Vesper Club, one of Philly's old-guard private dining clubs, has been down and out for nearly two years now. In late 2012, it sold its landmark building on Sydenham Street - the narrow block between Walnut and Locust and 15th and 16th Streets - and briefly took up residence with the Raquet Club across the street.

Attorney Chuck Ercole, who owns the Vesper's building and the adjacent building housing Misconduct Tavern, says he is cleaning up the Vesper from a burst pipe last winter and expects to have the space open to the public by mid-November as a supper club (with a piano bar) and for private parties.

Ercole declined to divulge more.

POSTED: Tuesday, September 9, 2014, 11:45 PM
On "Hell's Kitchen" season 13, top, left to right: Ashley Sherman, Jennifer Salhoff, bottom left to right, Sade Dancy and Denine Giordano. (FOX)

Season 13 of Fox's Hell's Kitchen launches at 8 p.m. Sept. 10, and four women from Eastern Pennsylvania will be among the 18 chefs competing under the watchful scowl of Gordon Ramsay.

They're a diverse bunch: self-taught and schooled, seasoned and rookie.

One - Jennifer Salhoff - will host a viewing party  at her restaurant, Cuba Libre, which will serve comp Duck Breast Spring Rolls, filled with shredded duck confit, bok choy ragu, wild mushrooms, and spiced cranberry served with a kabocha squash dipping sauce.

POSTED: Tuesday, September 9, 2014, 3:46 PM

There's a big collision of Thai and Mexican flavors coming to South Street.

Tuk Tuk Real at 429 South St. (which was the groundbreaking Chinese restaurant Tang's years ago) is the joint project of Alex Boonphaya, who owns Circles in South Philly and Northern Liberties, and his sous chef, Silvestre Rincon. It's fast-casual, offering dine-in, takeout and delivery during lunch, dinner and late-night daily.

Just to explain themselves, Night #1 will be an open house, featuring a complimentary tasting of select menu items on Wednesday, Sept. 10 between 6 and 9 p.m.

POSTED: Tuesday, September 9, 2014, 10:38 AM
Main Street Market, at Main and Grape Streets in Manayunk. MICHAEL KLEIN / Philly.com

Moon Krapugthong, who said last month that she would relocate her long-running Chabaa Thai BYOB in Manayunk, won't be going far.

She's taking over the double-wide storefront at 4343-45 Main St., the corner of Main and Grape Streets that formerly housed Saxbys Coffee and Main Street Market.

The corner will become the main dining room, and the old Main Street Market section will house the kitchen and Chabaa’s new Thai market.

Plan is to close at 4371 Main St. on Sept. 27 and open in the new space in early 2015.

POSTED: Monday, September 8, 2014, 11:23 PM

La Colombe Torrefaction - the homegrown coffee giant - is on the verge of a major expansion.

You probably know about the enormous cafe at 1335 Frankford Ave. in Fishtown that will open any day now. No announcement - rather, the doors will simply be unlocked. The idea is to feed only the neighborhood at first.

You probably don't know that owners Todd Carmichael and JP Iberti are sitting on a pile of bucks - $28.5 million, says Carmichael - that will be used to open 90 more cafes on both coasts. Carmichael says La Colombe - now in New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. - will enter other markets including Boston, Baltimore and a swath of California from Los Angeles to San Francisco. "We picked up an additional class of shareholders," Carmichael said. And with the original 25-year lease on its 19th Street flagship now extended 15 more years, the company appears here to stay.

POSTED: Sunday, September 7, 2014, 7:36 PM
A souvenir T-shirt sold by Lewinsky's on Clinton. (via Facebook)

What do you get when you combine a bawdy sense of humor, a love of presidential history, a long memory and an empty pub space on Clinton Street?

In Delaware City, Del., you get Lewinsky's on Clinton.

The bar-slash-double entendre - an homage to America's most famous White House intern - opened over the summer in the town on the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal.

POSTED: Sunday, September 7, 2014, 6:41 PM
The main room at Cibo Ristorante Italiano. Balcony is at rear. (MICHAEL KLEIN / Philly.com)

Toward the end of the four-decade run of Portofino at 1227 Walnut St., Ralph Berarducci renovated the place top to bottom and turned it into Walnut Street Supper Club, offering live music from singing waiters along with Italian food in a supper club atmosphere.

Last month, Berarducci sold to Chinatown restaurateur Kim Hyunh, who has changed the name to Cibo Ristorante Italiano. No relationship to the wine bars at Philadelphia International Airport - or to any other Cibo. (Since cibo means "food," there are a gazillion Cibos out there, give or take a billion.)

The concept is the same, except new chef Antonio Cardillo's menu is Northern Italian, and it's now open for lunch Monday to Saturday in addition to dinner nightly.

POSTED: Friday, September 5, 2014, 2:16 PM

Back in 2001, John and Stephanie Reitano vacationed in Italy.

The experience in Capri was an eye-opener. Not so much for John, a psychiatrist who was born outside of Venice, but for Stephanie, stay-at-home mother of three. On her first day, she discovered gelato - that cold mystery that's lower in fat than ice cream but creamier.

Back in the States, she threw herself into learning the craft. She never cut corners: Milk came from an Amish family's herd of grass-fed cows. Produce from organic farmers. Imported nuts. If there's something she wanted - like candied fruits - she made it herself. "John taught me to love food," Stephanie said. "I learned a lot about the Italian notion of locality."

About this blog
Michael Klein, the editor/producer of philly.com/Food, writes about the local restaurant scene in his Inquirer column "Table Talk." Have a question? Email it! See his Inquirer work here. Reach Michael at mklein@philly.com.

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