Monday, December 22, 2014

POSTED: Tuesday, December 9, 2014, 3:07 PM

After a good deal of renovation, El Poquito - a family-friendly Mexican cantina - has emerged on the site of the former Chestnut 7 at 8201 Germantown Ave. in Chestnut HIll (267-766-5372).

Front man here is George Atterbury, who helped oversee Jose Garces' Amada, Distrito and Village Whiskey restaurants at the Revel Casino in Atlantic City and later became the group's director of operations.

Boxwood Architects and Groundswell did the work inside and outside (including new parking in the rear).

POSTED: Tuesday, December 9, 2014, 2:42 AM
French toast from Classic Diner in West Chester. (BETSY BARRON)

Almost two decades after opening in Malvern, Classic Diner has opened a second location.

It's in the former Jack’s Steaks & Shakes, the stone building at 16 E. Gay St. in West Chester.

Menu is similar to the original, and there is a to-go counter with house-made breads, sticky buns and baked goods and coffee. It serves breakfast and lunch from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.

POSTED: Monday, December 8, 2014, 1:09 AM
The open kitchen at Girard Brasserie, 300 E. Girard Ave. (Michael Klein / Philly.com)

We've heard of all kinds of tipping stories lately:

The football player who stiffs a waiter, the Fishtown restaurant that makes tipping optional, the restaurants (mainly in California) that ask for additional gratuities to help fund health insurance for workers.

Last week, L.A. trattoria Alimento added a line to its checks to encourage patrons to throw money also to the back-of-the-house staff - the cooks, dishwashers and prep workers who also happen to have a potent impact on your dining experience.

POSTED: Saturday, December 6, 2014, 2:57 AM
Dim Sum Garden, 1020 Race St. (MICHAEL KLEIN / Philly.com)

Dim Sum Garden is known far and wide for its soup dumplings, which Inquirer critic Craig LaBan deems among the most authentic in the area.

Not for firecracker chicken.

Authorities are seeking nine young patrons who shot off fireworks in the back of the restaurant at 1020 Race St. Friday night, setting off a fire alarm and allowing them to skip out on a $90 check during the confusion.

POSTED: Friday, December 5, 2014, 4:52 PM
Owner Thom Sueta at SouthHouse, on 13th Street just off Shunk Street in South Philadelphia. (MICHAEL KLEIN / Philly.com)

Lower Moyamensing, the slice of South Philly east of Broad and a bit north of the sports complex, has a new spot:

Friday, Dec. 5 marks the opening of SouthHouse (2535 S. 13th St., 267-457-3682), a pub run by career-changing public relations executive Thom Sueta (who left Aramark last year) and first-time executive chef Thomas Day. (Betsy Futryk, a Buddakan alumna teaching at the Art Institute, helped hire the kitchen team.)

They gutted and transformed the former Quattro's, just off the corner of 13th and Shunk (catercorner from Engine 49), opening the kitchen to the 60-seat dining room, done up in reclaimed materials.

POSTED: Friday, December 5, 2014, 3:39 PM

Olivier Desaintmartin has gone next door from his bistro Zinc - and two blocks away from Caribou Cafe - to open Petit Rôti (248 S. 11th St., 267-457-5447), a French-style rotisseur. It's mostly takeout; there is snug cafe seating for about a dozen.

Rotisserie sandwiches - Amish chicken, Black Angus beef and heirloom pork (all natural, no GMOs) - are made on baguettes. Meats are also available as platters. Chickens are sold half and whole, and meats by the pound.

Refrigerated cases have cheeses and pâtés.

POSTED: Thursday, December 4, 2014, 11:53 PM
Tunde Wey at the stove.

Since our email filters were tightened up a few years ago, the number of entreaties I receive from Nigerians has dropped considerably.

One that made its way through came from a chef, Tunde Wey. He sought attention, not my bank account number.

Wey, 31, born in Lagos and living in Detroit for the last 14 years, co-founded a restaurant in Hamtramck, Mich., called (revolver) that rotates guest chefs every weekend.

POSTED: Thursday, December 4, 2014, 3:38 PM

Juniper Commons - the homage to the '80s by chef Kevin Sbraga (Sbraga, The Fat Ham) - has debuted at the corner of Broad and South Streets (521 S. Broad St., 215-735-1913), where it occupies part of the ground floor of SouthStar.

The look is there. It feels just a touch retro, a bit diner-y. Eimer Design borrowed from the Reagan-era playbook and riffed on that period's love of brass and glass. Newspaper pages - including some that nearly everyone read - are part of the wallpaper. The soundtrack, curated by general manager Ben Fileccia, starts in the '70s at the beginning of the evening and progresses to 1989 by last call. 

If you can, sit at the counter and watch the grill.

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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