Thursday, August 21, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

POSTED: Monday, August 11, 2014, 12:42 AM
Michael Solomonov. (INQUIRER)

For a stunningly frank piece Sunday in the New York Times, chef Michael Solomonov tells Frank Bruni about the depths of the drug abuse that threatened to destroy him.

“I was living a double life,” Solomonov told Bruni. “I look back and I’m horrified.”

Solo recounts sleeping only an hour or two a night in spring 2008 when he was opening Zahav - the groundbreaking Israeli restaurant in Society Hill Towers - with business partner Steve Cook. But the insomnia wasn't necessarily stress-induced.

POSTED: Sunday, August 10, 2014, 10:55 PM
The Robeks juice truck, opening in advance of its first brick-and-mortar shop near 11th and Chestnut Streets.

Robeks - the L.A.-bred juice/smoothie chain, is launching a truck ahead of its first Philadelphia store opening in September at 1035 Chestnut St.

The Robeks truck - featuring its hummingbird logo, pictures of smoothies and juices and three service windows - is setting up on Thursdays in August at LOVE Park, 16th Street and JFK Boulevard.

On Aug. 14, it will be there from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. On Aug. 21, it will work from 7 to 10 a.m.

POSTED: Sunday, August 10, 2014, 1:02 AM
Hand-cut Shake Shack fries, at left, will be discontinued in favor of crinkles. (MICHAEL KLEIN / (left); SHAKE SHACK (right))

Stop the presses! (Oh, wait. This is the web: Refresh your browser!)

Reacting to its own version of the New Coke debacle, burger syndicate Shake Shack has announced that it would again serve crinkle-cut fries.

Shake Shack's decision last year to go to hand-cut russets was met with skepticism. It certainly was more labor-intensive and required retrofitting about half of the chain's stores. Local shops are in Center City, University City and King of Prussia.

POSTED: Friday, August 8, 2014, 11:47 PM

Spike Mendelsohn, who recently opened a Philadelphia branch of his D.C.-based Good Stuff Eatery, dropped into Cook - the Rittenhouse demo kitchen - on Thursday, Aug. 7.

Part of his spiel was the art of burger-making. As he and his chef Max Albano knocked out grilled corn and his signature Prez Obama burger and Colletti's Smokehouse burger, he let on some suggestions for at-home.

At Good Stuff, he makes his burgers out of short rib, chuck and brisket, 82 percent lean.

POSTED: Thursday, August 7, 2014, 3:02 PM

Time can move slowly in the hotel industry.

The Sonesta opened two years ago at 18th and Market Streets, in the former Crowne Plaza Hotel.

In January 2014, the property began a top-to-bottom renovation, morphing into something urban chic.

POSTED: Thursday, August 7, 2014, 1:33 PM
The future Tredici at 13th and Sansom Streets. (MICHAEL KLEIN /

Greg Dodge, who popped the wine/beer/pizza specialist Zavino onto the northwest corner of 13th and Sansom Streets nearly five years ago, is going across the street with a new spot, Tredici.

Tredici (say it "tray-DEE-chay" and translate it as "thirteen"), a Mediterranean enoteca with a broad small-plate menu, will take the former Doggie Style shop on the southwest corner. El Vez and Capogiro also have the other corners; this is one of the densest blocks and a half of dining in the city (Sampan, Vintage, Charlie was a sinner., Barbuzzo, Lolita, Jamonera, Zio's, Mamou, plus more around each corner, like Opa).

Tredici - a 50-seater with an S-shaped dining room, 12-seat bar and open kitchen - is billed as a "more feminine" version of Zavino, with a bright, airy cafe feel. Menu from chef Carlos Aparicio will draw from Spain, France, Greece and Italy.

POSTED: Thursday, August 7, 2014, 1:07 AM
Diner en Noir will be an alternative to Diner en Blanc. (via Diner en Noir)

The morning of July 17, Dîner en Blanc opened the final web registration for those wishing to attend its annual pop-up picnic on Aug. 21 in Philadelphia.

About 10,000 people on a waiting list attempted to log in - and swiftly crashed Dîner en Blanc's registration system, based at DEB's international headquarters in Montreal.

This was not the first time that the volunteer-run DEB has encountered online registration glitches over its now-third year in Philadelphia. The event itself - whose location is disclosed only moments before its start - has run smoothly. In 2012, 1,300 people dressed in white and carrying their tables, chairs and food took over Logan Circle. Last year, 2,500 people partied on the JFK Boulevard Bridge over the Schuylkill. 

POSTED: Monday, August 4, 2014, 11:35 PM
Varnana "V" Beuria in the window of her new Chhaya Cafe.

Varnana "V" Beuria has closed Chhaya Cafe - her coffee/bruncherie on East Passyunk - in anticipation of a move two doors west, to larger quarters at 1819 E. Passyunk Ave. (It's a double-wide, encompassing 1817 and 1819.)

Official opening will be Thursday, Aug. 21.

The move into the former Sweet Alyssa children's clothing store will double Chhaya's capacity to 60 (50 inside and 10 outside). In a game of musical storefronts, Sweet Alyssa moved across the street, to 1822 EPA.

About this blog
Michael Klein, the editor/producer of, 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

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