Saturday, November 29, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

POSTED: Friday, November 14, 2014, 4:12 PM
Rendering of new Hai Street Kitchen by Olaya Studio.

Judging by the lunchtime lines, one of this year's great hits in fast-casual food in the city has been Hai Street Kitchen, whose corporate master - Genji - bills it as a Japanese burrito shop.

They're on a roll, all right.

Another location is on the way early next year: 125 S. 40th St. in University City.

POSTED: Friday, November 14, 2014, 3:42 PM

Step off the elevator onto the third floor of the SouthStar Lofts at Broad and South Streets during most workdays and you may be greeted by cooking aromas and, to add a touch more cheese, the strains of Lionel Richie.

Behind the door of one apartment is the office-slash-test kitchen for Kevin Sbraga's forthcoming restaurant, Juniper Commons.

When Juniper Commons opens on SouthStar's ground floor - and the target is mid-December - Greg Garbacz, the chef de cuisine, and Francis Hagan, the sous chef, will have a full kitchen, including a custom 5-foot hearth for spit-cooking of chicken, hogs, lamb and fish.

POSTED: Friday, November 14, 2014, 2:22 AM
Samantha Orskog, chef at Friday Saturday Sunday. (WEAVER LILLEY)

Friday Saturday Sunday in Rittenhouse - what Rick Nichols calls "Center City's longest dinner" - has been a study in consistency over its 41 years in business:

The cream of mushroom soup, the upstairs Tank Bar, the laid-back vibe.

And the man in the kitchen.

POSTED: Thursday, November 13, 2014, 4:17 PM

Instacart - the grocery-delivery service that promises your goods within an hour - has been on a tear recently with its partnerships.

Want booze? The service has LCB approval to send bottles your way. A few things from the supermarket? Depending on your zip code in the Philly area, Instacart will drop off foodstuffs from assorted stores, including Acme, SuperFresh and Green Aisle Grocery.

In its latest move, which started this week, it is using its shoppers to deliver from 32 participating merchants in Reading Terminal Market.

POSTED: Thursday, November 13, 2014, 2:37 PM
Dining room with fireplace at Cantina Avenida, 7402 Germantown Ave. (MICHAEL KLEIN /

Restaurants might be opening left and right, but doors are locking on a few places, too:

Mount Airy's Avenida went to a less-expensive cantina style - as Cantina Avenida - earlier this year. But that didn't help, as it's closed.

Darling's Cafe, the go-to for Moore College students and budget-conscious Parkway tourists, is shut at 21st and Spring Streets. People are being referred to the Darling's Diner at the Piazza at Schmidt's in Northern Liberties.

POSTED: Wednesday, November 12, 2014, 3:18 PM
Chorizo platter at Manita Burrito.

Twice a month over the summer, Mugshots Coffeehouse (1925 Fairmount Ave.) was the scene of a burrito pop-up from Bistro 7 chef/owner Michael O'Halloran and business partner and friend Noam Kugelmass.

Now, Manita Burrito is a permanent thing Thursday through Sunday nights at Mugshots.

The signature menu item is the freekeh burrito, built around the super-grain made of roasted green wheat. And while O'Halloran is the front man in this enterprise and cooked healthfully while living in Tucson ages ago, he gives credit to his sous chef, Bertin Lopez, a native of Puebla whose restaurant past includes Azafran.

POSTED: Wednesday, November 12, 2014, 4:00 AM

Just about four months after the opening of Guy Fieri's Chophouse at Bally's in Atlantic City, Fieri himself dropped by for a look-see at the place.

It's money, all right, sitting right there next to the Buca di Beppo on the second level, above the casino floor: red banquettes, lobster tank, expansive bar, lively vibe. Even critics are grooving on the menu, which takes a typically Fieri-esque approach to the traditional chophouse menu. (Yes, there's donkey sauce.)

Caesars has imported three big, bold chef names of late to its Atlantic City properties: Steve Martorano at Harrah's, Fieri at Bally's and Gordon Ramsay, whose pub will open at Caesars in February.

POSTED: Wednesday, November 12, 2014, 12:28 AM

Wednesday, Nov. 12 (at 7:30 a.m.) is day one for Knead Bagels (725 Walnut St.), filling the Washington Square West storefront previously occupied by Philly's Cafe and Tuscany Cafe.

Chef Adam Willner, working with his wife, Cheri, calls this "a modern interpretation of the traditional bagel shop."

In sum, he's boiling his bagels in the old-fashioned way but he's cheffing up the varieties.

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

Michael Klein
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