Early crowds are finding ambition in Lansdowne at the gorgeous NoBL, a Mediterranean BYOB that opened last week in a long-ago hardware store at 24 N. Lansdowne Ave. (484-461-2689) It's a block off Baltimore Avenue — north, to be exact — which explains "NoBL."
It's the crew from the nearby Sycamore — owner Stephen Wagner and chef Sam Jacobson, who turns out such small plates as moussaka, mussels, pappardelle with chicken livers; grilled octopus; grilled artichokes; and 10-inch grilled pizzas.
Beneath 20-foot ceilings is an assortment of seating arrangements, including a chef's counter with high chairs; dining tables encased in a wood-and-glass frame; and a private table in the back set against a twinkly lighted back wall.
Wagner suggests toting vodka, gin, or light rum to be stirred into a housemade mixer ($10 a liter).
It's open daily at 5 p.m. and closes at 10 during the week and midnight on Friday and Saturday. Wagner, incidentally, is working on a taqueria in town.
Judi and David Einhorn are about two weeks from reopening Seafood Unlimited (270 S. 20th St., 215-732-3663) after a top-to-bottom renovation that added 120 square feet of mosaic by artist Isaiah Zagar plus such niceties as a sound-absorbing ceiling by architect Janice Woodcock and designer Pierre Trombert. The seafood counter, a staple since its founding in the 1970s, is gone; Judi Einhorn explains that they'll be a "seafood speakeasy — if someone wants a pound of [raw] salmon, we'll sell it to them." It will be open for dinner at first (entrees $18-$22, as previously); brunch will follow. See photos here.
La Petite Dauphine, an upscale-casual coffeehouse and BYOB cafe, now occupies the brownstone at 2029 Walnut St. (267-324-5244) next to the new Vernick Food & Drink. For the name, owner David Smith, a former manager at Le Bec-Fin, plays on Marie Antoinette before she became queen of France. He offers pastry and coffees in the morning (7 a.m. weekdays, 8 a.m. weekends), followed at 11 a.m. by a menu of cheeses and desserts. Yes, cart fans, Smith has carts for each, and he sells samplers. Dinner service will begin later in the year. The building has been polished considerably. In terms of tearoom/coffeehouse vibe, you Rittenhouse Squares might find it reminiscent of Mademoiselle de Paris, which had a run in the 1990s at 18th and Sansom Streets. More recently, nightclubs occupied Smith's space.
Pure Tacos, the Ocean City, N.J., shop, opens a branch at 1935 Chestnut St. (215-496-9393) on Monday.
Circles Contemporary Asian, the South Philly Thai, has opened its Northern Liberties outpost — a soothing BYOB in a former pizzeria at 812 N. Second St. (267-687-1309). It's open for dinner daily; lunch starts Friday. Menus are similar, though NoLibs offers vegan tasting menus.
Moon Krapugthong of Manayunk's Chabaa Thai is looking at a July 20 opening of Yanako, her long-planned Japanese restaurant down the street at 4255 Main St. I'm told the bilevel space will have an 18-foot sushi bar in an "atrium" and carry a sexy design by a team of Philadelphia University architecture grads. Chef Haruo Ige, who's been "in residence" at Chabaa Thai, will be chef.
Evan Clancy, whose past includes general manager of South Philly Tap Room, is looking to a post-Labor Day launch of Fountain Porter at 1601 S. 10th St., the former 1601 Cafe at 10th and Tasker Streets. Clancy is partnered with Scott Pawlicky; both tend bar at the Kite & Key in Franklintown. Clancy describes his joint as an old-school, owner-run corner bar with 20 drafts, affordable wine, and a menu to be determined: "Nothing pretentious."
Former Dandelion food and beverage manager Jay Willard and Time/Bar/Vintage owner Jason Evenchik are partnering in the neighborhood pub Growlers (736 S. Eighth St., at Fitzwater), replacing Vesuvio. Initially, they'll have six beer taps. TVs will remain in the main bar. No live music or no DJs. Opening is projected for August.