Table Talk: A casual cousin to Jake's in Manayunk

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Bruce Cooper, chef-owner of Jake's, in his new Cooper's Brick Oven Wine Bar next door.

Nearly 21 years after opening Jake's on Main Street in Manayunk, Bruce Cooper is within days of rolling out the far more casual Cooper's Brick Oven Wine Bar next door.

Highlight of the sleek, 65-seat Cooper's (4367 Main St., 215-483-2750) will be the Wood Stone oven, which will issue seasonal pizzas, snacks, small plates, and what Cooper calls "in-between plates," plus cheeses, 30 wines by the glass, and about two dozen beers. Most dishes are way under $20. Starting the week after opening, breakfast is to be served on the weekends.

Plans are to close the landmark Jake's for a few days to remove its storefront bar in favor of more seating.

Also in Manayunk: Wednesday is the expected opening of Cactus Restaurant & Bar (4245 Main St., 267-385-6249), a Southwestern cantina from Joe Abruzzo and Joe Jowett, who own Bayou next door. Cactus' specialty is homemade guacamole. Features: Hardwood floors, granite-topped bar, cherry tables, quesadillas, nachos, fajitas for one or two, a few $14-or-less entrees, 40 tequilas, many imported beers by the bottle. It'll be open from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Mondays through Thursdays, and from 11:30 a.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

What's new

Root, a simple, 38-seat California-inspired BYO, has opened at 1033 Spring Garden St. (215-765-0904) under the guidance of Chris Hora, a native Angeleno who did time at Coyote Crossing in Conshohocken and West Chester, previously worked for Wolfgang Puck in L.A. at Chinois and Spago, and owned a restaurant in (Czech this out) Prague. Hora is intrigued by Slow Food and sustainable agriculture; see his reasonably priced menu at www.rootrestaurant.com.

Tomorrow is the scheduled debut of Du Jour Cafe & Market at the Symphony House at Broad and Pine Streets (215-735-8010), the second location of the popular eat-in/takeout from Haverford Square. Not only casual and near the theaters, but there's a liquor license. It'll be open from morning through 10 p.m. Owner Marty Grims also has the Moshulu, and the Shore spots Daddy O, Plantation and the Inlet.

John Anderson has ventured into Center Square, Montgomery County, for a second Solaris Grille (2665 Skippack Pike, 610-222-9192), replacing La Bella Cucina across from Center Square Golf Club. He intends the 100-seater, open daily for lunch and dinner (plus Sunday brunch), as a complement to the Chestnut Hill original, plus banquet facilities for up to 200. Menu, based on a wood oven, is similar to Chestnut Hill's. There's a bar and outdoor patio.

Speaking of central Montco: Plans for a revival of the Broad Axe Tavern (Butler and Skippack Pikes) are very much a go, and a partnership (which wants to keep a low profile for now) is planning to open it as a bar-restaurant. Owner Vic Meitner had been renovating the historic building, but his tentative deal with Michael Naessens of Eulogy Belgian Tavern and Beneluxx fell apart.

What's coming

Big crop of pre-Labor Day openings*: If the stars align, this week will see the lights on at Minar Palace, the Indian BYO being revived at 1304 Walnut St. Monday marks the debut of chef Peter Woolsey's Bistrot La Minette (623 S. Sixth St.), what French folks would call a "gastro-bistro." Monday also should see the debut of Privé (the Mediterranean nightspot at 246 Market St.). On the "opening within two weeks" list are Mix (the coffee shop/salad/brick-oven pizzeria/bar at 21st and Chestnut Streets) and new outposts for the Southwestern cantinas El Fuego (2104 Chestnut St.) and Adobe Cafe (1919 E. Passyunk Ave.).

* Opening dates are constantly in flux as owners encounter delays in health inspections, licensing issues, bouts of wishful thinking, and acts of God.

Kaizan, which lasted a Philly minute in the Academy House (1420 Locust St.), aims to revive as Izakaya in mid-September. Same owner. While Kaizan's concept was a Japanese tasting-menu concept called kaiseki, Izakaya will be a casual Japanese tavern. It's not to be confused with chef Michael Schulson's posh Izakaya in the Borgata in Atlantic City.

Chinatown's charismatic Joe Poon will land at 108 Chestnut St. in Old City. He's looking for a sometime-in-September rollout for - deep breath now - Joe's Peking Duck Original 1984. The name refers to his onetime landmark Joe's Peking Duck House at 925 Race St. Poon still leads culinary tours of Chinatown and maintains a catering operation at 1010 Cherry St.

Luigi's Pizza Fresca, which has spots in Burlington and Marlton, is looking at mid- to late-September for a third location, 2401 Fairmount Ave. in Fairmount. That's the former Art Museum Restaurant, which shut down several years ago after the 76-year-old owner was arrested for trying to hire a hit man to off her 82-year-old husband.

Bridgets 8 West in Ambler wants to expand shortly with a new lounge opening to the sidewalk. There's a newish chef, John Magliocco, who previously worked at Morimoto.


Contact columnist Michael Klein at 215-854-5514 or mklein@phillynews.com. See his work at http://go.philly.com/michaelklein.