Stephen Starr says he's always been intrigued by such old-time, post-Prohibition clubhouses as 21 Club in New York and the Brown Derby in L.A.
He's converted the Striped Bass, which he bought out of bankruptcy and reopened in April 2004, into Butcher & Singer (1500 Walnut St., 215-732-4444), a steak and chop house whose leather, horseshoe-shaped booths and velvet tufting look right out of an old movie. The two crystal chandeliers hanging from the 28-foot ceiling were taken from the old Fontainebleau in Miami.
The name, of course, is more than a carnivore's pun. Butcher & Singer was the brokerage house that operated out of the building for decades.
Butcher & Singer is a high-end steak house, just like Starr's subdued but contemporary meatery, Barclay Prime, less than four blocks away. Starr says Butcher & Singer will appeal to nostalgists, while the more expensive Barclay Prime will appeal to those seeking specialized cuts of meat, such as kobe.
Designer Shawn Hausman, who did Starr's Parc and Continental Mid-town, popped in some nifty features, including a mural of dogs and a large bull's head.
Striped Bass' open kitchen has been mostly closed up. (The stainless-steel sculpture of a leaping fish that hung over Striped Bass' cooking line now sits in the backyard of one of Starr's contractors.)
Chef Shane Cash is a cousin of triple Hall of Famer Johnny Cash; he commuted to his last job from his Bucks County home. Entree prices range from $26 for the pork chop to $65 for the surf and turf (an 8-ounce filet with a 6- to 8-ounce lobster tail). Desserts include retro baked Alaska. Starr estimates the per-person dinner tab to be about $85. For now, it's open for weekday lunch and daily dinner.
What's newMonday is the projected opening of Giorgio's on Pine (1328 Pine St., 215-545-6265), a rustic BYO trattoria from Giorgio Giuliani, formerly of Monte Carlo Living Room and Primavera, in the former Valentino Ristorante. His Primavera chef, Chris Calvanese, will do Italian entrees priced from $12 to $20. It will be open daily for lunch and dinner plus Sunday brunch.
Chef Ken Kaufmann, who's been in the biz for decades (Apropos, General Lafayette Inn), has surfaced in Phoenixville with the weeks-old Pickering Creek Inn (37 Bridge St., 610-933-9962), a bar-restaurant in the former Mansion House. Food is "earthy, regional American," says Kaufmann, partnered with Jeff Feulner and Bob Henzler. Beer bible is getting up to 50 selections, and there are six on draft (including Bell's Two Hearted, Sea Dog's Wild Blueberry, and Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale). Dinner entrees run $13 to $21, and there are free eats during weekday happy hours (4 to 6 p.m.) and a Sunday brunch buffet. It's open for lunch and dinner daily.
Also in Phoenixville: Declan Mannion and Conor Cummins of Molly Maguire's have gone next door for the Fenix (193 Bridge St., 610-933-9494), a martini bar with a tapas menu, open Thursdays through Saturdays from 5 p.m.
Copabanana (Fourth and South Streets) has retooled its upstairs room, known as Havana, into a tropical bistro called Coconut Grove. Ben Byruch, who ran the ill-starred Sonam nearby, is chef. As at Sonam, he's doing small plates ($7 to $9). It's open from Wednesdays through Mondays from 5 to 11 p.m.; entrance is on the Fourth Street side, near Alyan. Byruch also now oversees the food operation at Copa, whose menu was recently steered more toward Mexican after an overhaul by consultant Quon Church, formerly of El Vez.
What's comingMemphis Taproom's Leigh Maida and Brendan Hartranft expect a late-November opening for their beer bar Local 44 at 44th and Spruce Streets in West Philly. It will serve no bottled beer. "Nor will college-bar-type-shots be part of the scene," says Maida.
Iron Hill's eighth location, due in May, will be the former Pasta Vino in Maple Shade (124 East Kings Highway). Iron Hill says it's poised for more growth, as Citibank recently approved $10 million in funding for six additional locations throughout the mid-Atlantic region by 2011.
Briefly notedBobby Saritsoglou is chef at the Witch, the gastropub that replaced Peppercorns at Wharton and Moyamensing in Pennsport. Saritsoglou's past includes sous chef at the former Django.
Ari Weiswasser has left the kitchen at Pearl (1904 Chestnut St.).
Marigold Kitchen (501 S. 45th St.) has instituted Sunday brunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Sommelier Melissa Monosoff, an alumna of the Fountain at the Four Seasons and Striped Bass, has landed at Savona (100 Old Gulph Rd., Gulph Mills). She's starting Friday night wine tastings - six wines for $25.
Contact columnist Michael Klein at 215-854-5514 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For restaurant news served when you want it, see "The Insider" at http://go.philly.com/insider.