For nine months, with his own two hands, Laurentiu Muras has been redoing the former Cafe Habana on 21st Street into a gastropub called Slate.
Work was finished in December, says Muras, a Romanian-born longtime bartender at such Center City establishments as Valanni, Jack's Firehouse and El Vez. All he had to do was iron out staffing issues.
The wrinkles are gone, Muras says, and Slate (102 S. 21st St., 215-568-6886) will open tomorrow. It'll be open daily at 5 p.m.
Chef Eric Paraskevas, formerly chef de cuisine at Lolita, says they're aiming to be an inviting neighborhood place, with appetizers from $7 to $9, sandwiches from $10 to $12, and entrees from $18 to $21. Paraskevas' background at Lolita exposed him to Mexican food, but he doesn't want to pigeonhole his cuisine.
Out and aroundBrightening up the mundane central Montgomery County restaurant scene is the new-ish Le Gourmet (115 S. Main St., North Wales, 267-613-8065), a Euro-style bistro serving breakfast through dinner and Sunday brunch - in a former bank. Tunisian-born chef-owner Nadhir Moatemri, a caterer and former chef at Pane e Vino in Doylestown, cooks behind the former teller windows, and the vault is now a pantry. There's a WiFi-equipped seating area for coffee, too. Lunch goes the sandwich/salad/light-entree route, while dinner is more ambitious: pastas and mains in the $14-to-$22 range, while specials (how about rack of lamb chop over black truffle risotto drizzled with a berry demiglace?) are $24 to $30. Hours are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sundays and Mondays.
Briefly notedMaia in Villanova has trimmed days of operation for its second-floor restaurant to Thursdays through Saturdays. The lower-level bistro/bar is open daily. Terence Feury, one of the founding chefs, becomes chef at Old City's Fork, effective this weekend.
Grady David's at Routes 10 and 322 in Honey Brook has given way to Bistro on 10. It marks a parting of the ways after eight months between operator Dave Magrogan (Kildare's, Doc Magrogan's Oyster House) and building owner Lewis Frame Jr.
The Mobil Travel Guide, which doles out four- and five-star ratings to hotels, restaurants and spas, released its 2009 list, and it's not so glowing for Philly. The city's only four-star hotel is the Four Seasons, as usual, and its only four-star restaurants are repeats: the Fountain at the Four Seasons and Lacroix at the Rittenhouse. Striped Bass, which gave way to Butcher & Singer, was on last year's list. Brasserie Perrier, which closed New Year's Eve, got four stars on the 2006 list. Pennsylvania's only five-star Mobil restaurant is Lautrec at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Western Pennsylvania. Le Bec-Fin was Pennsylvania's only five-star restaurant last year, but Georges Perrier relinquished the award when he changed concept.
Mémé at 22d and Spruce Streets got its liquor license and serves wines and bottled beer only. Corkage will be $10 starting Feb. 11.
Center City Restaurant Week has been extended to a second week: Sunday through Feb. 6. See the list at www.centercityphila.org.
Contact columnist Michael Klein at 215-854-5514 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his blog at http://go.philly.com/insider and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/phillyinsider.