Nongyao "Moon" Krapugthong has gone warm but dramatic for MangoMoon, her new tri-level Thai-influenced small-plater/bar at 4161 Main St. in Manayunk (215-487- 1230), down the street from Chabaa Thai and across from the parking lot on Lock Street. It's open daily from 5 p.m.
Look closely at the Thai writing on the wall near the open kitchen. It's a poem - her plea to the moon goddess - and the lettering is done in 186,000 copper nails. Dark wood, copper and bronze predominate. Krapugthong's menu - dishes are $5 to $23, and two of us ate for $65 - shuns trite tastes (no pad Thai) in favor of creative dishes and sides such as meang khum (lettuce wraps filled with shredded coconut and shrimp), steamed rice in lotus leaf, and sea bass in mango sauce.
What else is newPearl, the yearling restau-lounge at 1904 Chestnut St., has been retooled. The second-floor lounge is Pearl while the ground-floor eatery is now Akoya, an Asian gastropub, under chef Greg Garbacz.
John Mims, who left Carmine's in Bryn Mawr and Les Bons Temps in Center City, has taken over the Freehouse in Wayne (110 N. Wayne Ave.) as Mims Food & Drink, a New Orleans-influenced comfort-fooder. Opens tomorrow for lunch, dinner and late night (dinner entrees average $16) on two floors. The block's restaurants offer free valet parking on Friday and Saturday nights.
What's up for '09Soft economy or not, look at what's in the pipeline for 2009. A few others are close to "announcement"; check in at "The Insider" blog (http://go.philly.com/insider).
Here's a rundown of restaurateurs to watch and '09 highlights, in little particular order:
Jose Garces. The chef-owner of Amada, Tinto and Distrito has Chifa, his Peruvian-Chinese mix, due in for February at 707 Chestnut St., and Village Whiskey, a whiskey bar/burger joint at 20th and Sansom Streets (sometime in '09).
Stephen Starr. Feeling Gallic pride thanks to Parc's success, Starr says that in March, he will revive the Blue Angel at 706 Chestnut St., which he ran there from 1999 to 2003. He also is planning a "fun" Greek concept for the former Washington Square, to open in April.
Susan Schlisman. The owner of the Sam's Grills (Wynnewood and Jenkintown) and Devil's Alley near Rittenhouse Square is about a month from opening Smokin' Betty's, a barbecue-centric bar, at 116 S. 11th St. She's also planning a fifth casual operation in Bella Vista.
Marty Grims. The head man at Moshulu and Du Jour is planning a Du Jour and an unnamed pan-Asian for Commerce Square on Market Street; he'll also operate University City's White Dog Cafe in a deal with Judy Wicks.
Union Trust. Ed Doherty and Terry White say Feb. 2 for their gigundo steakhouse at 717 Chestnut St., further revving up that block (Jones, Morimoto, Aqua, Chifa, Blue Angel, and the downscale El Azteca, Kibitz in the City, and Las Vegas Lounge).
Girasole. Franco, Gino and Michele Iovino have resolved construction issues and will revive their destination Italian (once at 13th and Locust Streets) at the Symphony House at Broad and Pine. February opening.
Firecreek. Tom Deignan and Kevin Silverang, behind Radnor's 333 Belrose, are again teamed with chef Carlo DeMarco and Robert Donaldson on Firecreek, a midrange steak house in a former paper mill, at 20 E. Lancaster Ave. in Downingtown. February opening.
Oyster House. Son-father Sam and David Mink will revive their Sansom Street Oyster House (1516 Sansom St.) as simply Oyster House in the spring.
Brew. John Longacre of South Philadelphia Tap Room (1509 Mifflin St.) is building an upscale coffeeshop-cum-microbrew takeout, across the street at 15th and Mifflin. Longacre said Brew will have java from Murky Coffee of Washington, D.C., plus 40 linear feet of refrigeration, meaning a 500- to 600-bottle list under the eye of beer man Joe Bedia. Opening awaits the liquor license.
943. Pascual Cancelliere is developing an Italian-Argentine BYO at 943 S. Ninth St. in the Italian Market for spring.
Jolly's Rockin Piano Bar. Jolly Weldon, formerly of Jolly's in the Latham and Jolly's Sporting Saloon on 19th Street, is looking at late spring for his moderate-priced nightspot, featuring dueling pianos, at 2006 Chestnut St.
Brauhaus Schmitz. The Teutonic bierhall, boasting waitresses in dirndls, is aiming for a mid-April opening at 718 South St.
Bibou. Former Le Bec-Fin chef de cuisine Pierre Calmels and wife Charlotte have penciled in February for this French BYOB at 1009 S. Eighth St. in the Italian Market space that housed Pif.
Ladder 15. The Mad River crew is aiming at early March for a lively concept in a former firehouse at 1528 Sansom St.
Max Brenner. The chocolate chain says late spring or early summer, next to Butcher & Singer at 212 S. 15th St.
Noble. The American comfort-fooder is under construction for a March opening in the former Gioia Mia at 2025 Sansom St. Todd Rodgers, Bruno Pouget, and chef Steven Cameron promise a rustic yet modern vibe with hickory floors, a bar made from a 400-year-old bubinga tree, three skylights, and floor-to-ceiling front windows.
Broad Axe Tavern. New operators say February or March for the Montco landmark at Butler and Skippack Pikes.
Rae. Daniel Stern's ambitious American is to relocate into Two Liberty Place in the fall. Rae's former spot in the Cira Centre is supposed to become a casual lunchery in March.
Pickled Heron. Construction is about to start on this American from Ritz-Carlton alums Todd Braley and Daniela D'Ambrosio, at 2218 Frankford Ave. in Fishtown.
Unnamed. Lifestyle marketers Justin Fine and Michael Steinberg of Premiere Marketing Group, with real estate developer Anthony Sembello, are creating an "English social club"-ish "social hideaway" off Broad Street in Washington Square West, to open in the fall.
Contact columnist Michael Klein at 215-854-5514 or email@example.com.