East Market, one of the major new developments in Center City, steps into the spotlight this week with the debut of an Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant. Also this week, amid a slew of openings, I check out a new brunch at an old favorite in Rittenhouse, a new Hunan specialist in Chinatown, and an old pal in Bucks County. If you need food news, click here and follow me on Twitter and Instagram. Email tips, suggestions, and questions here. If someone forwarded you this free newsletter and you like what you're reading, sign up here to get it every week.


East Market heating up

Market Street east of 12th Street has been a construction zone for four years. And now, finally, East Market — as the redevelopment of a square block of prime  real estate is called — is about to make a bold showing.

Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant (the 15th in the Delaware-based chain) opens Thursday at 1150 Market St., directly across from the Hard Rock Cafe, adding 270 inside seats and 50 outside seats to Center City's restaurant capacity. Iron Hill joins neighbor Little Baby's Ice Cream, which last weekend opened a scoop shop around the corner on 12th Street, opposite the Loews Hotel.

MOM's Organic Market opened last year on the 11th Street side, across from a  Luke's Lobster and Honeygrow. Work proceeds on a Wawa at 12th and Market and a District Taco midblock on Market between 11th and 12th.

The neighborhood also includes Brickwall Tavern and Porta, which share a building on the 1200 block of Chestnut and Sansom. The 1300 block of Chestnut is home to U-Bahn, Bru, Tradesman's, the brand-new Kontrol, and the farther-off Warehouse Bar + Kitchen. A late-2018 opening is expected for Shake Shack at 12th and Chestnut.

Across Market, the former Gallery is being developed as Fashion District Philadelphia for a 2019 opening. The biggest-name food tenant is City Winery, whose live-music lineup in its other American cities is first-rate (on the order of World Cafe Live). Also signed are BurgerFi, Chick-fil-A, Chickie's & Pete's, Dallas BBQ, Freshii, La Madeleine, Oath Pizza, and Pei Wei.

Chains, in other words.

To find independent businesses, head east to Fifth Street, where the Bourse Food Hall — which has 30 vendors on the way — is in the softest of soft-opening modes. Menagerie Coffee opened last week, and word is that two or three more will join Thursday. Among those ready to go are Bronze Table by Vera Pasta (made-to-order-pasta); Lalo (a Filipino comfort-fooder); Mighty Melt (grilled cheese); Penzeys Spices; and Takorean (a Korean/Latin hybrid).

This week’s openings

Bai Wei | Chinatown

See below.

Buk Chon | Old City

Simple Korean comfort food at 132 Chestnut St. from Chris and Alicia Chung; it's BYOB.

The Farmacy | Palmyra

The West Philly BYOB has added a second location, in a former luncheonette at 307 W.  Broad St.

Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant | Center City

See above.

Nannie Franco's | Italian Market

The owners of Nina's Trattoria have switched to pizza from a corner storefront at 910 S. Ninth St.

Northbound | Souderton

The owners of the Butcher & Barkeep in Harleysville and Boardroom Spirits in Lansdale are affiliated in a bar-restaurant at the old Souderton train station (2 W. Broad St.).

Pho Now | Downingtown

Vietnamese BYOB at 3911 W. Lincoln Highway has hit the ground running with $8.95 weekday lunch specials.

Vientiane Cafe | Kensington

The West Philadelphia Laotian/Thai destination adds a second BYOB spot, at 2537 Kensington Ave. Opens Thursday.

Workhorse Brewing Co. | King of Prussia

Snacks and suds at this family-friendly tasting room, set up at 250 King Manor Drive on the Bridgeport side of KOP.

This week’s closings

blueplate | Mullica Hill

The well-regarded Gloucester County BYOB had a fire. Owner Jim Malaby says repairs should take at least several more weeks.

Crisp Kitchen | Marlton

The salad/stir-fry specialist has shut down in The View at Marlton.

Where we’re enjoying happy hour

Savory éclair at Talk.
Savory éclair at Talk.

2121 Walnut St., 4-6 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday

Andrew Kochan and Tim Lanza's sexy Art Deco newcomer in Rittenhouse boasts a gorgeous white marble bar, where it features one of the cleverest, most addictive bar snacks around: 3 mini-eclairs ($7) filled with chicken liver mousse and topped with a sour cherry glaze studded with a few grains of kosher salt. Sweet, salty, and creamy in one flavor bomb. Also offered are crudites and a half-dozen oysters, and a house red or white ($7), an aperitivo spritz, and a daily cocktail.

Where we’re eating: Audrey Claire, Bai Wei, Temperance House

Ricotta toast at Audrey Claire.
Ricotta toast at Audrey Claire.

More than two decades ago, Audrey Taichman started brunch at Audrey Claire, her groundbreaking BYOB at 20th and Spruce Streets. But she quickly got tired of getting up early on Sundays and she dropped it. New owner Rob Wasserman (also of Rouge and Twenty Manning Grill) has reinstated it, and on Saturdays and Sundays. Chef Michael Yeamans' Middle Eastern menu includes shakshuka, toasts, and mezze. It's cash-only; reservations are accepted.

Mao’s braised pork at Bai Wei.
Mao’s braised pork at Bai Wei.

Jack Chen thought his popular Chinese/Japanese  Sakura Mandarin at 11th and Race Streets was getting stale. A trip to Asia convinced him that Chinatown's Hunan and Szechuan cooking needed a boost. Bai Wei, with sleek atmospherics, retained some Sakura Mandarin favorites while adding such dishes as clam with bean paste, live tilapia in spicy peppercorn sauce, and hot and sour gizzards. Desserts, including salt-foam teas, are provided by À La Mousse, wife Anna Chen's nearby bakery.

Pork board at Temperance House.
Pork board at Temperance House.

The tavern at the Temperance House (5 S. State St., Newtown, Bucks County) has a Cheers vibe: cozy airs, friendly staff, nighttime activities, 33 beers on tap, and — something uncharacteristic of this slice of suburbia — late hours. You can eat till 1 a.m. nightly. Menu covers the pub basics and tosses in a few interesting ideas. The pork board ($16) is one of those — a sampler of thick-cut pork belly, baby back ribs, slices of smoked Andouille, bacon marmalade, spicy pickles, and sliced toast.

Dining Notes

Tastykake pie enthusiasts, your complaints have been heard. Hoping to appease its most hardcore fans, the company has relaunched its baked pies with a classic recipe that also includes more fruit.

More Than Just Ice Cream's run in Washington Square West — which has spanned at least 43 years and countless calories — will end Sept. 27.

At Xfinity Live!, you get all the stadium traffic, parking headaches, rowdy crowds and $10 Crabby Fries without the hassle of actually attending an Eagles game. You also can't help but get in the spirit.

Craig LaBan is on assignment. His Q&As will resume upon his return.