Nom Nom Ramen (20 S. 18th St.), which we featured in our March 15 cover story ahead of its March 20 rollout, has been easing its way in Philly noodledom with limited dinner services. As of this week they're grooving along nicely, slinging soups from 5 to 8 — except tonight, actually, as owner Alan Su is currently trekking up to New York to scoop up an emergency supply of his custom-built noodles from Ramen Lab, a subsidiary of the Sun brand. He'll be back in action tomorrow, and in the coming weeks, they'll stroll into a schedule of 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. weeknights and 11 to 11 Fridays and Saurdays, with the possibility of preventative-hangover late-night service in the near future.
Stephen Starr's seasonal Squareburger stand (S-words S-words S-words!) opened to the public today at noon. You can find the operating schedule of Franklin Square, home of the burger/fry/Cake Shake joint that'll soon have some competition from Center City's Shake Shack, after the jump. (SquareBurger opens at 11 a.m. and closes one hour ahead of the Franklin closing unless otherwise noted.)
Center City's Good Dog (224 S. 15th St.) has long been a refuge for Philly's "in-the-biz" types, so much so that partners Dave Garry, Heather Gleason and Tom Darby are taking that rep and spinning it into an entirely separate concept. They're working on opening The Industry (1401-1403 E. Moyamensing Ave.), a 'hood-friendly bar/restaurant in the old Pennsport space that was The Witch.
While the 80-seater will welcome everyone (no servers-only handshakes or secret knocks needed), they're catering aggressively to those in the hospitality realm, offering a seven-day-a-week discount to all industry workers and serving both dinner (till 1 a.m.) and weekend brunch (till 4 p.m.) late. Chef Pat Szoke, who's worked at spots like The Farm and Fisherman, Buddakan and Vetri, will cook a menu of honest plates that sounds very post-shift chef-snack friendly (teasers after the jump — we want a Hillbilly Philly). Bartender Bob Achilles, who many of you know as that friendly English guy at Loco Pez, is doing the cocktails (tomato-water Bloodys, a shareable "Mummer's Punch" bowl), and they'll pour from 12 drafts and 10-glass wine list, as well. Opening is slated only for "spring" at this point; they're on Facebook and Twitter.
Scott Caplan, owner of the Sweat Fitness chain, is taking a different approach with his upcoming branch in East Falls (3300 Henry Ave.). Not only can you work on yo fitness at the new gym, you can also BYO and go bowling. They're calling the concept, Caplan's tenth, Sweat Fitness & Frames. The bowling alley will be open to the public and will provide a shuttle service for students of the two nearby colleges, Philadelphia University and St. Joseph's. Gym members will receive bowling specials, too. This is a great excuse to get into the habit of packing Old E in your gym bag so you're always prepared for post-workout lane seshes.
Han Chiang, fresh off opening a Manayunk location of Han Dynasty just before Christmas, has honed in on the vacant U-City Science Center restaurant space at 3711 Market for an 88-seat Handy location. He hopes the restaurant, which also has room for about 40 outside, will be open for Penn graduation in May, which thrusts pretty much every reservationist in the city into pastel-clad pandemonium. Chiang, who regularly accommodates large parties from Penn at his Old City restaurant (he's already got 200 on the books for graduation here), feels confident he can make a successful go of it in the space that formerly housed Daniel Stern's MidAtlantic (pictured), which shut down in late February after three-plus years.
Many people seem to think the under-the-radar Brick American Eatery, which occupies the old Fish space (1708 Lombard St.), is a new Mike Stollenwerk endeavor. Is it a meatier spin-off from the seafood maestro? Negative, though that was the plan at one point. Jolly Weldon of Jolly's Piano Bar (1420 Locust St.) is now heading up the business. "I've always liked the space, and one of my partners at Jolly's is a partner of Mike's," says Weldon of the lead-up to the transaction. He's teamed up with Stollenwerk, whose role is "consulting chef," and partners Jason DiDomenico (the GM), Judy Taraborrelli and Jon Anderson to convert the G-Ho space (most famously Astral Plane) into an affordable, approachable neighborhood restaurant.
Spied some verdant new architecture on the corner of 20th and Sansom on our way to pick up lunch. We posted about an upcoming Shake Shack back in June, and it seems these flowery walls are suggesting a fast-approaching spring opening for the NYC-based concept. Until we can sit down in the restaurant, clutching at a burger in one hand and a shake in the other, said Shack is providing a "park" for us to look at instead of boring ol' plywood while they finish up construction. A few more shots after the jump.
Mark down mid-April for the likely debut of Vernick Food & Drink (2031 Walnut St.), the straight-shootin' name of the restaurant from Greg Vernick, fresh to Philly after years working for Jean-Georges Vongerichten and more recently as chef at NYC's Tocqueville. The South Jersey native has long planned to relocate to the area with his wife Julie to be closer to family, arriving here last year and putting in work at Talula's Garden while his own space came into focus.
"Ultimately, the food is radically simple," says Vernick, a seasoned traveler who's opened Jean-Georges properties everywhere from Qatar to Tokyo, of his own imprint. He won't gravitate toward a particular discipline so much as reinterpret his international experiences for a local audience. "You have to separate yourself and your personal skills from the matter and focus on what people really want to eat." That translates to vegetable- and raw-driven selections, plates both small and large and a section of shareable mains (whole market fish, Amish chicken, bone-in strip loin) roasted off in a Woodstone oven and served with herb vinaigrette and charred lettuces.
Ryan Mulholland, a longtime friend of Vernick's from their Boston U. days, has relocated to Philly from Beantown's Eastern Standard to oversee front-of-house and beverage at VF&D. He's working on crafty beer and cocktail lists and a wine selection that'll span 40 bottles and 12 glasses. Peek below for some teases of dishes that might appear on Vernick's opening menu.
- Charred Spinach and Leek Toast
- Beef Tartare with gaufrettes
- Marinated Artichokes and Ramps
- Ocean Trout with crispy skin and chili
- Market Lettuces with seasonal vegetables, seeds and citrus vinaigrette
- House-made Mozzarella with rhubarb jam and sea salt
- Steamed Mussels with cherry tomatoes in a basil broth
- Potato Ravioli with lamb ragu and English peas
- Braised Beef Cheek with fava beans, celery and a herb salad
- Hand-Cut Buckwheat Pasta with broccoli rabe, spring garlic and lemon
- Pork Blade Steak with onion marmalade, cherries and mustard
Joining its three existing locations on the campuses of Temple, Drexel and UPenn, Insomnia Cookies opened its fourth Philly shop in Center City (108 S. 16th St.) today at 1 p.m. Over the next week, the late-night sweet spot and delivery service is giving away a free cookie to any customer who prints a coupon from Insomnia's Facebook page; you can also stop by the store for a coupon. The full menu is available for retail purchase, including cookie and brownie flavors like snickerdoodle, double chocolate chunk and sugar. Store hours: Mon.-Fri., 11 a.m-3 a.m.; Sat.-Sun., noon-3 a.m. Delivery is available from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. every night, and Insomnia also offers catering delivery from 11 to 5 on weekdays.
Photo: Insomnia Cookies on Facebook
Rachel Klein, vegan chef/professional sweetheart, will be moving the headquarters of her catering business Miss Rachel's Pantry into the recently vacated Cafe Giordino (1732-34 W. Passyunk Ave.) next month. "We'll run the catering out of the space, as well as have a little dining room for private parties and tasting dinners," she says.
Knot Just Furniture, a salvage carpentry division of North Philly's Atlas Wood Products (the builder is the husband of one of Klein's clients), is currently in the process of constructing a farmhouse table from reclaimed wood, the stage for said parties and dinners. It'll seat 12 to 16 for the multi-course vegan meals Klein says she'll run a few times a month on a reservation-only basis. Meanwhile, painting and other light renovations are on deck. "There's granite everywhere," she says of the former gelateria's Roman Forum-fabulous digs. "We're gonna have to work around that."
Keep tabs on the progress on Klein's blog. She'll be posting photos of the transformation.
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