There’s no holding chef Christopher Kearse back, and this week marks the premiere of his French-ish bistro, Forsythia, in Old City. Also this week, I stop by the successor restaurant in Kearse’s former Will BYOB space in East Passyunk and drop into an Italian American sleeper in Eastern Montgomery County.

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Christopher Kearse moves into Old City

Foie gras (in jar) with plum and buckwheat brioche at Forsythia.
Foie gras (in jar) with plum and buckwheat brioche at Forsythia.

Seven years to the weekend that chef Christopher Kearse opened Will BYOB on East Passyunk Avenue, he’s opening Forsythia, a modern-French bistro at 233 Chestnut St. in the former Capofitto spot in Old City. Debut is Aug. 23.

In his move uptown, Kearse has picked up a bar and about double the seating.

One thing Forsythia is not, Kearse advises, is “Will 2.0.” Where dishes at Will were focused on single ingredients, Forsythia lets him do his thing with more.

Check the menu here, which starts with canapés (imagine crispy pig tails, oysters, foie gras, and smoked trout rillette, perhaps at the bar) and includes smaller plates (Wagyu beef carpaccio, mussels escabeche, and salads), pastas (corn agnolotti with lamb ragu and porcini, rigatoni cacia e pepe), and entrées such as scallops, roast short rib, and Rohan duck. The petit four tower is a signature dessert. All in all, though there’s less “tweezer food,” he’s still plating beautifully and the atmosphere is more sexy than the old-school elegance of Will.

Hours: 5-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 5-10:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday. Reservations via Resy.


Adobe Cafe | Bella Vista

The South Philly Southwestern cantina, relocating to 800 Fitzwater St., is aiming at late August.

Bad Brother | Fairmount

Bar-restaurant at the old Bridgid’s at 24th and Meredith Streets is targeting Labor Day weekend.

Bodega by La Cabra | Bryn Mawr

The Main Line brewpub has set Aug. 27 to premiere its American eatery at 810 Glenbook Ave., across from Bryn Mawr Hospital at the intersection of Haverford Road, County Line Road, Bryn Mawr Avenue, and Glenbrook Road. It’s touting food prepared in a wood-burning oven and, like the Berwyn flagship, will offer La Cabra’s brews.

Forsythia | Old City

See above.

Hello Donuts | Kensington

Creative vegan and conventional doughnuts and ReAnimator Coffee in a new building on Frankford Avenue (address is 2557 Amber St.).

June BYOB | East Passyunk

See below.

The Royal | Rittenhouse

Indian BYOB from Riaz Morshed (of the Palace of Indian at Passyunk Square) at 272 S. 20th St., formerly The Spot.


Acadia | Bella Vista

The good times rolled away at this New Orleans themer at 824 S. Eighth St.

Fine Palate | Rittenhouse

Bi-level bistro at 231 S. 15th St. has buttoned up.

New Harmony | Chinatown

Get in your final meals at this vegetarian restaurant at 135 N. Ninth St., which is closing Aug. 31 as the owner retires after 23 years.

Where we’re enjoying happy hour

Carnitas as a rice bowl at Bartaco, King of Prussia.
Michael Klein
Carnitas as a rice bowl at Bartaco, King of Prussia.

Bartaco, King of Prussia Mall, 160 N. Gulph Rd., King of Prussia, 4-6:30 p.m. Monday to Friday

“Any food specials on the happy hour?” I asked the bartender at the bustling Bartaco, part of the food scene at King of Prussia Mall next to North Italia. No, she replied, pointing to the menu prices, which by suburban mall standards are excellent: tacos on corn tortillas for $2.50 and $3.50, chicken empanadas and duck quesadillas for $7, and rice bowls ($8.50), which pair proteins such as chicken chorizo, mojo pork carnitas, and ahi tuna alongside rice and matchstick peppers and onions, and make for a dandy early dinner. (With a drink, you can get out of there for around $20.)

Drink specials are where the deals are: Three $11 cocktails are knocked down to $7.50, including a mojito made of Flor de Caña silver rum and spice sangria, and there’s a $5.50 sangria and $6.50 drink that mixes Libélula Joven tequila, sangria, and elderflower.

Where we’re eating

Braised rabbit leg with chanterelle mushrooms and fava beans at June BYOB.
Braised rabbit leg with chanterelle mushrooms and fava beans at June BYOB.

June BYOB, 1911 E. Passyunk Ave.

You’re going to be hearing a lot about South Philly-bred Richard Cusack. He and his sommelier wife, Christina, are opening this elegant BYOB in the East Passyunk storefront that previously was Will BYOB. But first things first. Don’t call him Rich, Richie, Dick, or Dickie. He’s Todd to friends and family. Sterling kitchen credentials: Bibou, followed by two years in NYC at Daniel, then sous at Le Bec-Fin and Parc, and then chef de cuisine at Le Cheri with a side gig as Sixers star Joel Embiid’s private chef. (Speaking of which: The Cusacks have two very little ones, so there’s still a lot of dribbling going on in their world.)

Here’s the menu. By all means, order anything with pasta, perhaps the braised rabbit leg served with chanterelles, fava beans, leeks atop spaghetti alla chitarra, or the beet mascarpone ravioli, or the crab cavatelli. Most entrées are priced in the high $20s. Cusack does a salt-crusted branzino for two that comes out in a pastry; it’s served with white barley, haricots vert, and a lemon beurre blanc for $55.

Hours: 5-10 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, 5-9 p.m. Sunday ($50 tasting menu includes app, pasta, entrée, dessert). Reservations via Resy.

Paccheri with bolognese at Jarrettown Hotel in Dresher.
Paccheri with bolognese at Jarrettown Hotel in Dresher.

Jarrettown Hotel, 1425 Limekiln Pike, Dresher

Can’t tell you how many times I’ve driven past this old stone inn on Limekiln Pike and wondered what was going on in there. Turns out, Giovanni Agresti (who also owns Gio’s Pizza Rustica in nearby Maple Glen) and his cheery crew are delivering solid meals from an Italian-influenced, something-for-everyone menu that lets you spend modestly (sandwiches, salads) or more lavishly (the New York strip, rib-eye, and rack of lamb are in the mid-$30s). Menus are here.

Nothing flashy here, and there’s nothing wrong with that, especially since the immediate area is pretty much a restaurant desert. Welcoming bar, family (and walker) friendly, free parking, live music Fridays and Saturdays either in the bar or out on the patio.

It’s open for lunch and dinner daily.

Dining Notes

Philly is hype for Popeyes’ new chicken sandwich. Even the Sixers’ Mike Scott weighed in. So, is it better than Chick-fil-A?

“I’m a 40-year-old woman, and I’m just coming out as Filipino now,” says Flow State’s Melanie Diamond-Manlusoc. She’s letting Filipino flavors guide her sweet treats in Kensington.

Why are food and drinks around Philadelphia turning blue? Thank this edible flower from Thailand.

Craig LaBan’s dining Q&A does not appear this week.

Reminder: “Let’s Eat” will not be published next week. Follow Mike on Instagram.