Come off the Vine Expressway, turn north on Broad Street, et voilà! It’s Gabi, an all-day French cafe. Also this week, I have word of a sleek newcomer on the Parkway, a charming Mexican spot on a South Philly corner, and an old favorite in Rittenhouse for happy hour.
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Gabi rocks the French scene on North Broad
Spring Garden to the west, the Loft District and SpringArts to the east. Up the middle runs North Broad Street. The School District of Philadelphia is based at 440 N. Broad. Philadelphia police headquarters is being constructed next door, at the old Inquirer Building, on Callowhill. Farther up the street, the Divine Lorraine Hotel is expected to yield the swank Cicala from chefs Joe and Angela Cicala later this month.
Development blah blah blah. You really want to know about that burger in front of you.
It’s the tartiflette burger on brioche at the new Gabi, the all-day French cafe that opened Monday in the Hanover building at 339 N. Broad, next to the Packard and Roman Catholic High. (Talk about easy access for Main Liners and other western suburbanites: Get off the Vine Street Expressway at Broad, hang a left, and drive 200 yards to the parking garage next door with a $5 rate after 5 p.m.)
Anyway: Tartiflette is a traditional Savoie gratin of potato, caramelized onion, bacon, creme fraiche, and Reblochon cheese. Chef/co-owner Kenneth Bush, partnered with Bistrot La Minette/La Peg’s Peter Woolsey and Brad Histand, makes a sauce out of the Reblochon and creme fraiche. The burger gets topped with caramelized onions, bacon lardons, and sauce. Now here’s the secret: Ask for the burger to be topped with fries and the kitchen will add them — plus more cheese sauce. You also get fries on the side.
Woolsey, Histand, and Bush have gone for an 1930s Art Deco look and feel. Bar is stocked with reasonably priced wines (mostly French). Cocktails include a proper French 75.
For now, Gabi is doing lunch and dinner daily. The all-day menu — full of reasonably priced French standards such as onion soup, duck confit, beef tartare, steak frites with a choice of bistro steak or ribeye — expands by five entrees beginning at 5 p.m.
Additional hours, including 7 a.m. breakfast will be added in coming weeks. Weekend brunch starts at 10 a.m. Sunday. Reservations via OpenTable.
This Week’s Openings
Artisan Boulanger Patissier | South Philadelphia (TEMPORARY)
The celebrated bakery/cafe is down for about three weeks as co-owner Amanda Eap says she needs to be recertified in ServSafe.
The Burger Bank | Lansdowne
Avenue Delicatessen’s vacant spot at 27 N. Lansdowne Ave. is now occupied by this fast-casual burger specialist.
Gigi | Queen Village
Pizzeria attached to Olly, at 504 Bainbridge St., opens Nov. 6.
Kurry Shack | South Philadelphia
Shafi Gaffar of Old City’s Makhani Modern Indian is doing fast-casual Indian at 2015 E. Moyamensing Ave. in Pennsport; it’s closed Wednesdays.
Philly Bagels | Logan Square
The syndicated bagel shop has added 1811 JFK Blvd. to its portfolio.
Poe’s Sandwich Joint | Kensington
The former Fishtown hole-in-the-wall sandwich shop has relocated to the forthcoming Human Robot brewery at 1710 N. Fifth St.
This Week’s Closings
Cantina Laredo | King of Prussia
Just noticed that this Mexican outlet in the mall has shuttered. Bartaco is a good option nearby.
Dmitri’s | Queen Village
Classic Greek seafooder at Third and Catharine is closed “indefinitely” as owner Dmitri Chimes seeks building repairs and wrestles with staffing issues. Stay tuned. Meanwhile, his location at 944 N. Second St. in Northern Liberties should reopen in mid-December after a spruce-up of the exterior.
Little Baby’s | West Philadelphia
The Cedar Park location of the boutique ice cream chainlet was scooped of furnishings earlier this week.
Maison 208 | Washington Square West
French-ish bar-restaurant with a cool retractable roof closed after 2½ years.
Where we’re enjoying happy hour
Good Dog Bar, 224 S. 15th St., 3-6 p.m. Monday-Friday
David and Heather Garry’s always-bustling, pooch-themed drop-in on 15th Street near Locust serves many masters: families on their way to the Kimmel and the Academy, twentysomethings doing a bar crawl, Center Citizens in need of everyday lunch or dinner.
This is not everyday bar food. Chef Carolynn Angle, a veteran gastropubber who joined Good Dog last year, is always cycling in new dishes to supplement Good Dog’s signature Roquefort-filled burger and something-for-everyone menu. How about duck liver mousse with red onions and sour cherry chutney?
Happy hour menu, changing daily (see Instagram), is set up with three $6 snacks, two $4 drafts, two $6 wines, a $5 cocktail, and $3 bottles of beer. Tuesday, for example, the food offerings included a plate of four meaty chicken drumsticks shellacked with a hoisin ginger sauce that begged to be paired with a Founders breakfast stout or Tonewood Fuego IPA. Also terrific: empanadas filled with sweet potato, onion, black beans, rice, poblanos, and Jack cheese. There’s also a daily flatbread.
This dog has many tricks, clearly.
Where we’re eating
The Hadley, Park Towne Place’s East Building, 2200 Ben Franklin Parkway
Thousands of people live in Park Towne Place, and for the first time in decades there’s a restaurant to serve them, as well as museum-goers on the Parkway. Joseph Smith, behind the Bobby Van’s steakhouses in NYC and D.C., is two weeks into this chic American, done up in mid-century modern, inside the East Building. It’s a curious setup: dramatic, high-ceilinged bar leading into a cozier dining room, followed by smaller alcoves with four-tops lining the path to the kitchen. (Tip: You may not want to be seated at Tables 43 and 44, which face the restrooms.)
Menu, whose entree prices range from $19 for a burger to $39 for Roquefort-crusted filet mignon, hits the something-for-everyone categories of beef, seafood, chicken, and pastas. Luscious mushroom ravioli in brown butter-sage sauce ($20). The miso-glazed black cod ($33) got a tableside pour-over of a tasty miso broth. (Miso x 2.) There’s a respectable vegan menu section, as well, including a black-eye pea cake, miso-glazed tofu, and grilled vegetable tian. Service is exceedingly friendly and efficient; an issue with a salad was handled speedily and even brought the chef to the table with a replacement and an apology. (I’m certain I was unrecognized.)
There’s no public parking on-site, but there is a $10 valet as well as on-street meter parking.
It opens at 5 p.m. daily; bar stays open late. Reservations via OpenTable.
La Cocina del Cafe, 1500 S. Broad St., 215-218-9899
Alex Sanchez spent his career running Italian and Asian restaurants for other people. Then the entrepreneur bug bit, and he’s found himself on the corner of Broad and Dickinson Streets in South Philly with a cheery, all-day Mexican BYOB cafe filled with flowers and plants.
Day starts at 7 a.m with breakfast (American stuff plus a few Mexican specialties such as huevos divorciados, which are fried eggs atop corn tortillas with red and green salsa).
For lunch and dinner, you can go simple with tacos (thumbs-up on al pastor), burritos, quesadillas, and huaraches (all under $10), or more substantive with a plate such as chiles rellenos ($15), carne asada ($18), or shrimp fajitas ($17), served with tlacoyos and best washed down with horchada or a Mexican hot chocolate.
Hours: 7 a.m.-11 p.m. No reservations.
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Craig LaBan’s Q&A does not appear this week.