We have another Jersey diner, as Olga’s Diner (in name, anyway) is slinging food again in Marlton. Also this week, I visit a newly upgraded restaurant/music venue on the Main Line and a homespun, Southern-inspired BYOB in South Philly.
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The Olga’s Diner name is back in Marlton
Olga’s Diner anchored the Marlton Circle at Routes 70 and 73 for nearly 50 years until it closed in 2008, sitting idle until it met the wrecking ball in 2017.
Tuesday, Oct. 22 marked the return of the Olga’s name, anyway, in a new location nearby, in a brand-new building with new owners at 200 Route 73 in Marlton (at Baker Boulevard, across from Burns Honda). It’s the former site of Carollo’s Family Restaurant.
In the kitchen of the 260-seater, owners/diner veterans Chris Kolovos and Bill Dovas have mixed the old and the new, hiring the last chef, Mike Mihos, while bringing in Amis/Vetri alum Brad Spence to consult. “We’re carrying on the diner nostalgia, but bringing it into the modern era,” Dovas told me. The menu has diner classics but is about half the size of the original Olga’s. “The things we do, we do right,” said Dovas.
Hours: 7 a.m. -11 p.m. daily.
This Week’s Openings
El Techo | Rittenhouse
Le Caveau | Bella Vista
Sexy wine bar atop The Good King Tavern at 614 S. Seventh St.
Loco Pez | Southwest Center City
The taqueria’s long-long-awaited location at 20th and Bainbridge Streets opens Oct. 23.
Olga’s Diner | Marlton
Spread Bagelry | Bryn Mawr
Montreal-style bagel shop’s Main Line location is rolling along at 925 Lancaster Ave. in Bryn Mawr Village.
This Week’s Closings
Culture on the Circle | Northeast Philadelphia
Chef Kris Serviss’ sequel to Blue Duck and Taqueria del Norte near Holme Circle did not last.
Luke’s Lobster | Washington Square West
The 11th Street location of the syndicated lobster roll specialist never caught on.
Where we’re eager to visit
El Techo, 1830 Ludlow St.
The third and final piece of the dining puzzle is complete at the new Pod Philly hotel, tucked off of 19th Street south of Market. Condesa, the hit Mexican restaurant that opened last month alongside its El Cafe coffee shop, is now joined by El Techo, the bar on the 11th-floor roof. Debut is 5 p.m. Oct. 23.
You might be thinking: How much use will they get out of a roof deck this season before it’s too cold? In fact, El Techo is a year-round operation, thanks to a retractable roof. In the early going, the bar will serve drinks only — agave-based spirits from artisan producers in Mexico, beer, natural wines, and aguas frescas made daily. Food menu is coming soon.
Hours are 5 p.m. till “late” Wednesday to Saturday. You can get up there through the hotel entrance on 19th Street, or through Condesa’s front door on Ludlow.
Where we’re eating
118 North, 118 N. Wayne Ave., Wayne, 610-971-2628.
Those garlic rolls staring at you just might be the tastiest thing I’ve eaten this year. They’re warm, soft Parker rolls topped with cheese, garlic and sesame. Bite into one (as I did for the photo), and garlic cream oozes out. They’re served with a side of marinara sauce and plenty of napkins.
As of this week, you can get these garlic rolls at 118 North, the bar/music venue on North Wayne Avenue in Wayne. Gottehrer and partners recently set up shop in there, modeling it after their Ardmore Music Hall next to the Ripp 15 minutes away.
118′s menu is studded with other bits of creativity. You get zing from buffalo octopus, a spicy richness from the barbecue pork ribs, an addictive starter in the fried cheese curds, and variety from not one, not two, but three burgers — each celebrating the meat it’s made of. The North burger is a big beef patty topped with American cheese, Brie, special sauce, and onion jam. The lamb burger is topped with goat cheese, pickled onion, mint, and black garlic yogurt. The pork burger’s patty is topped with pork belly, bacon jam, cheese sauce, and smoked tomato. There’s also a brisket dip served with a cup of a thick jus. Most prices are in the teens; you don’t hit the $20s till you get to the hot chicken, roasted chicken, branzino, and grilled swordfish.
The bar is stocked with a dozen beers on tap, 10 cocktails, and a handful of wines.
Hours: 4 p.m.-2 a.m. Tuesday to Sunday; open early for all 1 p.m. Eagles games. Tip: Families go early, before the live music kicks in.
Flannel, 1819 E. Passyunk Ave., 215-465-1000.
Marc Grika spent decades running restaurants for such folks as Jose Garces, Stephen Starr, China Grill Management, Rainforest Cafe, and Cheesecake Factory.
Earlier this year, he chucked it all, buying Chhaya Cafe in South Philly and going the solo-operator route. “I don’t know a better feeling than creating and serving delicious food with love and care and then seeing people’s faces light up," he told me back then. "You take a bite, you smile, you feel warm. It’s about nourishment.” (His LinkedIn bio: “Feed people like your grandmother fed you.”)
Effective last month, he’s reconceptualized the East Passyunk storefront into Flannel, a Southern-inspired BYOB bruncherie. Grand opening is Saturday, Oct. 26.
You get tasty, rib-stickin’ food (breakfast all day) in a wood-clad, Edison-bulbed dining room with chipper service. The kitchen has pimento cheese and it’s not afraid to use it. Start up with a BACT to the Future bagel (that’s bacon, avocado mash, cream cheese and tomato) or maybe a Benny. Truffled egg toast ($8) is mushrooms sautéed with garlic, truffle oil, and chives, melted cheddar and baby arugula, topped with an over-easy egg on country white toast.
Hours: 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday; 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday; 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday; 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday (Sunday dinner is 4-6 p.m., takeout only). Closed Tuesday.
Speaking of East Passyunk: Get your last tasty bites of Franca DiRenzo’s homespun Italian cooking at Tre Scalini. She is retiring at the end of the year.
We asked six Philadelphia chefs about their knives — these are their stories.
Mini frittatas are a fluffier, eggier alternative to the bodega breakfast
Trader Joe’s wasn’t the only grocery store to open in downtown Philly this week