Rittenhouse Square is the epicenter of Center City’s dining scene, and this week two highly pedigreed options have opened. I’ll explain. Also this week, I spill about a new soup destination in Chinatown and a vegan cafe in South Philly.
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Cook N Solo and Di Bruno Bros. hit the square
Rittenhouse, arguably the epicenter of Center City dining, became home to two promising newcomers this week.
K’Far (110 S. 19th St., at the new Harper building next to the Target) is an all-day cafe/bakery/bar from Michael Solomonov and Steve Cook (Zahav, Abe Fisher, Dizengoff, Goldie, Federal Donuts).
It soft-opened Monday, and lines have been long.
Inspired by the Israeli bakery that gave Solomonov his first job, in Kfar Saba, K’Far (“village”) offers counter service by day and will have table service for dinner in August. It’s the home of Zahav pastry chef and James Beard Award winner Camille Cogswell, whose baking features borekas, rugelach, babka, and pistachio sticky buns. The all-day menu includes salads and grain bowls, toasts made with Yemenite kubaneh bread, and Jerusalem bagel sandwiches. Atmosphere is clean and mod, and current hours are 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily, though it’s been selling out early. For now, it’s walk-in only. See more here.
Earlier this year, Craig LaBan traveled to Israel with Solomonov, Cogswell and crew to learn about the research and development of K’Far.
Di Bruno Bros., meanwhile, has gone upstairs at its 1730 Chestnut St. location to create what boss William Mignucci calls a “bar-cafe” in what had been a lightly used cafe and event space.
The Euro-look Alimentari (“nourish”) combines a mozzarella/wine/coffee bar, pizza bar, and comfy seating in a lounge area and dining room, with an all-day menu served by waiters. In a concept reminiscent of a mini-Eataly, it’s an extension of the store, known for its collection of cheeses, cured meats, oils, and Italian groceries.
For now, Alimentari is open from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday to Saturday, and till 7 p.m. Sunday for walk-ins. Or walk-ups, as it were. Brunch and later hours will be added this fall. See more details and photos here.
This Week’s Openings
Alimentari | Rittenhouse
K’Far | Rittenhouse
Tom’s Dim Sum Mania | Media
After a falling out with partners, Tom Guo has opened this Shanghai-style dim-sum spot at 17-19 E. State St., two doors from his original location, operating as Tom’s Dim Sum.
This Week’s Closings
Kabul | Old City
The 28-year run of this Afghan BYOB came to an end last month. I’m unable to reach Wali Saai for his take on the closing.
Melrose Diner | South Philadelphia (TEMPORARY)
The destination diner is closed due to fire. Its return is expected soon.
Parliament Coffee | Center City
Constellation Catering has ceded its lease on the coffee shop on 15th Street across from Penn Square (and La Colombe). Prepared-foods specialist Pret a Manger is fixing to go in by year’s end.
Poe’s Sandwich Joint | Fishtown
Pot activist N.A Poe has shut down his stand at Frankford and Marlborough after about eight months. Reefer sadness.
Souped-Up Hotpot | Washington Square West
Yearling at 705 Chestnut St. has departed, leaving the space and the former Garces-owned Rosa Blanca next door at 707 Chestnut vacant. Construction is due next door in what is now a parking lot.
Tir na Nog | Cherry Hill location
The Cherry Hill location of the Irish bar closed last weekend. The Philly location is status quo, for now.
Bistro La Bete | South Philadelphia
Partnership issues have forced the closing of Michael O’Halloran’s well-received French BYOB.
Where we’re enjoying happy hour
Amada, 217 Chestnut St., 5-7 p.m. Monday-Friday
Fourteen years after chef Jose Garces created it, this sultry Spaniard in Old City still has the power to please.
Haven’t been back in a while? Perhaps you can ease in with a happy hour visit at the bar and lounge area, where nine tapas (four cold, five hot) are offered, along with red and white sangria ($5), two cocktails ($8, one vodka-based, the other tequila), three wines ($6), and two beers ($4: Estrella and Anchor Steam).
Our faves included the dense tortilla española, the signature croquetas de jamón, and the richly appointed pan con tomate (though my friend thought could have used a sturdier bread to stand up to the topping).
Where we’re eating
Shi Miao Dao, 901 Race St., 215-301-7788; no web presence.
Order one of the soups at this bright newcomer at Ninth and Race in Chinatown, and you get a production number delivered to your table: hot rice noodles, a bubbling stone cauldron of broth, and a box of ingredients such as beef, pork, ham, scallions, corn, tofu skin, egg, and wood ear mushrooms. You or your server make the soup as you like it, all for $10.
It’s called “crossing the bridge" soup, and it’s the specialty of Yunnan province in China. Here’s the back story. Do order a side of spicy cucumbers to supplement.
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. daily.
Batter & Crumbs, 1401 Reed St.
South Philly’s vegan community now has this sleek, funky bakery/cafe off Broad Street in Point Breeze, a transition of a commercial-baking business that started several years ago in Delco.
Self-taught baker John Schultz, backed by husband Paul Carmine, turns out sweet and savory dishes, including soft-serve ice cream, cherry cheese danish, and cannoli, plus spanakopita that packs a punch from spinach enveloped by tender pastry. Everything is vegan.
Love the dining room, with its wall festooned with stamped tin ceiling panels and pop art.
Hours: 7 a.m.-4 .m. daily.
Craig LaBan raves about authentic Bella Vista Thai spot Kalaya, where he says some budu magic is brewing.
It’s grilling season, so break out the kebab skewers. Philly chefs — like Suraya’s Nick Kennedy and Veda Modern Indian’s Vipul Bhasin — give you tips on how to make the best of your kebabs.
Craig LaBan’s dining Q&A does not appear this week.