Le Bec Fin may have maintained the 20th-century salon atmosphere in its new incarnation, but it is bringing 21st-century technology into the dining room.
Starting Friday, waiters will pass leather-bound iPads to each patron. Several Philly-area restaurants, including Osteria, Tashan, and Caffe Aldo Lamberti, offer wine lists on iPads, but Le Bec Fin is believed to be the first white-tablecloth restaurant in the region to go entirely paperless. (The downstairs lounge, Chez Georges, eventually will go to iPads, too.)
Co-owner Nicolas Fanucci, acknowledging the incongruity of old-fashioned service and modern technology, says the iPad offers unmatched customization, as well as a green alternative to paper. The restaurant's reservationists query guests on such matters as preferences and allergies, he explains, so "our tasting menus are totally made for you."
Menus are personalized; guests can get a printout or digital file to keep as a memento. Fanucci says if the guest wants, the restaurant will share the menu on a guest's Facebook page.
Coinciding with the iPad menus, Le Bec has added $39 three-course lunches and $85 four-course dinners in the main dining room. Previously, its lunch offering was five courses for $55 and its dinner was an eight-course, $150 extravaganza.
The creators of the Landmark Americana sports-bar chainlet had an issue: They were offered the building previously occupied by the Paddock at Devon and John Harvard's, but its configuration didn't work as it was. Manager Tom Revelli says they took most of it as a Landmark and carved out the corner as a sushi/tapas restaurant, O-toro (629 W. Lancaster Ave., Wayne, 610-254-0777). The high-polish look includes a bar, a sushi bar, and 20 wines dispensed from a temperature-controlled system. Menu includes cheese board, dumplings, flatbread, and other smaller plates. Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, till 11 p.m. weekends.
Earlier this year Mike Stollenwerk moved Fish, his flagship seafooder, from 17th and Lombard Streets into the corner of 13th and Locust Streets, beneath the Independent Hotel. This week, Fish has migrated to a more intimate space with a chef's counter on the east side of the building, on the Locust Street side. In a few weeks, Fish's most recent space on the corner will become a pub called Rhino Bar, serving food till 1 a.m. daily.
Nan, the BYOB at 40th and Chestnut Streets run by trailblazing French-Viet chef Kamol Phutlek, had been closed since late spring because of the chef's illness. And now, Nan is officially gone. Clothing manufacturer Joey Sang is about a month from opening Saigon Cuisine, a BYOB serving modern Vietnamese fare. Phutlek's health issues have not been disclosed. He basically defined French and Thai cooking for several generations of Philadelphians, starting in the late 1960s at La Panetiere in Center City (now Vetri), then La Terrasse in University City (now Doc Magrogan's), then Alouette in Queen Village (now Southwark).
KeVen Parker, owner of Ms. Tootsie's on South Street, will take over the soul-food stand at Reading Terminal Market, which Delilah's vacated this year. Parker was misty as he recounted how he grew up shopping at the market, expressing delight in getting the prime location. He said he hoped to open in December. One possible issue is the name. Although Parker has used Ms. Tootsie's for nearly 20 years, there is the Tootsie's salad bar in the market now.
In last week's column, I provided the wrong name for an owner of Tavro Thirteen in Swedesboro. He is Gus Tzitzifas.