Luke's Lobster, a growing quick-serve founded by 28-year-old Maine lobsterman Luke Holden, has opened its first Philadelphia shop in the subterranean space that was Bonté waffles at 130 S. 17th St. (215-564-1415).
The look is Down East: wooden picnic tables, corrugated steel ceiling, sailor's knots. It's counter service, with an almost ridiculously simple menu of lobster roll ($15), crab roll ($12), and shrimp roll ($8) - each built on a butter-grilled, split-top roll, plus a couple of chowders and bisques, and a dessert called the Blue Monster (Gifford's of Maine's blueberry ice cream sandwiched between two large, homemade chocolate chip cookies).
Timing is everything
The impending closing of Le Bec Fin is going to work out for Steven Eckerd, the Walnut Street restaurant's chef de cuisine.
Eckerd will join the team reviving the Mainland Inn, off the Pennsylvania Turnpike's Lansdale exit in Harleysville, and he would have been leaving LBF anyway. He was sous chef under Walter Abrams when Abrams and Nicolas Fanucci reopened LBF last summer, and was promoted after Abrams bowed out.
The Mainland closed in 2010 and was purchased at sheriff's sale by the owners of Quarry Hill Farm, where Eckerd has been its agricultural architect.
So, with this tie, the Mainland will completely redefine "farm to table" when it reopens in September. Eckerd also worked at Osteria and Vetri.
Indian and American diner?
The 401 Diner in Conshohocken has revamped. Now known as 401 Nirvana (401 Fayette St., 484-351-8029), it's serving diner staples at breakfast and lunch, adding Indian food at lunch and dinner.
New owner Nabin Chhantyal, former chef/owner of Aman's Indian Cuisine in East Norriton, has a new chef, Jagmeet "Happy" Singh, formerly of Spice Kitchen in Trooper.
Cuisine unique to the western Chinese city of Xi'an is the specialty at Xi'an Famous Food (902 Arch St., 215-925-1988. No relation to the plural Xi'an Famous Foods in New York City. . . . Kenny Poon, whose holdings include the casual Tea-Do bubble tea bar/dim summery in Chinatown, is behind a slick-looking, bi-level noodle bar/karaoke lounge called Tango (1021 Arch St., 215-519-8888).
Vedge chef on 'Chopped'
Rich Landau of the Locust Street destination Vedge, arguably the city's best-known vegan chef, turns up June 18 at 10 p.m. on the Food Network competition show Chopped. He faces three omnivoracious chefs, but note that tempeh was one of the mystery ingredients.
Start-up on the way
Rittenhouse will be getting a fast-casual start-up called Wokworks, which its founders describe as a modern Asian food shop, "natural, tasty, and fun." The idea: Start with a base (noodles, rice, quinoa), choose your "favorites" (pork belly, rock shrimp, asparagus, etc.), add a sauce (wild mushroom, umami, coconut curry, etc.), and watch the wok chefs go to it. Likely location: 1925 Chestnut St., last Pure Tacos.
Tria Wine Room, which opened as Biba in October 2010 at University City's Left Bank at 3131 Walnut St., has closed as owner Jon Myerow is shifting its liquor license to 2005 Walnut St., where he and partners expect to open Tria Taproom this summer. . . . District 611 - the lively, city-cool bistro in Riverton, N.J. - has closed after less than six months. Partners are looking to relocate to a town that allows liquor sales.