Friday, Dec. 13 is opening night for Avance, the progressive-American restaurant from Roxborough-bred/New York-honored chef Justin Bogle at 1523 Walnut St. (215-405-0700).
He and business partner Chris Scarduzio stripped the dining room and bar of its past as Le Bec-Fin 3.0.
The sleek dining room features a dazzling ceiling fixture of old-fashioned bulbs set to varying heights, adding contrast to candlelit, unclothed walnut tables. Vertical strips of greenery trim the side walls.
The second floor, once completely cut off from the ground-floor restaurant, has lost its "Siberia" feel. Ask for Table 37, a deuce that overlooks the dining room on the edge of a new balcony.
Bogle, who won two Michelin stars at the late Gilt in New York, will offer a la carte dining, Tuesday to Saturday nights at first. Figure on spending about $55 a head plus tax and tip for three courses. Menu is here.
He also will offer five-course tastings for $84 and a special experience with north of eight courses for $138.
The bar downstairs includes a new walnut-topped bar. Banquettes carry the plum color from upstairs.
Kevin Sbraga of Sbraga has gone contemporary Southern at his snug, bustling small-plater, the Fat Ham, which transformed the former Tria Wine Bar at 3131 Walnut St. (215-735-1914). Eimer Design whitewashed the walls and packed about 40 seats along a bar and the open kitchen, where chef Aaron Gottesman turns out grits and head-on shrimp, slider-size fried oyster sandwiches, and zesty "hot chicken." Figure on $50 to $55 a head. Bar list includes barrel-aged cocktails. It's open Monday to Saturday for dinner.
Jimmy Tran, whose Aqua dispenses Thai and Malaysian eats from 705 Chestnut St., has opened Aqua Asian Bistro, a mainly takeout, at 120 S. 15th St. (215-567-1818). He took over the spot beside the parking garage at 15th and Sansom Streets that previously housed Shank's, Enzo's, and GT Deli. It's open Monday to Saturday.
Jose Garces plans to open Rosa Blanca, a Cuban diner serving breakfast through late night, on Monday at 707 Chestnut St. More details here next week.
George Sabatino, now chef at Waterfront Winterfest at Penn's Landing after a summer at Morgan's Pier (and after picking up awards at Stateside), is opening his own place, Aldine. He and his wife, Jennifer, are taking over Noche (1901 Chestnut St., second floor), which will close after New Year's Eve. They hope to open the chef-driven Aldine, which will have a full bar, in April.
Chef Al Paris and brothers Benjamin and Robert Bynum are a few weeks from opening Paris Bistro inside the Chestnut Hill Hotel at 8229 Germantown Ave. It will take the spot previously occupied by the Melting Pot. A jazz club downstairs is planned for later. Paris and Robert Bynum also own Heirloom, a BYOB, just up Germantown Avenue.
Sabrina's, the popular city bruncherie, is targeting January for a branch in Wynnewood Shopping Center.