When chef Chip Roman was a lad and wanted things a touch on the fancy side, his grandmother would say, "Where do you think you are? The Tremont?"
She pronounced the name of the erstwhile Lansdale landmark hotel TREE-mont - and that is what Roman has named his new Center City restaurant.
The Treemont (231 S. 15th St., 267-687-2237) is a bilevel bistro in the Aria Condos. Roman (Blackfish, Mica, Ela, Tradestone Cafe, and Tradestone Confections) and business partner Victor Fellus revamped Fellus' short-lived Tietra, moving the staircase from the southern wall to the northern. This created better seating on the first floor, which is dominated by a bar at the entrance. The mezzanine level has been amped with better lighting, cool subway tiles, and a bar-topped railing that allows patrons to watch the action below.
The food, executed by chef de cuisine Rob Sidor, is reminiscent of the seafood-centric, modern American style of Blackfish and Mica. You'll notice Georges Perrier's escargots on the menu. Roman worked for Perrier for some time.
While attending the University of Pennsylvania, Stephanie Chan lived on campus. Now a lawyer and married, she has come back to campus with her husband, Edmund Lee, by opening Carina Tea & Waffles, inside the International House (3701 Chestnut St., 215-895-6551). "We love Philly and want to bring in tea culture," said Chan, who grew up in England and Hong Kong. They're fussy, importing organic teas as well as hibiscus flowers from Egypt and lavender from France and, for the Liege waffles, pearl sugar from Belgium. Counter Culture Coffee and real bubble tea with taro are offered, too.
Jimmy G's Steaks, which opened last fall in the shadow of the Divine Lorraine Hotel, did not necessarily grow out of a love of food.
Father and son Glen and Nick Strafella, in the check-cashing business, bought the building at Broad Street and Ridge Avenue to thwart a possible competitor. Then friend Jimmy Markasis got on board and they went the sandwich route, building their creations on Liscio's rolls. The stand (695 N. Broad St., 215-763-2495), which has covered seating, is open very late, especially on weekends.
Easter Sunday will be the last supper for Avalon restaurant in West Chester at its South High Street location. On April 24, John Brandt-Lee will reopen Avalon nearby, at 116 E. Gay St., now Nonna's. The new Avalon will be triple the size and have a full bar.
Union Trust - the white-elephant steakhouse that filed for bankruptcy two years after its 2009 opening and later foreclosed - will become a catering venue. Finley Catering Co. signed a lease for the building at 715-717 Chestnut St., which for many years was Kellmer Jewelers.
Finley now books the Crystal Tea Room near City Hall, the nearby Ballroom at the Ben, and the Clothier Room in Wynnewood. Owner Tom Finley says he's calling the venue Union Trust Events, and expects to host the first event in September