Mount Airy has a new semi-fine-dining option: Cresheim Valley Grain Exchange (7152 Germantown Ave., 267-766-2502), replacing the Wine Thief.

It's a cozy, low-lit bar with 12 American crafts on tap - though owner Marvin Graaf does not intend it to be a beer destination, as is his Falls Taproom in East Falls. Graaf assumes that his neighbors McMenamin's and Earth Bread + Brewery have the suds thing locked up.

Graaf, working with fiancee Jessica Mellen, figures that CVGE's strong suit will be the cocktail list and food by Culinary Institute of America grad Trevor Elliott, an alum of the Wine Thief.

Graaf calls it "country cuisine" - house-made pickles, vegetarian items as well as meat and potatoes, locally sourced where possible. Graaf installed a new bar and walls, working with barn wood and distressed and reclaimed steel, wood, and glass.

Most notably, he punched a door through one wall across from the bar. The alley next door is now a patio with an elevated area that can accommodate bands. Hours are 11 a.m. till late, daily.

A find

Comes a time in most every chef's life when he breaks free and opens his own place. That happened recently for chef Ben Moussa Abdallah. Seeing opportunity, he left the DoubleTree in Mount Laurel for a BYOB in Collingswood called Table 8 Bistro (8 Powell Lane, 856-854-0458), replacing Kitchen Consigliere, which moved nearby. Abdallah, raised in Morocco, learned to embrace American cuisine, which the locals seem to appreciate, given the surfeit of Italian restaurants in town. Still, he said he gets the biggest crowds Sundays when he offers an Italian fixed-price dinner.

What's new

Guy Fieri opened Guy Fieri's Chophouse at Bally's in Atlantic City over July Fourth weekend. What with Martorano's by Steve Martorano newly open at Harrah's, it looks as if parent company Caesars is going for bad-boy brash in its dining.

Ten months after opening in Wayne, the wine bar Carmel Kitchen opened a second this week in Warrington's Valley Square Shopping Center (1613 Main St.). Carmel's thing is Mediterranean-inspired food, plus wine and cocktails, with ordering powered by iPads.

Thai chef Alex Boonphaya is partnering with his sous chef at Circles Bistro, Silvestre Rincon, to open Tuk Tuk Real, a taqueria merging Thai and Mexican influences at 429 South St.

Briefly noted

More changes are coming to a slice of South Street. Not only is Leziz Turkish Cuisine setting up at 216-218 South St., perhaps next month. The Frusone family, which had Belladonna at 15th and Spruce Streets, is readying an unnamed Italian restaurant at 214 South St. for September.

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