Chef Joncarl Lachman completes a long-sought homecoming with this month's opening of Noord - his Northern European bistro - at 1046 Tasker St. (267-909-9704), the southeast corner of 11th and Tasker opposite Fond, Chiarella's and the Singing Fountain of East Passyunk Avenue.
The 38-seat, white-tablecloth BYOB has a chef's counter.
By "Northern European," Lachman is drawing from his Dutch heritage and his extensive travels from the Netherlands north into Scandinavia, as well as from his work with chef Anne Rosenzweig at NYC's Arcadia and inspiration from NYC's Prune.
And though the menu may have you scurrying to your Dutch-to-English dictionary, the food is actually quite accessible. He describes it as home cooking with "attention to detail."
Noord's debut completes a homecoming for Lachman, who grew up in Southwest Philly and Darby. After Darby-Colwyn High, he went off to Wilkes College and then left for New York and DC, where he worked in the front of the house at restaurants. "I traveled the world," said Lachman. "I made a lot of money and I spent it all traveling. My goal was to see 30 countries before I was 30. I saw 33."
Though waiting tables, he descibes himself as "the guy who threw the dinner parties." His friends urged him to go to culinary school. And so at age 38, he did.
While in school, he won the first San Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef competition in 2002. That win - with its prize and PR push - sent him and his partner, Bob Moysan, on a quest to open a restaurant. But not in New York, where they were caught in the raw post-9/11 emotions.
In Columbus, Ohio.
"But I wigged out," he said. "It wasn't right."
He and Moysan moved to Chicago, where he opened HB (Home Bistro) eight years ago. The Euro-styled HB won a Michelin recommendation. He then opened Vincent, which he left in 2011 after a falling-out with his investors.
"So the birthday came up," Lachman said about his turning 50. He said he asked himself, "You going to do this or not?"
He and Moysan begen plotting the way to Philadelphia.
Two weeks after a meeting with Sam Sherman of Passyunk Avenue Revitalization Corp., Lachman cinched the lease at 1046 Tasker.
Oy vey, Maria. Laura Frangiosa is Italian. Husband Joshua Skaroff is Jewish. The Avenue Delicatessen - a retro-looking sitdown/takeout/catering operation they opened at 27 N. Lansdowne Ave. in Lansdowne (610-622-3354) with friend Brian Flounders - is both.
As in, straightforward Jewish cooking (house-cured corned beef) and Italian cooking (meatballs), as well as a fusion that you might term "Jewtalian." Jewish wedding soup, a riff on Italian wedding soup, includes "sinker"-style matzo balls, mini-veal meatballs and escarole. Reuben arancini are those familiar fried rice balls but they're stuffed with chunks of house-brined corned beef, Swiss cheese and sauerkraut. The lineup of knishes includes hot dog/mustard/onion and broccoli/leek.
Everything is made from scratch, including the mayo (but not the Heinz ketchup), says Frangiosa, chef-in-residence at Audrey Claire's Cook demo kitchen, working with chef Becca O'Brien, formerly of Green Aisle Grocery.
So, as Frangiosa says, it's not a "cold-cut hut."
Go early. The locals are jamming the lunch counter and dining room, which seat about 50.
Check the menu here. Hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
The former Dairy Queen on Montgomery Avenue in Narberth will become a branch of Burger.Org, the glatt-kosher burger chain with locations at 19th and Chestnut Streets, Elkins Park, Cherry Hill and Margate. It's a few weeks away.
Han Chiang, who has taken his Han Dynasty from a Sichuan BYOB in a strip mall in the western burbs to a six-location mini-chain, has vowed to make his boldest move yet. He says he will take over the massive (and long-vacant) restaurant space in the old Corn Exchange Building at 123 Chestnut St. as a new location for his Old City restaurant, now located down the street at 108 Chestnut. Chiang told me that he gets the keys to the new place - which opened in 1996 as Rococo and later housed a series of ill-fated clubs and a steakhouse - in July. His lease at 108 Chestnut is up in November, but he says he hopes to shift the operation sooner.
With nearly three dozen restaurants and more in development, Stephen Starr and his people brainstorm and review many ideas for bowls, platters, pitchers, glassware, flatware, vases, salt and pepper shakers and the like. Do they choose square plates, oblongs, rounds? Retro-looking salt-and-pepper shakers or more dignified ones? Decisions, decisions. And none of it is junk. Starr buys such brands as Rosenthal, Fortessa, Fiestaware, Steelite, and Homer Laughlin.
After the collection outgrew the office of Starr's creative director, Randi Sirkin, the pieces were packed up and warehoused.
Sirkin decided to donate the entire inventory - 20 huge boxes - to Philabundance.
The collection will be for sale during the Rittenhouse Row Spring Festival on Saturday, May 18 from noon to 5 p.m., rain or shine. Philabundance will sell pieces at reasonable prices (just a few dollars each) on the 1800 block of Walnut.