Table Talk | A big dining makeover at Crowne Plaza Cherry Hill

Posted: August 09, 2007

The Crowne Plaza Cherry Hill (the old Hilton) has sunk gobs into a renovation of what was Cooper's Bar & Bistro.

It's now Embers Wood Fired Grill (2349 W. Marlton Pike, 856-665- 6666), and it's centered on a wood-fired grill - with a hyphen, thank you - where Culinary Institute of America-trained chef James Dings turns out American comfort food in rustic environs (cherry wood and stone). The lounge invitingly spills into the lobby.

Since it's a hotel restaurant, it's open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Average lunch check for two is about $20. Dinner entrees run from $16 (meat loaf, veggie lasagne or fish and chips) to $28 for a rib-eye; specialty is a $22 "duet," in which patrons choose two items from a list including grilled chicken, steak, sausage, swordfish and salmon.

Thirty-one wines (by bottle and glass) - and not a Kendall Jackson in sight - are on the list. Bar has a decent selection of tequilas, scotches and vodkas, too.

What's coming

After giving up on West Chester, Murray's Deli is setting out for Berwyn, with two operations. Murray's Main Line and an upscale spot called bistro M are expected to open next month at 575 Lancaster Ave., replacing the Berwyn Ice House.

Briefly noted

City Grange, at the Westin Hotel in Liberty Place, should be just into soft-opening mode now. Chef Chris Lichtman, a Culinary Institute grad, is doing "regional and sustainable American food." A 16-seat communal table - crafted from a fallen tree - is pegged as the energy center, offering a great view of the dining room. Going for a farmhouse feel.

Joe Coffee Bar (11th and Walnut Streets) has committed its menu to Braille. Feel it.

Friday Saturday Sunday is expected to be down for at least a few weeks after an Aug. 3 fire that started in the second-floor kitchen and popped through the roof. Owner Weaver Lilley, who helped open the landmark in 1973, says he expects a full recovery.

Buzz: The former Kellmer jewelry store at 715-17 Chestnut St. that everyone assumes will become a gourmet market? I'm hearing "restaurant" for the space. Also, five months ago, I wrote of a Japanese restaurant, based on the formal dining style called kaiseki, planned for the Academy House (1420 Locust St.). That project has changed concept, but owner Jonathan Chun is playing details close to the vest.

Cautionary note

The closing of ¡Pasión! in June brought with it the predictable flurry of e-mails from readers wondering what to do with gift certificates purchased from the restaurant. The short answer: toss them. Owners Michael Dombkoski and Guillermo Pernot are not offering refunds. Of the dozen aggrieved ¡Pasión!-ites I've heard from, the newest gift certificate had been issued in December. The others were at least a year old.

The point: When you get a restaurant gift certificate, do not throw it in the drawer and "wait for a special occasion" to redeem it. You got a free meal at a restaurant! That's a special occasion. Book that table before the ink is dry on the thank-you note.


Contact columnist Michael Klein at 215-854-5514 or mklein@phillynews.com. Read his recent work at http://go.philly.com/michaelklein.

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