Table Talk | Mystery still surrounds opening of Vango Lounge

Posted: September 27, 2007

Diaa Sawan has done his best to keep mystery surrounding Vango Lounge & SkyBar (116 S. 18th St.). Even with the opening imminent, he won't release the names of the chefs (they've worked here at Pod and at Nobu in New York) or even the exact opening date (within two weeks).

Why did the project - whose menu will feature a fusion of Japanese and Mediterranean cuisine - take two years? During a tour of the club - above Sue's Produce Market and adjacent to Byblos, one of two restaurants his family owns - Sawan showed why. Vango's plush main room is on the second floor; a roof deck and private room occupy the third.

"Everything in here is custom," he said. A wildly bright fiber-optic chandelier hanging over the bar, he said, was designed and made in Germany, assembled in England and shipped over. Wrought-iron flourishes are everywhere. One second-floor wall is made of a crushed-velvet fabric studded with lights. Another second-floor wall is filled with about 220 niches, each of which accommodates a vodka bottle. In a clever marketing tie-in, Sawan will allow vodka companies to advertise their brand on the wall by "donating" bottles; in return, Vango will receive the product.

What's coming

Du Jour, the gourmet market and café now in Haverford, says it will open a second spot early next year, on the ground floor of the Symphony House, the luxury condo building at the southwest corner of Broad and Pine Streets. Du Jour will dish breakfast, lunch and dinner, eat-in/takeout. The building's Pine Street side will house a reincarnation of Girasole, the Italian eatery that was at 13th and Locust for 14 years until mid-2004.

Astral Plane (1708 Lombard St.), which closed July 1 after 34 years, will come back in November as Astral Plane Millennium. Caterer Christine Fischer and business partner Clara Gomez are embarking on a big renovation, cutting founder Reed Apaghian's froufrou decor down to a modern and simple look.

Kai is the name of the modern-Japanese restaurant coming to the Academy House (1420 Locust St.) in about five weeks. Backers are involved with Fuji Mountain in Center City.

See food

Marcello's Fresh Catch Bistro, a contemporary BYO seafooder, has replaced Pacific Grille in Village II Shoppes in Mount Laurel (1200 S. Church St., 856-778-2200). Owners, who also have Marcello's Ristorante & Pizzeria in Marlton, have renovated entirely, installing a waiting area equipped with bar tables topped with tropical-fish bowls. (For amusement, silly, not hors d'oeuvres.) Menu runs all day from the 11 a.m. opening, but most dishes before 4 p.m. are available half-size for half-price (entrees average $20). As for Pacific Grille's status, owner Jeff Devine did not return a message.

Bit by bit, North Broad is showing signs of life - there's Osteria (640 N. Broad), of course, plus Cobre (812 N. Broad). Six days old is Cameron Seafood (906-916 N. Broad St., 215-765-1000), the first Philadelphia outlet of a D.C.-based seafood counter/eat-in/takeout chain. Cameron, which occupies six storefronts, has a full counter of fresh and frozen (including salmon, tuna, red snapper, king crab legs, crabs and the like), plus a quick-serve counter (fried and broiled platters) and seats. It's open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays.

Briefly noted

The Book & the Cook is finally booking its author dinners for this year's event, Oct. 22-28. See the growing list at www.thebookandthecook.com.

Tyler Jones has been promoted to chef at Crescent City at Ninth and South Streets.

Radnor's Bistro Cassis, Center City's Happy Rooster, and Bryn Mawr's Carmine's allow BYOB during Sunday dinner; no corkage fee.

Supper, the upscale-casual American coming to 926 South St. in about a month, will have a liquor license. I erred on Sept. 13 by describing it as a BYOB.


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

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