Carmine's Creole is out; in comes Verdad

Chef Robert Bahm presides at the new Becca's, a Phoenixville BYOB named for his daughter. The food is upscale American.
Chef Robert Bahm presides at the new Becca's, a Phoenixville BYOB named for his daughter. The food is upscale American.
Posted: July 16, 2009

Good times no longer roll at Carmine's Creole Cafe in Bryn Mawr, which has closed while owner Howard Taylor redoes it as a Euro-Latin restaurant called Verdad ("truth" in Spanish).

Nick Farina of the nearby Blush will be managing partner and executive chef.

Verdad's tapas menu will be supplemented by a tequila bar and a selection of wines from Spain, Cuba, Chile, Brazil and Mexico, plus a Latin beer selection. Figure on $35 a head, including a drink and a couple of small plates. Opening is penciled in for the first or second week of August.

So ends a chapter in one of our town's loopier restaurant stories. Carmine's, founded in Havertown in 1999 by New Orleans chef John Mims, relocated first in 2005 to Narberth, and again to 818 W. Lancaster Ave. in Bryn Mawr, formerly Citron. That's where Mims began a partnership with Taylor, a lawyer, and obtained a liquor license. Mims and Taylor also opened Les Bons Temps at 114 S. 12th St. in Center City. The partnership disintegrated a year ago, and Mims left altogether.

Late last year, Mims surfaced at the Freehouse in Wayne, and Taylor sued him, alleging that Mims had violated terms of their contract specifying that Mims could not work within 10 miles of Carmine's. In the last couple of months, Les Bon Temps closed, as did the Freehouse. Mims owns Daddy Mims and Johnny's New Orleans Pizza Kitchen in Phoenixville.

What's new

Chef Robert Bahm, a Culinary Institute of America grad whose background includes Taquet in Wayne and Bryce's Catering in Wynnewood, has taken over a gracious old farmhouse off Valley Forge Road in Phoenixville. Becca's (19 S. Whitehorse Rd., 484-924-8502), a BYOB named after his daughter, occupies the former Twin Bays Cafe. It's upscale American, with dinner entrees from $24 to $30; there's a $65 six-course tasting menu as well. It's open Mondays through Saturdays for lunch ($10 to $22 for entrees); Wednesdays though Saturdays for dinner; and Sundays for $20 fixed-price brunch. Great upstairs deck.

What's coming

Seasons 52, the grill and wine bar from Darden Restaurants (Red Lobster, Olive Garden) that's been a hit at the Cherry Hill Mall, will open a second location next spring in King of Prussia. It will fill the space on Gulph Road near Mall Boulevard last occupied by a Bennigan's.

The South Philly storefront that formerly housed the venerable Shank's & Evelyn's luncheonette (932 S. 10th St.) will get a new restaurant, perhaps late this summer or early fall. Carlo Nigro, whose family has an assortment of businesses (real estate, auto body), is mum on the name and concept. The Nigros bought the building last year. Meanwhile, Shank's appears to be several weeks from resurfacing on 15th Street near Sansom in Center City.

The closings roster now includes: Ansill (David Ansill's ambitious, Euro-style foodie-centric bistro at Third and Bainbridge Streets in Queen Village, which opened in February 2006 as an offshoot of Pif, his now-closed French bistro in South Philly); Akoya (and its sibling Pearl lounge near Rittenhouse Square); and Vincent's (the longtime jazz club/hangout on Gay Street in West Chester).

One place that's not closed is Bella Luna Pizza Kitchen in West Conshohocken, whose construction delays I mentioned last week. Though lunch is being run out of its nearby sibling Stella Blu, Bella Luna is open every Friday for pickup and delivery.


Contact columnist Michael Klein at 215-854-5514 or mklein@phillynews.com. See real-time restaurant info at http://go.philly.com/insider.

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