Michael Klein: Bistro adds to buzz near Rittenhouse

Posted: July 14, 2011

The scene is hopping on both sides of 18th Street north of Rittenhouse Square as a.kitchen has opened on the ground floor of the AKA Rittenhouse Square (135 S. 18th St., 215-825-7030), joining the weeks-old Serafina.

It's a polished but not stuffy American bistro from David Fields (ex-Salt), featuring the food of Django/Talula's Table founding chef Bryan Sikora. From an open kitchen, he is preparing a locally sourced menu of right-sized plates, all priced under $20, that can be mixed; figure on a couple dishes per person. Breakfast starts today (Thursday, July 14); lunch comes on board Monday.

The contemporary space features a coffee bar that doubles as a wine bar (with intriguing choices), and giant doors that let in the sidewalk scene.

Free lunch

Opa, the Greek newcomer at 1311 Sansom St., starts weekday lunch on Monday in a bold way: comping dine-in eaters with the pressed sandwich known as a "toast." Opa's "zambon kai tiri" is made with Lancaster County ham, Manouri cheese, and honey mustard dressing and is served with oregano fries. Also on the lunch menu (top price: $11) are a watermelon and feta salad, an omelet, and the bifteki (burger).

Coming and going

Michael Poole and Van Chau, who opened the Asian BYOB Trio five years ago in Fairmount (with then-partner Tom Jamava), are venturing a few blocks south for a second restaurant, due in early August. Isabel will be a MexiCali BYOB opening in the old Coffee Room Cafe space at 2601 Pennsylvania Ave. (also known as 2601 Parkway). It will serve dinner first. Lunch will follow, and so will coffee/breakfast.

Len and Mary DeMenczuk, who sold the King George II Inn in Bristol seven years ago, bought it back at sheriff's sale and are readying an Aug. 15 opening.

Gone: Yalda Grill, the kebab house in Horsham; Pastoral, the long-running Korean spot near 13th and Walnut Streets; and McCourt's Farm to Table, which opened mere months ago in Hatboro.

Briefly noted

After four years on Head House Square, Steve Cook and Michael Solomonov are selling Xochitl to friends Peter Leontaras and Demetri Pappas. Cook and Solomonov, who own Zahav and Percy Street Barbecue, are opening Federal Donuts in South Philadelphia later this summer.

Kokopelli, the Southwestern yearling at 1904 Chestnut St., has rebranded its second-floor lounge Kiva, and the ground-floor restaurant will reopen Aug. 1, changing from small plates to a three-course menu.

And back to Talula's Table: Chef Matt Moon is leaving. Owner Aimee Olexy is bringing in Chris D'Ambro, sous chef at her newer Talula's Garden, as exec chef.

Contact Michael Klein at mklein@philly.com. Follow his blog at http://www.philly.com/insider and on Twitter @phillyinsider.

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