New spots with inventive ideas, interesting twists

Jason Cichonski outside of the space at Third and Bainbridge Streets that will be Ela. (Charles Fox / Staff Photographer)
Jason Cichonski outside of the space at Third and Bainbridge Streets that will be Ela. (Charles Fox / Staff Photographer)
Posted: September 11, 2011

Ela I first interviewed Jason Cichonski when he was 24, and brilliantly helming the kitchen at Lacroix. Three years later, he's on the brink of opening his own restaurant, with dishes as inventive as those from his Lacroix days. Smoked french fries with honey malt? Green curry marinated olives? Brioche gnocchi with smoked caviar? Yes, please. His vision for the Queen Village space has exposed brick and raw concrete, warmed up with grainy wood tones. At the full bar, there's a focus on wines by the glass. Chip Roman (of Blackfish and Mica) is a partner. 627 S. Third St., no phone number or website yet.

Barcade Hitting Fishtown in mid-September, this spot, originally from Brooklyn, is exactly what it sounds like - a bar and an arcade, but with a few hip, grown-up, un-Dave & Buster's twists. The 35 video games are originals from the late '70s and '80s (like Super Mario Bros.), the 24 draft lines flow with craft beers, and the vibe is wooden warehouse chic. Unlike the New York location, this one has food. There will be a dozen hot and cold sandwiches, as well as snack foods, such as hot pretzels. And as a nod to our love of all things beer, pickled hop shoots. 1114 Frankford Ave., no phone yet; barcadephiladelphia.com.

Paramour Three years of construction has yielded an extreme makeover for this new multi-platform eatery in the Wayne Hotel, set to open in early October. Banished is the Victorian chintz; in its place are polished finishes like a mother-of-pearl tiled bar, sparkling chandeliers, and wingback chairs. The lobby now doubles as a lounge, serving herbaceous and heritage cocktails (there's a make-your-own-Manhattan menu), and the bar area has casual eats, like entree salads and a Kobe burger. The dining room steps it up with a European-inspired crudo menu, heritage breed steaks, and flatbreads from the wood-fired oven. This place screams private events. 139 E. Lancaster Ave., 610-977-0600, paramourwayne.com.

American Sardine Bar Truth be told, this restaurant made an appearance in last year's fall preview, but the owner assures me that an early October opening is imminent. Chef Scott Schroeder, who also runs the kitchen at the owner's other restaurant, the South Philadelphia Tap Room, has created a rotating menu of soups, sandwiches and sides - think homemade onion rings. Unlike SPTR, they want to make sure this place is a bar first. Still, the food might be hard to resist, even if only for showmanship: The Pittsburgh-inspired cheesesteak with fries is poised to be our city's next lasagna sandwich. 1800 Federal St., no phone number or website yet.

Federal Donuts Fried chicken and doughnuts? When you trust a chef - in this case Michael Solomonov of Zahav fame - even a quirky concept like this starts to make perfect sense. Aiming for a late-September opening, the Pennsport shop is mostly counter seating and take-out, with an open kitchen where cakey doughnuts will be pulled fresh from the fryer. Choose from plain or glazed, or some of the more chef-y offerings such as doughnuts coated with vanilla-lavender sugar or stuffed with a chocolate-tahini custard. Not to be upstaged by its sweeter side, the fried chicken is Korean-inspired, coming in classic crunchy or tossed in spicy-sweet glazes. Stumptown coffee is provided by the owners of Bodhi coffee, who are also partners. 1219 S. Second St., no phone yet, federaldonuts.com.

Fish Chef Mike Stollenwerk is moving on up. His new location of Fish, which is set to move from 17th and Lombard to 13th and Locust in November, is large, and a far cry from his first restaurant, Little Fish, which had seating for 25. All that space, and the energy surrounding the ever-expanding 13th Street corridor, was hard for Stollenwerk to resist. The menu - while still in his signature clean and ├╝ber-fresh style - will grow too, and have some land-animal options. Behind the roomy raw bar will be a saltwater tank; crudo and in-season shellfish such as king crab will be offered. Finishing up the design process now, he's leaning toward a casual, something-for-everyone feel. 1234 Locust St., no phone number or website yet.

Rice & Mix Although a little behind schedule - they are shooting for a November opening - Giwa devotees (like myself) know it will be worth the wait. The concept is a Korean fast-food version of Chipotle, where customers can customize rice dishes like bibimbap with veggies, proteins such as beef, shrimp and tofu, and sauces of their choice. 1207 Walnut St., no phone number or website yet.


Contact Ashley Primis at 215-854-2244 or aprimis@phillynews.com.

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