Table Talk: Le Chéri is open

Owners Charlotte and Pierre Calmels at Le Chéri.
Owners Charlotte and Pierre Calmels at Le Chéri.
Posted: November 22, 2013

Le Chéri, the sibling of South Philadelphia's BYOB hit Bibou, opened this week inside the Art Alliance (251 S. 18th St., 215-546-7700).

Pierre and Charlotte Calmels opted for a sleek look with a muted color palette for their classic French bar-restaurant, whose price points are lower than Bibou's; figure on $22 to $30 an entree (quenelle, skate wing, short ribs Bourguignon). Chef de cuisine Waldemar "Val" Stryjewski has a varied background, including Brasserie Perrier, Le Bec-Fin, ¡Pasion!, Django, Pumpkin, Meze, and a.kitchen. (Ronald Fougeray, who has been at Bibou since Day 1, is chef de cuisine at Bibou.)

It's BYOB for now, and it's open for dinner Wednesday through Sunday. Lunch and brunch are planned for spring.

Menu is here.

Looking up

The Loews at 12th and Market Streets closed SoleFood for a heavy renovation. When the smoke clears next spring, a new restaurant, still overseen by executive chef Tom Harkins, will emerge. For now, the Loews has a restaurant and bar called Level 33 on the 33d floor to serve breakfast through dinner.

Lafayette Hill's boom

Two neighbors on Germantown Avenue in Lafayette Hill have reopened: Brittingham's (640 E. Germantown Pike, 610-828-7351) and Barren Hill Tavern & Brewery (646 E. Germantown Pike, 484-344-5438), the former General Lafayette Inn.

Brittingham's redo, under Morrissey Architects, is quite dramatic. The look has been brightened with contemporary creams and light woods. New owners Randy Feinberg, a developer, and David Eckelmeyer, who also owns CJ & Ecks in Manayunk, added two fire pits and a rooftop deck open most of the year. Chef Joseph Frost (ex-georges) is doing a pub menu and a raw bar. Menu prices top out at $18 for pan-seared rainbow trout with lentils and whole-grain mustard vinaigrette. It's open daily from lunchtime through late night.

Barren Hill maintained the General Lafayette's ye olde motif under new owner Erin Wallace (Devil's Den in South Philadelphia and Old Eagle Tavern in Manayunk). Head brewer Scott Morrison offers a dozen beers, and there are 18 rotating guest taps. Executive chef Paul Trowbridge's menu is beer-friendly; most entrees are $21 and under (prime rib, grilled hanger steak).

What's coming

After seven years at Seventh and Chestnut Streets, Aqua owner Jimmy Tran is branching out. A Center City branch of the Malaysian/Thai restaurant is expected to open this month at 120 S. 15th St., the storefront next to the parking garage at 15th and Sansom Streets.

Alex Plotkin, who closed his Chops restaurants in Bala Cynwyd and Washington Square in late June, is taking over the shuttered Table 31 at the Comcast Center with Chops at the Comcast Center. Plotkin, who pre-Chops worked at the Four Seasons and later at the Palm, will get management assistance from Joe Wolf, who consults with building owner Liberty Property Trust. Wolf has been around for decades; he had the Corned Beef Academy in the 1980s and was a cocreator of Striped Bass in the 1990s. Eimer Design, adding a fireplace to the bar, hopes for a spring opening.

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