TableTalk: Vegan bar on South 13th

Dining room, with curtain acting as a projection screen, at Charlie Was a Sinner.
Dining room, with curtain acting as a projection screen, at Charlie Was a Sinner. (MICHAEL KLEIN / Philly.com)
Posted: May 23, 2014

Nicole Marquis, owner of the quick-service HipCityVeg shops, has gone all fancy and typographically cutesy for her next act: the vegan bar Charlie was a sinner., which opened last week at 131 S. 13th St. (267-788-1736), smack in the white-hot strip of 13th Street that also houses Lolita, Barbuzzo, Sampan, El Vez, and Vintage.

She had Canno Design go for a Jazz Age aesthetic: plush seating, lighting from chandeliers, candles, and the bluish light of black-and-white videos projected on a 23-foot wall covered in drapery.

Michael Santoro, juggling chef/owner duties at the Mildred, oversees a menu of salads and small plates; figure about $25 a person plus alcohol. It's now open as a cafe for breakfast (vegan pastries and Stumptown coffee) at 8 daily and segues into lunch at 11:30, extending into dinner/late night with the same menu.

Going upstairs

Georges Perrier could not accommodate a party of eight at the old Le Bec-Fin at 1312 Spruce St. Neither could Philippe Chin at Chanterelles.

And now, 15 years into their time at one of Philadelphia's most storied restaurant addresses, Marc Vetri and Jeff Benjamin and chef Adam Leonti can do it at Vetri.

They have taken over the second-floor apartment to build a richly appointed dining room and a fully tricked-out demonstration kitchen. Each room seats about 16 but will not be used concurrently.

The move allows Vetri to open on Sundays for the first time. The upstairs will house a series of special events and will be available for private dining.

Revamped

After 4½ years, Kim and Edgar Alvarez have closed Avenida, their Mount Airy Latin bar-restaurant (7402 Germantown Ave.). They're shedding tablecloths and lightening up the decor, menu, drinks, and pricing. It will reopen Tuesday as Cantina Avenida.

What's new

West Chester is seeing an uptick of late, besides Avalon's move into 116 E. Gay St. and Kooma's opening of the mod-looking Kooma Viet at 151 E. Gay St. Now it's gained an Indian spot. Nearly four years after opening at 930 Locust St. in the city, Mumbai Bistro has opened a West Chester branch at 18 S. Church St. (484-884-0117). Like the one downtown, it offers a buffet and table-service Indian in a no-frills atmosphere.

Hai Street Kitchen (32 S. 18th St., 215-964-9465), backed by Philly-based sushi giant Genji, specializes in what it bills as Japanese burritos. That is, cooked ingredients are wrapped in rice-lined nori to yield 8-inch rolls. It's mostly takeout. (Similar rolls are available at Zento in Old City, which also distributes rolls to Tela's Market in Francisville.)

What's coming

June 7 is the scheduled launch of the Federal Donuts outlet at Seventh Street and Fairmount Avenue.

Greg Dodge - who opened the pizza/wine specialist Zavino in 2009 at 13th and Sansom Streets (and followed up this spring with a branch in University City) - is cooking up a bistro on the other corner of 13th and Sansom, perhaps as soon as December.


More restaurant news at www.philly.com/mike

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