August 6, 2009 |
New and just off City Avenue: Avril (134 Bala Ave., Bala Cynwyd, 610-667-2626), a cozy BYO bistro from chef Christian Gatti and his wife, April Lisante - hence the name. Gatti's Mediterranean menu starts in southeast France and heads into Italy. It will go farther inland as the weather cools off. Lisante, who spent a decade as a reporter, food writer, and editor at the Philadelphia Daily News, met Gatti in 2003 when she interviewed him for a feature about hot, young chefs.
May 9, 2004 |
The new Main Street Cafe is not actually an urban bistro, but it does a good impersonation. The "cafe" (more on that name later) has a storefront location on Lancaster Avenue, directly opposite the Berwyn train station. Like many neighborhood haunts, it has a double-wide comfort zone, complete with simple dishes such as filet tips and ravioli. With such other offerings as Buffalo chicken sandwiches and sweet-potato fries, the cafe might seem like another of the upscale, low-key restaurants that fit so neatly into the Main Line streetscape.
July 28, 1991 |
Think back to when restaurants didn't need a gimmick. When a comfortable setting, good service, and decent, affordable food were enough to build a loyal following. Can a restaurant make it on those terms today? Parisian bistros continue to do so; Cafe Cafe would seem to be banking on it. The bistro-like Cafe Cafe in Center City is the latest effort of a team headed by Lew Norsworthy, whose earlier successes have included the Fish Market, Mezzanote and Caffe Bene. (Mezzanote was my neighborhood restaurant during Norsworthy's stint there, so I wasn't in Cafe Cafe more than a minute before I was spotted at both review meals.
July 16, 1993 |
Formidable! Magnifique! Pardon my French, but English adjectives aren't adequate to describe the delightful Spring Mill Cafe in Conshohocken. This off-the-beaten-track bistro, in business for more than a decade, is a very special country retreat for Francophiles who want a whiff of joie de vivre without having to cross the Atlantic. Unlike most French restaurants in the area, Spring Mill is not at all formal. Housed in a rustic building that was once a grist mill, its two dimly- lit dining rooms are crammed with mismatched furniture, antiques, culinary kitsch, folk art and art posters.
March 17, 1989 |
New Moon, a Fairmount restaurant that used to call itself Adrian, recently changed hands. Not much else has changed, which should please its devotees immensely. The staff remains essentially the same - in fact, two of them bought out the previous owners. Chef Janice Bovee is now one of the bosses, so the food isn't substantially different. The only visible differences are arty neon signs in the windows and menus instead of the blackboards that used to list the offerings. New Moon reminds me of a Parisian bistro, with its exposed brick, cafe curtains, fresh flowers, intermittent whiffs of garlic, crisp-crusted bread and dessert display at the entrance.
March 12, 2000 |
Last year, the big trend was the raw bar and casual fish house. For 2000, restaurateurs from Center City to Suburban Square have flipped for frites like truffle hounds homing in on pay dirt. The classic French bistro has suddenly become Philadelphia's dining theme du jour. Dust off the red leather banquettes. Polish up the zinc bar. Get the choucroute cooking. Is that Piaf singing "La Vie en Rose"? For chef Philippe Chin, creating the bistro next to his posh fine-dining spot on Locust Street was an attempt to feed nostalgia, to conjure the soulful dishes he used to devour at Le Mont Tabor, a favorite bistro behind La Place Vendome in Paris.
February 3, 1999 |
Shopping malls are not usually known for their gourmet cuisine. But that could change, thanks to the Bistro at Cherry Hill. The restaurant, which opened just after Thanksgiving at the Cherry Hill Mall is a far cry from the Woolworth's Grille that formerly occupied the space near Strawbridge's. The Bistro is a gleaming rectangle of salmon-colored marble countertops and goodie-filled display cases wrapped around two open kitchen stations. Thirty patrons can grab a seat around this airy counter, with its views of the Hallmark store, The Body Shop and Cache.
May 7, 2000 |
The sunlight lit her topaz ring on fire as she settled in, 10 minutes after I arrived, to a seat at the metal-topped bar of La Parisienne in Ardmore. There was no space in the dining room at this bustling midday hour, so we were neighbors au comptoir, lunching at the zinc. "What's good here?" she asked me, perusing the ornately printed "carte" of classic French bistro fare. She smoothed her cashmere sweater, pulled the graying blond hair back, and, with a coiffed elegance, ordered nearly the same meal as I: French onion soup, chicken breast . . . hold the chocolate mousse.
April 24, 1991 |
Bistro food - unpretenious, simple and good tasting - is winning converts in America. For years, this casual, wholesome fare has been Europe's answer to American fast food. Now this easy-to-make food is exactly the thing for contemporary American tastes. The hallmark of bistro cuisine is straightforward combinations of ordinary ingredients that don't take up a lot of precious time in preparing. Fortunately, many convenience foods that we rely on can find a place in bistro-style dishes.
October 15, 2009 |
Luxe-hotel operator Kimpton enters the Philadelphia market this week with the Hotel Palomar at 17th and Sansom Streets. Kimpton is positioning its two-level bistro - Square 1682 (121 S. 17th St., 215-563- 5008) - as a separate entity. It's one of Center City's few hotel restaurants with an entrance off the street, and is open for breakfast, dinner, and late night. Lunch starts Oct. 26. Decor is dramatic yet intimate art deco. The first floor encompasses the bar, lounge and open kitchen, while the second floor has a dining room and private dining.