Good news for Fishtowners! Chef Raju Bhattarai, formerly the executive chef at Tiffin, has opened his own restaurant, Ekta, at 250 E. Girard [where: 19125]. I stopped by the small storefront space yesterday, and Chef Bhattarai and his staff were busy putting on the finishing touches. They greeted me warmly and handed me a menu. Most of the choices are indistinguishable from Tiffin’s menu, no surprise there, but the prices are much more affordable. One intriguing difference is in the bread section. In addition to the usual suspects like garlic naan, roti, and the heavenly fruit-and-nut-stuffed Peshawari naan, Ekta offers basil naan, mint naan and rosemary naan. Hours are also a bit longer than Tiffin’s: Ekta is open until 10 pm Monday-Saturday and 9 pm Sunday, good news for those of us who work the twilight shift. City Paper reports that a second-floor dining room is in the works as well. Opening day is today, so drop by if you get a chance– and send me a report!
The other restaurant opening today on Girard is Sketch Burger Joint, a brightly painted pink-and-yellow space run by the owners of Canvas Coffee Co. The menu advertises itself as vegan-friendly, and wagyu burgers, high-end condiments and vegan milk shakes are on offer (check out the menu over at Foobooz). Oh, this is a good thing.
Of course, you can’t talk about Girard without mentioning its unquestioned king, Johnny Brenda’s. We had dinner at Brenda’s the day we moved to Fishtown, and haven’t stopped dropping by. The new venue space on the second and third floors is a great place to see bands like Slim Cessna’s Auto Club, but what I’m really happy about is the expanded dining room, where the seating is much more comfortable, and you can hear your dinner partner talk. Brenda’s menu is updated regularly, and the innovation hasn’t stopped yet– my latest favorite is the crab cake salad, three perfect, slightly spicy crabcakes with a creamy dressing and a pile of dark, flavorful salad greens. I’ll really be happy when the Greek-inspired lamb sliders Brenda’s offered at the Trenton Avenue Arts Festival finally make it onto the menu. I’ve been craving those for months.