Now that Chicken Mania is open at 7524 Forest Hill Ave., neighbors are navigating a bunch of new Peruvian-spiced menu items beyond the marinated rotisserie chicken. Yucca fries (cassava) are a specialty, pictured; along with ceviche; fried shrimp and calamari; steak and pot roast sandwiches; pork chops and chowders. The menu includes relative novelties for the Stratford Hills neighborhood, including huancaina, boiled potatoes with Peruvian-style cream cheese sauce, and soft drinks Inca Kola and Postobon. Desserts include Peruvian custard, key lime pie and tres leches cake. Most entrees are $10 to $12, with sandwiches in the $6 range and sides of beans, plantains and rice. The counter-service business delivers, has takeout and a simple dining room with views into the immaculate, and now bustling, kitchen. Lunch and dinner daily. 267-3340.
To the studs: Two complete gut jobs are in progress for new restaurants that have a long way to go before opening. Selba, owned by Keith Buchanan, is a major rebuild of a former Honda House dealership at 2416 W. Cary St. It's getting a large back dining room with a skylight and operable windows, more tables in the front, and off-street parking in an increasingly interesting food neighborhood near Acacia, Fresca, Lamplighter and others down Robinson St. Chef Abram Jackson is set to be executive chef for a kitchen still waiting to be built.
Over at the former Peking restaurant near Grove and Libbie, contractors have gutted the building to a shell in order to rebuild it according to specs from owner Chris Tsui of Osaka Sushi. (A mass mailer from Sarah Palin, addressed to the former owner, sits in a trash pile near the entry.) Look for the Blue Goat to enter the scene once Tsui and designer Helen Reed complete their newest vision for the space.
Franklin Inn food: Last week we mentioned the reopening of the former Corner CafAc at 800 N. Cleveland St. Now renamed the Franklin Inn, its opening menu thanks neighbors for their support and asks for requests to “keep The Franklin Inn the neighborhood restaurant it was intended to be. … Forgive us for any errors during out start-up process.” The menu has sliced, sauced sirloin for two ($19.95 with two sides), crab cakes, buffalo shrimp, burgers, club and barbecue sandwiches, soups and salads. Lunch and dinner are served daily at the small refurbished wooden bar, booths and tables in a cozy, vintage spot aiming to please.
J Frank returns: An upcoming guest chef night at Positive Vibe CafAc reunites longtime volunteer and personal chef J Frank with staff and guests at the Stratford Hills restaurant. A three-course, fixed price meal is available for $35 per person, or can be ordered a la carte from 6 - 8 p.m. March 20. If the scallop dumplings and cod with mussels and chorizo don't reel you in, perhaps the finale — ‘an ode to desserts at the Inn at Little Washington' — might.
Also at the Vibe, St. Patrick's Day brings Irish ballads sung by Russell Lawson and a dinner option of corned bison among other eats. Learn more about this unique restaurant's training mission, international advocacy and general good fun at positivevibecafe.com.