South Jersey’s Cork Becomes Keg & Kitchen

When Kevin and Janet Meeker opened Cork Restaurant in Haddon Township seven years ago, they were the first to bring several foodie-friendly concepts to South Jersey. In focusing on Belgian and craft beers (and designing their menu to complement these beers), they launched the Westmont neighborhood as South Jersey’s go-to craft beer destination. But now it’s 2012 and everyone is doing craft and Belgians–and everyone hip has moved on beyond Cork’s original concept as a polished contemporary American small-plater with an Asian twist.

So the owners of Old City’s the Plough and the Stars and Q decided to demolish the old and once again usher in the new. This week they re-opened Cork as Keg & Kitchen, a restaurant that now lives under the tagline “Craft Food/Craft Beer.” The farmhouse dining room is a first for South Jersey but one of a growing number of regional incarnations of rustic dining a la The Farmer’s Cabinet and JG Domestic.

Re-using materials reclaimed from Cork, the Meekers have gone whole hog in turning the once-sleek space into a barn. Burlap-covered booths, red-and-white checkered dish cloths as napkins and the requisite chalk board squealing the daily cheese board helps set the mood for a menu culled in part from the local farmers market. There’s also charcuterie and food served in jars (house-pickled veggies, anyone?). Newly hired chef Ian Flanagan–who most recently was leading tours of local breweries and catering pairing dinners–has one task: to cook simple, natural dishes that match the 100+ craft and Belgian beers, artisanal cocktails (bourbon and whiskey based, naturally) and affordable boutique wines.

The new/old space opens for lunch next week. Here’s the Keg & Kitchen Menu.