You walk by Bryan Mayer’s butcher case at Kensington Quarters, and you develop certain expectations about what awaits you in the dining room. These deepen as you pass the meat locker, a sauna-paneled light box punctuated by widescreen windows framing floodlit views of hanging hog carcasses. By the time you reach your seat (the chairs face butcherblock tabletops anchored to honest-to-God I-beams), there’s just no two ways about it: You’re in for meat haunches so stupendous, they apparently require structural-grade steel to hold them up.
Video edited by Alexa Carroll; royalty-free Music from Bensound
In the wake of it’s two-bell review from Craig Laban, Kensington Quarters is hosting a five-course offal dinner for $75 per person. It’s on January 27, starts at 7 pm, and will feature, of course, all the various squiggly bits of animals that don’t get sold as steaks or chops. Each of the five courses will be served along with wine pairings (handy for getting past the notion of eating lamb liver and marmalade) and guests will eat in the loft area of the restaurant with chef Damon Menapace cooking in the open kitchen.
Oh, and of course we have a menu. Check it out below.
And that pretty much says it all. If you haven’t been there yet, maybe this is the excuse you need.
Kensington Quarters [f8b8z]
This month, Kensington Quarters is opening its second-floor classroom space for weekly and monthly hands-on classes. Initial classes will focus on butchery and charcuterie, later expanding into preserving, pasta and cocktails. The butchery and charcuterie classes will range in price from $65 to $145 and will include tasting samples as well as butchered product for students to take home.
Weekly classes will focus on specific techniques and will last about 90 minutes. Larger format classes that focus on butchering of a single whole animal will be roughly three hours long.
The classes are led by Kensington Quarters’ butcher, Bryan Mayer. Mayer has been a butcher-instructor for seven years and has trained with respected butchers across the country and around the world. At Kensington Quarters, he works with local farmers, making trips out to the farms and staying involved throughout the entire process to ensure the animals are being raised free of chemicals, antibiotics, hormones and GMO feed. “Every day, we hope to educate our customers by being knowledgeable and passionate about what we do,” says Mayer. “Now, in our demo space, we’re able to teach them even more about where this food comes from, why it’s great and show anyone at any skill level what to do with it.”
Very nearly a year after we first told you that Kensington Quarters would, at some point, be opening (and nearly two years after the enterprise first began to take shape), Michael Pasquarello and Bryan Mayer’s bar, restaurant, and butcher shop officially opened its doors last night.
You would never have known that the place is a new addition. A crowded bar of patrons sipping wine on tap and cocktails with names like “The Wishbone” and “The Cleaver,” a steady, busy dining room, and chef Damon Menapace calmly calling orders to his team behind the line in the open kitchen.
Yesterday, we brought you the menus. But for our first visit we tried a little bit of everything and, naturally, we brought a camera to share the experience with you.
Tonight, Kensington Quarters opens on Frankford Avenue in Fishtown. The combination butcher shop, restaurant and classroom is unique to Philadelphia and it will be interesting to see how the concept grows and evolves.
For now, we have the opening dinner, dessert and drink lists. The restaurant is starting off with a tight menu of small plates, starches and entrees. The menu runs from $11 for rare beef to $26 for a pork shoulder entree, served with potato torta and mustard greens. Though Kensington Quarters does include a butcher shop, the menu is far from strictly carnivore as the menu includes dishes that are or can be prepared for vegetarians.
For drinks, Kensington Quarters offers wine ($8 to $10.50) and beer ($5 to $6.50) on tap plus a list of cocktails.
Tomorrow, we’ll have a report on opening night.
Kensington Quarters is officially opening on Wednesday, October 29th. The Fishtown restaurant, bar, butcher shop, classroom combo will offer a selection of the region’s finest meats in its butcher shop, while diners of the restaurant enjoy drinks and dinner by Executive Chef Damon Menapace.
The classroom in the upstairs loft (which will also double as an event space) will host butchering classes as well as guest chef lectures and cooking demos that will acquaint guests with Kensington Quarters’ farm partners. A class schedule will be announced shortly after opening.
Though Kensington Quarters–Fishtown’s up and coming pasture-based butcher shop and eatery–is still mired in construction, the first glimpse of the food at their series of three Fried Chicken Pop-Ups was a great one.