Lowcountry Boil Comes to The Fat Ham

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On August 5th, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., Kevin Sbraga’s The Fat Ham will do its own take on the Lowcountry Boil. Attendees will receive a family-style helping of the classic summertime dish to enjoy with the new seasonal cocktails for $90 per person (tax and gratuity included).

You can expect a meal full of shrimp, blue crab claws, house made smoked garlic sausage, potatoes and corn. And this lowcountry boil is bringing the heat with The Fat Ham’s special spice blend.

Yet Sbraga isn’t just bringing the dish up North for a few good lip smacks. “Lowcountry Boil is the epitome of what hospitality is all about in the South – getting together with friends and family to eat, drink, and enjoy each other’s company,” Sbraga said. “And there’s no better way to enjoy the last days of summer than with this one pot dish spread across a table of newspaper.” 

Check out the full menu »

The Revisit: Rex 1516

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Restaurant chefs sure ain’t what they used to be.

Once they were stalwarts who manned the stoves in obscurity, if not outright anonymity, cooking for customers who expected a restaurant’s personality to come from somewhere else: a gregarious owner, a schmoozing maître d’, a head waiter who knew the table you wanted and the drink you always wanted on it.

Now they want to be the center of the show, these chefs today. They cook for creative fulfillment, for celebrity, for adoration. Sure, they cook for customers, too. But only as a means to an end: an invitation to Top Chef, a book deal, a restaurant empire of their own.

At least that’s what everybody says.

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Philadelphia Restaurant Review: The Fat Ham

Blackened Catfish - Photo by Jason Varney

Blackened Catfish – Photo by Jason Varney

It’s not the sort of thing a food critic is supposed to say, but my favorite bite of the year might just be a piece of fluffy white bread soaked with ranch dressing on the Walnut Street Bridge.

That wasn’t everything my fork found on one plate at the Fat Ham. There was a refreshing sprig of dill, and a thin slice of cucumber pickle that was as cool as, well, you know. But there you’ve got the sum total: bread, ranch, dill, cucumber. So I know what you’re thinking: Should I even keep reading this column, or quit while I’m ahead?

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Where We’re Eating: The Fat Ham

The Fat Ham | Country fried chicken lobster

Country fried chicken lobster | Photo by Vanessa Beahn

Despite the insane amount of development in UCity in the past decade, the area’s dining scene has lagged behind. There are plenty of just-decent restaurants and some notable ethnic choices, but not many spots for a truly memorable meal. Kevin Sbraga’s second restaurant, though, is a big step in the right direction. It’s also a welcome Southern dining addition to a city that, inexplicably, still has few. On your first visit to the Fat Ham, go for anything fried, with the hot chicken (a Nashville staple) and fried oyster sliders on the must-have list. After that, you’re on your own, but there are very few wrong paths to choose here. My party of four tried something like 18 dishes, and there was only one we didn’t like. But then, why the heck did we order hummus at a Southern restaurant in the first place?

The Fat Ham [Foobooz]

First appeared in the March, 2014 issue of Philadelphia magazine.

Sbraga Takes His Shot at Southern Cooking at The Fat Ham

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Lemon Bar by pastry chef Marqessa Gesualdi

Adam Erace approaches Kevin Sbraga’s The Fat Ham with a bit of a raised eyebrow. Can Kevin Sbraga really cook Southern food and is it good?

And mostly, it is. When dishes started arriving, clean execution and confident flavors quickly trumped geographic culinary authority. The sweetest lobster tail got country-fried (and countrified) in a buttermilk batter that cooked up crunchy and thick. The panko casing on wheels of juicy green tomato was different — light, crisp and laced with Locatelli Romano.  Boiled peanuts replaced tahini in a smart hummus that was delicious (albeit fridge-direct frosty) and paired with superior house-baked rye-and-wheat bread.

Kevin Sbraga’s sophomore effort, The Fat Ham, brings a shot of Southern comfort to University City [City Paper]
The Fat Ham [Foobooz]

City Tap House Celebrates Nick Foles With Catfish

foles number 9University City’s City Tap House is honoring Eagles quarterback Nick Foles with a dish, Catfish #9. The entree is Foles’ favorite, fresh catfish. At City Tap House, chef Chad Vetter is soaking the fish in buttermilk and then deep frying it. The catfish is accompanied by cornmeal crusted green tomatoes, Andouille white cheddar grits and Creole cocktail sauce. The Catfish #9 is $21 and 25-percent of the sales will be donated to the Eagles Youth Partnership.

Chef Vetter, who specializes in Southern cuisine was excited to learn the red-hot quarterback’s favorite food is fried catfish. “We’re big Eagles fans here at City Tap House, and we have caught Nick Foles mania over the past few weeks” said Vetter. He and his staff might even don number 9 jerseys this week.

The Catfish #9 will only be available for a limited time. Foles, will hopefully remain hot for a long time.

City Tap House [Foobooz]

The Fat Ham Opens on Walnut Street

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Philadelphia’s Top Chef winner, Kevin Sbraga is opening his second restaurant today. The Fat Ham will bring a broad swath of the South to 3131 Walnut Street, just across the Schuylkill River in University City.

We stopped in yesterday to take a look at a restaurant still very much being touched up for its premiere, despite hosting a couple of nights of friends and family dinners this week. Among the local culinary dignitaries that stopped in, Jose Garces and Georges Perrier. Perrier held court on the deck and even brought his dog with him.

Photos of the interior and dishes » 

First Look: Kevin Sbraga’s Opening Menu For The Fat Ham

The Fat Ham | Country fried chicken lobster

Country fried chicken lobster | Photo by Vanessa Beahn

In just a few days Kevin Sbraga will open the doors at The Fat Ham–his new Southern-inspired spot in the former Tria wine bar space at 3131 Walnut Street. Obviously, there will be pork in abundance, but you can also expect inventive veggies as well as dishes and flavors that pull from all over the South. Here’s our first peek at the opening night menu.

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