I like when I find good restaurants in my neighborhood. It saves me a trip to Center City where I would either have to pay an arm and a leg for parking or risk a fight with a member of Philadelphia Parking Authority for returning to my car one minute after the meter expires (although then maybe I could be on Parking Wars. That might be fun).
Luckily, there are a ton of good restaurants around South Philly now, and I added another one to my list of neighborhood favorites over the weekend. Kennett (848 S. 2nd Street) is a fairly new gastropub in the Queen Village section of the city. Philadelphia Magazine named it as a “New and Notable” restaurant in March and recently recognized it as the “Best New Pub” on its annual “Best of Philly” list.
I didn’t really know anything about it until Chester and I saw it featured on a show on the NBC Nonstop Channel (I don’t understand why this channel exists, as most of the shows are really dumb, but it comes with our Fios package). Apparently, it used to be the Kennett Café, from the 1920s to the late 1980s and was something of an institution in the neighborhood. Now, like every other place in the city (or so it seems), the theme is sustainable, local, organic food and the current owners are hoping to become the first restaurant in the city to be certified by the Green Restaurant Association.
On Saturday night, we were planning to have people over with the hopes of grilling in the backyard. But, with the weather forecast being somewhat iffy throughout most of last week, and the potential for torrential downpours looking likely, we decided to check Kennett out instead.
As a note, the restaurant will only take reservations for groups of six or more, which worked out well for us, since we went with two other couples, (Hello to the Geragis and the Ironses). We would have been fine without a reservation, as it wasn’t too crowded when we arrived, but I hate to wait. It did fill up as the night went on, and the outside tables were all filled, since it actually turned out to be a nice night. Which just goes to prove that you can never trust the Philadelphia weather people.
The menu features salads, wood-fired pizzas, burgers/sandwiches and charcuterie and cheese plates. There are lots of vegetarian friendly options, if you are looking for a place to take your non-meat eating friends. Kennett also has a pretty decent wine, beer, and cocktail lists. The cocktails were Prohibition themed and gin, bourbon, and whiskey were the main ingredients. I was excited that they had Gewürztraminer on the wine list. We served this at this year’s Alumni Weekend wine tasting dinner at Drexel, and I loved it. It has a light fruity, floral flavor, and there’s just the slightest hint of fizz.
We shared a charcuterie and cheese plate to start. We chose a really sharp, white Cheddar from Lancaster County that went really nicely with slightly sweet oat cookies as well as a Doe Run Hummingbird, semi-soft cow and sheep’s milk cheese, from Chester County that we all really liked. It had a liquid center and a slight vanilla/citrus flavor. The salami and prosciutto were pretty standard, but if you are looking for something a bit different, there is a chicken liver mousse and pork belly terrine available too. The plate also included a bunch of different garnishes including, whole grain and Dijon mustards, honey, cornichons, and caperberries.
The boys all had the bone marrow burger, with pickled onions and anchovy mayo. Chester has eaten bone marrow before, and described its texture as “silky, soft, and gelatinous.” Yum? I actually wasn’t too grossed out by it when I tried it though, because the marrow was mixed in with the beef itself. And, while it did give the burger a different sort of flavor, I couldn’t pick up on a texture that was different from the ground beef. Chester says that texture is part of the experience of eating bone marrow, and he felt like it might have stood out a bit more if the marrow was sandwiched between two patties (a stuffed burger, basically). His assessment was that they could have left out the marrow, and still have had a pretty decent burger.
The girls all ordered pizzas. I had the special, which was a white pizza made with farmer’s cheese, peaches, and corn. The crust was a bit on the chewy side, but it tasted exactly like summer. I also sampled some of the Porchetta pizza that Bridget ordered, which was topped with slow roasted, shredded pork, honey, and whipped lardo. Lardo is cured fatback mixed with herbs, not straight up lard. It sounds a little gross, but it was really tasty. Lara had the margherita pizza, which I didn’t sample, but she felt that it could have used a bit more basil.
Service was a little spotty. Our waitress was pretty attentive with refilling drinks and suggesting new alternatives when they ran out of a particular kind of beer. But, there were problems with some pacing form the kitchen. For example, there was a really long wait for our appetizer, considering it’s not really that difficult to arrange meat, cheese, and some dabs of mustard on a board. The pizzas all came out at different times, apparently because they can only fit three pizzas in the oven at a time. Since this is one of their signature items, and the one that seems to be most talked about in other reviews of read, perhaps they need to consider a solution.
Overall, though, this is a solid neighborhood place, and one that I look forward to visiting again. They also do a Sunday brunch. Breakfast pizza with eggs, cheddar, and bacon? Yes, please.
If you are looking for a parking spot nearby, you can usually find something opened in the timed zone along Front Street. You don’t have to feed a meter, but just make sure you get back in time or, as Bridget and Bill found out, the PPA is on patrol in the area and they will get you.