Philly's Top Chef, Kevin Sbraga of Sbraga, will open the doors of his Southern bar concept, The Fat Ham, on Friday night, Dec. 6. (The first tables could be yours. No reservations will be taken at first.)
It occupies the former Tria Wine Bar in the Left Bank at 3131 Walnut St. (215-735-1914).
Since mid-September, I've been following the project in an online series. I'll write the finale after the dust settles in a bit.
It's neat to watch a restaurant unfold from drawings on Eimer Design's whiteboards to the finished product.
Based on a test dinner last night (attended by, among others, Georges Perrier and Jose Garces), here's what you can expect:
Outstanding food, served in small plates. You will want to lick the plate of grits, after you devour the head-on shrimp they're served over. The slider-size fried oyster sandwich (which did not appear on the early menu) is a crunchy delight, whose meaty oyster is topped with slaw and stuffed inside a yeast roll. The hot chicken, two crunchy pieces served atop white bread, dill pickles and ranch dressing to cool you down, is truly hot - "a 7 on Han Dynasty's scale," said general manager Ben Fileccia. You will also want to lick out the bowl of peanut hummus, served with toast. The collard greens are swoonworthy tender and are studded with ham. The tiny doughnuts piped in with banana pudding are insanely delicious. Dishes are $5 to $15 per. Figure on $50 to $55 a head.
Cheek-to-cheek seating. Tables and the plates themselves are small. You will know your neighbor. There are about 40 seats, much of it at the bar, where the list includes an assortment of beverages, including barrel-aged cocktails.
A lively din. Don't go seeking a quiet tête-à-tête. And don't complain, either. This is just how it is. It's a Southern thing.