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7 Don’t-Miss Dishes on Eli Kulp’s New a.bar Menu

By Danya Henninger
July 17, 2014

We’ve long been a fan of a.bar, the sleek space David Fields put together around the corner from a.kitchen in Rittenhouse almost exactly one year ago. We’re also already acolytes of chef Eli Kulp (see our look at his menus at Fork, High Street on Market and a.kitchen). Bring the two together and you’ve got an automatic winner.

Thursday, July 17, marks the launch of Kulp’s new menu (see it here) at the 18th and Walnut spot, turning it from a cocktail-centric lounge into a casual dining destination with its own identity. The raw bar is still there — it was built into the pewter counter at the back of the elongated room — but it’s now complemented by a variety of other plates.

Many of the new dishes follow the seafood theme. Under “Snacks” you’ll find salmon rilletes and fried soft-shell shrimp (eat the whole thing, head and all), larger plates include a soft-shell crab sandwich and shrimp Louis salad, and there’s a whole section devoted to crudos (see details in the pics below). There’s also a new burger to try, plus a new water ice — sour cherry with anise hyssop, definitely not your standard South Philly flavor.

Offerings are on the pricey side, but not unexpectedly so, given the prime location caddy-corner to Rittenhouse Square. Smaller plates range from $6-$16, and larger dishes top out at $29, for whole grilled branzino. Hours for food service have been extended to noon-10 PM, Monday-Saturday, with raw bar available through 11 PM. 

Kulp has been teasing the dishes on Twitter, so we pulled seven of the best to showcase below. Flip through and then head over to try them.

135 S. 18th St.; 215-825-7030

  • Scallop Ceviche

    Scallop, grapefruit, yuzu kosho, celery water ($12)

  • “Spicy Tuna Roll”

    Tuna poke, Sriracha mayo, nori, puffed rice ($12)

  • Fluke Tiradito

    Fluke, almond milk, fresh green coriander seeds, pickled peppers ($13)

  • a.Burger

    Hanger, chuck and dry aged beef fat patty, Lancaster Swiss, bacon, red onion jam, pickles ($18)

  • Sea Bass Ceviche

    Sea bass, coconut, tamarind, lime, crispy hominy ($13)

  • Hamachi Tartare

    Yellowtail, Thai chile, sunchokes, basil, squid ink crackers ($14)

  • Raw Bar Combo Platter

    Peel ‘n’ eat shrimp, fresh-shucked oysters, Jonah crab claws, cherrystone clams, half lobster with Newburg aïoli (market price)

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