5 Fun Facts About Kevin Sbraga’s Fat Ham

By Danya Henninger  |  October 3, 2013
Credit: Danya Henninger

On Wednesday night, Kevin Sbraga held a preview party for his second restaurant. While The Fat Ham isn’t even close to ready to go (a “Novemberish” opening is targeted), we did learn a few fun facts about what to expect about the West Philly Southern-focused restaurant.

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    1) There Will Be Hot Sauce

    One of the highlights of a research trip Sbraga and cohorts took through the South was a stop at the Tabasco factory (where he was given the memento spoon necklace shown above). All the Tabasco in the world is produced at the Avery Island facility, and on the tour, Sbraga tasted both freshly-mashed peppers and the finished sauce, which ferments for three years before it's bottled.

    He’s adopting that technique for The Fat Ham’s signature sauce - the version we tasted at the preview party wasn’t quite ready, Sbraga said, because it still needed more time to age. (It was good nevertheless, brightly hot with a round, full flavor.)

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    2) The Deck Will Have Rocking Chairs (but No Tables)

    The Fat Ham is opening in the former Tria Wine Room in The Left Bank building just a block across the Schuylkill on Walnut. A beautiful but small wooden deck left over from the previous restaurant will remain, but it will not have outdoor tables. Rather, general manager Ben Fileccia tells us, the patio will be set up with classic, Southern-style rocking chairs for relaxing with a drink or just taking in a breath of fresh air.

    (Shown above: shooters of The Fat Ham’s creamed corn with chive oil.)

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    3) Cocktails Will Be Southern With a Twist

    Sbraga bar manager Anwar Morgan (above) has begun to create a lineup of cocktails that starts with Southern classics but gets a dose of new innovation. His Montgomery Mule is an ode to the peaches produced in that Alabama town - it mixes peach-infused Russian vodka with lemon juice and ginger beer, all served in a traditional copper mug.

    The julep gets an update with added blackberries, which are infused into Death’s Door white whiskey and also shaken into the mix as preserves. Everything is strained so there are no mint leaves in the drink to get stuck in your teeth. Look for this one to be served in a frosty metal julep tin.

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    4) Sbraga Does Right By Pigs

    As might be guessed from the restaurant’s name, there will be a lot of pork on the menu. We had a chance to sample a couple of early creations including a suckling pig that was cooked over live coals. The pork was caught at the perfect moment, with shreds of meat that were moist and tender, but not mushy.

    Also worthy of note were the ham fritters, fried balls studded with Virginia Ham. They looked like arancini but burst into savory liquid in your mouth, oozing with bechamel. A dunk in the buttermilk ranch sauce on the side was unnecessary but a bonus.

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    5) Perfect Pickles Make Pork Better

    As good as the pulled pork tasted by itself, it was even better served with Sbraga’s housemade pickled vegetables. Pickled carrots, cauliflower and cucumber didn't just add an array of vibrant colors; each one had its own unique flavor, not too tangy and not too sweet. The mustard sauce drizzled over the top was good enough to drink on its own.

    Overall takeaway: there are quite a few reasons to look forward to the opening of this petite dining room across the river.

    3131 Walnut St.