Photos: Inside The Fat Ham From Kevin Sbraga

By Danya Henninger  |  December 5, 2013
Credit: Danya Henninger

Kevin Sbraga has been working around the clock to get everything just right for the launch of his second restaurant, The Fat Ham. “The space is almost finished as you see it here,” he told us, “but there are a bunch of little details that still need fixing. You probably wouldn’t see them, but I do. I want it to be perfect.”

Things on the kitchen side are also nearly there, though it always takes time for staff to get to know a new layout. “I remember when we opened Sbraga, we were amazed that we could get 60 covers served in a night. Now we pop out close to 200 on the weekends, smooth as anything,” the chef continued. “We’ll get the hang of it here too, soon enough.”

Soon enough in this case means by Monday, December 9, the new official opening date. The liquor license hasn’t yet arrived, but if you happen to be strolling by 3131 Walnut Street on Friday, Saturday or Sunday, you just might be able to pop in for a table.

Sbraga’s menu for The Fat Ham is full of “things I really love to eat.” To begin, there are 21 items on the list, all ranging from $5-$15. Plates will come out of the kitchen as they are ready, most meant to be shared.

All the dishes are inspired by the cuisine of the American South, from braised oxtails with Carolina Gold rice to the early crowd favorite country fried lobster tail served over sausage gravy. View opening menu here, and click through below for a peek into the dining room and more details on what to look forward to.

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    Eimer Design, who also did the interior of Sbraga, have fit an amazing 45 seats into the small space. Wood slab tables and a warm wood plank floor are accented with dark grey metal and walls of subway tile and whitewashed wood.

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    Tables are set with share vintage plates, and each one is different - they were picked up at Philly Aids Thrift in Queen Village. Many of the serving dishes, on the other hand, are made entirely of wood, adding to the rustic feel. Surprisingly, they’re all dishwasher safe.

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    A hollowed-out tree trunk holds a cloud of whipped ricotta that has an unusual - and pleasing - combination of smoky and “fresh” flavors. It’s served with grilled country bread, baked in-house by new assistant pastry chef Marqessa Gesualdi. She’s now doing a total of seven kinds of bread for The Fat Ham and Sbraga combined.

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    Roasted turnips are one of Kevin’s favorite vegetable plates, with turnips three ways: roasted, fried and shaved raw. Tossed with the greens are bits of The Fat Ham house bacon, made from Niman Ranch pork that’s smoked and then cured for seven days.

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    On every table is a bottle of the house signature hot sauce, made from multiple peppers, garlic and other spices. “It’s hot!” Sbraga warned when we put a bit on our tongue, and he was right, but it’s definitely full of flavor and not simply a mouth-burner.

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    Aaron Gottesman is the chef de cuisine at The Fat Ham. Most recently chef for Border Springs Farm, he had worked with Sbraga for two separate short stints previously. “This time, I’m keeping him,” Kevin told us emphatically.

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    French press coffee will use beans from Elixr, the cafe in Center City that has only recently begun a small-batch roasting program. “They’re very particular about who serves their coffee,” Sbraga says, mentioning we’ll also find it at soon-to-open Avance as well as at Zahav.

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    Sbraga bar manager Anwar Morgan is in charge of the drinks here, and - once the liquor license arrives - they’ll include several variations on spiked sweet tea. Also look for a peach-infused “Montgomery Mule” and a white whiskey julep.

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    There is ham on the menu - of course - and Sbraga is pretty sure it’s the best in the city. He searched high and low and found his favorite at Virginia-based Edwards: a smoked Surryano ham that’s aged 14 months. Here you’ll find it on the Fat Ham board along with chicken liver and other meats.

    The Fat Ham will be open 5-10 PM, Sunday-Thursday and 5-11 PM, Friday-Saturday.

    3131 Walnut St.; 215-735-1914