8 Must-Try Dishes on Sbraga's New Spring Menu

By Danya Henninger  |  May 9, 2014
Credit: Henninger

Start here: do not miss the game hen on Sbraga’s new spring menu. Kevin Sbraga refers to it as the answer to the acclaimed “Hot Chicken” at The Fat Ham in West Philly, but it’s really much better. It might be our favorite rendition of fried chicken in the entire city. The question is how did the chef find time to create it?

Sbraga is one hardworking dude. After announcing his third restaurant last week (a rotisserie and raw bar spot at Broad and South), he was down in DC on Saturday to go behind the scenes of the White House Correspondents Dinner with Bravo and then hightailed it up to NYC to cook at the James Beard Awards gala on Monday.

With a schedule like that, you might think he’d just let Sbraga keep doing its successful thing. Just the opposite. There’s a whole new list of contemporary American dishes to choose from at the Avenue of the Arts dining room, including that crunchy-juicy-blissful game hen.

The price of the four-course, choose-your-own-adventure prix fixe has gone up a bit (from $49 to $55), but it’s still one of the best high-end deals in Philly. With the bump in price came two main increases in value: 1) every meal starts with the famous foie gras soup and 2) the surcharges that came with several dishes on the four-course menu have been eliminated.

Flip through to see what you don't want to miss when you visit.

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    Beef Tartare

    Beef tartare comes buried beneath a Worcestershire glaze, almost like a savory version of a salted caramel pudding. Except the beef is nicely textured, not slimy or even annoyingly silky; it's got plenty of tooth but is not chewy. Tip: the tartare comes with grilled country bread, but try to save some of the hot popover you get as your bread course pre-meal - it's an even better combination.

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    Saffron Bucatini

    Housemade bucatini will warm your soul and your tongue. Blue crab, crushed tomato and saffron make a sauce that's hearty and comforting, but the spark of fresno chiles keeps the dish exciting throughout. It's spicy enough to merit a warning - around 6.5 on a scale of 1-10 - but the heat dissipates quickly. 

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    Barley Risotto

    Barley risotto with fava beans good enough on its own, but the hefty scattering of fried rabbit makes it better. If the meat was just a bit less dry, the rabbit would steal the show.

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    Ancient Grains

    You will be surprised by how much you like the ancient grains. Five different grains are smoked before cooking, so when topped with a poached egg, the whole dish tastes like breakfast - cereal, bacon and egg all in one bowl.

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    Game Hen

    Game hen. Just do it. 

    Ok, to be more convincing, think of the best fried chicken skin you've ever had, then triple its crispiness. Then make the meat beneath super juicy, and dust the whole thing with vadouvan spice and serve it in a coconut sauce with spinach purée and fresh paneer cheese. Indian food never knew what it was missing.

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    Spring Lamb

    If you're not a poultry fan, the spring lamb is a worthy alternative. Falling-apart chunks are nearly sweet, but they're brightened by curly kale served both braised and fried (with a bit too much salt). The royal trumpet mushroom is nearly as meaty as the lamb.

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    Chocolate Macaron

    It's the ice cream that steals the show in the macaron dish. Strawberry or raspberry, maybe? Nope, it's beetroot flavored, and it works, giving the whole plate an earthy, grounded flavor to even out the sweetness of the chocolate.

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    Hot Fudge Sundae

    A hot fudge sundae is always fun, especially when it has the grown-up touch of slightly sharp stewed rhubarb. Didn't get a photo, but the coffee cake with salted caramel sauce and white coffee ice cream might be the best dessert on the list.

    Check out the whole menu here and call 215-735-1913 to reserve your table.