This Fishtown foodie haven is the much hipper (and possibly more refined) younger sister to South Philly’s Sidecar Bar. Kraftwork has everything that a gastro-pub should: great beer selection, interesting bites, and great service. This joint can (and will) run with the best of the Center City luxury eateries, but it’s down-to earth atmosphere, wait-staff, and clientele make it a great place to try items that may otherwise seem out of reach. Its non-intimidation factor means that aspiring foodies can dip their toes in the world of weird, while providing a safety-net of familiar options to run back to if the more adventurous menus are too daunting.
Kraftwork is known for their large selection of beers on tap (24 at any given time) which come in varying pour sizes depending on the beer (ranging from 8oz pub glasses to 64 oz growlers). Kraftwork uses a unique system of pairing second set of 24 kegs that will automatically go once the beer on the first list kicks. This is noted on the menus, which makes it easy to tell what is available at the time of ordering. In addition to a really great beer selection, Kraftwork has a few cocktails on the drink menu that they also change up about as often as the menu does which tend to have interesting names to match their interesting ingredients. I had The Poe (Dry oaked Gin, Dubonnet, Orange Curaçao, Pechaud’s Bitters, and Absinthe) and it was a well made cocktail. The Gin was up front (as it should be) and all the other flavors followed, mingling, but each distinct. Cocktail service was fast and our bartender obviously knew what she was doing. Unfortunately for any of you reading this the Poe is no longer on the menu for you to try, but I would suggest either the J.F. Sebastian (a shout out to Blade Runner) or the Montgomery Scott.
Current Drink Menu (As of Monday May 16th)
Appetizer: Corn Fritters (from the specials menu)
The fritters piqued our interest and we tried them. They were appropriately sized for an appetizer and perfectly fried (crispy with no excess oil). The came plated with a black sauce which we couldn’t deduce what was in it, but it certainly tasted good and added to the fritters over all as did the greens garnishing the plate. This was a great appetizer to have with your opening drink and set the stage for the meal to come.
Josh: Burger with Cheddar and Bacon-Onion Jam
Usually Holly is the burger aficionado and I’m the one that tries the other sandwiches or plates at a gastropub, but we mixed things up this time. The menu offers you a couple choices when you craft your burger from the cheese to 1 free topping and of course you can add more depending on what you like. I went with the 2 year aged cheddar (cheddar is by far one of the best burger cheeses) and the bacon onion jam (had to see how that paid off). The burger was cooked exactly to order (I always order medium rare) and the cheese and jam (little crunchy from the bacon and sweet from the onions) did not disappoint. I got the same herb fries as Holly and really enjoyed them.
Holly: Short Rib Sandwich
This beast of a sandwich came piled high with deliciously tender slow-cooked short rib, poblano cream, pepper jack cheese, and fried onions. Firstly, the meat was perfect: fall apart, juicy, and flavored just right. But seriously, the best part was that poblano cream. it added just enough spice to make the sandwich interesting, and it cut through the richness of the short rib. As with all sandwiches at Kraftwork, the short rib comes paired with either herbed fries or a salad. If you’re not trying to watch your figure, go for the fries. They are the perfect match-stick cut, with great texture and a really interesting flavor from the herbs (and German-style mustard aioli).
Dessert: Chocolate Terrine
This aptly named dessert comes with raspberry coulis and salted walnut brittle. A terrine, for those who don’t know, is usually constructed of meat purée and seasonings, and formed into a little brick to be served with toast and cheese. Well, this was basically a chocolate version of that (and with better texture). The dense little chocolate “brick” melted perfectly in our mouths, and when paired with the slightly sour raspberry sauce and salty brittle, it became a harmony of opposites to quell the most discerning foodie into submission. Salty-sweet, crunchy-dense, clean and rich flavors and textures marry to create the perfect little ending to a great meal.
Current Dinner Menu (As of Monday May 16th)
Kraftwork’s menu is full of items that are constructed from familiar elements presented in an interesting way, and their interior mimics that notion. One wall features the almost-stereotypical crumbling brick wall, but the plaster damask pattern (designed to look like it was crumbling as well) makes a ubiquitous design feature into a piece of art. What would normally be extremely uncomfortable backless bar stools are custom-designed (by a sculpture artist) with ergonomic seats and personal foot rests. Structural I-beams are the support for industrial lamps that look like they come straight from the mind of Dr. Seuss. And a GIANT saw with laser-cut hops in the blade calls attention to the focus of the place: a central U-shaped Bar made of perforated steel and wood. This is one time that I wont criticize an industrial interior: Kraftwork’s designer got it just right with elements that make the urban industrial look cool again.
The Overall Experience
Kraftwork more than delivered on all of our expectations. We went in expecting good food, hipster staff and customers, and a decent beer selection and got all of that, but not quite in the way we expected. The food was the highlight of the night (I thought that the beer would be – Josh) as both the appetizer and the dessert were more than their menu descriptions belied. Although a good portion of the staff and customers were hipsters, there were some normal middle-aged couples and our bartender looked like she could have worked in just about any kind of place. The beer selection is as good as it looks, but despite trying out a beer made with rye (which was delicious) it was Josh’s cocktail that took prize above all of our beer selections in a restaurant that’s supposedly all about beer. Everything about the outing was enjoyable and we can equally recommend it for a date, ladies night, or guys night out.
Appetizer, two dinners, 4 drinks, and dessert! We managed to get all of this for just under 65 dollars (and we weren’t even trying to be thrifty). Kraftwork is a really great place to grab a bite (or a beer) on a budget.
Overall Experience: 5/5
Will We Visit Again: Yes. They have an ever-changing specials menu and the beers are also regularly rotated. Not only was the service, food, and drink selection great, but it was easy to get to and super easy to find parking. Be sure to check out their Facebook page for the most up-to-date food and drink menus!