Just a few years ago, Center City was the epicenter of Philadelphia culture … and not just geographically speaking. Sure, there was the trendy bars of Manayunk and the cozy gravy houses of South Philly, but if a big-name chef, boutique or brand was coming to the City of Brotherly Love, they were dolling out their affections to Rittenhouse or Old City. How quickly times change. As the city’s pulse has turned more towards neighborhood locals, homegrown elements and creative ventures, the hot spots have been moving north and south into the residential nooks. The latest example is Kraftwork, the newly opened gourmet pub in the expanding Fishtown section.
It seems owner Adam Ritter took the neighborhood’s transition as his inspiration, as the joint has a distinct theme of construction and progress. The menu is designed as a blueprint, the wall art consists of wrenches and the cocktails are named for venerable architects.
Chef Michael Thomas, formerly of Bar Ferdinand, has also gone for progressive, serving updating classics like vegetarian-friendly eggplant and squash terrine with faux gras along side an already-lauded beer can chicken sandwich with apple slaw.
Drink options are plentiful with 25 taps pouring quality brews like Founders’ Dirty Bastard and Woodoo White Magick. Stronger options include those previously mentioned mixed drinks; I’d suggest doing homage to Le Corbusier with a blend of vodka, St. Germain, lemon, ginger ale and a touch of Absinthe.
While the offerings go modern, the space truly speaks to it’s North Philly roots. Exposed brick walls, shining duct work and intricate metal arts (check out the stunning saw sculpture hanging above the bar) give the space a distinct warehouse feel, a look crafted by local artist Andrew Jevremovic.
The only way for this growing community to prosper is for quality establishments like this to lure downtown dwellers in. Head north a few blocks and see just how much a little forward thinking can do.
Kraftwork is located at 541 East Girard Avenue, Philadelphia, 215.739.1700, www.kraftworkbar.com