1208 Frankford Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19125
The long awaited Philadelphia transplant of the infamous Brooklyn BBQ joint Fette Sau (meaning fat pig in German) has finally arrived. This location happens to be next door to Frankford Hall, and also happens to be owned by the one-and-only Starr Restaurant Group.
Although I traditionally try not to review on opening night (not to mention I had already eaten a dinner full of $1 tacos hours earlier), I couldn’t help but wander down for a beer and some meat. And sides. And potato rolls.
The interior is incredibly spacious, with a mixture of industrial-meets-BBQ shack decor that suits the hipster capital in which it is located nicely.
Menu items are priced by the pound, and although not cheap, there are ways to eat well for a reasonable price. The more affordable sides are not to be missed.
When you walk up, you are greeted by a case filled with various meats. Be warned, the short rib is served at a minimum of a half pound, because you get a bone with every order, which puts it around $15. That being said, it’s probably the best fifteen bucks you have spent in a while.
Brisket and pork belly are sliced to order behind the counter.
As I was not that hungry, I went with a half pound of pulled pork, a quarter pound of pork belly (3 slices), two potato rolls ($.35 a piece), a small potato salad, and a small order of half sour pickles.
The pork was delicious. Slow-smoked with much of the fat rendered out, it had a nice smoky flavor. Pieces of bark were interlaced with the meat, which SHOULD be the norm at any self respecting BBQ joint.
Now truth be told, I am very demanding of my BBQ, as it is one of my specialties, and nothing in Philly REALLY sparks my interest. This place was doing the trick. I know there will be backlash of, "but it’s Starrr... bleh, blah, blah, its too expensive, its too fancy, bleh," etc. Well the thing is, really good BBQ isn’t cheap. It takes a LONG time to do it correctly, and these man hours add up. So shut up, and enjoy the food without coming in already prejudiced against it.
The pork belly was delicious as well, with a glistening vein of rich pork fat, a beautiful crust, and a perfect deep pink smoke ring. It literally melted when it hit my tongue. Let's just say I was a BIG fan of the pork products.
The potato salad was great, specked with whole mustard seed, and coated with a creamy, slightly tangy, light (enough) dressing.
I have an extreme liking of half sours, and these were no exception. Especially when sliced into coins and piled on top of a pulled pork sandwich of my own design. Three sauces were offered, one vinegar (good), one traditional (also good), and one chipotle
(terrible). Stick with the two originals and you can’t go wrong. Did I mention they serve Martin's potato rolls for $.35 a piece? Also a must have in this scenario.
Now, as can be expected, I went heavy on the pork, but a friend that accompanied me went heavy on the beef. Which was just fine with me. We were interested in trying a bit of everything.
The short ribs, while expensive, were absolutely delicious, a “must order” in my opinion. A little goes a long way with this over the top, smoke and fat rich meatstravaganza. Again, the bark was terrific, and the meat glistened with rendered deliciousness.
Just look at this tender pull-apart-ability.
The brisket was pretty damn good too, with a rich, velvety line of fat running throughout. Not the most tender rendition I have had.
The burnt ends baked beans were among the best I have ever had. If you order nothing else, you must get these. Smokey, rich, loaded with beef, the complexity is only matched by the richness. This is a meal unto itself.
Cold broccoli salad was a red pepper flecked, vinegar-based side that was a take it or leave proposition.
After you order your food at the counter, but before you retire to the seat-yourself picnic style arrangements around the restaurant, you can stop and grab a beer or bourbon at the bar, which is highly recommended, not required. Local microbrews are on tap, all at $6/pint and served in ball jars. < Hipster heaven.
The art/interior decor itself is interesting, and not overly contrived. It would obviously be better if it had been here for decades, but with any luck it will.
This is going to be the kind of place people love or hate. Or love to hate. Or hate to love. But for me, it’s probably my favorite BBQ I have experienced to date at a restaurant in the city, and I will continue to stuff my face with various meat products and over indulgent sides and love every minute of it.