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The Cambridge Opens on South Street West

Recently, we’ve heard both patrons and restaurateurs complain about the proliferation of gastropubs, calling it a tired and overused concept. As seemingly every bar in Philadelphia jumps on the “diverse beer and elevated pub fare” trend, it’s an understandable fatigue. But The Cambridge, newly opened in the former Tritone space, exemplifies everything great about the gastropub idea. This is what a Philadelphia bar should be — great brew, inexpensive drinks and interesting but affordable food.

The Cambridge is the second venture for Chris Fetfatzes and Heather Annechiarico, who run combo bottle shop/restaurant Hawthornes in Bella Vista, which stocks over 1,000 different bottles. Chris is also the son of Bella Vista Beverages founders Olimpia and Marinos Fetfatzes, and spent several years as manager of the monumental South Philly beer distributor. All that brew knowledge translates into a well-thought-out beer selection at the new bar.

Twenty-four taps pour a range of crafts, with something for everyone. “Whether you have a sweet tooth or love strong hops, from the average Joe to the seasoned beer geek, we want you to be happy drinking beer here,” Chris says. The taps change often, so much so that the draft list includes a “Next Up” section for easy transitioning whenever a keg is kicked.

A 20-label bottle list features only sour beers, from Monk’s Flemish Red ($7) to a grand 25-oz. bottle of Abbaye De Saint Bon-Chien, from Switzerland ($40). In between are other local and European guezes and Brettanomyces-heavy options, including a line of large-format beers by Jolly Pumpkin. “We love sours, and they aren’t always easy to find on tap, so this is our way of introducing them to people,” Heather explains. All bottles can be purchased to go at a 15% discount.

Signature cocktails run $9–$12, and include classics like the Negroni (here made with Plymouth gin, Campari and Carpano Antica vermouth) and new inventions — the Hawthorne in Your Side mixes Laphroaig 10 Year scotch with Drambuie, Fernet Branca, cinnamon syrup, and Angostura and orange bitters. A handful of reds, whites and sparkling wines are available by the glass for $9–$11.

To accompany the sips, there are a variety of food options, and just reading the menu is enough to make your mouth water. Dishes take inspiration from all styles of cuisine — starters include wings but also pierogies (stuffed with a rotating filling), poutine, flautas and charred octopus. On the sandwich list, the Porker Burger is a standout — it’s a pattified version of Philly’s signature sandwich, complete with provolone and sautéed broccoli rabe. The fried chicken is served on a silver platter, a crispy half-bird with a generous bowl of smoky mac ‘n’ cheese and several other sides. Nothing on the entire list goes above $21, and most plates run between $9–$14.

A long bar offers plenty of seating (with backs on the stools!), and high tops surround the lounge side of the room. The other side features more, lower tables, including several along a large reclaimed wooden bench. Just about all of the interior decor is repurposed material, in many cases just with a coat of shellac to seal it from the environment. Out back, the patio offers outdoor seating with a view of the surrounding rowhouses. It all adds up to a great new addition to our eating and drinking scene.

1508 South St.; 267-455-0647

Photos by Danya Henninger

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