January 18, 2016
The latest addition to the bustling Queen Village dining scene is a light-drenched corner spot dubbed Hungry Pigeon that once housed a fabric shop at 4th and Fitzwater streets.
Chef Scott Schroeder (American Sardine Bar, South Philadelphia Tap Room) and his friend Pat O’Malley, a former Balthazar Bakery pastry chef, are throwing the doors open this morning for their first official opening day.
The bright, airy room features a concrete bar, wood tables and chairs, lots of green plants, and work by local artists and designers. “For breakfast and lunch it will essentially [be] run like a coffee shop,” Schroeder said. “You’re welcome to hang out here.”
Impressed by the fast-casual restaurants he visited in L.A., Schroeder says he’s aiming to bring a little bit of California to Philadelphia.
“We want to have decadent things, but we want to have contrast in the menu so you don’t have to eat so heavy, and you can come here to eat with your vegan friend or your gluten-free friend or your vegetarian friend and have it not be awkward.”
For heartier morning fare, there’s an egg-optional breakfast bowl, and biscuits and gravy. “We’re doing the English muffins for breakfast sandwiches, which are pretty delicious,” O’Malley said. Aaron Ultimo of Ultimo Coffee consulted on the coffee program.
During the midday hours expect simple soups, composed salads, sandwiches and a lunch entrée that will change every so often. First up is a cheeseburger made with Rineer Family Farms grass-fed beef.
“Originally, we were going to serve pigeon pot pie,” he said, but when he and O’Malley tasted Lancaster farmer Tom Culton’s product, they loved it so much that they decided to put a simple pan-roasted bird (half $18, whole $32) on the menu.
For the curious: “It’s a little bit like eating crab — there are still some bones in it and there’s some work involved. But the product is so clean and nice, and it has a noticeably different flavor — it tastes like duck and steak together,” Schroeder said.
The Baked Red Cat starter ($10) is a Birchrun Hills Farm cheese served in a cast iron pan with O’Malley’s wheat sourdough and rhubarb-ginger jam.
Beverage manager Fred Sheaffer came up with four cocktails, including the “Black & White” with rum, canella syrup, milk and espresso, as well as a six-beer draft list. David McDuff of David Bowler Wine consulted on the wine program, which favors natural wines.
“We really like it over here,” he said. “We’re really happy to be a part of it coming back. I feel like it’s an exciting time on 4th Street.”