4/03/2012 05:54:00 PM

The Boilermaker Opens in Wash West

Photos: Courtney Apple
Watch out, Citywide Special. Philadelphia’s iconic take on a beer and shot duo (a PBR pounder beside a jigger of Jim Beam) exemplifies the combo’s working-class roots. But at The Boilermaker, the new venture from Farmers’ Cabinet partners Matt Scheller and Matt and Colleen Schwartz, this liquid twosome is taken beyond its crass origins. The menu at this casual public house - now open in the space that briefly housed Blue Bear Tavern - features seriously considered pairings of high-end spirits and craft brews, along with fun comfort food from chef Steve Forte.
The picnic-table-filled, candlelit interior is narrow, and the kitchen is even smaller, but Forte still manages to craft an interesting but accessible bill of fare. House-roasted meats like lamb shoulder and prime rib are offered carved up by the pound (around $11 for a half or $19 for whole). Forte recently took sandwiches off the menu at Farmers’ Cabinet, just around the corner, and instead they show up here, in combinations like a double cheeseburger with American cheese and a house-smoked pork butt with bacon and a fried egg ($12 and under). And then - in a nod to late-night eaters’ preferences - there are the $5-$8 sides: Yukon gold french fries with truffle creme fraĆ®che; Napa cabbage and celery root cole slaw; red bliss potatoes with bacon and cheddar; and shrimp and grits with tomatoes and bell peppers.

The food offerings will expand, but all of the eats will continue to be well-suited for beer - understandable since the drinkery has been outfitted with 40 taps. On the first floor, 28 craft drafts from around the country will rotate frequently, joined by a dozen strictly local brews flowing at a second bar upstairs. Each is offered in a full or half-size pour, and comes in glassware appropriate to its style. The glasses for the namesake boilermaker shots are of the European type, thin lipped mini-tulips, from which the liquor is savored, not tossed willy-nilly into the throat. “We suggest you sip the spirit first,” notes the menu, above couplets like Aviation gin and St. Somewhere Saison Athene, or Fino sherry and Uinta Crooked Line Cockeyed Copper. Pairings range from $5 (the Citywide does in fact get a nod) to $12.

With daily hours of 3 PM-2 AM and a kitchen that serves until 1 AM, The Boilermaker aims to be both eclectic and friendly, and a go-to spot for industry folk to relax both before and after shifts.

216 S. 11th St.; no phone

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