Scott Schroeder has a taste for nostalgic fare. As executive chef of American Sardine Bar and South Philly Tap Room, he’s held Spam-themed events and proudly served up hot peanut butter sandwiches. Last Sunday in Queen Village, Schroeder and chef/pal Pat O’Malley were horsing around outside of the pair’s first joint acquisition, Hungry Pigeon, opening this fall at Fourth and Fitzwater.
“I’m spinning my wheels until we’re ready, so for now I’m Mr. Fix-It,” says O’Malley, a New Yorker who worked at Balthazar Bakery until he purchased the Hungry Pigeon space with Schroeder. “Just like our menu, everything’s from scratch,” adds Schroeder, pointing toward where the counter/bar and open kitchen will go in Hungry Pigeon’s 1,200-square-foot space.
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The pair met working at the now-defunct Pasion over a decade ago, and stayed friends. They both want to serve what Schroeder calls “unpretentious, straight-ahead” food.
From its organic wine, beer and simple booze list (“We’re no cocktail joint,” says O’Malley) to its fresh, uncomplicated menu, Hungry Pigeon will be a down-home dining experience. “We’re serving a chef’s version of what we eat and drink at home,” says Schroeder.
On Sunday, Schroeder (“I’m the savory guy”) and O’Malley (“I’m pastry”) host a unique crowdfunding effort to finish the build-out: A potluck dinner party at artist Isaiah Zagar’s 1002 Watkins Street warehouse, reflecting Hungry Pigeon’s comfort food menu.
Like any potluck, the host and guests will both supply dishes — the twist here is that many of those guests will be among the city’s top chefs, including Jen Carroll, Ben Puchowitz, George Sabatino and Joe Cicala.
“I gave them zero direction, except not to do things they’d make at their restaurants,” says Schroeder. “I want them to cook what they’d make for themselves at home.”
The fundraiser potluck is open to the public. Tickets are $100 and being sold at HungryPigeonPhilly.com.
Here’s what to expect on the Hungry Pigeon menu:
• Chopped liver on toasted sourdough bread with eggs and house-brined pickles — “not a slick chicken liver mouse like a lot of chefs serve, but good old fashioned sliced-and-diced rare liver," describes Schroeder.
• Birchrun Hills Red Cat wheat cheese toast with rhubarb-ginger-orange jam will come on on wheat toast or English muffins. "I make the chewy English muffins daily, just as I do the jam," says O'Malley.
• Jersey tomato and watermelon salad with pickled chillis, black pepper, cilantro, mint and olive oil.
• Roasted quail on a bed of potatoes and fennel: "I like leaving it in the skillet and serving it fresh," says Schroeder.