When I last spoke to Kevin Meeker, local restaurateur and beer-lover extraordinaire, it was to mark the official transformation of his beloved Westmont restaurant, Cork, into the beer and comfort food mecca Keg & Kitchen.
I thought it was an appropriate time to catch up—the restaurant has been open for just over half a year, enough time to get on its feet and gauge its place amongst the pub giants dotting Haddon Avenue in Westmont. I’ve been in myself a few times: once to snack on a tasty pizza with housemade sausage and goat cheese during a Flyers playoff blowout loss (my girlfriend, the bigger Flyers fan among us, drowned her sorrows in some greasy-but-comforting asparagus fries), and once during the excellent Haddon Pub Crawl back in June.
Speaking with Meeker back in February, he outlined a vision in the growing trend of craft beer and gourmet comfort food (but not a gastropub! Never a gastropub!), and an early menu reflected those sentiments with the likes of short rib sandwiches, cheddar pierogies and schnitzel.
So far, Keg & Kitchen has been well received.
“Business has been great,” Meeker told me. “We’ve hit what people are looking for in that we are a little bit different than the alternatives out there.”
There were some missteps at first, as is to be expected (the schnitzel is gone), but Keg & Kitchen has found a niche with a rotation of daily specials that have been tremendously popular, each of which is available at half-price during happy hour.
“It’s a great deal to come in and have a beer with dinner for under $10,” Meeker said.
Keg & Kitchen certainly has found its footing in Westmont. If Haddon Avenue has a reputation in Collingswood for dining, both fine and otherwise, and in Haddonfield as an exceptional shopping district, then the stretch in Westmont has carved itself out a nice little niche as a beer lover’s kingdom. Many fine bars and pubs sit in its vicinity, and with a constantly shifting selection of 120-140 bottled beers, Keg & Kitchen has fallen perfectly into step.
Meeker’s love of craft beer will be on full display this Saturday, as Keg & Kitchen throws the first of many Oktoberfest celebrations at the restaurant. From 1 to 6 p.m., rain or shine, it will honor the German brat 'n' beer festival with accordion players, a pig roast, various sausages and more than 30 varieties of beer—namely German imports and American craft beers brewed in the Märzen tradition.
The festival is a fine opportunity to enjoy the season and celebrate what are, in my humble opinion, some of the finest beers brewed. Oktoberfest is a family affair, as well. The kids will have plenty to do to amuse themselves, including pumpkin painting and hanging out in the root beer garden.
Tickets for the event are $30 if you call the restaurant and preorder, or $35 at the door, which includes admission and beer. For those who mark the autumn foliage as an occasion to check out the seasonal beer selection at the local store, this event is a must.
- On October 25, the Food Bank of South Jersey will be rolling out distribution of Just Peachy Salsa in local ShopRite stores for the holidays. The salsa is made from salvaged New Jersey peaches and produced in the Campbell Soup pilot plant in Camden.
Why is this important? Because the salsa, which is low in salt and low in sugar, is a salvage product that will reduce food waste going to local landfills, lowering the amount of methane gas produced and saving local farmers about $85,000/year in dumping fees. This is the first time such a product has been sold through retail outlets to the consumer, marking a big moment in the ongoing fight to reduce our carbon footprint.
- Follow me on twitter, @davevaliante. Send me pictures of your dishes from the upcoming Restaurant Weeks and I’ll be sure to retweet them!