Laban awards three bells to ‘the most unabashedly personal’ Hungry Pigeon

Pigeon: a delicacy not for everyone, but something one of South Philly’s best new restaurants excels at. Hungry Pigeon opened in the fall of 2015, bringing something a little bit different to this Fabric Row storefront.

Handmade orecchiette, kale, squab liver butter, pecorino #dinner

A photo posted by Hungry Pigeon (@hungrypigeonphilly) on

What The Inquirer’s food critic Craig Laban calls “gorgeously gamey and tender pigeon” is served at this three-bell-winning restaurant at 743 S. 4th St.

More from the review:

I get the sense these chefs are simply cooking what they like – even if that means a few flaws along the way. With so many moving parts, a few weak links are inevitable early on. The daily changing pastas were an unexpected letdown, the promising ‘nduja agnolotti so undercooked they were crunchy; coin-shaped orecchiette were too flabby and flat. A couple of seafood dishes also stumbled – a chewy octopus and a bowl of steamed clams that also lacked finesse.

But these chefs already do so many things right, and with such a spirit of hand-craft and creative quirk that Hungry Pigeon is one of the most unabashedly personal – and lovable – new restaurants this year. I appreciated so many of the little touches: the tiny diced pickles tucked inside the deviled egg stuffing; the flaky house-baked crackers that came with the cheesy crab dip; a roasty whiff of coffee in the tuna crudo’s cure; the succulent grilled ham steak (“highly recommended” on the menu) beneath a clever remoulade of shredded mixed roots; the thick blades of deeply smoked John L. King bacon; the intricate, chaat-like textural contrasts of a lemon-poached shrimp salad with sprouted lentils, spicy celery, multicolor potatoes, and a tangy sour cream dressing; or the fresh mint and oil-cured olives that took a beautiful hunk of Atlantic striped bass over tomato-fennel gravy and Bloody Butcher polenta to a convincing Mediterranean place.