Pennsport’s South Helm receives two-bell review

Pennsport’s restaurants are on a roll. Very recently The Dutch received a two-bell review from Craig Laban, now another nearby restaurant has also received a “very good” review from The Inquirer food critic. This is a nice turnaround for these locations, which both were homes to different restaurants last year.

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South Helm, the restaurant that replaced First Ward Sandwich at Front and Morris, has received a two-bell review.

From the review:

Such complaints no doubt reflect high expectations based on the chefs’ previous work, but they should also be taken in context. The service here is outgoing and informed. And for the most part, this food is delicious and affordable, with the small plates hovering below $14. So when you get a crispy whole quail stuffed with sausage set over smoked mushrooms and hakurei turnip slaw for $12, it’s hard not to smile. Sliced lamb sausage fanned out over roasted eggplant and scarlet turnips (dabbed with silky smoked eggplant puree) tastes like a genuine bargain.

It’s more than enough that, if I lived nearby, I’d be back often. But South Helm needs to increase its selection of larger share plates (beyond one) so repeat visits don’t risk becoming a bore. For now, the lone choice – a one-pound veal chop stuffed with escarole and Swiss cheese – is a clever reimagination of the South Philly pile-it-on chop, deep fried as a roulade. The potato cake side, a crispy bar of 20 sheer layers, is a marvel of potato engineering. But at $48, the plate is uncharacteristically pricey.