Watkins Drinkery adds new chef and menu

Every three months, Jonn Klein unveils a new set of culinary choices at Watkins Drinkery, 1712 S. 10th St. This reflects his desire to institute “change without changing,” as his spot has gained local renown for more than a decade as a bar food beacon. On Jan. 6, the owner and general manager of the East Passyunk Crossing-based spot teamed with recent hire Alex Rosenthal to craft a creative new menu with new options including pork fries and a schnitzel sammie.

“With whatever we do, we’re all about rewarding our phenomenally loyal regulars while looking to bring in new people,” said Klein, a Graduate Hospital-area resident.

Pork Fries joined Watkins Drinkery’s menu on January 6th. (Image: Watkins Drinkery)

“For our first decade, there was a heavy emphasis on more exotic meats,” the proprietor said of unique choices like ostrich and llama. “The pandemic phased that out, so we’re keen on trying to understand the evolution of the restaurant industry, where everyone is competing for a smaller piece of the same pie.” 

When discussing the new menu with new chef Rosenthal, Klein sought to maintain Watkins Drinkery’s reputation as a place for “elevated bar food.” 

“The goals are not to be fussy with the food and to present items that are accessible yet exceptional,” Rosenthal added. 

Rosenthal, a Culinary Institute of America graduate and Point Breeze resident, joined the staff in November 2023. His impressive resume and dedicated demeanor created a “good vibe” between them immediately, according to Klein who also helms The Dive Bar, 947 E. Passyunk Ave.

The quail sandwich packs a protein punch at Watkins Drinkery. (Image: Watkins Drinkery)

The new menu retains Watkins’ favorites like the fish-and-chips and Scotch egg. For the next three months those dishes will mingle with new options including pork fries, a quail sandwich, and a schnitzel sammie. The loaded fries are topped with slow-roasted pork shoulder, broccoli rabe, provolone, and pickled cherry peppers. The boneless quail concoction comes on a potato roll with Banh mi pickles and a smoked aioli, and the schnitzel shines thanks to a toasted baguette with a homemade beet cheese sauce. Rounding out the new items is a breakfast burrito with scrapple, cheddar, eggs, roasted peppers and salsa verde.

The Schnitzel Sammie benefits from a toasted baguette and a homemade beet cheese sauce. (Image provided by Watkins Drinkery)

The rotating grilled cheese special is another crowd-pleaser, and all dishes pair well with Watkins’ various draft brews.

“I’ve heard us described as being like your friend’s dad’s basement,” Klein said with a smile. 

“There is a great feel here,” Rosenthal stated. “I’m excited to see how my time here continues to unfold.

Watkins Drinkery
Hours: 5 p.m.-2 a.m. (Kitchen closes at 1 a.m.)
1712 S. 10th St.