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At the new Gass & Main, a restaurant in Haddonfield, chef Dane DeMarco grows up

The menu at this new BYOB is a long way from the "silly" pub food that defined their earlier career.

Ants on a log with chicken liver mousse and brandied cherries on the menu at Gass & Main, 7 King's Court, Haddonfield.
Ants on a log with chicken liver mousse and brandied cherries on the menu at Gass & Main, 7 King's Court, Haddonfield.Read moreMichael Klein / Staff

Chef Dane DeMarco is in their opening days of Gass & Main, a rustic all-American BYOB at 7 King’s Court in Haddonfield, former home of Valente’s Cucina. This is their second South Jersey spot, following last year’s opening of the far more casual Burgertime NJ in Audubon.

You basically walk in through the kitchen before turning into the cozy dining room, which rocks a vintage farmhouse theme. The walls bear artwork and antique farm implements from the collection of DeMarco’s artist father, Benjamin “Benzo” DeMarco, a retired South Jersey banquet chef.

Gass & Main — named after the Las Vegas intersection where DeMarco and Sierra Lander got married in 2020 — marks DeMarco’s maturation as a chef and restaurateur at age 34.

DeMarco, who grew up in Willingboro and started cooking at Gaetano’s when a line cook didn’t show up one day, made their name specializing in whimsical pub food at Philadelphia bars such as American Sardine Bar, South Philly Tap Room, and Second District Brewing.

In a 2017 look at noted pubs including American Sardine Bar, Inquirer critic Craig LaBan praised what DeMarco called “silly food” — tater tots atop a vegan black bean sloppy joe; scrapple, egg, and cheese on a pretzel bun; and “unicorn” funfetti in the churros.

“Don’t let the whimsy fool you, though,” he wrote. “The ever-changing blackboard menu is full of handcrafted (and sometimes surprisingly adventurous) flavors that almost always satisfy.”

DeMarco’s next stop was with the group that owns Hawthornes, Sonnys Cocktail Bar, and Wine Dive in South Philadelphia, before they opened Burgertime NJ in the former spot briefly occupied by a taqueria in downtown Audubon. Burgertime, whose fun menu includes lavishly topped hot dogs and burgers, was intended to kick-start their career as the region moved out of pandemic mode.

When the deal arose to open a more refined BYOB in Haddonfield, DeMarco said they couldn’t pass it up. The menu, whose ingredients are sustainable and local where practical, will change frequently. It’s open for lunch, brunch, and dinner.

The creativity starts with appetizers, including DeMarco’s riff on the kiddie treat known as ants on a log. There’s no peanut butter on these celery hearts, Skippy. It’s chicken liver mousse with brandied cherries and cherry gastrique. Brussels chips are crispy, flash-fried leaves of Brussels sprouts, brushed with salt and vinegar. Brussels also figure into a plate with Old Bay brown butter and smoked peanut. Lattice-cut house-made potato chips come out with Vermont crème fraîche and a dollop of bowfin caviar. There also are boards, including oysters and charcuterie.

Among main dishes on the dinner menu, there’s a burger (made with Rineer Farms-sourced beef and topped with Prairie Breeze Cheddar, pickled shallot, bacon jam, and brown butter on brioche); truffle gnocchi mac and cheese; butter-poached monkfish; and bison Salisbury steak.

Figure $20 to $30 per entrée at dinner (served from 4:30 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday) and $15 to $20 per person at lunch (starting at 11 a.m. Tuesday to Friday) and brunch (9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday). Reservations are up at Tock.