The Federal Donuts shops offer doughnuts and fried chicken. Bagelati in Cinnaminson does bagels and gelati. The Cub & Bunny Cafe just opened in Cherry Hill with ice cream and Korean food.
So why should we be surprised at a place that offers bite-size French pastries on one side, and porchetta sandwiches (served on house-baked ciabatta rolls) on the other?
It’s Small Oven Pastry Shop and Porcos, opening Tuesday, Dec. 17 at 2204 Washington Ave. in South Philadelphia, on the site of the former Kermit’s Bake Shoppe, whose duopoly was pizza and baked goods.
Small Oven has its own entrance, display cases, and community table, while Porcos is literally a hole in the wall. Hours for Small Oven and Porcos are Tuesday through Sunday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., respectively, or until sell-out.
Chad Durkin, who was Kermit’s pastry chef, is behind Small Oven/Porcos. The combo came down to what he likes, though initial reaction from his friends was puzzlement. Pork and pastries?
“I was in Brazil and I saw this young man with a giant porchetta stand,” says Durkin, 37. “I was like, ‘I can do that. I can do that here.’ And basically Philly is kind of familiar with it. So how can I do what Philly’s familiar with but do it a little bit better? And then, I thought it was kind of a cool to create this cafe and then do kind of a pop-up window, which I know is kind of trendy nowadays.”
Durkin’s pastry cred is impressive. After interning at Le Bec-Fin, he landed at Susanna Foo and later the Water Works before starting out on his own and hitting the competition circuit. Most recently, he was research and product-development chef for Carlos Bakery, working for Buddy Valastro.
The pork side came from his grandfather, an Italian immigrant. “I just started practicing later in life,” he says. “This is a functional and feasible way of eating pork. We take Yorkshire, Berkshire pigs, grass-fed pigs, the whole half, and we butcher it here. We roll it up every day and we roast them in the morning.
“It’s a little bit of a process, but the fruits of the labor are what it is. You’re not going to eat a better pork sandwich like that because you have all that bacon meat sitting there, marinating the tenderloins," Durkin said. “It’s exceptional. Before this I was cooking at my house every weekend trying to perfect the spice rub.”
He’s also serving vegan meatballs and a vegan riff on a porchetta sandwich with roasted vegetables.