Restaurants that dedicate profits to fight hunger have been in the news of late, especially with the opening of Rooster Soup Co. by the Zahav team in Center City.
But a much-lesser-known project, CK Cafe, has been working at that same mission in the East Camden shadow of the Ben Franklin Bridge for two years with far less notice.
And chef Daniel Mason's clam chowder there might be well worth the detour. That's exactly what happened last week when I was on my way down Federal Street for some barbacoa at El Taco Loco.
But when I passed the unexpected vision of the crisp yellow awnings and cheery flower boxes in front of tidy CK Cafe, I promptly did a U-turn to check it out.
The cafe is intended for the paying public and does a fine job of serving fresh salads and sandwiches with a smile in its contemporary space. The Pyne Point (grilled chicken with mozzarella and pesto) and the Waterfront (tuna with white beans) are sandwich highlights.
But I was especially impressed by the chowder, which may look like your standard bowl of creamy New England-style soup. But Mason, an Atlantic City casino veteran who ran the night shift at the Borgata's 24-hour Metropolitan for several years, brings a homemade touch and some finesse to make this soup-of-the-day especially satisfying.
There's rendered bacon at the base of the creamy but delicately roux-thickened soup, the pop of sweet corn niblets to contrast the soft potato cubes, and, most notably, a generous amount of chopped clams simmered oh-so-gently as to preserve their oceanic tenderness.
As a result, this soup is as hearty as it is satisfying, and just the kind chowder-for-a-cause my spoon can happily get behind.