I don’t always eat pork—but when I do, I prefer the piggiest cuts. Stay carnivorous, my friends.
Every once in a while, you just need to gorge yourself on pig parts. And I don’t mean a tame plate of pork loin, excellent as that may be when done right. No, I mean the parts of the beast whose inherent deliciousness is perfectly, inversely proportional to the level of discomfort they’re likely to inspire in the uninitiated.
Which is to say: Sometimes, when work and life and relationships get the best of me, it seems the only thing that will salve my wounds is the flesh of our swiney friend. At which times, I’d say, you can’t do much better than starting off at the Industry with a pint of beer—maybe a Lagunitas Daytime IPA—and a plate of Indian BBQ chicharrones. They arrive dusted a vivid shade of red; that’s the Madras curry powder amped up with smoked paprika and other secret spices, and it’s all the more visually stunning against the tan puffs of deep-fried pig skin that serve as both the spice’s base and its foil. The combination of the two is perfect, and even better with a nicely hopped brew to start things off.
From there, I’d proceed to the pig ears, as impeccably cooked as any I’ve recently had. The outside of each snapped like a particularly hearty cracker, and beneath that carapace was an inner world of partially melted cartilage and gelatin that had grown all sticky and compact. It’s all served in a Bibb lettuce wrap and topped with a salad of julienned carrots, English cucumbers, radishes and red onion. If only there had been a bit less Frank’s Red Hot sauce coating those ears, it would have been a nearly perfect little dish.
There’s so much about the Industry to like, from the space—whose fairly industrial feel in the Pennsport neighborhood is softened up by the generous use of wood throughout—to the service. (A recent dinner was presided over by a server, Luis, whose professionalism and skill were absolutely remarkable.) And the beverage program is smart, with a nicely rotating list of beers on draught as well as a generous bottle selection. The wines, too, are deeper than you might expect, with plenty of unexpected treats tucked in there.
The fairness of those prices, in fact, is notable. You can eat and drink to excess here without busting the proverbial bank, and much of the food is rich enough that you really don’t need to order all that much to leave satisfied. But, of course, you’ll probably over-order anyway, if for no other reason than the flat-out appeal of the menu.
When the dishes are good, they’re very successful. The burger is one of the more highly seasoned in the area, and all the better for it. This is a simple, unpretentious sandwich, the ground brisket from LaFrieda nutty with Cabot’s cheddar and perfect with a smear of pickle mayonnaise.
Clams and homemade sausage came with a generous bowlful of both, each given added depth with a steaming broth built on a base of Ommegang Witte. Arctic char was a study in the details all adding up to create something simple and delicious. The fish had been seared skin-side down, and arrived almost pillow-tender beneath its shatteringly crisp crown. Served atop a generous bed of bacon-scented lentils, it was the kind of dish that almost begs for a cold winter night to enjoy it in. The bone marrow was uninspired, and in serious need of salt and some kind of freshness to balance out all that headiness, but that was really the only letdown. And in the context of everything else I enjoyed—including the exuberant apple-cider donuts for dessert—a minor misstep like that is quickly forgotten.
I have a feeling that the Industry is going to be here for the long haul. Between the smart, successful courting of the restaurant industry—if you’re in the biz, you receive a 20 percent discount—and casual, deceptively simple food being prepared with such care and attention to detail, it seems to be tapping into some sort of culinary zeitgeist right now. It’s something you feel as soon as you walk in—whether or not you’re craving odd cuts of the pig. That just helps. As good pig always does.
1401 East Moyamensing Ave. 215.271.9500. theindustrybar.com
CUISINE: Rib-sticking comfort food with style to spare.
HOURS: Mon.–Fri., 4pm–2am; Sat.–Sun., 11am–2am (brunch until 4pm).
PRICE RANGE: $3 to the low $20s.
ATMOSPHERE: Industrial and warm
all at once.
FOOD: Generally hits all the right notes.
SERVICE: Perfectly pitched.
Philly Beer Week 2013