South Philly Bar & Grill’s Crab Cake Sandwich

Line cook Donna Eiden
Photos by Tina Garceau

Such is her unflagging fervor for cooking that Donna Eiden often gives away much of the food that she prepares within her Packer Park home. Since October, patrons at South Philly Bar & Grill, 1235 E. Passyunk Ave., have let their stomachs and dispositions become acquaintances with her competence and kindness through her line cook duties.

“I like the joy of it,” the 51-year-old said of finding food preparation fascinating. “I’ve done a ton of waitressing, too, so I’ve been in this business for some time and really feel I fit in it.”

With deep South Philly roots that include time on the 1000 and 2800 blocks of McKean Street, the humble hire values having an opportunity to work at the renowned Passyunk Square location that FOX 29 and PHL 17 have frequently honored as the Best Sports Bar in Philly. Lauding the leadership of owner Kenneth M. Brownell, whom she dubbed “an awesome guy to work for,” Eiden loves executing his extensive menu, finding that the options add to “the great bar atmosphere.”

“There’s never a shortage of great people to interact with,” she said of the thriving spot. “It’s so inviting here, so we do our best to keep them coming.”

She and her peers will certainly contend with a steady stream of guests this weekend, as the Italian Market Festival will find thousands of tempted tummies searching for relief. When they wander into her workplace, Eiden will excitedly put herself to the task of preparing long-familiar selections and items that she first learned how to make through her employment, including the Crab Cake Sandwich whose recipe she decided to share.

“It’s been great to get better at making food,” Eiden said, with mussels being another repertoire addition. “The crab cakes are something that Kenny loves to take pride in, so it’s a good one for us to share.”

Served on a brioche bun with lettuce and tomato, french fries, coleslaw, and cocktail and tartar sauces, the $14 offering helps its preparer to know that no matter what the rest of her life might yield, a kitchen can constantly call on her to create pleasant experiences.

“Cooking is always something that you can fall back on,” she said. “I love doing it here because it’s been a great influence on me.”


4-1/2 ounces of lump crabmeat

4-1/2 ounces of colossal crabmeat

A pinch of Old Bay Seasoning

A splash of lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon of mayonnaise

Panko breadcrumbs


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Mold the ingredients into a solid ball, and fry the result for three minutes. Place in the oven for five additional minutes. ■

South Philly Bar & Grill

Owner: Kenneth M. Brownell

Opened: 2008

1235 E. Passyunk Ave. | 215-334-3300