You’re forgiven if you were confused by Chuck’s Trading Post’s opening, closing and re-opening earlier this year. I was, too.
Here’s the story. The Hampden eatery is the brainchild of Bernard Dehaene, the chef-owner of the neighborhood’s Corner Charcuterie Bar.
“I wanted to build it into a little bodega with a breakfast bar with skillet cooking,” he said. “It’s a great type of cooking.”
The initial employees overseeing the operation in January didn’t work out, and the place closed in March. Then, along came Jim Freaney, a general manager at Panera Bread for 14 years, looking for his own place, and Dehaene turned over the keys.
The combo market-deli-restaurant came back on the scene in mid-May with Freaney as the affable proprietor.
We sat at the counter on a recent Friday afternoon and watched him cook our food. We brought our own wine since it’s BYOB for now (a liquor license application has been filed).
We enjoyed the old-fashioned ambiance of the rustic shop, filled with shelves of staples, local specialty goods, produce and cold cases of milk and eggs. You can buy everything from rabbit and quail to olive oil and Advil.
Chuck’s Trading Post is located on 36th Street but on the west side of Falls Road, away from the busy section known as the Avenue. It’s worth a trek off the beaten path.
SCENE & DECOR We arrived at the grocery store-diner in the late afternoon to find ourselves the only customers until it closed at 7 p.m. While we enjoyed having a conversation with Freaney, who didn’t know who we were, we’d like to see more people take advantage of this throwback space with a wooden bar and stools, a counter decked out in old license plates, and shelves of food products for sale.
APPETIZERS Not applicable
ENTREES We appreciate a restaurant where you can get breakfast all day. We tucked into the nature skillet ($9) — a bounteous mix of hash, spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes and scallions, draped with two sunny-side eggs, to which Freaney applied a mini blow torch to firm up the whites before serving. We also enjoyed the open-faced Butch Cassidy sandwich ($14) with slices of tender strip steak, charred red onions, field greens and tangy Gorgonzola compound butter on white toast. Cold deli sandwiches, like the Shinebox ($14) with Genoa salami, soppressata, prosciutto, ham, provolone, lettuce, tomato and giardiniera mayo, will also fill you up.
DRINKS It’s BYOB with a $5 corkage fee, though a liquor license application is pending. Coffee (including French press), tea and espresso drinks like a latte ($2.50 for a single; $3.25 for a double) are also available.
SERVICE Freaney was our friendly cook and waiter, sharing information about the menu and building.
DESSERT The warm skillet cookie ($4) is a deluxe chocolate-chip cookie, using local Salazon chocolate.
Chuck’s Trading Post
Backstory: The Hampden space was used as a convenience store called Chuck’s, starting in the 1970s, according to Chuck’s Trading Post owner Jim Freaney. Bernard Dehaene of Hampden’s Corner Charcuterie Bar took over the space in January and opened it as Chuck’s Trading Post, a combination grocery store and restaurant. It closed in March and was re-opened by Freaney in mid-May.
Signature dish: The Butch Cassidy sandwich
TVs: One TV
Where: 1506 W. 36th St., Hampden
Contact: 410-366-0178, chuckstradingpost.com
Open: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday
Credit Cards: All major
Reservations: Does not accept
Handicap accessible: No
Bottom line: Besides the delicious skillet options and sandwiches, Chuck’s has sundry food products, making it easy one-stop shopping.