Green Pig Bistro

1025 North Filmore St.
Arlington, VA  22201
Green Pig Bistro on Urbanspoon

I'm usually reluctant to go to restaurants that are relatively new and relatively hot since there's usually a pretty big crowd and all new restaurants simply need time to work out the kinks.  I was hungry though on a Sunday night and decided to get an early dinner while reading my new book (Stephen King's "11/22/63" which is historical, time-traveling, what if kind of thriller about the assassination of JFK) and since Green Pig Bistro has recently gotten some rave reviews and is pretty darn close to my apartment, I decided to go.

The first thing I want to say is that I apologize for some of the picture quality in the slideshow below.  For the life of me, I can't figure out why I couldn't take a non-blurry picture.  I hope my writing can adequately describe what the photos left out.

My first impression of the place was that it could possibly be the neighborhood restaurant I've been looking for.  The decor reminded me of Dell'Anima.  It's small in the front (I think they have a back since diners kept disappearing back there) with a few tables and a wide sprawling bar that dominates most of it.  There is window seating looking out onto the street and the tall windows gives you a perfect view for people watching.  I sat at the marble top bar and admired the sprawling choices of alcohol.  I decided to keep it simple and just order a beer and saw they had Fat Tire on tap.  Unfortunately, something was funky with the taps so the bartender recommended a beer called the Crisp from Sixpoint Brewery which is based in Brooklyn.  It turns out that the Crisp is a damn good pilsener which wasn't too heavy or bitter just smooth tasting and exactly what I was looking for at the time.

The menu was reminiscent of the Spotted Pig with a bunch of ecletic offerings that showed off all the parts of the various animals on the menu.  There were a few communication snafus between myself and the bartender (since they're still new, it looked like he had his hands full training some new hires) and I ended up ordering three separate duck dishes:  the salad with duck confit, egg, and frisee, the fries with duck/liver gravy and cheese and the duck breast with farroto, cippolini and peas.  I only kept two out of three since I only ordered the duck breast but the fries looked to good to pass up.  However, I first started with the snail & mushroom toast.  The dish is simple enough with mushrooms and snails both sauteed put on a thick piece of toasted italian bread.  The flavors were, however, much more complex than expected.  The earthiness of the snails enhanced the mushrooms but weren't drowned out by butter (as snails usually are).  They provided a nice chewy texture that allowed you to differentiate them from the mushrooms and really taste their richness.

I ate both the duck fries and the duck breast together.  The best part of the duck fries was that they reminded me of my days living in Montreal and living and breathing poutine.  It wasn't just simple fries with gravy.  The liver in the gravy gave it a much richer flavor but not enough so to cause a grease headache.  The fries were crisp but not so much so you couldn't tell it used to come from a potato and the cheese did remind me of the cheese curd used in poutine but I may have been slightly projecting there.  The duck breast was cooked just was I wanted.  The skin (and there should have been more!) was crispy and sweet. The meat was slightly pink and while I would have preferred it to be slightly rarer, that's splitting hairs.  The farroto (or is it farrotto?) is farro grain prepared like risotto.  It had pieces of duck meat, peas and some shallots mixed in to it.  I really enjoyed the farroto and all its creamy goodness.  I thought the crunchy peas gave a bit of break from the smoothness of the texture.  However, I had a hard time finishing it partly because of the large amounts of food I had in front of me and mainly because it was overly salty.

To finish off my meal, I ordered a Root Beer Float. Yes! They had root beer floats on their menu.  Oh and my customary coffee.  But, back to the float.  It looked like they put in the vanilla ice cream and then had the chef come out to apply the root beer from the soda dispenser.  I don't know what they did different for this float, maybe it was the quality of the ingredients or attention to detail.  I know the ice cream probably isn't Breyer's and the root beer may be home made but it the best root beer float I've ever had.  The vanilla wasn't overly sweet and the amount of root beer used was just right.  I know, I's hard to f*ck up a root beer float but it's also hard to make one measure up relative to the rest of the food in the restaurant.

Green Pig seems like it has some work to do as far smoothing out all the wrinkles for a new restaurant.  That being said, I am very enthused about Green Pig and the prospect of finally finding a local restaurant that I frequent whenever I get the urge for a reliable dependable meal.  I look forward to seeing it develop and it does remind me of the time I stumbled upon a great little Italian joint in the West Village over five years ago and which I've been going back to ever since.


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