Monday, June 11, 2012
The Pig (Washington, DC)
Washington, DC 20005
I had a buddy in town for a conference and we decided to grab some drinks and a late dinner at a new joint in Logan Circle called the Pig. Luckily, my buddy was running a bit late so we were able to get a table right away with the dinner crowd just thinning out. Unluckily, the place is pretty dark and none of the pictures I took of the food turned out well enough to post. Hopefully, I describe it well enough for you to go and try it out yourself.
Resto), every ingredient made from scratch, farm-to-table, eco-conscious, etc...I think it's laudable that a restaurant strives for all these things and I prefer trying out places who do recognize their effect on their surroundings. At the Pig, the waiter made sure to emphasize all of this while describing the menu which, unfortunately, made his descriptions seem like a five minute speech. I suspect that the Pig (or the staff at the Pig) is still a little wary of their concept (embrace it!) or that their clientele hasn't fully bought into it. Maybe a little of both or maybe the waiter was just overly enthusiastic about the menu. It just seemed odd to us that the menu explanation went on forever.
It's small plates kind of place so we ordered five dishes: the crispy pig ears salad, braised cheek, porchetta, meatballs and charred pork belly. But, first we got a couple of drinks. My friend ordered a bourbon on the rocks and it was nice to see that they served it with one big ice cube so that the flavor stays with the bourbon and doesn't get watered down like it would with smaller ice cubes. I ordered something called Miss Piggy. It's a muppet! You can't not order something like that! Don't judge me. Looking up the menu again its, cold river gin, sparkling win, lavender cincture and citrus dust. The gin was bold and refreshing when you got to it but the citrus dust, sparkling wine and whatever the lavender stuff was made the drink much too sweet for the my tastes. It's still Miss Piggy though and had to be tried at least once.
The charred belly came out next and the skin on top came as advertised and was a deep black color from the charring. It was served on a bed of celery root puree with a watermelon jam sprinkled all around it. I liked both ingredients especially the sweetness of the jam but the pork belly took all my attention. The skin was crispy and cooked through so that it wasn't rubbery. The meat was full of flavor and juice. It was a shame that this dish was only served with one piece of belly because we probably could have eaten several of these and called it a day.
Next up was the porchetta which was a stuffed pork belly of pig brains and hazelnuts. It was served with some gravy and sauteed greens (spinach I think). Again, I liked the sides but the pieces o pig were again the star of the dish. The belly was very fatty (this meal wasn't for the squeamish or calorie counters by any means) but rich and flavorful The brain stuffing was well seasoned and minced up enough that you'd never know it was that part of the pig. I would be hard pressed to choose between the porchetta or the charred belly if I had to name favorites. Basically, I think this means I'm addicted to pork belly.
The last thing we sampled were the meatballs which were made from pork, lamb and veal placed on top of some more grits and covered with stewed tomato sauce and charred arugula. They sprinkled some fresh cheese on top when they served it. Relative to the other dishes of the night, I wasn't as enamored with the meatballs. They seemed too ordinary and a bit on the dry and salty side. They just didn't stand out relative to everything else that we tried.
While the restaurant espouses a head-to-toe approach to cooking, we mainly stayed around the head of the pig for our meal. The menu does include items such as pig trotters and pig ramen along with several non-pig items which I can't wait to try when I go back. The concept of the place is definitely appealing enough to make you want to go back for more. It's also daunting enough that the Pig may not be for everyone with its list of exotic ingredients but if you suspend your pre-conceptions enough concerning which parts of an animal you think are palatable or not (remember sausage isn't what you think) then I think you're in for a pleasant surprise of a meal that will help you stretch your culinary horizons.