To celebrate a friends birthday I recently went to The Pig in DC. We decided to go to this place because it is unique in how the whole menu is centered around one animal: the pig. I know I know. I am a bad Jew but pig can be delicious.
The Pig does not take reservations so we waited outside for awhile before we got a table (this would have not been so bad if the day had not been so hot and the waiting room hadn't been so stifling). The ambiance of the place is casual, comfortable and new. The dishes are meant to be 'shared' but this does not mean that all of the plates come out small so that you can only have one bite, they are pretty decently sized. In fact due to the waiters urging we ordered one too many dishes for the table.
My friends refused to get the chacuterie because you can get that just about anywhere but I caught sight of another table that must have ordered the big pig (a large platter of chacuterie) because it was huge and delicious looking. The salads were also avoided as this is a pig place and that just didn't seem right (plus it would have had to be a really big salad to share) so we got the braised cheek, wild boar ragu, carolina smoked BBQ, boar spoon bread, gnocchi, and cassoulet.
The braised cheek was definitely a favorite as the true tenderness and flavor of the pork really shone through in this dish. The cheddar grits that came with the cheek tasted like it was cooked by a southerner and seemed to melt in my mouth. The wild boar ragu reminded me of a beef stroganoff with shiny silky noodles and a rich but lightly applied sauce. The gnocchi was heavy but came with a buttery, nutty sauce that was widely appreciated. The cassoulet fell flat with its thick and heavy mystery filling (I had no idea as to what was I eating, there was no distinct taste) and unpleasantly textured bread crumb topping (that seemed to be about two inches thick). The boar spoon bread was also a dissapointment as it just reminded me of a badly made stuffing taken from a box that might be served at a Thanksgiving dinner. There was very little pork flavor in the boar spoon bread and cassoulet dishes. I felt a little bit betrayed when I saw that the Carolina smoked BBQ was not actually in the mac n cheese dish as it had sounded to me from the menu description but rather served separately, one in a bowl and the other piled onto the side. I really liked the strong vinegar they used with the BBQ so that it was truly Carolina style but no one seemed especially enamored of the mac n cheese as maybe it just wasn't cheesy enough and had a bit too much butter (butter definitely played a strong role in the majority of the dishes).
The only menu item we got that was not pig-themed was actually really popular. This was a mushroom dish which had cooked mushrooms in a bowl that was topped with puff pastry and had a hollaindaise like sauce on the side.
We got really daring for dessert and ordered the sundae bloody sunday. Why 'bloody' do you ask? Well apparently instead of egg yolks they use pasteurized pigs blood to thicken the rich chocolate ice cream. The ginger whipped cream and peanut brittle that came with the sundae were not notable but the chocolate was so thick, flavorful and luscious it was astounding. I felt like a terrible Jew but it was worth it.
I really enjoyed dining at The Pig. The company was great and tasting all the different dishes was really enjoyable. I will admit the cooking wasn't masterful, nor did it highlight the pig itself as much as I had hoped but it was an adventure and I feel like every restaurant going experience should be as fun as the one I had at The Pig-essentially it is a great place to take a group of friends.
Please note that the dishes on The Pig's menu change regularly so there might be something new to try the next time you go and some of the dishes I mentioned might no longer be there. Bon apetit!
Postscript: Paris and Italy, Spring 2016
3 weeks ago