Pig & Pickle

Written by Gwen Ashley Walters Category: Food Reviews Issue: June 2013
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Retro cocktails and inventive dude-food make this SoSco resto popular with industry insiders, but a few tune-ups would be just swine.

Don’t let the snarky name fool you – Pig & Pickle is run by chefs with real chops. Keenan Bosworth and Joshua Riesner left BYOB legend Atlas Bistro last fall to open a place of their own in the same Scottsdale ’hood, and their eatery has become popular with that most discriminating group of foodies: the restaurant industry set. They crowd the sparse, open-kitchen space after work for retro cocktails, craft brews and late night grub that’s easy on the wallet.

Not everything on the menu contains pickle or pig, in spirit or otherwise, but a fair number feature both, including one dessert that shouldn’t. Pineapple upside-down cake ($7) doesn’t benefit from a fistful of shaved ham, no matter how great the ham. On the other hand, bacon strips atop the “Elvis” ($7) – whipped peanut butter cheesecake between layers of cinnamon crackers with strawberry jam – seems perfectly natural.

Frequent menu changes mean you shouldn’t get attached to any particular dish. Braised pork belly ($10) is always a worthy starter, regardless of the current iteration. On one visit, the juicy, fatty meat is wrapped in a crepe, served with pureed sweet potatoes and vinegary frisée salad. On another, it’s paired with mashed turnips and apple butter.

house-made charcuterie

Pork shoulder tostadas with kimchi and ginger aioli ($9) could be a whole meal considering the massive pile of shredded pork over two crisp tortillas. Another starter, “famous” smoked salmon ($10) – lightly smoked, chunky fish on top of a pancake-size potato tot with pickled fennel, scallions and lemon cream – is rich enough to be shared among many. The haphazard house-made charcuterie plate ($15) needs attention. Pork rillettes pass muster, but the terrines (two pork and one lamb on one visit) were bland, and the pickled grapes and vegetables were all vinegar, no spice.

“The big show” (entrées) features pork, fish, mussels, duck and beef, but presentation can change weekly. One evening, a muscular mustard sauce overpowers a superbly cooked pork porterhouse ($22), but on another, a braised duck leg ($14) with farro and sweet potato risotto, blueberry gastrique and pickled mustard seeds hits mostly high notes.

“Sammies” (served with fries, salad or tots) include – among others – a burger ($9), a vegan burger ($8) with an option to add bacon at no charge (funny, guys), and a gut-busting croque madame ($9) – premium ham, gruyère and two eggs, smothered in pasty Mornay sauce.

Generously portioned and plated in clunky, clumsy fashion, Pig & Pickle’s fare probably lands closer to the “guy food” ghetto than its comfort-cuisine-minded owners intended. Not that there’s anything wrong with dude-food, but more careful attention to flavor pairings and  presentation could catapult Pig & Pickle from a good neighborhood restaurant to destination dining.

inside Pig & Pickle

Pig & Pickle
Cuisine: American
Address: 2922 N. Hayden Rd., Scottsdale
Phone: 480-990-1407
Website: pigandpickle.com
Hours: 4 p.m.-2 a.m. daily
Highlights: Pork belly ($10); famous smoked salmon ($10); braised duck leg ($13-$14); “Elvis” ($7)

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