Review: Pig & Pickle

This new spot is welcoming and warm, set in the former Atlas restaurant. Chef Ryan Lewis earned some acclaim at his former spot, Driftwood, in Springfield, Illinois, and moved his talents to the big city to further flex his creative muscles.

His is a menu of bold flavors: mouth-puckering tarts and peppery hots. The restaurant ambience is farmhouse chic, with locally sourced provisions made in a down-home style and eaten communally. All plates are designed to be shared, although some of the heartier ones can serve as entrees.

The Bread Platter ($4) set the tone for country-style eating with three varieties of crusty, hearty breads: focaccia, cornbread and biscuit. It also set the tone for the chef’s esthetic, which is clearly bold. The focaccia was laced with rosemary, and the biscuit had liberal doses of large-cracked pepper. The plate came with excellent house-made peach jam.

Don’t pass up the Pickled Platter ($8), a delectable tray of marinated goodies that includes slivered onions, dill pickles, enoki and other mushrooms, eggplant, and a traditional onioncarrot-pepper mix. A side plate of focaccia, jam, pimiento spread and goat cheese came with it. The chef’s pickling skills shine in this offering of tart and hot, sweet and sassy.

Also excellent and hearty (almost enough to be an entree) was the Braised Lamb Shoulder ($18). The shredded lamb meat, tender and very flavorful, is served in a bit of braising liquid with earthy radishes. I admired the presentation in a skillet-like ramekin, with the red meat served in light, natural jus—very appealing. In taste, it was salty and robust.

Another don’t-miss dish was the Charred Octopus ($14), a small serving (one tiny arm) of the trendy delicacy. The meat was tender, with a delicious, slightly charred flavor, and the exterior was crunchy. Beautifully presented, the meat sat atop a puree of roasted garlic and shallots, a dipping sauce of sorts for the special treat. Tiny, edible flowering sprouts dotted the plate.

A couple of smaller dishes were less successful. The Seared Kale ($8), a play on the traditional Caesar salad, had lightly cooked greens and parmesan crisps in a lemon Caesar dressing that came as a paste. I found the dressing too intense in flavor and hard to spread. The Fried Chicken n Biscuit ($14) didn’t deliver the down-home satisfaction I expected. The fried chicken was more fry than chicken, and the biscuit was overly peppery.

Intrigued by the Shrimp & Cabbage Stuffed Squid ($14), we gave it a try. The squid was the casing for a mash of shrimp and cabbage. The cabbage flavor dominated, so very little of the shrimp came through. Plus, it was visually unappealing, unlike other items we ordered.

For dessert we had Chess Pie with goat’s milk ice cream, and chocolate cake with malted ice cream, each $8. The ice creams, both house-made, were exceptional in their unique flavors.

amuse bouche
the scene | Restaurant with a comfortable farmhouse ambience
the chef | Ryan Lewis
the prices | Small sharing plates $3-$10, larger plates $14-$18
the favorites | Pickled Platter, Braised Lamb Shoulder, Charred Octopus, Malted Ice Cream

food • ŏ • lō • gy 
chess pie | A simple country dessert made with common pantry ingredients: eggs, sugar and flour
charred octopus | A popular dish that involves slow-braising the seafood before broiling it to a light char prior to serving
pickling | A treatment of either brining (salting) or immersion in vinegar, making the food less likely to spoil. It is considered a culinary art that alters flavor in intense, distinctive ways.

5511 pershing ave. | 314.349.1697

Photos | Bill Barrett