Pig & Pickle Pretty Perfect
When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out -- and let you know our initial impressions, share a few photos, and dish about some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).
All photos by Laura Hahnefeld. Braised duck leg on mung bean cake
By the time you've taken in the meaty aromas and sat down under its low lights, there is the desire to, if you could, pull the interior of Pig & Pickle closer to you, like a blanket.
Here, inside the Scottsdale strip-mall restaurant from culinary duo Keenan Bosworth and Joshua Riesner (formerly of Scottsdale's top-notch BYOB Atlas Bistro), flavors and textures meet like unlikely lovers: bold and sweet, rustic and sophisticated, gritty and smooth.
It's pretty much perfect.
The menu is similar to Atlas Bistro's but less expensive and heavier on the meat. A kind of comfort-food-meets-gourmet listing of starters, salads, entrees, sandwiches, and sweets with global touches and seasonal ingredients.
Pork Shoulder Tostadas
For starters, there is a dish of three exceptional pork shoulder tostadas ($9) that are less like their moniker and more akin to the best loaded nacho chips you've had in some time. Heaped with tender shredded meat and uniquely paired with kimchi, ginger, and scallions, each bite is salty, porky, spicy, sweet, and crunchy -- like a Mexican-style snack run through an Asian kitchen.
And since you are at Pig & Pickle, why not a pickle plate ($4). A colorful array of house-pickled delights -- including beets, onions, and grapes kissed with anise -- it can be consumed before the main course or snacked on throughout the meal.
If there were a criticism to be found on the smokey mussels entree ($15), it is that the option of having them with or without slices of chorizo seems unnecessary, given the sausage's tame flavor. The mussels do the job in any case, though, gathered in a bowl with melted leeks, crème fraîche, wine, and herbs in a flavorful broth suitable for soaking the pillow-y soft pieces of bread in. The lusciously tender braised duck leg ($13), under a nest of radishes and sweet soy and atop a crunchy and mildly sweet fried mung bean cake, is nothing short of exquisite. A little less bean cake and a little more of the sweet soy may have helped overall, but not enough to stop me from ordering it again.