Salty Sow in Phoenix Could Use Some Spice
When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out and let you know our initial impressions. 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. Milk-Braised Pork Shoulder
Salty Sow is the kind of restaurant that seems poised for national franchise glory. Its name's a nod to the swine-minded food trend that's skyrocketed pork belly to near rock star status on menus. Its interior is subtle in theme while still giving off a sense of independent ownership. And the food is advertised as "providing a high-end dining experience without the high-end check."
Salty Sow owners Guy Villavaso and Larry Foles know a little something about franchises. The successful restaurateurs launched Z'Tejas, Roaring Fork, and sold their Eddie V's and Wildfish concepts last year to Darden Restaurants Inc. for $59 million.
Salty Sow in Phoenix is the second location of the duo's Austin-based original. But when it comes to flavor, this swine can be a snoozer.
The menu is a listing of familiar American dishes, many with a Southern spin. On the libations side, there are 21 choices of hand-crafted cocktails with names like Miss Piggy, Wallow, and Curly Tail, as well as specialty margaritas.
Green Eggs & Ham
There is a fairly basic charcuterie board ($15) that, with the exception of a pastrami salmon and a very good chicken liver mousse, isn't very interesting, and it comes with more horseradish than you'll probably know what to do with.
Even more uninspired, although the name would lead you to believe otherwise, is the Green Eggs & Ham ($7). Under the Jeopardy!-like category of "Things in a Jar," it's more or less a DIY biscuit and gravy. The mix of the things in the jar (egg, grits, bits of ham, and Parmesan basil) tastes like not much of anything, and the biscuit to pour them over is too hard biscuit. This dish might be better listed under "Uninteresting Eats."