This weekend was the soft opening for Atlas Bistro chef’s Pig and Pickle restaurant off Thomas and Hayden road in Scottsdale. Although I haven’t had the opportunity to dine at Atlas Bistro, the restaurant has received lots of critical acclaim and positive reviews over the years. Initial observations at Pig and Pickle are that it’s more affordable than Atlas and the menu is loaded with straight-forward, rustic food with just enough global influence to make it interesting.
My friend Matt was kind enough to join me for happy hour(which is available from 4-7 and late night until 1am) and stay for dinner. The selection of beers on draft and in bottles were quite varied and had several that I hadn’t had before. Golden Draak was a standout strong Belgian that was smooth and balanced despite being nearly 10%. I didn’t even think to look at the wine selections or cocktails, with the exception of the after dessert cocktails, which were listed on the menu.
While we were enjoying a couple beers, we ordered a some dishes off the Happy Hour menu to get a feel for how the rest of the evening was going to go. The “some pickled things” at $3 was comprised of a giant pile of thinly sliced butter pickles, onions, beets, eggs and fennel bulbs (I believe). That’s a great little dish of well pickled snacks for three bucks, though I think the butter pickles could benefit from being sliced a bit thicker and the pickled eggs were a bit on the chewy side. The beets would have to be the standout here.
As I was skimming the happy hour menu(which is a double sided glossy flyer you might get for a concert), I noticed “tot of the day” listed at $1 each. I’m a big fan of tater tots, and I assumed at a buck a piece they would be some decent tots. We ordered two of the golf ball-sized balls, which were bleu cheese and bacon with a tangy aioli.. They were crunchy on the outside and, essentially, mashed potatoes in the center mixed with cheese and bacon. Not the tot I was expecting, but i’d get them again.
The next course was off the dinner starter menu, though they were able to get it to us a bit before dinner service started. The “board of house made charcuterie, pickles and bread” was a nice variety of cured treats, but suspiciously didn’t come with any bread. We had to ask for a side of bread to accompany it. The offerings included a creamy smoked trout spread, chicken pate with hickory glaze, salmon shmear, cured salmon, salami and many of the same pickles on the happy hour pickle selection. The board was much improved once the side of bread arrived, and the standouts for me were the trout spread and salmon shmear with the pickled onions. In hindsight, I would have just gotten the charcuterie and not the pickles side, since they were mostly the same.
We waffled back and forth between the “braised pork belly, yam puree, brussels sprouts slaw and blis maple” and “pork shoulder tostadas, ginger aioli, kimchi, scallions”, and eventually ordered the tostadas. When the Pork Belly showed up by accident, we were happy to hear they were on the house. I love a good pork belly, and this one was really good. The tender pork belly on sweet yams puree with the acidic Blis syrup to cut through fattiness and the Frisee greens for texture was a killer bite of food. I’d recommend this in a heartbeat.
The Pork Tostadas were also a hit. Soft shredded pork with a mild ginger aioli and a pretty decent home-made kim chi served up over a crunchy chip. The textures are all good, and the slightly fishy taste from the kim chi added depth to the otherwise decent, ultimate nacho chip experience. I’d still give the edge between the two dishes to the pork belly, but only by a hair.
For the main course, Matt had the small $12 portion of the “rushing water trout over brandade potatoes, green beans and almond brown butter”. The trout was super tasty, with a nice skin, mild flavor and great crunch from the almonds. My only issue with the dish was the Brandade(salt cured cod and potato cake). The Brandade on it’s own was just fine, crunchy on the outside and soft and pillowy on the inside, but it was fishier than the trout, and eating the two side-by-side felt a bit like a fish overload.
I must have been on a pork kick, because for my main, I chose the “ braised pork leg, butter beans, baby tomatoes and arugula”. To say the giant shank was tender would be an understatement. I barely touched the pork, and all the meat instantly fell off the bone. It was moist and tender and full of flavor. The accompanying butter beans were al dente, and the sauce had enough acidity from the tomatoes to help balance the fatty pork. The giant meal was too much for me to handle, but did provide terrific leftovers, which were scrambled into my omelette this morning.
I wanted to make sure to try a dessert, and my eyes were drawn to a description of cinnamon toast, bananas, peanut butter mouse, strawberry jam and bacon. The “death of Elvis” was a great way to end the meal. Stacks of cinnamon toast fillo, peanut butter mousse and bacon accompanied with brulee’d banana and fresh strawberry sauce made for a ping-pong of flavor sensations in my mouth. It was the sort of crazy sweet, creamy and salty dessert that I really enjoy.
I’d have to say that the Pig and Pickle really delivered, especially for this being their opening weekend. The food had a nice honesty to it, the price was affordable and the service was good. There wasn’t much negative to say about the experience, other than quibbling over minor details and lack of bread with charcuterie. I look forward to return visits, and I’m eager to watch the restaurant and chefs earn some well-deserved buzz in the near future.
Pig & Pickle
2922 north hayden road scottsdale, az 85251
OPEN: 7 days- 3 pm to 2am
happy hour 4-7 daily
dinner 5-10 nightly
late night 10-1 daily
brunch starting after the new year 9-2 saturday & sunday