Lately my neighborhood has turned into a ghost town. Stores are closing on the main street down the hill and their are ‘For Lease’ signs everywhere. Walk a few more blocks north and you hit Chestnut Street. Sure, the Gap isn’t as busy as it used to be but, it’s hard to recognize the dire economic state if this is where you spend your time. New restaurants and shops are opening, lines wind around the corner for the late night bar scene, and stroller moms flood the sidewalks during the day. In addition to the opening of the Tipsy Pig last week, I was thrilled to see the awning go up for Miette Bakery, right next to Blue Barn no less (now I’m in real trouble-between my favorite burrata sandwich and a cookie at Miette-yikes!).
We went to the Tipsy Pig last night. Billed as a ‘neighborhood gastrotavern’, the place had a long dark (and busy) bar, brown leather banquettes, and a sparse few trinkets on the wall to resemble an English style pub. The decor looked like a work-in-progress but, it’s new so it didn’t really bother me. The place is owned by the Sustainable Restaurants Group, the guys behind Mamacita, Umami, and Blue Barn. Sam Josi, one of the partners, went to Tante Marie’s, so I’m always thrilled when I hear of his new ventures.
We arrived early, 5:30, because we had my son in tow. There are two parts of the dining room, separated by the bar on one side and the kitchen on the other. The front dining room was full of families with kids and in the back were the child-free tables. Clearly I wasn’t the only one excited about a new place opening with a kid’s menu. You can see the menu here , it looks good, right? Peak at the drink menu. Clearly there was some thought behind the cocktails and the extensive beer list was certainly pub-worthy. Our server arrived promptly and took our drink orders. We tried two of the speciality drinks-a fresh squeezed Greyhound for me and a Blood Orange Collins for my husband. The took a while to arrive and we ordered our dinner in the meantime. When they did show up, the Collins was in a HUGE beer-like mug, heavy and a little awkward. Mine was more reasonable and both drinks were very tasty.
The kitchen was slow and the server was apologizing to us and everyone else in the dining room. Sadly it was SO loud you could barely hear him, or the person sitting next to you. I know restaurants like to gage their noise levels when they open before firing in for an expensive sound proofing system-my guess is this place will be making the investment.
Our first courses arrived along with, and this is a huge pet peeve, my son’s dinner. If I don’t ask for his dinner to come early I don’t want it early. Clearly it was going to be a while before our entrees arrived and I knew that meant he’d be anxiously waiting for us to plow through our meals because he’d already be finished. In any case, his mac and cheese was perfect for my taste. He expected cheddar cheese but,liked it none the less. I had the Spinach Salad with kabocha squash, hard boiled eggs, and lardons of pancetta-it was delicious. Well balanced and the perfect bite from the squash. My husband had the Mixed Greens and Rocket with Asian Pear, Pomegranate Vinaigrette, and Goat Cheese Tart. This was a bit off. The dressing was too acidic and oddly, the delicious little triangles of tart were underneath the dressed greens. This made the tart damp and cold when I’m sure it could have been a nice addition had it been warm and crunchy. The salad has potential and I it gets worked out because I love the combination of ingredients.
It was another long, long stretch before we got our entrees. When they finally arrived, the all looked great. My mom-in-law had the maple brined pork chop with a potato brussels sprout hash, I had the chicken pot pie, and my husband had the ‘tipsy burger’. The pork chop looked amazing and, I know that when you brine a chop it stays quite pink. This was beyond pink and into the translucent…probably medium rare. She ate around the sides but, knowing how long our entrees had taken, we didn’t send it back for more cooking. The hash, however, was fantastic. The burger was fine. Loads of caramelized onions which you need to like as their flavor kind of took over. My pot pie was draped in a huge beautiful piece of puff pastry. Once I broke into it, steam bellowed out. The insides of this pie were SO hot! Tender chunks of chicken and lots of root veggies were bathed in a creamy herb filled sauce. It was tasty but, so incredibly hot it couldn’t eat it until everyone else was already done with their food. I’m not complaining-better hot than cold but, I’d suggest peeling off most of that beautiful crust to create a little space for the filling to cool down. We skipped dessert as it was after 7 when we finished.
It’s hard and totally unfair to make sweeping judgements about a restaurant the first week it’s open. I am going to root for the Tipsy Pig. It’s close to home and in these times, I would love to see another busy and successful business. There are kinks and most of them can probably be attributed to opening week jitters-no share plates, no coffee…these things will get better. Timing needs work but, again, I think a kitchen gets ‘in the zone’ after more practice. I will wait a while before I try it again. I didn’t love Mamacita when it first opened but, the last two times I visited I had amazing meals.
I’m keeping my fingers crossed! Have you tried the Tipsy Pig yet? Would love to know what you thought.