A Pleasant Pig Purgatory Awaits Your Visit
The old awaits the new on Derby Street
By The BaldOne
There was a plan the other day to visit three or maybe four Salem food spots to sample a cup of chili and then post an article detailing the afternoon adventure. Plans are wonderful, plans are handy, and making plans can be fun. It was fun deciding where to go and in what order. The decision was made to drop into In A Pig’s Eye first.
The Pig is under new ownership, and currently in a kind of holding pattern. The old Pig continues to exist in a sort of stasis, as minor tweaks are made in menu and staff. All the while plans are being made to shut it down after the new year for large scale renovations.
When we entered we noticed and were not surprised that some of the familiar faces were at the bar. One well known Salem scoundrel, and a few other regulars sat and chatted over cocktails. A few tourists sat at tables. The bartender, Weston, who lives on a boat and has traveled around was assisting one patron with stock market tips. It seemed to us that we had entered the scene of a pleasant Pig Purgatory. The transition to what will come is anticipated but has yet to really happen.
After securing a glass of Lagunitas Imperial Red Ale we asked for a cup of the house chili. The ale served well as a chili prep. We sipped and looked around at what is basically an unchanged interior setting except for some of the bric-a-brac that serves as decoration. Spiderwebs and such are in place for the Halloween season and photography by the talented Jim Bostick (jbostick) adorns the walls.
Our cup of chili appeared just as a sip of red ale was beginning and to our surprise it looked like chowder. It had slightly reddish or tan hued broth and was filled with clam and potatoes. We established that indeed it was not chili. Oh well, worse things can happen so we ate the chowder. The broth was thick, but not overly so and had a good mild flavor.
We still had a mission however, so a cup of chili followed. It came with some good tortilla chips that had a nice level of saltiness and a real crunch factor. Two cheeses covered the chili, with the chili being visible and framing the cup. We passed on asking for onion because we wanted to taste the chili as it is meant to be tasted. The spice level was mild, but we were told that was because the peppers were not quite as spicy as they wanted. No matter, the mild pepper actually played very well with a sweet sauce. There is enough meat in it to satisfy a meat lover, and just enough black beans to offer contrast in both taste and texture.
We liked the chili much better than the chowder, but that is not meant to disparage the chowder.
Since our plan had been altered by circumstance it was decided to blow it up completely and go with a burger. They offer, as has become customary these days a few interesting offerings to include a Nacho Burger and another option with a balsamic and honey glaze. The order put in however, was for a Classic Cheese Burger. The best way to try a burger for the first time is to forego the fancy stuff and keep it basic.
Served on a brioche roll, the patty is hand rolled and then seared with a proprietary blend of spices from Salem Spice before being thrown on the grill. The lettuce and tomato were fresh and brightly colored and accompanied by a moderate amount of crisp red onion. The taste of the fresh spices really compliment but do not overwhelm the burger which was cooked a perfect medium-rare as ordered. This burger is well worth exploring.
The chosen side was a cup of macaroni & cheese. This is not a fancy mac & cheese, just basic elbow pasta with a good white cheese. On a future trip there is no doubt that a larger bowl, perhaps with some of the fixings will be in order.
We had a chance to speak with Patrick, who bought and in the opinion of some rescued the Pig. The new year will bring a renovation period to the building so that a brand new kitchen and new restrooms can be built within the small footprint. The floor and bar will be refinished, and perhaps a new bar top installed. Some of the wall decor will be moved around, and the the back bar will see some changes. A new exterior paint job with a new color scheme will help freshen the image.
Many are claiming to know what the new Pig will be, but we will leave that up to the man who stepped up with a plan. There will be food, there will be music, and we are sure there will be changes. We wish him luck with that plan, and expect that if he gets chowder instead of chili he will be ready and able to react accordingly.
Take some to time to visit between now and the end of the year to experience In A Pig’s Eye is in it’s Purgatory stage. Tell them we sent you.