Thursday, September 19, 2013

TIPSY PIG IN THE MARINA....IT'S A BAR...OH AND IT LOOKS LIKE THEY SERVE SOME FOOD

Ah, the Marina, full of frat boys and sorority girls with ponytails and Lulu Lemon yoga pants even though they aren't really headed to yoga. Be that as it may, Chestnut Street is an interesting strip of shops, bars and restaurants and can be an intriguing cultural journey into one of the many different neighborhoods with definitive vibes in San Francisco. So it was that me and some friends made our way down to this hood to check out the Tipsy Pig.

   

It's about 5:30pm on a Saturday night and due to a Cal game, the bar side of this place, along with the back patio is rocking with (mostly) guys and girls. If ever there were a 5 bells kind of noise--this place is hitting it. We took our seats on the dining side and even though we were one of only 3 other tables seated they put us at a table that is really made for 2 and across from one of the other seated tables. I took the outside seat and pretty much dealt with a parade of being casually bumped into for the whole meal. Sigh.

It's not a big menu, but it is interesting? It's sort of Southern meets Italian meets bar food? We decide to open with some mac 'n' cheese and thyme and cheddar biscuits.


The mac 'n' cheese includes mini tube pasta with smoked bacon in a parmesan herb gratinee--which really just means topped with bread crumbs and cheese and baked. The pasta was done perfectly, the bacon was cut in small chewy cubes, which I liked, and added some smoky flavor that meshed well with the tang from the hearty parmesan. While it was served hot from the oven, my one criticism would be it was a little runny. I think of mac 'n' cheese as thick and creamy, this had too much liquid and could have used a little more cheese or something to thicken it up. The thyme and cheddar biscuits were neat little squares with a decent buttery crunchiness on the outside and light and fluffy inside. The mild cheddar was a nice addition though I couldn't really taste they thyme, it underwhelmed. Plus these were not exactly served hot, more like room temperature, which was a shame. My butter didn't melt at all when I spread it on, something that should never happen with a biscuit. These were served with a honey mixed with white and pink ground peppercorns, coriander, cumin and cinnamon. Yes, seems they were going for a Middle Eastern flavor that, well, didn't really work with the thyme and cheddar, all together it was a weird tasting combo. Should have just stuck with the biscuits--served hot--and butter. 

For a first entree the wild boar baby back ribs sounded interesting....


served with an ancho chili barbecue sauce, roasted peaches and mixed marble potato salad. The boar ribs were fall off the bone tender and the meat had a great earthy, not gamey, flavor to it. Of course, that was after I took of the sauce which was way too sweet for me and wasn't doing the meat any favors. And then they serve it with roasted peaches, I like, but it's just sweet on sweet. They did such a good job of cooking the ribs and then messed them up with this sauce. They should either re-think the sauce or serve on the side. The potato salad was actually served cold, which was different and I did kind of like it. The skin was left on and it wasn't over done with mayo, too bad most of it was buried under the ribs and that sauce. We did get a side of sweet potato fries that were fine. I mean you can't really mess them up as long you don't burn them, served hot with sprinkling of salt. However, the horseradish herb aioli for dipping tasted bitter, too much horseradish, fries were fine without it. The second entree we got was the pork chop....


a maple brined pork chop on a bed of sunburst squash, pancetta, cippolini onions, chantrelle mushrooms, crispy sage spaetzle and an apple cider pork jus. The pork chop was cooked perfectly. A nice sear on the outside and juicy inside, it was a large piece of meat done well. The bed of vegetables was a mixed bag as they didn't have much seasoning or flavor to them and the spaetzel wasn't really all that crispy, more like a slightly stale french fry. As for the sauce, well, it seems sauces are a downfall for this place. While the veggies had no seasoning, it was all in the sauce, however, that seasoning was only salt because that is all I tasted. So much so, I went through 4 or 5 glasses of water--and a beer. 

It's a shame really, there are some good pieces here but they just can't seem to bring it all to a whole good thing and a lot of it comes down to the sauces. I'm not sure who's taste buds are running the kitchen but maybe they were numb this evening as everything was too much of something. I don't know that I'd try this place again, too many miss-steps and more of a pick-up bar vibe than enjoy your food restaurant kind of place. Why that couple with two young kids was here I'll never know. I do know for sure I'd avoid this place if there was any kind of big game going on, the noise from the bar was so loud I was a bit hoarse after dinner from trying to carry on what felt like a shouting conversation. Fortunately me and friends went down the block to bring ourselves down with a cupcake so it wasn't a total loss. Either way--food, crowd, noise--the choice is yours. 



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