Having become quite tired of the 3 restaurants that we always went to when the in-laws came to visit, we found a couple of restaurants to try (using my iPhone’s Urban Spoon app).
The restaurant that we went to was called The Ravenous Pig. It’s a gastropub. The OED defines gastropub as a “public house which specializes in serving high-quality food.” To me that means small plates that cost a lot. The appetizers range from $4-$15. ($4 for biscuits (of which there were only 4, so $1 a biscuit) so don’t get excited. The average appetizer was about $12.) The entrees ranged from $12 (pub burger, nothing special) to 32 (Niman Ranch Striploin). Most entrees were about $25.
We’ve been there a couple of times. Their menu changes each month, so there’s always something different. The thing that you loved last month may not be there the next month. (Unfortunately, I didn’t take photos of the first two times that we went. But I did get photos of the things we ate this month.)
**And let me apologize for the photos beforehand. It was dark and I didn’t want to use a flash.
I ordered the lamb tartare which came with kalamata aioli, mint salsa verde, peas, picked peppers and lavish crackers. (heh, lavish. Whatev.) I found that raw lamb is really lamb-y. I also discovered that I really just don’t like lamb. I’ve had it several times, and I just never cared for it. I need to stop ordering it.
They also had Veal Sweetbreads on the menu. And though I have become quite adventurous in my food consumption, I am still not that adventurous. I don’t want to eat any glands from any animals. To me, it’s like wanting to eat pig anus. It’s just gross.
However, Chris’ dad had different tastes. He eats cow tongue sandwiches after all, so he ordered it. And I figure what the hell. (Though I forgot to take a photo.)
Veal Sweetbreads came with gnocchi verde, brown butter, lemon, pistachio, and fried capers.
What I find interesting is that there were 9 different steps to making this sweetbread. First they soak it in milk, then they boil it in super salty seawater, then they do all sorts of other things to get rid of the taste of sweetbreads and make it taste like something else. It seems like such a waste to me. Why bother eating it if it tastes nothing like what it’s supposed to? It’s like ordering a steak and tasting chicken. It’s ridiculous.
But since Chris’ dad ordered it, I tried some. Tasted like the sauce it came in. It was very French that way. I cut a very small sliver for Chris to try and he hated it. For me, it was the consistency of tofu. For him, he said it had a consistency of rotten cheese. It was kind of lumpy and soft at the same time.
I didn’t find this fantastic at all, so I’d say skip it unless you want to tell people that you’ve eaten sweetbreads, but then by all means, waste your money.
The lobster taco comes with cilantro, avacado, pickled jalepeno, cabbage slaw. I didn’t have any of this, so I can’ tell you how it tasted. I try to avoid crabs, shrimp, & lobster. I’ve had allergic reactions to them before, though it’s not a consistent allergic reaction. I don’t know what it is in those that sometimes makes me puff up while other times I am fine.
I can tell you that Chris found it too rich and fattening. I have no idea why we ordered this as nobody wanted any. I think we remembered ordering it last time and someone enjoying it, but that particular person wasn’t with us this time. We suggest not ordering it as the lobster is fried and greasy. It also looked unappetizing.
We ordered Florida Frog Legs that came with pickled peppers and celery, house-made hot sauce and bleu cheese aioli. It was prepared like buffalo wings. And even though I love buffalo wings, I did not enjoy the frog legs. There isn’t enough meat on the bones to make it worthwhile. It’s like the quail we had last time (which was full of flavor and delicious, but a lot of work for a very small amount of meat. I mean, quails are like the size of my fist.) Beyond the lack of flesh, it didn’t taste like anything spectacular. They were so-so and I can’t really tell you why either. It just didn’t hit me in the right spot. Chris found them yucky. I’d say pass on these unless you absolutely love frog legs.
Rabbit terrine came with pickled carrot salad, pale ale mustard and grilled bread. Chris said it was like really good liverwurst and I think I might have to agree. The consistency is very much the same, very much minced and then reformed. I enjoyed it, but then, it tasted like ham to me.
The last few times we went, they had ceviche, which I absolutely loved. The first time, it was yellowtail and it was just buttery and full of flavor. It wasn’t so good with salmon, but still quite edible. This time though, they had tuna crudo, which was flavorless to the max. Like eating air. It came with lightly smoked athena canteloupe, habanero oil, charlies heirloom tomatoes, pickled watermelon rind relish. Now that would sound tasty, right? No, I didn’t taste no habenero. The canteloupe tasted like someone had dropped it into the barbecue pit and the pickled watermelon rind relish? When was the last time you ate the watermelon rind? I mean, seriously. Pass on this too. So not worth it.
This is one of my favorite appetizers, mostly because it combines two things that I absolutely love, dried meats and cheeses! The only thing II don’t like is that the meats are paper thin slices. They really do need to give you more of it. And the bread that comes with it is delicious. Toasted with lardo, it tastes like bacon.
Now entrees, we didn’t have a lot of since by this point, we were stuffed. This time, we ordered Steak Frites, which is a porcini marinated prime niman flat-iron steak, truffle fries, sorrel aioli. It is delicious, flavorful and very tender. You might think that this is an inferior piece of meat and in a lot of restaurant, it is. But in the right hands, it tastes like filet mignon, and this definitely is the right place.
We’ve also had the Niman Ranch Striploin with potato-squash gratin, grilled lemon and red pepper sauce, and though that is also delicious, it comes with a big side of fat. And I don’t prefer that as much. It is also $8 more than the Steak Frites, and since I am not that big of a foodie and can’t tell the difference, I much preferred the former.
The one thing that I should mention though is that these pieces of cow flesh come in very small portions and pre-sliced to make them look like a bigger portion. I’d say that you get about 4 oz of meat altogether. But if you’ve been gorging yourself on appetizers like we were, then that small bit won’t make a difference. We shared that and a Gatherer salad.
And because we were gluttons for punishment, we ordered dessert. This is a custard (which Chris’ dad said tasted like baby puke) and a cobbler of some sort. I didn’t like either. I liked their home-made ice cream that we had before (of which Chris ordered banana and his dad ordered vanilla, but they got confused since they were the same color and his dad ate almost all the banana before I discovered the treachery. I immediately remedied the situation, but alas, Chris only had a spoonful or two of banana left for himself. It was epically sad.)
We also had a chocolate tart previously, but that was just not chocolate-y enough. It was too tart-y. And we also had cake and ice cream, which turns out to be more 3 thimble sized cupcakes and a bitty bit of milk shake. Though delicious, milkshake was too heavy after a big meal and cupcakes too small!
Having said all that, I wouldn’t go to the restaurant on my own. The food is always good quality, but not all the dishes are fantabulous (last time we had escargot and everyone agreed that it was blandtastic and the raw oysters were just swimming in salt water.) But what really gets me is the price and the fact that each dish is so tiny. If you just order salad (cheapest at $9) and steak frites, you’re already at $34 and this does not include any drinks, of which there are many to choose from. They have a full bar with a huge variety of beers and wines. Plus tax and tip, you’re already butting up against the $50 mark for one person. It’s a bit pricey for a place that I don’t absolutely love. But I have no doubt that I’ll be returning there for Chris’ dad does enjoy much more than me.