If the masthead of Bro Appetit whipped up a restaurant, Green Pig Bistro in Arlington is what it might look like. The walls are papered with recipes, the restrooms recognize culinary icons “Julia” and “James,” and the dining room displays enough Le Creuset on its shelves to open a branch of Williams-Sonoma. The menu offers a little bit of everything — pig tostadas, kale Caesar salad, mushroom risotto — with more finesse than you expect of a neighborhood haunt. Of course, there’s a hamburger — along with toast draped with snails and creamy mushrooms. A veteran of Bouley in New York, chef de cuisine Pierre Saussy might go to his favorite Asian market and pair what he finds — water spinach, long beans, kohlrabi — with a slab of barramundi to create a fish dish that wouldn’t look out of place at a linen-draped table in Washington. The chef also spent five years cooking at a place of his own in Puerto Rico, history that informs one of my favorite plats du jour, the Sunday night beef stew. San Juan comes through, loud and clear, in soft chunks of meat infused with sofrito and red wine, steamed white rice, avocado salad and crisp fried plantains. Each component of the dish gets its own compartment on a cast-iron tray, which explains the staff’s name for the pleasure: TV dinners. Pass on the carrot cake with caramel sauce only if you want to miss out on one of the best desserts for miles.
2014 Spring Dining Guide
By Tom Sietsema
May 15, 2014
Chef-owner Scot Harlan says he doesn’t dare take the “buffalo” ribs off the menu at Green Pig Bistro, and hurrah for that. A play on common Buffalo chicken wings, the Lincoln logs of red protein rising from its base of blue cheese dressing are, in reality, spice-rubbed pork ribs cooled down with long ribbons of celery atop the peak. I half expect to look up and see Fred Flintsone working in the exhibition kitchen. Instead, I spy chef de cuisine Pierre Saussy, born in Puerto Rico and responsible for another crowd-pleaser here, fried-to-order pork shank propped up by a mound of pigeon peas and mofongo, or green plantains mashed with garlic and bacon. While pork plays a central role on the American menu, it’s not the only meat you should eat. Kung pao sweetbreads, a holdover appetizer from the bistro’s launch, remain the joyride of lamb, crushed peanuts and gingery soy sauce I remember from before. Snails and creamy mushrooms on toasted bread, meanwhile, pair well with one night’s Motown soundtrack: easy comfort, easy listening. In another life, Harlan was a pastry chef, and his pies of the day (for two), maybe old-fashioned pecan in a buttery crust, make a sweet impression. But I’m just as happy ending dinner with a look-see of the owner’s collection of cookbooks separating snug bar from cozy dining room. At Green Pig Bistro, the vibe, like the food, is fun.