Carnivores, Take Heed: Union Pig & Chicken Is A Can’t-Miss

Achievement: #70. Pittsburgh Restaurant Week (Summer)

We’re back with another citywide (and beyond) sampling of the best that Pittsburgh Restaurant Week has to offer. On Wednesday, we went to Kevin Sousa’s Union Pig & Chicken over in East Liberty.

Union Pig & Chicken
Normally, when we go out for Restaurant Week, one of us tries the special Restaurant Week tasting menu, while the other orders off the regular menu in order to get maximum foodie coverage. But I’ll tell you something about the tasting menu at Union Pig & Chicken:

Union Pig & Chicken
It looked so damn good that we both just had to have it!

(Don’t worry, we still ordered a couple little extras. But all will be revealed in due time.)

Union Pig & Chicken
But first courses first. We began our meal with an Heirloom Tomato Salad, which had red onions, cucumbers, basil, and mint. It was super fresh (and also locally sourced!); the basil still retained a nice crispness, and the balsamic dressing in which the salad was tossed was a nice complement. It was light and not overwhelmingly tangy, offering an extra note among many. We also sprung for the drink pairing (I know, really, us?).

This round found us sipping a mint julep made with Wigle White Whiskey — which, if you’ve read the tale of our visit to Wigle Whiskey from January, you know is also locally sourced. The mint tied the food and drink together quite well, and the julep was a great choice to go along with the southern picnic vibe of the place.

Union Pig & Chicken
Next came the entree. We had a BBQ Tasting Plate with pork, pastrami, mac n cheese, and fresh watermelon. In addition, we ordered a non-restaurant-week 1/4 pound order of brisket and a piece of cornbread, because why wouldn’t we?

The brisket had a great sear, which gave the fat on the edges a slight crunch that added a little textural color to the ultra-tender meat. The cornbread had a tasty baking spice flavor profile, and it was deliciously buttery — like, press-the-surface-of-the-cornbread-and-see-the-moisture-bead-on-its-sides buttery.

As for the actual Restaurant Week offering? The meats…oh dear lord, the meats! The pork just completely fell apart at the touch of a fork, and the pastrami was also astonishingly tender (and much less greasy than you might expect). The mac n cheese was very rich, but the portion size was such that it didn’t leave you feeling all heavy and gluttonous. The surface of it had some really nice caramelization going on as well.

And the watermelon! Let me preach about the watermelon. How was fresh was it? It was so fresh — perfection fresh — “I just cut this slice from the freaking Platonic ideal of a watermelon and then hovered it Matrix-style straight to your tray, for a human’s touch would have sullied it” fresh.

Um, yeah, so it was pretty fresh.

As for the drink pairing, we had a double-IPA from Columbus Brewing Company an IPA from local producer Costar Brewing Company [thanks for the correction; we got our CBCs mixed up!]. I enjoyed the pairing quite a bit, but Fox isn’t a beer fan. In fact, she wouldn’t even let me photograph her taking a sip of the beer.

Union Pig & Chicken
So I had to do a caricature devastatingly accurate impression of her trying the beer.

Union Pig & Chicken
And here’s my impression of a young man who’s just learned he gets to have two beers instead of one!

Union Pig & Chicken
Ultimately, Fox returned to the menu and ordered “A Common Plot Of Land,” which is served in the upstairs cocktail bar Harvard & Highland, and consists of bourbon, rye, Luxardo, and smoked onion Fernet Branca. (Or, as my autocorrect tried to call it, Fearnet Branch.)

Fox’s verdict? “You’d never guess it had Fernet in it!” — which for her is, as Andy-Samberg-as-Nicolas-Cage might put it, “high praise!” (Side note: ain’t Fox pretty?)

Union Pig & Chicken
We then returned to our regularly scheduled programming for dessert. This was a funnel cake with local peaches and Bee Boy honey from Pittsburgh’s North Side. The cake was a little more crisp than what you get at the fair…but after the surprisingly generous portion of food in the previous round, I found myself relieved that it wasn’t super doughy. The honey was a nice touch, and the firm peach slices really infused some extra moisture. As Fox put it, “This is so good I’d eat it in the rain.”

The peach daiquiri that came with dessert is usually made with Maggie’s Farm rum (another local fave!) but just before we arrived it was subbed out in favor of Wigle Landlocked, which is a mead-based spirit very similar to rum. The daiquiri had a surprisingly smoky flavor, with the peach making itself known mostly on the finish. I actually thought it would pair even better with some meat, where the smoke would enhance the barbecue flavors — but it was still pretty good here, too!

All in all, we had a terrific dinner, and at $20.14 (plus $10 for the drinks), it was dollar-for-dollar one of the best options on offer this Restaurant Week. The restaurant has limited seating, but they have begun taking reservations, so be sure to call (412) 363-PORK (yes, really) and get a table at Union Pig & Chicken this weekend!


Filed under #70, #70-14, barbeque, beer, booze, dessert, dinner, east liberty, meat, restaurant, restaurant week, summer

2 Responses to Carnivores, Take Heed: Union Pig & Chicken Is A Can’t-Miss

  1. Hey guys thanks for the stellar review! I’m happy you enjoyed our Restaurant Week offerings, and also a little beyond. I just wanted to send a quick “note to the editor” about the CBC Scratch Columbus IPA. It is actually an IPA from Costar Brewing Company, which is right down the street in Highland Park! Here at Union you can usually find their Hopland Park on one of our taps. Keep an eye out for them at the Big Pour if you’re going, and watch out, because they’re certainly making some headway.

    I hope you enjoy the rest of your Restaurant Week outings, and thanks again for checking us out!