You may think that Rehoboth’s Pickled Pig Pub is just another bar-food place, but it’s actually a humble hot-spot where pork regularly flies.
It’s been a long time since former partner and chef Mike Stiglitz left the building for greener (or maybe just bigger) pastures in upstate Delaware. But hands-on owners Doug & Lisa Frampton have ensured that the diminutive, yet upbeat, Pickled Pig Pub on Coastal Highway in Rehoboth Beach continues to make a big impression dishin’ up quality eats disguised as bar food.
One of my favorite appetizers is the crispy fried pickles. I order them everywhere (including a bizarre little joint in Kentucky that called them “Frickl’d Pickles” before the place burned to the ground). P3 chef-in-residence Ian Mangin resisted the temptation to serve the pre-prepared variety, opting to clip, dip, fry and serve them to order. The sauce is a kicked-up Russian dressing with a polite burn.
Like most of us P3 regulars, you will become addicted to the Hog Wings — neatly cut and well-sauced pieces of pork shank. The menu moniker, “pork wings,” is a bit misleading, since pigs cannot fly. After all, where would they go? So just think spare rib with lots more meat and a lot less bone. I think there are support groups for those of us who can’t kick those little porkers off our backs.
One of the stars of the entrée show at Pickled Pig Pub is the ridiculously popular Spicy Thai Drunken Noodles. Your choice of chicken or shrimp is lovingly stirred into wide Pad Thai noodles mingled with crunchy peanuts, pea sprouts and a refreshingly spicy sauce.
Thirsty? Beer boss Ben Cowell oversees a rotating selection of craft drafts and bottles, including Sixpoint the Crisp, Caldera Hopportunity Knocks and some hard-to-find Belgian imports. In true gastropub style, patrons can choose from a long list of brews, many of them local to Delmarva, complete with descriptions. Ordering a beer at Pickled Pig Pub is both delicious and educational.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the long list of sandwiches and paninis. Carnivores rejoice over the aptly named Flatliner (smoked ham, pulled pork, bacon, pork belly, smoked cheddar, southern-style sauce and pickles). The PB&J burger gets perpetual double-takes as the unlikely best-seller with bacon peanut butter, strawberry jalapeno jam and sharp cheddar. I had the pleasure of judging a cookoff a couple of years ago, and this Franken-burger triumphed over 20 challengers.
Pickled Pig Pub has a great sense of humor, and those of us who attended the Seinfeld-inspired Festivus dinner last fall are still talking about it. Their creative presentation was nirvana for Seinfeld fans. Remember the “big salad” episode? Well, Pickled Pig patrons can order salads in both appetizer size and main course size, especially effective with the Asian Bistro Salad, a longtime P3 mainstay. Crispy wontons, napa bok choy cabbage, mixed lettuce, cilantro, carrots, spicy ginger vinaigrette & peanuts add up to one of the most ordered dishes on the menu.
Join Monday Night Burger Madness, where you can take your pick of eight burgers that, depending on Ian’s mood, might include a patty melt, a Southwest burger with black bean corn salsa, P3’s “Good Stuff” burger (stuffed with provolone and giardiniera), the Bacon, Jam and Blue Burger (yup, bacon-shallot jam) and for the not-so-adventurous, the Everyday Burger, with lettuce, tomato and onion.
The Pickled Pig Pub shares the Harbor Square Shopping Center with Starbucks and Pier One Imports. If I had to bottom-line this review, I’d say that P3 has one of those menus where you could order anything and love it. I keep returning, desperately looking for something to criticize, but I suspect I’ll have to wait ‘til pigs fly for that to happen.
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