Peckish Pig makes a big impression as soon as you step through the door. A ton of excited conversations bounce off of the rustic brick walls underneath the exposed ceiling beams and ductwork. A huge circular bar with plenty of seating takes up half of the room—very appropriate since they have a brewery on site and always keep between five and 10 premises-brewed drinks on draft. The rustic but chic vibe inside the Peckish Pig appeals to every kind of dinner date as we walked by every conceivable demographic on the way to our table.
As soon as we were seated, blue mason jar water glasses landed in front of us, as did a trio of menus. A quick scan of the food menu had us daydreaming of their elevated take on comfort food. Items like Duck Confit Mac & Cheese and Ancho-Coffee Braised Beef Short Rib invite the mouth to water immediately.
We started in a section of the menu called The Bowl, their name for the collection of salads, with a Breakfast Salad. The breakfast feeling comes from crumbles of thin, crispy bacon that add a flavorful crunch to every bite and a halved hard boiled egg topped with a sprinkling of paprika. The chilled version of eggs and bacon give the appearance of the most important meal of the day, but the rest of salad is all earthy goodness. Fresh spinach, red onion, juicy cherry tomatoes, and a light citrus dressing make for a very hearty, refreshing introduction to dinner.
From The Bowl to the section marked Vegetarian, the Roasted Beets and Burrata dish is gorgeous. Several slices of roasted beets are treated with garlic and salt, which peel away much of the vegetable’s innate sweetness making for a uniquely savory beet. A massive dollop of burrata cheese takes up the center of the dish and, again, is than usual when sampled on it’s own. But the pool of pesto oil underneath it all mingles with the savory flavors and pulls everything together beautifully when every ingredient is experienced in one bite. A large slice of curling watermelon radish heightens the already-striking visual impact, as do orange and yellow marigold petals dotting the perimeter of the plate.
At the other end of the spectrum, underneath the section simply headed Meat, we had the All Natural Bistro Steak & Chips. This dish is the perfect intersection of fine dining and down-home diner. Our steak was prepared to a precise medium rare, sliced, and topped with melting pads of house butter mixed with salt crystals and slices of roasted garlic. The steak alone is succulent and tender enough to forego a steak knife, but when combined with the house butter, it’s decadent enough to include on a dessert menu. Not to be missed—the large cut fries that surround it are some of the best we’ve ever had, impeccably crisp exteriors over warm, soft potato interiors.
From the Seafood menu, the Seared Trout showed us the breadth of nuance coming from the Peckish Pig’s kitchen. The crisp skin of the trout makes a fantastic contrast to the succulent fish inside, and the preparation renders it delectably flaky and buttery. Combined with a pitch perfect rosemary aioli sauce, this is seafood dining at its finest, all over an unexpected and flawlessly balanced potato-bacon hash. This is a delicately balanced tightrope of tastes that works on every level.
Dessert was similarly incredible. The English Sticky Toffee Pudding looks like a work of art. An oven warm cake of cinnamon infused sticky toffee pudding sits in the center of a pool of rich custard cream drizzled decoratively with threads of caramel sauce. It looks great, but it tastes even better.
Peckish Pig is located at 623 Howard Street in Evanston, 847-491-6778, [email protected]