On the eve of Parent’s Weekend 2013, I found myself sitting with my parents and younger brother in a hotel room trying to suppress the twisting hunger in my stomach that only grew in intensity as the minutes inched towards 8 p.m. The air was thick with indecision.
Suddenly, my mom came to the rescue with her casual mention of a “new place” she just “happened upon” in a magazine called “a pig in a fur coat.” A pig in a fur coat? It was up there with some of the weirdest restaurant names I’d ever heard, but anything was worth a shot.
Leaving my fast food craving brother in the hotel room to munch on a Big Mac, my parents and I piled into the car and careened towards Williamson Street. We almost walked right past the small, nondescript building that stood alongside the road. Upon entering, we were swept from the cold September evening into the lively warmth of the restaurant. The little room was filled to the brim with everyone from young couples sipping exotic beers to a group of five older women celebrating Thursday’s terminus with large glasses of red wine. The restaurant’s vibe resembled that of a casual cocktail party.
As we waited for our table, we chatted with the bartender, who told us “the pig” had been open hardly a year but already boasted great success in the Madison restaurant scene. Owned by a brother and sister team, the restaurant thrives on big flavor and originality, despite the small space it occupies.
When we finally got a table, we decided to order a few of the small plates to explore as much of the menu as possible. The menu is exotic but heavily influenced by familiar Mediterranean flavors. We settled on the rabbit rillettes (think velvety meat spread with a delicate flavor on crusty, grilled bread), the duck egg ravioli (a large ravioli stuffed with vegetables, cheese and a fried duck egg, a.k.a. a package of deliciousness) and the pork belly (a tender, melt-in-your-mouth piece of bacon characterized by rich porky flavor). The restaurant also features full entrees, snacks and desserts. The food was beyond delicious — dare I say some of the best I’ve ever had. If we hadn’t been so full, little could’ve stopped us from ordering the veal, and the scallops and perhaps the cheesecake as well.
Perhaps we didn’t have as much self-control as we thought, because we returned the next night and two weeks later when my mom came to Madison for an impromptu visit. a pig in a fur coat, while exotic and eclectic, can satisfy both the international foodie and the culinary novice. Long live the pig!