Whole Suckling Pig at The Breslin Bar & Dining Room – Gastropub/American – Midtown West
April 8th, 2011 by plumpdumpling

As a fairly new food blogger originally from three states away, I sometimes feel out of the food-blogging loop. And as a pig farmer’s daughter, I really love me a good pork roast. So it was a delight to be invited to eat a whole suckling pig at The Breslin Bar & Dining Room with one of my favourite food bloggers, Chubby Chinese Girl, and her pals Henry from Ramblings and Gamblings, Tia from Bionic Bites, Addie from Gypsy-Addie’s Food Diary, and other friends who actually eat things without blogging about them.

The first thing you notice about The Breslin is just how gastropubby it is. It’s a bar, but it’s the kind of bar where the bartender’s serving more burgers than beers. Every inch of wall space is covered in something farm-related–mostly ceramic animals in all shapes and sizes–and all of the fixtures are old-timey. The place is dark but for the bright light coming from the sparkling white open kitchen in the back. And we especially loved the use of what appears to be the original ceiling, which was cracked and peeling and beautiful.

Breslin Suckling Pig

Breslin Suckling Pig

Breslin Suckling Pig
herbed Caesar salad, anchovies, croutons

I’m really not an appreciator of salad. I get that some people like light, fresh foods, but I’m going to chase my oysters with a big buttered steak every time. Our first course was a salad even I could’ve eaten as a meal, though. The Caesar dressing was just so flavorful, the dried herbs so crunchy. The anchovies weren’t fishy at all, really, but just added some salty depth. I would order this again in a second.

Breslin Suckling Pig

And then the pig arrived as the entire restaurant spontaneously broke into applause.

Breslin Suckling Pig

Its little piggy face was right in front of me, its eyeless sockets staring at me and its puffed ears floating alongside its head, begging to be popped like balloons at a county fair dart game. It was much smaller than I’d expected, but I guess we were feeding a table of nine and not a whole neighborhood of smalltown Ohio hillbillies.

Breslin Suckling Pig

Our pig-carver deftly removed the legs from each side and then tonged shoulder, belly, loin, and butt onto our plates.

Breslin Suckling Pig

My plate of crispy skin and shoulder was heavenly. The forkfuls alternated between completely falling apart and so crunchy I couldn’t cut them. It was all of the best things about pork with the benefit that I could sample all of the cuts in one dish.

My boyfriend’s experience wasn’t quite as good as mine, because the skin he got was floppy rather than crispy. I had to give him a piece of my skin before he understood why everyone was salivating over it. I guess that’s one of the side effects of EATING A WHOLE PIG.

Breslin Suckling Pig
duck fat roasted potatoes

It was served with sides of potatoes roasted in duck fat, roasted fennel, broccoli rabe, green sauce, and red sauce. The potatoes were the star with their extra crispy/extra fatty exteriors and soft insides, but really, all of the accoutrements held their own. The garlicky broccoli rabe and tender fennel were both spicy to accent the sweetness of the pork, while the chunky red sauce of peppers and tomatoes only added to its sweetness by tasting wildly of apple pie.

The apple that had been roasted in the pig’s mouth, on the other hand, was funky. My first bite was just nice, mushy apple, but my second bite was freaky, pig-saliva-flavored mushy apple. Lesson learned.

Breslin Suckling Pig

We spent an hour or so really ravaging that carcass, peeling back the cheeks and breaking off the ears, making excessive mentions of the butt meat and trying the doubly-flavoured neck meat.

Breslin Suckling Pig

Even my boyfriend, the salad-lover, found himself ravenous.

Breslin Suckling Pig

In the end, only this

Breslin Suckling Pig

and this remained.

Breslin Suckling Pig

And that’s when they brought the chocolate tarts

Breslin Suckling Pig

and ice cream.

Breslin Suckling Pig

The tart was very good, especially the parts with course salt sprinkled on top, but the ice cream was the really delicious part. I don’t want to pretend like I have any idea what to compare the flavor to, but the ice cream was extra sweet and just had a really wonderful smooth texture. I wondered if there was Marshmallow Fluff or something mixed in.

Rating One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarZero Stars

Breslin Suckling Pig
see larger (still impresses even me)

This was a difficult rating for me. On one hand, I really appreciate the novelty of being able to eat an entire pig in a fairly small NYC restaurant. I appreciate the work and care that had to go into preparing it. The side dishes were all better than expected and were flavorful enough not to become just afterthoughts next to the pig. I’m still thinking about that ice cream. But at the end of the day, if I’m going to spend $85 for a plate of food, I’d rather have it be an uncommon preparation made with ingredients I have to Google before I leave for the restaurant. Had this been anything but a whole pig, it would have been much less expensive, and there wouldn’t have been any floppy skin to deal with.

But my boyfriend said, “I mean, I just ask myself how much better they could have done with that, and it seems like, for what it was, that’s about as good as you could expect,” and I think that’s reasonable. It was a really neat experience, and I’m very glad I got to be a part of it. I found out that for me, eating an animal that still looks like itself isn’t weird at all! And I met some great people in the process.

The Breslin Bar & Dining Room
16 West 29th Street
New York, NY 10001 (map)

16 Responses  
  • Heesa Phadie writes:
    April 8th, 201112:01 pmat

    That. Is. Awesome! I love how the whole restaurant cheered for it. That would make me feel special :P

    This was hysterical “We spent an hour or so really ravaging that carcass, peeling back the cheeks and breaking off the ears, making excessive mentions of the butt meat and trying the doubly-flavoured neck meat.”

    Sounds like a fun time. I know $85 for that may be a lot, but you don’t get to eat like that often…if ever.

    • plumpdumpling writes:
      April 11th, 20112:10 pmat

      You’re right. Even growing up with pig roasts all summer long, I would only ever see the meat once it was sliced off the pig; getting to sit face-to-face with the animal as I ate was pretty neat, and I’m happy to have paid for the experience once.

      It really was worth cheering for, too! The pictures don’t even begin to do it justice.

  • Dishy writes:
    April 8th, 20111:51 pmat

    Oh my – the aesthetic of this place looks like my idea of a dream. The ceiling – LOVE.

    I want to reach into my computer and pull out that beautiful salad and stick my face in it. No joke.

    I’ve only had whole roast suckling pig once – at an engagement party backyard BBBQ – and even being allowed only a bit – it was DIVINE. Pork in all its incarnations is heavenly.

    My younger daughter (the biggest ham fan ever) likely would have stood on the table to get all the crackling bits of skin.

    THOSE POTATOES!!!!!! Just the look of them is sending me into ecstatic yearning.

    And it’s awesome how you made it look like you the WHOLE pig – bones and all, leaving only the snout.

    Sigh… this post is making my little bowl of granola pale a little.

    • plumpdumpling writes:
      April 11th, 20112:44 pmat

      It was totally the cutest place. Someday, I’ll have a whole house full of pig statues, and I won’t have any friends, and Kamran will have left me, but I’ll have my pigs. And I’ll lure your daughter over once a week with pork skin to check on me and make sure I haven’t died.

      • Dishy writes:
        April 11th, 20113:13 pmat

        Watch out – b/c when you do she’s likely to take over the place!!


  • Jessica R. writes:
    April 8th, 20113:01 pmat

    Just looking at that roasted, dead pig kind of makes me want to be a vegetarian. How can you get through the meal when it’s STARING at you? I don’t know if I could do it…

    On the other hand, I’m still drooling over those desserts.

    • plumpdumpling writes:
      April 11th, 20113:02 pmat

      I really, truly thought it might be a problem for me. I pictured myself getting there, freaking out as soon as the knife hit the seared skin, and only eating the sides. But I swear I didn’t consider it even once. It never seemed the least bit gross nor even the least bit WEIRD, even. I think maybe my dad was right and that I was meant to be a farmer like him who eats the animals he raises.

  • Tracey writes:
    April 9th, 201110:41 amat

    I will never again allow you scorn my love of pork rinds. If you’ll eat them RIGHT OFF THE PIG, you can eat them from a bag.

    • plumpdumpling writes:
      April 11th, 20113:20 pmat

      It’s so funny you say that, because days after I ate the pig, I thought, “OH, CRAP, Tracey is totally going to have a field day with this.”

      It’s so different when it’s $85 and not served in a plastic bag, though!

  • Mrs. Bachelor Girl writes:
    April 10th, 20115:11 pmat

    Lord knows I love a good cochon de lait as much as the next Louisiana girl, but it’s going to be another week or two before I can look at the photos. I bet it was fun, though.

    • plumpdumpling writes:
      April 11th, 20113:26 pmat

      I hope all of your pregnancy cravings from now on involve nothing but pork rinds.

  • Kim writes:
    April 14th, 201110:35 pmat

    I … haven’t commented on blogs in a month and I forget how and also I feel like we just talked about eating things that have stared at you (lobster!) but OH MY GOD. I can’t … it’s FACE IS RIGHT THERE!
    Vegetarian now.
    (Yeah right)

  • han writes:
    April 20th, 20119:22 pmat

    a plate of crunchy. pig. skin.
    i would love to tag along on any other full animal rampages (with yummy skin).

  • deb writes:
    June 21st, 201110:53 amat

    I have a t shirt that says “does that come in pork?”

  • NYC Restaurant Reviews » April Bloomfield’s Salvation Taco writes:
    April 11th, 201311:31 amat

    […] eaten a whole suckling pig at Chef April Bloomfield’s The Breslin a couple of years ago, I was excited to see what she could do with one of my comfort foods: tacos. […]

  • NYC Restaurant Reviews » Resto’s Large Format Nose-to-Tail Lamb Feast writes:
    November 13th, 201311:30 amat

    […] already done the whole suckling pig at The Breslin, I was more interested in a host of interesting dishes, and so we opted for Resto with my friends […]

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