Good Eats – The Hidden Pig

When I was a young man, my good friend Juan had a simple dining out rule. “I want a lot of food,” he would invariably say, “good … and cheap.”

Note to self: Find out where Juan is these days and tell him about the Haverhill eatery called The Hidden Pig. ( Editor’s note: This review originally ran in the July/Aug ’18 issue of mvm. )

I’m usually not one to tell people to stay away from any particular restaurant, but in this case I need to make an exception. If you are one of those “healthy dinner” people who never takes a night off, then, whatever you do, stay away from this place. You won’t have a good time, the people with you will not have a good time, and the staff won’t have a good time.

The whole purpose of this Railroad Square restaurant, it seems, is to serve comfort food that is meant to be enjoyed.

Proof? You want proof? One of the appetizers is a bacon board ($12) that features candied bacon, confit pork belly and slices of fruitwood bacon … and that’s pretty much it.

Left: Who’s afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? Hidden Pig bills itself as burger-based and bacon-driven — this signature menu item shows why. It’s topped with pork belly and maple-bacon aioli, along with blueberry jam. Watch out, Little Red Riding Hood. Right: Owner Phillip Bentham II and general manager Ashley Holt oversee this new Haverhill eatery, which emphasizes fun over fussiness. Photos by Kevin Harkins.

Other appetizer choices include poutine ($12), fried sausage bites ($10), and lamb and pork belly meatballs with spiced crema ($11). That latter item induced an immediate “feel good” sensation. Oh, a smart Caesar salad ($4/$8) was also available, but it featured croutons the size of small hamsters … much to my delight.

Over the years, several food spots have called 130 Washington St. home, including the Blue Finn Grille, George’s, and Cobblestone Cafe. The Hidden Pig looks to be a keeper because it offers casual fare, decent prices and a riotous selection of craft beers. The single room seats around 50, including bar patrons, and a rear deck is expected to accommodate nearly as many.

Notable dishes? There’s the Piggy Mac ($14), which is mac and cheese with pulled pork and bacon. The Cuban ($14) includes roast pork loin. Fancy Pants ($14) is a highfalutin BLT with truffle mayo and arugula. The Bad Mam’Ma Jamma ($12) is an Italian sausage sandwich with chipotle aioli … and bacon bits. Heck, even the hot dog ($9) has bacon bits. Have you picked up on the basic dining theme yet? It goes something like this: If it comes from swine, it’s just fine. The Wi-Fi password, for crying out loud, is baconbits.

Going high on the hog (sorry, I couldn’t resist) at The Hidden Pig means plunking down $17 for the Big Bad Wolf. This uber-burger (my word, not theirs) is the single most expensive item on the menu, but it seems to best capture what The Hidden Pig is all about. The meaty burger is topped with cheddar and crispy confit pork belly, and accented with both blueberry jam and a maple-bacon aioli. On paper, it reads like a disaster waiting to happen. In the mouth, it’s a wonderful mix of flavors and textures. The initials H and P were branded into the top of the bun … a nice comedic touch.

The Porker ($13), a pulled pork and slaw sandwich, needed a little more zest and could benefit from the same imaginative approach to toppings as the Big Bad Wolf, but it was still hearty and, like all the sandwiches, included a generous side of fries.

The Hidden Pig is a little slice of hog heaven … with bacon on the side.

 

Left: Ah, the bacon board. Multiple types of bacon — fruitwood, pepperwood and candied — straddle confit pork belly. If ever an appetizer was designed to be paired with a Lord Hobo dark IPA, it’s this one. A little bit of Valhalla in historic Haverhill. Right: Top: The Whisky Tango is made with Jim Beam, lemon juice and ginger beer. Yes, it’s garnished with bacon. Photos by Kevin Harkins.

The Hidden Pig
Haverhill, Mass.

(978) 914-6800
TheHiddenPigHaverhill.com

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