Former owner and Chef Michael Stiglitz and his wife have long since left the building, and experienced partners Doug & Lisa Frampton have taken over P3 and Pig & Fish downtown. Pickled Pig Pub (P3) is located in a little strip center on the highway (to the left of Pier One Imports--look for the Starbuck's). This diminuitive beer bar/bar food emporium has made a big impression serving quality eats disguised as bar food--not to mention tons of cool craft beers. (Original partner "Chef Stigs" has opened a new restaurants in Newark, DE and north Wilmington called Two Stones Pub.)
One of my favorite appetizers is the crispy Fried Pickles. I order them everywhere (including a strange little joint in Kentucky that called them "Frickl'd Pickles" before the place burned to the ground), and I have them pretty much every time at Pickled Pig [pictured, below]. The dipping sauce is a kicked-up Russian dressing with a polite burn. My other favorite is the Hummus + Red Pepper Feta Dip [pictured, below right], colorfully presented with plenty of warm pita bread, bright diced cucumbers and kalamata olives. Go ahead. Share.
As of this early spring 2013 writing, the Chesapeake Crab Fondue has been replaced with the Beer, Cheese & Crab Soup. Now how can anything be bad that's topped with Old Bay popcorn? Another similar dish in the Starters column is the Spicy Jalapeno and Corn Crab Dip. Take your pick. They're both tasty.
Another diner ordered the "Hog Wings," which are actually neatly cut and well-sauced slices of pork shank. I have since tried them and they are quite delicious: Think baby back rib, but with lots more meat and not quite as "ribby."
Another unusual appetizer is the B.Y.O.C.B. [cheese board menu pictured, right], a selection of artisanal cheeses served with dried fruit and various cured meats. With two cheeses, it's $15.95 You can add more cheeses for a little more money to make a nice little nosh "for the table." The Asian Bistro Salad (lunch) is also a star with its citrusy mandarins, cilantro, bok-choy, carrots, peanuts and a spicy ginger vinaigrette. They offer all their salads in both appetizer and main-course portions. Great idea, chef!.
I usually shy away from restaurant chili, but I was assured by our waitron du jour that the Pub Pork Chili was good, and it was, indeed, a cozy little dish for a windy, rainy night. On an earlier visit I had the Cuban Press sandwich (ham, pork, pickles, swiss and dijon on a crispy panini roll--more about that and a photo below).
Two others enjoyed the Pub Fish and Chips. The Creole Meatloaf with garlic mashers has been replaced by the Rustic Country Meatloaf with spinach and, yes, mashers. It was not too strongly spiced and was quite good. Last and not least, another diner had the Thai Red Curried Shrimp mixed with Pad Thai Noodles and a multi-hued melange of julienned veggies and peanut pieces and coconut overtones. She finished it all. The plate didn't even need to be washed.
UPDATE #1: I have lunched several times at PPP since this review was rewritten, and every time it's been quite good. It seems that these people can do no wrong. The Asian Salad is very tasty, and I especially like the Waldorf Chicken Salad platter [pictured above left]. I will tell you that the plate arrived with soft and warm triangles of pita bread. That's all well and good, but the menu promised nan. No mention was made of the substitution. Did they think I wouldn't know the difference? Really? By the way, try the BLT chopped salad. It's the perfect lunch.
Thirsty? They offer 14 (count 'em) beer taps and craft beers are a specialty (see The Beer Geek below). Their 40 bottled beers include some hard-to-find Belgian imports. They also offer "sample" flights of beers.
UPDATE #2 [early spring 2013]: Well, if anything, Pickled Pig Pub continues to get better. Since our last visit, we have enjoyed the Flatliner Sandwich (everything pork between ciabatta) [pictured, above right]. Amazingly, you can taste each of the various pork products, including ham, BBQ pork and bacon. Like pork? Get this.
The Fried Pickles [pictured, left] have changed slightly and they are even crispier. Certainly homemade, with a spicy dip, they are a great appetizer.
The Cuban Press [mentioned above and pictured, left] and the Ham & Cheese Melt [pictured left, below the Cuban] are similar in appearance, but different in taste. Both are quite good and crispy fresh out of the panini press. Though the Cuban was nice, I am addicted to the ham & cheese.
One of the specials we loved was the Pork Belly wrapped in Bacon [pictured, right]. Well, the place IS called Picked Pig, after all. The pork belly was crispy and not at all fatty, and of course you could wrap pretty much anything in bacon and it would be good (even had it on ice cream at another place). Though tasty. it was even possibly overshadowed by the deliciously cheesy and slightly crunchy beer gratin potatoes offered and ordered as the side. Whatever sandwich you get, try these potatoes. We hope they make this a regular menu item!
The Thai Chicken [pictured, right] was not your typical Thai chicken but it was tasty and nicely presented. Last but not least, our most recent visit included the fried Pirogies [pictured, left]. They were slathered in a spiced sauce, and were well-crunched on the outsied and filled with seasoned potato. THE FEARED UPDATE WITHIN AN UPDATE!! Don't automatically default to downtown when you think Monday night burger night. P3 offers 7 tasty burgers on perfectly fresh and toasted rolls. My favorite is the Banh Mi Burger [pictured, left] topped with pickled daikon, carrots, cilantro and a not-too-sweet Asian glaze. Get extra Sriracha on the side. Last night we ordered the Smoked Cheddar Burger [pictured, right] with thick-cut bacon and the "Fun Guy" Burger with three types of mushrooms (get it? Fun Guy?). All were quite good and I can't say enough about the crispy toasted rolls.
Now back to our regularly scheduled programming:
The Pickled Pig Pub is on Coastal Highway in the Harbor Square Shopping Center. By the way, Pickled Pig Pub is owned and operated by the same people who have the successful Pig & Fish Restaurant Company in downtown Rehoboth Beach. Though the founder, Michael Stiglitz, has moved northward to expand his empire (try Two Stones Pub in Newark!), both places continue to turn out quality grub and service. The Pub offers daily lunch specials and a popular happy hour. They intend to stay open 7 days a week. Verify that at (302) 645-5444. Click here for a look at Pickled Pig Pub's menu. (L., D., Bar) Price Range: Moderate.
THE BEER GEEK
Without a doubt one of the best beer bars in southern Delaware!! Great tap selection with 14 taps, and more than 50 bottles if you are still having trouble finding something to drink. Here's just a sample of what they have. Keep in mind that their beers rotate frequently, so don’t expect any of these to be there for very long.
The BEER GEEK no longer contributes to RehobothFoodie.com, so use the older commentary below as a guideline only. The Foodie's picks: Evolution #6 and Troeg's Mad Elf (in season).
Jolly Pumpkin E.S Bam-- What a fantastic "Extra Special Farmhouse Ale" (as described by the brewery) this Saison is! It starts out with some light citrus notes, and just a bit of yeasty funk (that's a good thing!), but ends with some peppery notes and a little bitterness from the hops. Not everyone's thing, but definitely enjoyable.
Dogfish Head Black and Red-- You can definitely tell this brew is from Dogfish Head! A Double/Imperial Stout brewed with mint and raspberry, this 10.5% abv beer is definitely a sipper. Lots of fruit in the nose with some added mint. When you finally a sip it's very sweet with lots of mint and fruit. I would recommend this as an after dinner beer.
Evolution Craft Brewing Summer Session-- A super drinkable, very sessionable brew from the Delmar, DE brewery. It is a light tan colored pale ale that has just the right amount of lemony kick. Would be great on a hot summer day with crabs or at a cook-out, but don't expect to find it in bottles. Only available on draft and in growlers at the brewery.
Those are just three of Pickled Pig's many offerings. Their frequently rotating tap list and substantial bottle list mean you won't have to try anything twice. Look for hard-to-find Mikkeller beers, and also ask about their vintage bottles of Dogfish Head offerings.