This Little Piggy Needs Work
The Flying Pig on Lexington has all the components of a good restaurant; it just needs to learn how to utilize them.
We love the spirit of The Flying Pig: its mission is to use organic and chemical-free ingredients from small, independent, local farms. And despite this righteous goal, we love that throughout the two-story restaurant, a sense of humor is evident. Who could help but smile when greeted in the front hallway with the sign, “Be nice or leave.” And then there are the pigs. They are everywhere, but not in overwhelming numbers: they are on the walls and tucked on shelves here and there. Amazingly, they manage to always stay just this side of kitsch—and make us smile.
The groundwork is laid: we’ve got a pleasant, warm atmosphere and an admirable mission we’d love to support. All that’s left is for the service and food to fall in line. At times throughout our visits, we saw hopeful signs. The server on our first visit was attentive and lovely. Management and/or the server handled the first misstep well. Our first course was taking an inordinately long time to arrive, and before we asked about it, our server appeared at the table with an apology and cheese plate to tide us over. It is the mark of a restaurant that truly cares about customer service when steps are taken to remedy a mistake before the diner complains.
When the first course did arrive (and, by this time, they also refilled our wine glasses on the house), we were disappointed that the otherwise tasty white grits were just too darn chewy. But the two big chunks of sweet, rich, local bacon on top—big thick square layers of meat and fat with a hint of maple—made us forget about the grits and dive head-first into our reason to love Lipitor.
Like the grits, our lentils were underdone; they were downright crunchy on two occasions, and in two different dishes. In one instance, while far too crunchy to enjoy, they were sadly the only tasty element on the plate; they served as a bed for salt-roasted, exceedingly dry salmon. Worse yet, the fish was topped with a “grilled lemon aioli” that was bitter and virtually inedible.
On another visit, the lentils were part of an otherwise terrific chopped salad. We loved all the vegetables, the texture, the Maytag Blue, and the zinfandel vinaigrett. We pushed the “al dente” lentils off to the side.
We loved everything about our pink, juicy, tender Cabbage Hill Farm pork chop. We loved the pure pork flavor of the simply grilled chop, and we loved the apple cider reduction that seeped over the chop and onto the creamy pillow of celery-root mashed potatoes. This dish tells us there is something there in the kitchen—it can’t be pure luck when a dish is that good, when all its elements are cooked and seasoned to perfection.
But we need to see more of it at The Flying Pig. On a busy weekend night, there were gaffs piled so high at our table, we hate to recount them, for fear of sounding like the Grinch. There was the crunchy, undercooked pasta that, when sent back, was returned scorched. And the need—twice—to ask and wait for cutlery after our food was served. Instead of one vegetable side dish, two were brought. When we pointed it out, the waiter chose to leave the second dish on the table—and it showed up on our bill until we said something. The burger came medium rather than the requested medium-rare, was accompanied by greasy limp fries, and was served between two big slices of grilled bread that simply couldn’t stand up to the duress of the meat juices and ended up a soggy mess on the plate.
But hope springs eternal, so we’ll focus on the lusty Bolognese served over big, chunky pappardelle. The robust sauce flaunted its stuff from Cabbage Hill Farm beef, pork, and lamb.
Desserts were as much of a mixed bag as the rest of the meal. We ordered a baked apple and got what appeared to be an apple crisp, albeit with a pasty, dough-like topping. When the baked apple was brought, we didn’t fare much better: the skin was tough, making it a challenge to eat.
Better by far was Le Kit Kat: a fun candy bar-shaped chocolate-and-praline mousse concoction with a sophisticated interplay of bitter (chocolate) and sweet (praline) that placed it light years above its namesake.
We want The Flying Pig to pull it together. We like its mission and we like its style. Importantly, we saw glimmers of potential nestled amongst its (many) missteps. We believe the talent and desire are there but, for whatever reason, the Pig has not yet found its stride.
Want to see what else The Flying Pig on Lexington is serving up? For the current “soft fall” lunch, dinner, and brunch menus, visit westchestermagazine.com’s Restaurant Guide. Flying Pig changes its menu seasonally, four to five times a year.
The Flying Pig on Lexington
251 Lexington Ave, Mount Kisco
(914) 666-7445; www.pigcafe.com
Hours: lunch Tues to Sat 10:30 am-2:30 pm; dinner Tues to Thurs 5:30-9:30 pm, Fri to Sun 5:30-10 pm. Appetizers: $7-$14; entrées: $14-$29; desserts: $8
â˜…â˜…â˜…â˜…—Outstanding â˜…â˜…â˜…—Very Good