I'm not surprised that I saw several families dining at The Flying Pig restaurant (1169 Hamilton Street) when I stopped in for dinner on Saturday (August 27) night. The simple, rustic dishes and family-style plating reminded me of the type of home-cooked meals I had growing up, and dessert came in the form of a nostalgia-filled ice-cream drumstick—but more on that later.
The Flying Pig is a casual Yaletown restaurant specializing in "nouveau" Canadian dining that opened about a month ago by proprietors John Crook and Erik Heck, who both previously worked at Joe Fortes and Glowball Grill and Satay Bar. The restaurant is currently open for lunch and dinner service on weekdays, and dinner only on weekends (although, rumor is that they plan on starting weekend brunch service over the next few months). I had walked past the restaurant several times and it always seemed very busy, so I was happy to find a seat on Saturday night at around 7 p.m., and the restaurant very quickly reached near-capacity about an hour later.
Lobster and prawn risotto.
The dinner menu consists of six appetizers ($7 to $9), seven entrees ($18 to $24), and six sides ($5 to $10). There were also two chalkboard seafood specials that evening. My dining partner and I started with the house-smoked salmon carpaccio and lobster and prawn risotto, both of which were scrumptious. The wild salmon carpaccio is a generous portion (great for sharing and a good plate to order if you're just stopping in for drinks and appetizers). It is served on a cutting board with slices of toasted baguette and a creamy dill spread. The risotto, made with thyme and mascarpone, is actually listed as a "side" on the menu, but makes for a nice appetizer and contained at least a half-dozen prawns and a whole lobster claw. My only complaint is that it contained a little too much thyme for my taste (large pieces of hand-ripped leaves mixed in), but I can appreciate that it's part of the restaurant's whole "rustic" food concept.
Crispy Brussels sprouts with lemon, parmesan, and capers.
For entrees, I ordered the red wine-braised beef short ribs, which was served with bone marrow mash potatoes, and my dining partner had the grilled triple-A aged strip loin, which came with pomme alumettes and brandy peppercorn sauce. We also shared the crispy Brussels sprouts tossed with lemon, parmesan cheese, and capers, which may actually be the best Brussels sprouts I've ever had (and an ingenious way for parents to get their kids to eat green vegetables). The portion sizes were large and served in a way that would make them easy to share when dining family-style. My dish came with two large short ribs, each about the size of my fist, and the bone-marrow mash potatoes were a welcome change to the standard garlic mash that's typically served at restaurants. The pomme alumettes that came with the strip loin were piled mountain-high (again, another child-pleaser) and were crispy, lightly salted, and a bit addicting.
The Flying Pig drumstick.
When it was time for dessert ($7), there was a choice between crème brulee, maple sugar pie (which our server described as "pecan pie without the nuts"), and a house-made drumstick. I sprang for the drumstick, and moments later, it was presented on a clever little wooden deck with a hole that perfectly fit the house-made waffle cone. On top was a scoop of vanilla ice-cream sprinkled with pistachio pieces, and below that was a layer of gooey caramel and dark chocolate fudge. While the drumstick was served with a spoon, I found it much easier to eat it the same way I did as a kid—complete with melting ice-cream and caramel sauce running down my fingers. As I devoured the final few bites, I could not help but hear the faint tune of "The Entertainer" coming from an ice-cream truck playing in my head.
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