My parents are Francophiles, unlike most of the British population I was brought up to respect those ‘cheese eating surrender monkeys’ by being force fed camembert from the age of four, drinking wine at table with every meal and my Mum talking to me constantly in French (so I took up Spanish at school and can still only say “je suis desole, je ne parle pas francias, je suis anglais” – TIP works a treat if you pull that in a bar in Paris coupled with the big eye look. Well it does if you’re a girl).
The Blue Pig is the latest addition to the Northern Quarter; within, it’s all dark wood, glass lampshades and charcuterie – like a slice of Montmarte served up to add some bohemian splendour to our rainy city. I did expect waitresses in flapper dresses and Lautrec in the corner with a bottle of the green fairy, but instead it was just after work young professionals and friends chatting over bottles of wine.
It’s a buzzy place, with staff zipping back and forwards – an open charcuterie counter and a well stocked bar (yes, I noted ALL the drinks – you know me, standard). The menu is a mix of sharing boards, cheeses, pates, meats, breads and a 333 menu – three each of starters, mains and puddings; you can have one of each for £20 or as separate dishes – it’s all very reasonably priced.
We ordered a sharing board – some perfectly ripe roquefort, softly smoked salmon, finocchiona (fennel salami) and a very garlicky, smoky baba ganoush. Obviously we wanted bread to dip and chose the cumin studded kulcah flat bread, a little greasy but very perfumed and great with the baba ganoush. Everything was brought at room temperature, so we managed to taste the flavours in each – many places will serve meat and cheese fridge cold; big no no. But that wasn’t the best thing about the meal; we’d rung ahead to explain one of us was gluten free, mainly to see of they did GF bread – we were advised they didn’t but we could bring our own (which we did. Girl Guides, we’ll well prepared) – however as soon as we said “can you make sure the bread is served separately because of contamination” off scooted the waitress and out came some GF bread. They’d only bloody gone and bought some especially (and a very good version too).
Even though we visited in the first week The Blue Pig was already buzzing like a Northern Quarter stalwart that’s been there for years. The level of service and understanding from the staff only did more to support this feeling – it’s as if The Blue Pig has always been here, let’s hope it stays that way.
Ps The Blue Pig also does breakfasts, lunches AND churros (like donuts but way better), which I can’t wait to try.
Price for a sharing board (four selections, plus two bread selections) £14.50
Food – 8/10 (although I’d like to try their cooked food as we just had a sharing board)
Service – 8/10
Atmosphere – 9/10
Value for money – 7/10 (the portions were good, but I’d like to see the 333 menu portions)
Total – 32/40
Go again – yeah the atmosphere is great, even if you’re just in for drinks. I want to try that 333 menu as it looked like there were some very interesting dishes on there.