The Pig’s Ear is a study in contradictions. It is over on Westminster Drive near Sheetz, the Econo Lodge, and The Loyal Plaza. It is a down-home style place with all the good feelings of a small, locally owned restaurant—complete with black and white, historic Williamsport photo prints on the walls—that sits in one of the most homogenized areas in our town. I assumed it was an English Style pub, but it is not. The best notion I have of the food is that it is Cajun Influenced. Soul Food meets Bar Snacks.
When my girlfriends invited me to Jon Mackey’s Quizzo at the Pig’s Ear on a Thursday night, I expected a less bar-like atmosphere. With the requisite neon Beer ads adorning the walls, a gauche hanging Miller Light bottle, Yuengling clock, and a pool table; the elegantly designed menu that is chock full of lovely eats was surprising. The offerings range in price from $4-$15.
Spanning two visits, I sampled a variety of sandwiches and appetizers. My dinner companions all gave me a bite. I’ll start with the highlights. Top three: Pig’s fries, Wedge Salad, and Crab Dip. These are pretty common things on a pub menu, but Pig’s Ear spins them right.
The Pig Fries were white potatoes and sweet potatoes mixed up, all dressed up in Cajun Seasoning and served with a little dipping cup of their Horseradish Aioli. The Aioli is perfect in its ratio of horseradish to mayo, and it stands up, too. So there’s got to be a little boost in there—maybe some sour cream? Anyway, they came out piping hot (and did both times), and the Cajun spice with the sweet potatoes and cool zest of the Aioli sent me on this joy ride of flavors. I was delighted.
In restaurant salads, temperature is all. Do not ask me for $9 and then bring me some wilting lettuce with spare toppings swimming in oil. The Wedge salad was ice cold veggies with room temperature dressing and bacon. A massive wedge of iceberg with an exact proportion of tomatoes, bleu cheese dressing, bacon and red onions arrived on a UFO of a square, white plate. Every bite had every ingredient, and the Blue Cheese Dressing was divine: a mild, creamy base with generous, large chunks of blue cheese. Best part was the price, $6.
The Crab Dip is uncanny, and also priced surprisingly at $9. An unbelievable portion of real lump crab, sweet and buttery, baked in a shallow casserole with cheeses and seasonings that, while I am unable to discern which they were, were a brilliant combination. The crab dip did not lack where others do—relying on the crab and cream cheese to carry them—it was rich and flavorful and comforting, scooped up with salty tortilla chips, and the chips did not war with the dip, threatening to overcome its decadence: it was a union. The minor disappointment in our first portion of this delight was that the tortilla chips appeared to be store-bought. Our second foray into crab divinity came with house made chips.
In other excellently rendered items, the slow-cooked meat sandwiches were incredible. The pork sandwich comes drizzled with this herbed aioli, the Chicago style beef with au jus is not too peppery, and not too dry.
The flash fried shrimp were tender and sweet and butterflyed, an accomplishment when deep frying.
The Italian deli sandwich has a pile of meat in it that is, again, just right. But I was not fond of the roll. With the slow cooked meats, the juices settle into the bread and the heftier, drier bread is perfection. With the cold cuts, I wanted a moister roll. Still, I do not condemn the sandwich.
Everyone at The Pig’s Ear is friendly, but our service was not the best. Of course, the servers appeared to be a bit busier than they expected to be, and even though they were harried, they were friendly and gracious and adequate.
The dining area is kind of awkwardly arranged around the billiards, but it works for the Pig’s Ear: it keeps with what seems to be their charming tradition of identity crisis. The sandwiches and fries are served in these vaguely modern black baskets with handles that double as the perfect rest for the soufflé cup of sauce or dip that comes with almost everything. The plates are big, modern, clean-edged circles and squares. The tables are clothed in white, there are white napkins, and white, paper placemats. The furniture is painted black wood, and the booths have black vinyl. The walls are a rustic shade of red.
So to the Pig’s Ear, I award five capers for simply excellent, well priced food, four capers for atmosphere that, while incongruous, is welcoming, and 3 capers for service. Overall, a four caper place. I’ll look for you there.