If hickory smoke were a sacrament, The Classy Pig would be a chapel. It’s a little small to be an actual church, but at Classy Pig, there’s true devotion to barbecue. This unpretentious new dining spot in a classic storefront in beautiful downtown Ludlow, Ky. (yes, all of Ludlow is downtown, but still!) has got a whole lotta smokin’ goin’ on.
We visited on a Tuesday night, fortuitously known as half-price wine night, but the skeptic in us thought we’d be so under-impressed by the wine selections that it wouldn’t really matter. Ha, skeptic! The Old Vine Red that we enjoyed at a bargain rate of $13 was bold enough to stand up to hickory, but tasty enough to please the whole crowd. Classy Pig also has a good beer selection, including Dogfish 60, Rogue Dead Guy and Bells Oberon ($4.50 each) on tap. Wednesday night is $3 draft beer night (hey, that’s tomorrow!).
We really liked everything we tried, but right off the bat, I have to say: Get the Baby Back Ribs ($11.99 half slab, $19.85 full). The ribs won. They best showed off the smoker’s art, staying nice and moist while they absorbed the essence of the smoky wood. One taster felt the rub was a bit strong, but I only noticed that on the very end of the ribs. The center bones were surrounded by tasty, juicy pink meat (pink from smoking) and were perfectly cooked.
The Beef Brisket (a $5.99 sandwich/$8.99 for a platter with two sides) and the Pulled Pork ($5.69/$8.69) were also good, but didn’t have that benefit of the bone.
As my dad used to say — the closer the bone, the sweeter the meat, and the pork ribs would have won his hearty approval.
There were some exceptional side dishes, too — and we tried to taste them all. Curiosity made me venture into the Beer Battered Asparagus ($5.50) and, weird as it might sound, it got kudos from most at the table. Start at the tip and work your way back to the chewier end, and don’t miss out on a dip in the homemade aioli. The Fried Zucchini ($4.75) is best when it’s piping hot, but the donut-sized Onion Rings, hand cut and beer battered, ($5.50) stayed yummy longer.
Another crowd pleaser, the Corn Pudding ($1.75), was sweet and crumbly. Coleslaw ($1.75) was crispy and freshly dressed. While I generally don’t think Potato Salad ($1.75) is worth the calories, the Pig’s wasn’t too sweet and the potatoes held up their end of the bargain. Both the regular and Sweet Potato Fries ($1 up-charge as a side) were nice and crispy. The Macaroni and Cheese ($1.75 as a side; $2.50 as a kids’ meal) had a nice gooey topping, not overly cheesy, but definitely a crowd pleaser.
Even the vegetarian in our midst was happy at the Pig. She was able to make a good plateful of sides to accompany the house salad ($4.50) — romaine with grape tomatoes and fresh-shaved Parmesan.
We wanted to cover all the animal bases, of course, so my husband had the Grilled Chicken Breast ($5.50/$8.50) and my neighbor went for the half-pound Angus burger ($5.75/$8.75). Angus is an overused word nowadays, but this burger was definitely worthy of some distinction. It was on the well-done side, but still juicy and had a nice crispness to its edges. The thick slab of fresh tomato was garden-grown, the kind of detail that makes a difference.
Our bellies were full, but did we stop? No! Our readers need to know about dessert. Sadly, they were out of their homemade bread pudding — the specialty of the house — but we went for the Red Velvet Cake, Turtle Cheesecake and Carrot Cake ($4 each), all made locally. The plates were licked clean. Cream cheese frosting fans will not be disappointed. The only thing we didn’t love was the raspberry jammy sauce with the Red Velvet Cake. Call me a purist (oh no, you won’t!) but that was a little bit of gilding the lily.
Our server was a saint who put up with all of our groan-worthy old jokes, and the owner proudly took us out back, where there’s a nice patio for outdoor dining, to see his gleaming new smoker. It’s impressive! It’s about the size of a small Winnebago, with rotating racks inside, a big chute to load the wood and enough sweet, porky smoke drifting out into the Ludlow skies to bring hungry people swimming over from Ohio. Non-swimmers also have the option to call and order catering.
THE CLASSY PIG
Go: 214 Elm St., Ludlow, Ky.
Surf: @theclassypig on Twitter
Hours: 4-10 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and 4-9 p.m. Sunday
Red Meat Alternatives: Lots of good choices
Accessibility: Fully accessible