That was the conversation playing in my head as I drove up to Skinny Pig, the latest restaurant venture of Joshua Steven Campbell, who is well known by many area foodies for his restaurant Mayberry and store Mayberry Foodstuffs.
When I interviewed Campbell a couple of months ago for our Look Who’s Eating column, he alerted me to his latest venture. Not one to waste time, he had the Pig open less than two months later.
The restaurant is still in its toddler phase, so the night my friend and I went the menu was limited to blue corn flatbread sandwiches and salads. (According to Campbell they’ll be adding other items that will feature grilled meats and sides in the future.)
If you’re like me, though, easily overwhelmed by seven-page menus when ravenously hungry, limited options can be a good thing. And when everything is fresh and homemade, who cares about having a zillion choices? Options often are only on a menu to provide camouflage for one or several bad dishes anyway. Campbell’s menu makes you sense that he firmly stands behind each and every dish he serves.
While the number of menu categories might be small, the flavor profile of each item looks powerful. So powerful, in fact, that the menu doesn’t need to describe the dishes at all. A list of ingredients that includes things like arugula, cilantro, adobo, ginger, garlic and chutney really needs little description.
All choices are fresh-sounding, and even though the name of the restaurant might make vegetarians gun-shy, it does have both veggie salad and flatbread options.
For the flatbread you can get the wild mushroom paté with beets, sweet and sour eggplant and curry cucumber yogurt ($6.99) or a flatbread topped with artichoke, asparagus, bell peppers, zucchini, tomato and mozzarella ($7.99). There’s also a kale salad with kiwi, strawberry, orange, barley, pepita and cilantro lime poppy seed vinaigrette ($6.99/$3.50). Eaters of other persuasions can opt for turkey, chicken, pork and steak flatbreads and salads with the meaty additions of beef or bacon.
We dined early, making us the first customers to enter the sparsely decorated but bright and cheerful single room that is the Skinny Pig. We were so early in fact that we arrived before Campbell got there with a fresh delivery of the flatbreads he cooks at Mayberry for the Pig.
It’s BYOB (we went with a tried and true DaVinci Chianti), but the staff quickly had wine glasses and a corkscrew at our table. If you’re interested in nonalcoholic options, the Pig also carries Mexican Coke and Fanta ($1.50 each) as well as lemonade and tea ($1.50 each).
My friend got the flatbread with adobo pork tenderloin, chili cilantro peaches, red onion, lime and avocado ($7.99) with a side salad of Romaine, garlic beef, Yukon potatoes, black olives, cheery tomatoes and green beans ($4). I went with the herbed chicken flatbread with ricotta, artichoke, roasted red pepper and an orange saffron basil ($6.99) and a side salad of arugula with bacon, apples, beets, walnuts, blue cheese and peppercorn lemon dressing ($4).
The yeasty-flavored, oval-shaped flatbreads come cut in three pieces, making it easy to dine with your hands. The ingredients topping both of our selections had over-the-top eye appeal: The ingredients looked fresh and the color palette was beautiful. We were both a little disappointed by the taste because it was tamer than we had expected. Everything was good. Hell, I even liked the beets, which typically taste like dirt to me. But I was expecting a culinary version of a punch in the nose and I didn’t get it. The predominant flavors of my flatbread were the lemony ricotta and sultry roasted pepper. But the orange saffron basil never made an appearance on my taste buds. My friend had a similar issue with the lack of fire in the adobo and chili on her plate.
The salads fared better for both of us. My friend’s thin slices of beef were tender and garlicky as promised. And the potatoes were done to just the right texture, giving way to the fork tins without being mushy. My salad was a natural winner given the ingredient list and the dressing was light, not overpowering the peppery taste of the arugula.
We finished up with a serving of homemade soft-serve vanilla nutty bar ice cream ($2.50) and a cinnamon sugar flat bread with Belgium chocolate, a thick slather of fresh ground peanut butter and slices of banana ($4.50). The dessert flatbread reminded me of the pancakes I used to make as a kid with peanut butter and syrup. It was just as heavy on the stomach, but tasted much better. And, when combined with my friend’s ice cream, it made an excellent banana split!
Go: 2714 Woodburn Ave., East Walnut Hills
Hours: 10:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 10:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday
Entrée Prices: $6.99-$7.99
Red Meat Alternatives: Vegetarian flatbreads and salad, chicken flatbread
Accessibility: Fully accessible