The Black Pig Bistro is a new and welcome addition to the Bridgeland area, having just opened its doors about three weeks ago. We met up with one of my longtime friends and his girlfriend for a late dinner on the Thursday immediately following their grand opening.
Located beside the new ramen hotspot Shiki Menya, in stark contrast to its loud and frenetic neighbour, the atmosphere of Black Pig Bistro is decidedly more relaxed and sophisticated. I’ve never been to Europe, but I imagine walking into a bistro there to be how it is at Black Pig. The exposed brick wall is painted white to give the space lightness, a nice contrast to the dark wood floors and furniture. It’s warm, it’s classy, it’s definitely bistro-like. We were greeted warmly at the entrance by one of the owners, Larry Scammell, and seated promptly at a lovely window table.
The menu is small, focusing on a few signature dishes. I was most intrigued by the Jamon Iberico, a specialty Spanish ham made exclusively from the Black Iberian Pig (hence the name of the bistro). I learned about this special pig through an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations. At $24 for 50 gr of ham, it seems kind of steep, but where else in Calgary – or North America – can one get Jamon Iberico?
Naturally, we got an order, which comes with baguettes rubbed in a tomato and olive oil emulsion. Having never had this type of ham before, prosciutto or serrano ham are most similar things I could make a comparison to. It’s richer and bolder in flavour, and a little bit chewy. I liked it best eaten on its own; paired with the baguette, it tended to get lost within the tomato emulsion. Also, I could probably eat a bucket of that baguette on its own, but no surprise seeing as I’m a carboholic.
Sadly, they were out of the Beef Cheek Risotto and Market Pig that evening, so we only had three options to choose from for our mains. Mark went with the Pork & Beans (green, edamame, broad & white beans, fennel, mint, porchetta), a sophisticated take on something I thought would be much more rustic (I think I was expecting sausages, even though it clearly said porchetta). I tried a bit and it was amazing. Tender, well-seasoned porchetta (seriously, how can you go wrong with pork belly?) sitting atop a medley of savoury beans. It made me wish I had gotten my own order of this.
I went with the Market Fish that evening, which was an oven-roasted Sable fish served with purple romaine lettuce and red bell peppers. The fish was flaky, moist, tender, and beautifully seasoned. I thought the two large hearts of purple romaine lettuce was an interesting way to serve the vegetable portion. They were just ever-so-slightly overdressed in a balsamic vinaigrette, but nothing too major.
My friend went with the Alberta Rib Eye (broccolini, red chimichurri) – not pictured – he said it was okay, while his girlfriend went with the Market Fish. I think he was hoping for the Market Pig and said he would probably return to try it.
For dessert, my friend ordered the beautifully plated Flourless Chocolate Cake (peanut butter fig ice cream, chocolate pudding). He said the cake was more like a brownie (not a bad thing). I tried some of the peanut butter fig ice cream and it was quite intriguing. I would’ve never put peanut butter and figs together, but strangely it worked really well, almost like a modern twist to the classic PB & J pairing.
Mark and I had the Chocolate Stout Tiramisu with mascarpone mousse, ladyfingers, and chocolate stout (not pictured, because all my photos of it turned out really crap in the dim lighting). It was like having a well-done, classic tiramisu but with the punch of stout, which was prominent throughout. The mascarpone mousse was surprisingly light and creamy, with the perfect balance in the layers for a satisfying tiramisu. I would definitely get it again.
Overall, I really enjoyed my first experience at the Black Pig Bistro. We had top-notch service throughout the evening, the ambiance is classy and sophisticated without being cold and pretentious, so it would be a great place for a date night or entertaining guests from out of town. Knowing that the Market Pig sells out pretty fast, I would go back for an earlier dinner to give it a try. But there is always the Pork & Beans which I thought was the star of the evening, and something that is worth going back for again and again.
Black Pig Bistro
825 1 Ave NE
Calgary, AB T2E0C3
Phone: (403) 460-0350