After my first visit to Pig & Pie on official review business, I kept finding unofficial reasons to go back.
One morning, I thought a Sriracha-drizzled egg and sausage roll might disrupt my breakfast bagel rut. After a Friday night whiskey date, it seemed like a slice of pie would hit the spot. And on deadline day, I craved a little Chicago-style procrastination (aka a beef dog festooned with pickled peppers, tomatoes and mustard).
I wish Pig & Pie was farther than a few blocks from my house. I wish it was a macrobiotic restaurant, or a juice bar. I wish I liked macrobiotics or juice.
Pig & Pie’s kitchen is run by seasoned chef Nate Overstreet. It’s a specialty operation (as the subtle naming indicates).
But I’ll head rib-lovers off at the pass: Most pig parts end up ground, spiced and squeezed into sausage casings. You can order terrines and headcheese, but this is no barbecue smokehouse.
Pies are baked up by Ashly Amador, former dough master at Oakland’s acclaimed Boot and Shoe Service. The pie selection is less extensive than the sausage selection, but specials cycle frequently.
Pig & Pie also features a robust pickling program. Each visit revealed new jars filled with some whimsy-of-the-week: pickled plums, pig hooves, turnips, okra, eggs, etc.
Try the eclectic pickle sampler: Mine included headcheese, tart green tomatoes, curried cauliflower and a potent scarlet kimchee that seduced my editor.
All sausages came on pain de mie rolls from La Victoria, a nice compromise between spongy hot dog buns and too-dense artisan bread.
Sesame and fish oil gave an Asian cast to the banh mi’s pork sausage, served with all the standard veggies (house-pickled daikon, carrots, etc.) and an earthy chicken pate.
The boudin blanc mixed ground chicken and pork with bread crumbs, cream and thyme, producing a soothing, milky consistency. The chef then wisely zapped this sleepy-time sausage with preserved lemon and arugula.
I ordered the pickled beef tongue sausage with “I’ll eat anything” bravado, but found it quite accessible. Little cubes of nutmeg-accented tongue were blended with ground chuck, providing an overall smoothness with a springy finish. Pickled beets and horseradish creme fraiche added sweetness and bite.
That’s the thing: I learned to trust Overstreet’s whimsy. Whether it was a fanciful pig’s ear and watermelon salad, a Korean blood and vermicelli sausage, or a pig trotter terrine with peppercress pesto, his sharp instincts — and ingredients — were apparent.
I even enjoyed his vegan sausage (who orders vegan at a pork palace?), made of loosely packed spicy eggplant with fennel and chili notes.
Amador is no slouch with the pies, either. Her flaky, lard-rich crusts were consistently excellent, even if the fillings sometimes needed work. A strawberry plum pie was treacly and indistinct, and a stiffly gelatinous Bellini pie with Champagne mousse and chocolate “snow” came off as a novelty act.
But her Shaker lemon was a masterful balance of sweet and tart, while the gooey, cayenne-spiced pecan justified Overstreet’s bold assertion: “Best thing we serve.”
On one day’s online menu, I spied a bee pollen-caraway sausage with apple and beet slaw. And oh, would you look at that? Berry rhubarb pie with cinnamon Chantilly.
So. I won’t be scaling back my too-frequent visits to Pig & Pie. Save me a seat.
Pig & Pie
Location: 2962 24th St. (at Harrison Street), S.F.
Contact: (415) 401-8770; www.PigAndPieSF.com
Hours: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Fridays-Saturdays
Price range: $4 to $9
Recommended dishes: Pickle plate ($6), boudin blanc ($9), banh mi ($8.50), Shaker lemon pie ($4), spiced pecan pie ($5)
Credit cards: All major
Reservations: Not accepted