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Pig’s like speakeasy with taste

By Jennifer Christman

This article was published December 5, 2013 at 3:12 a.m.

the-godfather-ribs-comes-with-baked-beans-toast-and-vegetables-at-the-blind-pig-bar-and-grill-in-west-little-rock

The Godfather (ribs) comes with baked beans, toast and vegetables at the Blind Pig Bar and Grill in west Little Rock.

The Blind Pig Bar and Grill

The Blind Pig Bar and Grill — a 1920's speakeasy-themed restaurant located in west Little Rock — offers drinks and southern comfort foods named after famous gangsters, such as Al Capone.
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Don’t confuse Blind Pig Bar and Grill with the Cross-Eyed Pig, another Little Rock restaurant (once located in the same Chenal Corners center).

And don’t confuse it with a full fledged barbecue place (although they do offer ribs, brisket and the like).

The name Blind Pig is less a reference to pulled pork (though if you crave that, try the Babyface Nelson sandwich served on Texas toast with signature “Pig Paste,” $10) and more a reference to the kind of speakeasy that illegally sold alcohol during Prohibition. Hence the gangster artwork and waitresses wearing shorts and mobster hats.

“But at the Blind Pig in Little Rock, Arkansas, it’s all totally legal! It’s the perfect place to eat, drink and relax,” says the website of the joint that is connected, physically as well as by ownership, to NYPD Pizza.

The theme struck me as cheesy, but a Godfather-quoting member of our party of three on a recent Saturday night dug and defended it. He explained the magnificence of the wall mural of various movie mobsters and their cronies in a language I’d understand: “Imagine if all the Real Housewives were up there … NeNe … Theresa …” Oh, OK. Cool.

With live music, a big bar dominating the interior and a lengthy cocktails list (from West Little Rock Electric Lemonade to Park Avenue Peach), Blind Pig is a neighborhood bar for the Chenal set, as much as - if not more than - it is a restaurant. For nondrinkers, beverages like water and tea are served out of logo jars.

The gangster theme extends to the menu, described as “New York appeal with a down-home Southern twist,” via gimmicky names. Hot dogs, served loaded ($8) and plain ($5), are labeled The Bonnie (pork) and The Clyde (beef). There are sandwiches (all $10), including a Cuban sandwich called The Scarface. And there are dinner plates like The Goodfellows ($16), marinated pork loin with orange marmalade sauce. Sides - baked beans, fries, vegetables, slaw, loaded potato salad (all $2.50) - are called “Sidearms.”

Under “The Stick Up” appetizers section of the menu, we tried the Loaded Fries ($7), a pile of home-cut potatoes jazzed with cheese and bacon. We also dove into The Drive By nachos ($12), which were packed with pork loin chunks, cheese dip, sour cream, salsa, lettuce, tomato, onion, jalapeno and shredded cheese - as well they should have been for that price.

One party member selected a sandwich under the “Public Enemies” heading, while two chose dinner plates from the “Most Wanted” category.

The Capone ($10) was all the menu promised the sandwich to be, with its “fried to perfection, thinly sliced pork chop with onion straws, provolone cheese”and a smear of sweet-spicy mayonnaise-based “Shotgun sauce.” The one “Sidearm” that comes with the sandwich, the plush loaded potato salad, was a direct hit.

The Godfather ribs ($16 half rack, $19 whole rack), accompanied by Texas toast and “Pig Paste” (described as a barbecue sauce made with Jack Daniels Honey), was a dish best served warm (with apologies to Mario Puzo). And tender. And smoky. Selected Sidearms were zesty baked beans and a decent vegetable medley.

Ditto most of that (from the toast and Pig Paste and to the sides) for The Sopranos ($16), a tasty plate of beef brisket.

For dessert, or as Blind Pig categorizes it, “The Untouchables,” we shared a J. Edgar Hoover ($6), a palatable bread pudding with vanilla ice cream and a whiskey sauce.

Sweeter yet was the serenade by the trio that had just begun to perform songs from Fleetwood Mac and Blind Melon at a reasonable, still- hear-yourself-talk volume. We didn’t go deaf at Blind Pig.

Blind Pig Bar and Grill

Address: 6015 Chenonceau Blvd., Little Rock Hours: 4-9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 4 p.m.-midnight Friday, 11 a.m.-midnight Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday Cuisine: Bar fare, salads, sandwiches, hot dogs, limited barbecue Credit cards: AE, D, MC, V Alcoholic beverages: Full bar Wheelchair accessible: Yes Carryout: Yes (501) 868-8194 theblindpiglr.com

Weekend, Pages 32 on 12/05/2013

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