Go for the Whole Hog Head
Craft cocktails and bacon worship continue to be the rage in Seattle. Exploring happy hour finds the mixologists charming and passionate about the tradition of cocktails as well as their innovations to the art. Radiator Whiskey aims to trump the trend by adding the local distillery angle to the mix and an anatomy part I haven't seen on any other menus: the whole pig head. Actually, it is a precisely cut half of the head complete with one eye and one rack of teeth. The head is an astonishingly beautiful and appetizing presentation with a burnished mahogany color from delicate brining, apple wood smoking and who knows what other tender chef care over 48 hours. No side dishes are required as it arrives accented with Mama Lil's red peppers, parsley aioli and coarse mustard, as well as the ear prepared as crunchy strips better than French fires. A short section of tenderloin was pre-sliced on the platter for easy eating and looked medium rare.
Just because we had never had it before, we ordered a side dish of beef lips that had a shredded texture and the flavor left no doubt what animal they had come from. Wanting a refreshing side dish from the garden food group, we ordered an apple salad that's almost a coleslaw, which seems so appropriate with the succulent, sweet, fork tender meat. Curiosity led us also to order chicken livers prepared in the style of "Buffaloed wings".
The technique for digging in to this festive platter is to pull back that gorgeous skin with tongs and push the fat away, if you are that kind of person, and grab a fork. It was surprising how much meat was there. The chef gave excellent hints about the hidden bites we might have missed on the snout and behind the eyes. I enlisted my A-Team of eaters because those two have the proper enthusiasm and stamina for serious consumption and the dish was recommended for three persons. Five people could have had fun with it.
We gave it our complete attention, tasted several different wines which are available by the glass or bottle and are flat priced at $9 a glass or $36 for a bottle. That's a very friendly way to handle a short and carefully selected wine list. From the cocktails while studying the menu to paying the check was about three hours of hog heaven.
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