I am shamelessly obsessed with the aesthetic of the Prohibition era. If I were alive back in the 1920s, you better believe I would be a frequent parton at the local speakeasy.
Needless to say, I was thrilled to hear Oxford would be getting a speakeasy of its own.
Pickle and Pig, which opened at 77 S. Main Street on Nov. 9, gives customers the opportunity to experience Prohibition.
My boyfriend, Lukas, and I ate at Pickle and Pig on the second day it was open, and we were surprised at how empty it was. Despite the abundance of open tables, we were seated directly next to a group of elderly people who spent most of the evening discussing whether Confederate statues should be torn down.
To me, the vibe of the place didn’t immediately scream “Prohibition” – the decor wasn’t much different from most other upscale restaurants I’ve been to. That said, other aspects of the restaurant, namely the staff’s old-fashioned charm and the menu, definitely sold me on the theme.
Shortly after sitting down, we were greeted by our “bootlegger” (server), Jim. He admitted right away that we were only the second table he’d ever waited on, and we assured him we’d be patient – Jim, if you’re reading this, you did great!
I don’t often drink liquor because it gets me too drunk too fast, but Jim convinced me to try one of the restaurant’s signature cocktails. I decided on the Clara Bow, which contained butterfly pea flower liqueur (whatever that is), pineapple and lemon juice.
My drink was absolutely delicious – it was citrusy and a tad sour, but not overly so. I could have easily downed three more if I wasn’t trying to pace myself.
Lukas had the Mary Pickford (rum, pineapple juice, luxardo and grenadine) and the Havana Mojito (rum, lime juice, simple syrup and mint), and both of those were very tasty as well. I thought the Clara Bow was the best, though, so that’s my official recommendation.
The restaurant offers a handful of prologues (appetizers), ranging from a charcuterie board to a breaded schnitzel, but we decided on the Pickle & Pig – a platter of small pieces of pork belly on toothpicks with pickle chips, drizzled with a sweet-ish bourbon sauce.
I’m not usually a big pork person, but this dish was really good. The pork belly was tender, and the sweetness of the sauce complemented the pickles well. The Pickle & Pig was Lukas’ favorite part of the whole meal, too – he almost ordered us another serving, but I restrained him.
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For a relatively classy restaurant, Pickle and Pig’s menu is actually pretty large. It offers 12 different “short stories” (sandwiches) and five “chapters” (larger entrees). I mulled over the menu for a while, but my decision was easy: I saw a chicken sandwich in the “short stories” section, and I always order chicken sandwiches when they’re an option.
The chicken sandwich in question – The Rooster & The Hen – featured fried chicken, smoked cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and “Prohibition sauce.” I’m particular about my condiments, so I got the sauce on the side and didn’t end up using it.
Lukas, also an unadventurous orderer, got a burger: The Bull & The Smoked Pig, which was a burger topped with cheddar cheese, bacon, bourbon onions, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and aioli. He also opted to upgrade his regular fries to the restaurant’s signature duck fat fries for $2.50(!)
In all honesty, my sandwich wasn’t amazing. First, it was comically huge – when Jim handed it to me and I saw that there were two chicken breasts on my bun, I almost laughed. I had to take one off because I could not feasibly eat that sandwich without unhinging my jaw.
The chicken itself was also a bit gristly, which is one of my biggest food-related pet peeves. It was still a pretty good sandwich, just not as delicious as everything else.
The duck fat fries, though, were great (almost worth the $2.50 upcharge). They were crispier and more flavorful than the regular fries, which were also quite good.
I didn’t try the burger because aioli makes my skin crawl, but Lukas said it was “a little messy, but really good.”
Once we’d finished our entrees, I did something I almost never do at restaurants: I asked Jim to see a dessert menu.
They only had two options – bread pudding topped with vanilla ice cream and lemon cake. We went with the pudding, and it was sweet, warm and the perfect way to end a satisfying meal.
Overall, Pickle and Pig is a great addition to Oxford’s somewhat-limited restaurant scene. It isn’t the type of place most students will likely frequent, but it’s a great location for a date or for when your parents are visiting (and paying!)