The Pickled Pig Pub
18756 Coastal Highway
Rehoboth Beach De 19971
One of the main attractions to the Ocean City Md area, besides the beaches, is the Tanger Outlets in Rehoboth Beach De. A great majority of our summer visitors, as well as our locals, make the 45 minute pilgrimage to shop the myriad of stores at least once during their stay. Shopping at the outlets is a great way to pass a cloudy beach day and the deals are endless but the food choices around the outlets area, in general, limited to fast food franchises or mediocre tourist restaurants. The Pickled Pig Pub is a very pleasant surprise and it is small enough to give it the air of discovery to anyone who is lucky enough to stumble upon it.
The Pickled Pig Pub is located in a small strip mall where the anchor store is a Starbucks Coffee. The storefront is small and nondescript but once inside you automatically feel like something good is about to happen, and believe me it is. The pub is narrow and deep with maybe a 50 seat dining area and a 10 stool bar in the back with additional seating at high top tables for another 20 customers. The feeling is warm and friendly and the décor is beer and pig centric. The dining room does not take reservations and parties larger than ten are split into two tables but the proximity of the room makes the point moot. Also, be aware that the bar area is only for those 21 and older, which I appreciate now that my kids are old enough to join me there. The servers and bartenders are very friendly and conversational with a very good knowledge of the food and beverages served.
So let’s get to the important stuff, the food and beverages! The Pickled Pig Pub is a classic example of the much used but rarely accomplished term “Gastro Pub”. The bar has approximately 14 taps with rotating beers that are intelligently and lovingly selected for their compatibility to the food and the diversity of their flavor profiles. That is just a beer geeks way of saying that the beer selection has a little something for everyone and it tastes good with the pub grub. Along with the draft beers there are about 50 bottled beers from around the country and around the world. The bar also a full selection of cocktails and the wine list is small compared to the beer list but just as nicely selected.
While the bar and the beers are great the area where the Pickled Pig Pub rises above all the other wanna be brew pubs in the area is with its food. This pub and its owners have taken the concept of a “gastro pub” very seriously and for that I applaud them. Let’s begin with the appetizer section; The Twin Battered Fish Tacos are so well made and the portions so generous they should probably be in the sandwich or entrée section. The lightly battered fresh fish is served with pickled onions, fresh jalapenos, shredded cabbage, pico de gallo, cilantro and a nicely spiced chipotle sauce (they remind me of the fish tacos from southern California). The Chorizo & Cheese Dip is served with warm Naan Bread (Indian flat bread) and has a nice heat and will have you asking for more Naan to get every last drop out of the bowl. Both of the previous appetizers are great but if you are going to order just one that one must be the Hog Wings. Now, I know what you are thinking and I thought it too; why don’t they have regular chicken wings because I have had this variation before and they were not that great. Well, these are not those Hog Wings, these fat pork rib tips come out glazed in a tangy/sweet southern style bbq sauce and have been carefully broiled to give them a beautiful crisp exterior while leaving them moist and fall off the bone tender on the interior. It has gotten to the point that if I am close to the outlets I must stop in for a beer or two and at least one order of the Hog Wings.
The sandwich section of the menu has some interesting offerings for burgers; such as the Bacon Jam & Bleu Burger which is served with an excellent bacon and shallot compote cooked down to a sweetness resembling a jam. There is also a PB&J Burger, which again has become common place but here is taken an extra step with a bacon-peanut butter and strawberry-jalapeno jam and served with and nice aged cheddar. Both burgers are fun and very tasty, just remember to order them on the pretzel roll. Again this pretzel roll is different than most I have had because of the large grain pretzel salt on the exterior of the roll. It may be a little thing but it adds a great crunch and an added depth of flavor I am sure you will enjoy. Two sandwiches which are only offered at lunch that I would whole-heartedly suggest are the Retro Ham & Cheese and the Chicago Beef. The Retro is a pit ham sandwich served with caramelized onions and a spinach & port wine cheese spread while the Chicago is a classic slow braised beef sandwich with crunchy/spicy giardiniera peppers and dipped in the beef au jus. Remember to ask for the Chicago to come with provolone cheese and a full dip, beyond yummy.
The entrees at the Pickled Pig Pub are a very diverse and interesting collection of cuisines and styles and I have not had a less than delicious one yet. One of my favorites is the Brewers Plate (of course) which comes with spicy Chorizo and Andouille sausages, a German style bacon and red bliss potato salad, beer braised sauerkraut and whole grain and Dijon mustards. Three other entrees of note are the BBQ Braised Short Ribs, the Rustic Meatloaf and The Spicy Thai Drunken Noodles. The Short Ribs are slowly braised until you can cut them with a spoon and serve glazed with a sauce of pan juices and southern style BBQ sauce and then placed over a four cheese Macaroni and Cheese that would make your mom jealous. The Meatloaf is made Italian style which means that it is tender and juicy and glazed with a tangy tomato demi-glace and served with hand mashed potatoes and sautéed spinach. Home cooking indeed! Finally, the Noodles can be made either with chicken or shrimp and come with a Pad Thai flavor profile that includes thin cut vegetables, crushed peanuts, green onions, over wide Thai noodles and in a spicy/sweet brown Thai sauce.
Now, all these items are on the regular menu at The Pickled Pig Pub, there are also chef’s specials that are well worth a try on any given night. All the dishes are great alone but paired with a matching beer they become even better. If you are a beer novice ask your server or bartender and they are more than happy to help guide you with your selection. As far as desserts go this is the one area where I was disappointed. After one dinner my friends and I ordered the Tiramisu to share, unfortunately what came out looked like Tiramisu but was so bland as to make us wonder what happened to the kitchen. The dessert had no flavor of coffee or liquor (normally Grappa or Rum) and the texture suggested that gelatin was used to stiffen the cream. No matter, everything else was well worth our trip and as far as dessert goes, might I suggest stopping at Gelato Gals on the way out of town; homemade gelato and some of the best I have had outside of Italy.
To summarize; oh forget summation, just go to The Pickled Pig Pub. Go when it’s cloudy and you are outlet shopping, go when your wife is outlet shopping and you about to kill yourself or just go because you want to try a great restaurant that serves excellent comforting food and a crazy selection of beers. Whatever the reason you will not be disappointed with The Pickled Pig Pub.