A few months ago, the doors at Crush on 12th Avenue S.W. closed and the Pig & Duke Neighbourhood Pub came barrelling in. Armed with dozens of kegs and a menu sure to please any meat lover, the new pub offers a casual environment equipped with a swack of TVs.
Visiting on a rainy Tuesday night, my husband and I are craving comfort food. As we step in, our friendly server greets us and tells us to sit anywhere we like. To the right of the entrance the room features barstool tables, a pool table and darts. On the left there is more of a dining area with booths.
Veering to the left, we take a seat facing the semi-open kitchen. While we wait for our server, we review the beer menu. The list (which is regularly updated) features over 20 draft beers including craft brands like Mt. Begbie High Country Kolsch and Village Blacksmith India Black Ale, plus numerous imports from England, Scotland, Ireland and Belgium. The bottle selection is good too, offering unique brews like Delirium Tremens and The Wychwood Hobgoblin.
While my husband gets a pint of Fuller’s Bengal Lancer ($7.50), a beer he says is refreshing and not too hoppy, I opt for my usual bottle of Magner’s cider ($9.50, 568 ml).
Tummies rumbling, we focus on the food order. Based on our server’s recommendation we decide to start with the perogies ($12). Arriving on a white platter, the half-dozen dumplings are generously topped with house-made honey-smoked bacon bits. Stuffed with caramelized onion and potato, the somewhat crisp pockets are drizzled with pepper crème fraiche. Unfortunately, there’s not nearly enough crème for the dish.
Even though I would’ve prefered to taste more caramelized onion, I like these. At two dollars a pop, I would say they are a tad expensive, but tasty nonetheless.
For his main, my husband orders the Canuck burger ($15), an 8 oz. beef patty with pickles, lettuce, tomato, onion, cheddar and bacon, crowned with a fried egg.
With the first messy bite, he notes that the creaminess of the egg is a nice addition to the overall texture and flavour of the burger. Beyond the egg, it’s a fairly straightforward affair, with tasty bacon and gooey, melted cheddar.
Nicely presented in a mini-fryer basket, the side of thick-cut fries feature ridges for extra dipping. To go with the fries, we get the Pig Sauce (a yummy pork-based gravy, $3 extra). All in all, it’s a tasty combo; nothing remarkable, but a decent burger.
I have the meat loaf ($15), which is essentially a big hunk of bacon-wrapped (and stuffed) ground beef, topped with fresh mushrooms and an Innis & Gunn mushroom peppercorn sauce. I really like it. The delicious sauce isn’t overloaded with peppercorns and the mushrooms add a nice texture. The bacon in — and on — the meatloaf prevents it from drying out and gives the beef a little extra smoky somethin’.
The broccolini on the side is also good — fresh, not soggy, with a nice pop of spice. The only let down (albeit slight) is the side of bacon-mashed potatoes, which are a bit on the dry side. To make them less starchy I add a bit of the pig sauce, which seems to do the trick.
By the end of the meal I’m ready to burst — our selections were filling. Steadfast to our cause, however, the husband willingly orders the “Irish Car Bomb” ($9) the only dessert on the menu. Unfortunately the most memorable thing about it is the name. Featuring a warm and mediocre chocolate lava cake topped with Guinness ice cream, Irish cream, chocolate sauce and a honey jack caramel sauce, the flavours are subdued. I detect no Irish cream, the ice cream is bland and the honey jack caramel sauce doesn’t have a rich flavor — it’s mostly just sweet and syrupy. I’d skip it.
Despite the lacklustre dessert, I’d recommend The Pig & Duke for a casual meal out. Prior to my review, I’d heard mixed reviews around town, and while it may be a hit-and-miss kind of a spot, our experience was just fine. Regardless of taste, I’m sure you’ll like their selection of beer and receive the same hospitable service we did.