The Bourgeois Pig: A Slinky Parisian Dive
It’s always an exciting experience when I run across a place that perfectly suits what I’m in need of that night. In the case of a Tuesday night recently, it was the Bourgeois Pig to the rescue. After finishing a frosting-filled class on baking cupcakes at Butter Lane in the East Village, all I could think about was salty savory food and a bottle of big and bold red wine. The Bourgeois Pig, an E. 7th Street institution at this point, delivered all that, with panache.
The sister restaurant to cevicheria Desnuda and neighbors with foodie havens like Porchetta, Pylos, and Caracas Arepas, The Bourgeois Pig has its pretensions. Reservations are not accepted, and a doorman hovers underneath the Gothic red lanterns outside, taking phone numbers for the waitlist; if there are no tables, there are two options: wait outside or wander until you’re buzzed. However, despite such speakeasy-like irritations, The Bourgeois Pig is a surprisingly warm and friendly place. The small dining room is really more like a lounge, with low tables and shabby red velvet couches; a bar curves around on the side, with high chairs crowded in. The light is low, cast off by a flame-inspired chandelier that glows softly amber, glinting off regal and patterned crimson wallpaper. It’s easy to hide out in the Bourgeois Pig, in a dusky corner, perhaps with a lover or just a good friend. The crowd is diverse: old hippie men with their much younger girlfriends, youthful couples laughing, small groups of friends splitting a fondue pot and bottles upon bottles of well-priced wine, East Village regulars perching at the corner of the bar, chatting up the competent and charming bartender. The vibe is boisterous yet controlled, seductive, romantic in a boozy sort of way. Really, it is all wonderfully bougie and convincingly Parisian.
The main event at Bourgeois Pig, besides indulging in half-price bottles of French wine on Mondays and Tuesdays, is the fondue. There are savory and sweet options, ranging from shrimp, crab and lobster bisque fondue to french onion fondue to Italian-flecked mozzarella, parmesan and provolone fondue, dark chocolate & Baileys fondue, dulce de leche with white wine, dark chocolate with cinnamon and chilis, and butterscotch fondues. My personal favorite, the rarebit fondue, is a cheese-based option and is delightfully salty. Sharp cheddar cheese is blended with nutty dark beer, mustard, and grains of paradise. The result? A rich, boldly flavored, and unusual fondue, served with soft rounds of herbed roasted potatoes, crusty pretzels, Brussels sprouts, and cornichons – parfait! If fondue isn’t your cup of tea, other small plates and sweet treats are offered, such as pumpkin cheesecake, a variety of bruschetta, tartines, a traditional antipasto, lump crab gratin, and customizable cheese boards.
The Bourgeois Pig is wonderful for what it is. It is not fancy or sparkling and new; it isn’t a full-blown restaurant, and it’s not your typical bar. Like many of those restaurants that have chosen to come to East 7th Street, the ‘Pig’ is a niche environment: not for everyone, but just about perfect for its target clientele. The wine flows freely; the fondue is delicious; the service is friendly; and the crowd is just weird enough to offer up some really fantastic people-watching.
Perfect For: food-inspired decadence, oenophiles, fun with fondue, a quirky Parisian date night, seducing another, late-night eats