On Monday The Handsome Hog will officially open for business. The restaurant is the second from Carol March, who also owns the neighboring Public Kitchen and Bar. Chef Justin Sutherland has taken Southern inspiration for the menu, that includes a serious fried chicken and waffle dish along with smoky, braised meats and creamy grits. Before heading down to Lowertown to check out the newest entry into the neighborhood.
1. Smoking Section.
Tin Whiskers is doing a specially smoked beer just for the restaurant. Chef Sutherland smoked the malt for the beer and then gave the brewery a bourbon barrel for the beer. Meanwhile, Trish Gavin who leads the bar program, smoked the absinthe she uses in the sazerac, enhancing the rye flavor and adding an alluring aroma to the cocktail.
2. Justin Sutherland is a St. Paul guy.
He lives nearby. "This is exactly what I want to eat and drink in this neighborhood." It's a nice complement to the other nearby eateries. It's a little more upscale than burgers and beer, but more comfortable than composed plates and white linen. It's a Goldilocks fit in the restaurant-loving area.
3. Going Whole Hog
While you could easily order the fried chicken, brisket or shrimp and grits: the place serves plenty of pig. Instead of sticking just to traditional cuts, the menu makes use of the whole animal, from cured meats, to a whole jowl, ears, tail, they celebrate and appreciate the animal by using all the tasty bits.
4. Meat me at the Bar.
In addition to the traditional spirit bar, there's also a meat bar where a "charcu-artist" (their word) will serve a rotating selection of meats like Iberico ham, Louisiana bacon and more.
5. The Hog likes it hot.
Look for the Crybaby Craig's hot sauce on the tables. The delicious burn in a bottle isn't usually available wholesale, but Sutherland is friends with the eponymous Craig.
6. The place is comfortable, but not huge.
There are 66 seats total, but once that elusive summer sun returns, the patio will expand the seating with another 45 seats outside.
7. Parking problems solved.
The meters can be tough to grab in this part of town. Public and The Handsome Hog make use of a valet station that unlike so many others takes only credit cards. So, save your cash for another occasion.
8. Can you spot the penguin?
Yeah, there's a penguin at the front of the building and no, it's not really supposed to make sense.
The Handsome Hog
203 East 6th Street, St. Paul