Arrogant Swine couldn’t have a more appropriate name. They’ve got plenty of tasty swine, including outside brown shoulder and whole hog barbecue platters, plus sausage and pork belly specials. And they’ve got plenty of arrogance, dramatically under-delivering on what they claim is true Carolina-style barbecue.
If it opened 10 years ago, before spots like Fette Sau and John Brown Smokehouse changed NYC’s BBQ game, Arrogant Swine might have gotten away with the kind of good, but not great food they’re selling. But even then, you can’t train under one of the best pitmasters in Raleigh and claim you’re bringing Carolina ‘cue to Bushwick, then deliver something that tastes like it’s from a half-hearted drive-through off a dead stretch of I-85. It might taste good, but it’s nowhere near a worthy representation of what the Carolinas have to offer.
Perhaps I'm disappointed because my favorite vinegar-based style is under-represented on the menu. Or maybe I let the several N.C. natives I've consumed Arrogant Swine food with get to my head with their "this is bullsh*t," banter. Either way, we can't dole too much praise for this new spot. The food is okay, their draft beer options are good, and the environment is sexier than you might expect from a restaurant carved into an old garage in Bushwick. You just won't learn anything about what true Carolina BBQ is supposed to taste like, which unless I misread his 8,000 interviews, was Tyson Ho’s motive all along. I can’t help but wonder what Ed Mitchell would think.
The serving isn’t as generous as what you'd get down South, but this is one dish that benefits from being inauthentic. I find traditional mustard-based barbecue to be kind of gross, so I'm pleased with this lightly mustarded platter of whole hog meat. Slather it with an extra dripping of sauce and enjoy the ride.
Still not sure why we're calling this Carolina-style because the tangy, tomatoey Piedmont sauce reminds more of Tennessee than anywhere else. It tastes good, but we have to deduct points for false advertising. Maybe we'll have more respect when we can enjoy it in the massive outdoor beer garden next spring?
I appreciate a rib served so tender you can strip it elegantly from the bone without missing out on a ton of meat. The purported honey glaze on these puppies was nowhere to be seen, but they have plenty of other sauces you can deploy for extra flavor.
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Waffle Irons appear to be Arrogant Swine’s kitchen apparatus of choice. The cornbread you get with a platter of pig? In the form of a waffle. The macaroni and cheese? Also in the form of a waffle. A really dry, cheese-less one. The sweet potato waffle? It’s the one thing that's supposed to be made with a waffle iron and it’s not even that good until you douse it in their walnut, bourbon and maple syrup because that shit is f*cking delicious.