Last night Arrogant Swine, Tyson Ho’s hotly anticipated beer garden and “Eastern Carolina-style barbecue” joint, opened for business in Bushwick. And the bloody thirsty came out in throngs. When we arrived around 8 p.m., the line for bits of whole-hog barbecue snaked out into the feeding yard, far past the adjacent smoke house.
Once inside, the bar was completely surrounded by bros clamoring for beer. As you can see, Arrogant Swine has an extensive list.
Flags of the Carolinas hang on the wall (Ho was trained in North Carolina), and the menu is drawn up on a large chalkboard: BBQ, smoked meats (giant turkey leg, pork belly, spare ribs), and just a few sides (mac & cheese, sweet potato waffle, apple mustard slaw).
The concept of Arrogant Swine is simple, and everything about the place is stripped down as well. Besides the requisite reclaimed wood and somewhat polished look of the bar, and a spotless, stainless steel kitchen, the place has the feel of a provisional summer barbecue setup. A large garage door opens out onto the front sidewalk, and it feels like there’s little separation between the block and the bar inside.
And yeah, of course there are “street art” murals (and some posters delinquent-of-the-moment Adam Cost) covering the walls outside. But did we even have to tell you that?
The free-flowing arrangement and communal atmosphere only added to a feeling that this was a spontaneous operation rather than a stuffy restaurant where rules prevail. Ordering food is cafeteria-style, but the staff hands out numbers drawn on cardboard and brings the food to you on trays when it’s ready for devouring. Waiting for food wasn’t a pain, because just like at a party it felt like everyone was standing around anyway. It’s not as if you’re made to stand awkwardly in a corner or inside an uncomfortably jam-packed tent while others feast on deliciousness that seems so, so far away. Arrogant Swine, at least on its first night, seemed to achieve something nearby Roberta’s still hasn’t perfected.
In Bushwick, at least, restaurant openings cannot simply be restaurant openings, lest they fail to impress. There must be a party complete with tattoos, airbrushing, and yes, fire breathing sword swallowers.
These stunts were all well and weird, but we had way more fun talking to Edwin, who was holding the smoke house down, than we did watching the clown man climb on top of a loft and (briefly) strip down to his black thong for no apparent reason.
Our point being, even if you missed all the hullabaloo last night, Arrogant Swine is probably still worth dropping by. Check out the menu below.
Whole Hog BBQ – Plate $15 / Half lb. $12
Outside Brown Shoulder with Piedmont Dip – Plate $13 / Half lb. $11
Pork Belly – $14 / lb.
Spare Ribs – $12 / lb.
Giant Turkey Leg – $10 / lb.
Sides ($4 each)
Apple Mustard Slaw
Sweet Potato Waffle with Walnut, Bourbon, and Maple
Kenny G’s Mac & Cheese