Name: Arrogant Swine
Address: 173 Morgan Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11237
Order: 1 lb East Carolina whole hog, 1 lb Western NC outside brown shoulder, 1 lb spare ribs, Tikka Masala Sausage, Greensboro Pitmaster Chicken Wings, red vinegar slaw, collards, mac and cheese (link)
Monk: Having followed for the past year Tyson Ho’s excellent blog series on Serious Eats on the opening of his barbecue restaurant in Brooklyn, Arrogant Swine was my number one priority while we were in New York for 9 days in early October. That plus the fact that he was doing eastern NC whole hog in the middle of Brooklyn and that his joint was also advertised as a beer hall made it an easy choice.
Speedy: And what a fantastic atmosphere it had! Contrary to every other place in NY, the restaurant was spacious and comfortable, and had a large outdoor seating area. We started our meal at the bar (Monk and crew had some beers and smoked wings while I dealt with a closed subway line) before ordering. A great beer (and whiskey) selection was a big help in allowing the group to wait for me. Anyhow, once I arrived, we put in our order.
Monk: As a nod to cracklins, or crispy hog skin chopped into whole hog, Arrogant Swine serves their chopped pork with a layer of pork rinds. Which is a little bit of a curious choice if you ask me and it took me a minute to realize the pork was underneath it. Once I waded through the pork rinds, I found the vinegary chopped pork to be a decent version of NC whole hog but not quite as good as I had hoped or expected.
Speedy: The western style outside brown was also a little different than you’d find in NC. It came chopped, though I’d consider it more cubed. The pork almost looked more like burnt ends. The flavor was pretty OK, but the cubes made it seem a bit less tender than typical. Overall, I think this really missed the mark. Sorry, Tyson.
Monk: The tikka misala sausage was made in house and was definitely one of the favorites of our group, though there isn’t much of a link to NC either in the sausage or the fact that its Indian spiced.
Speedy: The spare rib was big, meaty, and smoked well. They weren’t over cooked, so you could get a good bit, and the seasoning and sauce was a good compliment to, but did not overpower, the meat. Overall, I think this was better than the pork, which is odd for an NC ‘cue joint. If I were to return, I’d focus on the sausage and the ribs.
Monk: The Greensboro Pit Master wings are a nod to the Vietnamese pitmasters who do much of the smoking in the Piedmont joints that still smoke over wood – notably Stamey’s in Greensboro. While a nice tip of the hat, the sticky and sweet sauce on the wings isn’t really reminiscent of anything related to NC barbecue traditions. In any case, a nice idea and decently executed wing.
Speedy: I thought they were well smoked, but I didn’t love the sauce – a little sweet on my end. In terms of sides, I think I only had the slaw, which I enjoyed, even though there were raisins in there for some reason, which I can’t figure out.
Monk: Oh yeah! Even after we got an explanation from Tyson that just chopped cabbage and carrots in vinegar wouldn’t cut it in NYC, raisins still didn’t make sense to me. Another curious choice. Shout out to the waffle mac and cheese served with a side of queso, though.
Speedy: While eating, we did chat with Tyson a good bit and he was very cool. We talked about some of the differences between his joint and what we typically see in NC, and he was very aware of that. As he put it, he wanted to take the unique pieces on NC ‘cue and amplify them, which I think he did. While doing that, I think it lost some of the things I love about NC ‘cue, but it’s still better than most of the “barbecue” I’ve eaten in the city.
Monk: As an experience, Arrogant Swine was definitely worth trekking it out to Bushwick and I only wish we had been able to go a little earlier to hang on the outdoor patio and drink more of their great selection of beers. As a barbecue restaurant, Arrogant Swine was a little more of a mixed bag with some items more successful than others. In any case, I would definitely go back to Arrogant Swine again and will continue to follow its development, since a joint that cooks whole hog over wood (particularly in NYC) is a rarity these days.