Pig & Prince
This was a big disappointment. I hate giving negative reviews, but I put in the time, I spent the money and now I have to record it in this journal. If you are not an employee, manager or owner of Pig & Prince in Montclair NJ, you can just skip the details and pass on going to this place. For those who are interested in the details, feel free to read on, but there is nothing positive or redeeming about this one.
Sometime over the summer, maybe it was July or August I wanted to come here. I checked out their website, and decided to give it a try because friends said the cocktails were excellent. Even with average food, if the place has a really good cocktail program, then I have to try it out. Turns out that on a weekend afternoon they were closed. No mention of it on their website, no note on the door.
Now its about a month later on a Saturday night and there is a free outdoor concert nearby, another concert at the Wellmont Theatre. This place is less than 15-20% of capacity. So I was surprised when I entered to be asked if I had a reservation. I told the polite host no, but I’ve been trying to come here a few times now and they were closed. He explained that they are closed on Sundays during the Summer. Again, no mention of it on their website, nor was there any mention of it on the door/sign/listed hours.
No problem, we are in and seated and the waiter explains the menu has changed and is new. I had already eaten, so I was not all that hungry, so I was happy to try one of the sandwiches from their Snacks/Appetizers. While the website shows they have a “Single Steer Burger” which is L.L. Pittenger Farms beef, Vermont cheddar, pickled onions, dijonnaise, sourdough bun, that is no longer there. So, I get the Duck Fat Grilled Cheese boursin, provolone, cheddar, duck bacon, tomato. Duck fat is very fatty, even greasy. I don’t know what this was, but I doubt it had a drop of duck fat. I never had boursin cheese, but I have had provolone and cheddar. Whatever this was, it was only boursin. No cheddar, definitely no bacon, but there was half an unripe tomato in it. Perhaps that is provolone in there, but clearly it is not melted. I always thought a grilled cheese was supposed to have melted cheese. The “new” menu says it is $7, when the bill comes it is $9. I told the waiter, he did correct it but only after having shown him on the menu then him having to go to the front desk to verify that there was an “update” in the computer that did not make it on to the “new menu”.
From the cocktail menu I ordered “The Brando” which basically tasted like a light Manhattan cocktail. Nothing wrong with that, but all I tasted was vermouth, no whiskey, let along the Guar Spice Whiskey that is made right here in New Jersey. The description reads: “Guar Spice Whiskey, Noilly Prat Sweet Vermouth, Fernet Amaro, Leather/Tobacco Bitters”. I was hesitant about the leather/tobacco bitters, but as it turns out, there were no bitters in this drink let alone amaro. Someone took a short cut. Turns out they did that on my wife’s drink as well which basically
looked like a glass of ginger beer with a straw. My wife has an incredible palate. She knows when I change the slightest thing when I cook her favorite dishes. She agreed, this only tasted like ginger beer soda, maybe a hint of Scotch, certainly no peach or anything else listed in the ingredients.
The part that bothers me most is when they are charging $13 per cocktail which really reflect nothing original as far as mixology goes, and certainly nothing that varies from a standard Manhattan cocktail or Moscow Mule drink. My wife is literally drunk and nearly falling over after 2 drinks. Further proof that someone at the bar was not doing their job.
While waiting for the food the waiter dropped a bottle of water on the table which shattered a glass. Accidents happen, people are human. I understand that. What I don’t understand is why they make a display of serving tap water in a fancy bottle when it tastes like chlorine. At home I get 5 gallon jugs of spring water delivered for $9 which is retail. That amounts to .10 cents per glass, probably less if its wholesale. So why any restaurant outside of a diner or IHOP serve tap water that tastes like chlorine is really baffling. This is the prequel to a great meal, craft beer or fine cocktail? We are talking about a dime per serving, so either skip it and offer free spring water or bottled sparkling water for a nominal cost.
The menu is limited. We overheard the table next to us say the same thing. The Caesar salad is listed at $11 but if you want it with chicken its $9 extra. $19 for a salad? Sides like fries are separate and upwards of $5. I totally get how each plate is a payment toward rent, electricity and staff. What I don’t get is how you can charge $20 with tax for a salad or $10 with tax for a grilled cheese the size of a half a piece of toast. This isn’t Manhattan. If rent is expensive, at least give a full sandwich or small side of fries.
This last point is going to seem petty, but my wife only likes chicken breast, never on the bone. I try to explain to her that the bone adds flavor, but she does not like bones. I find it annoying and she knows, but she likes what she likes. Its her night out, and when the chicken “breast” comes out with bones, it is easy to understand why I have to look back at the menu to see if there is a mistake.
The chicken was ok. Nothing special, the potatoes beneath it were far better, but again, nothing special. Not sure if that was kale or collard greens, but no matter. This was a failure for $24, or as they call it “Goffle Road Chicken Breast with smashed garlic and herb potatoes, roasted chicken demi glace”. The potatoes had no garlic and demi glace had some flavor, but far too thin to give the dish any personality.
The most clever thing I saw in this place was the “Lavatory” as they call it. For men, it has a sign with James Beard, and for women its Julia Child. Pretty ironic that the most culinary creative thing about this place is only found at the bathrooms. For those who don’t know, these are the Grandparents of Celebrity food chefs and the Godparents of Foodies.
For me, it is far harder to write a negative review because it takes more time to point out all the flaws. With a good review it is easy. It is only more painful to have a poor dining experience and have to over pay for it, and have to spend even more time to explain why it was so bad.
The service is no reflection on the establishment. They were all polite, helpful, friendly and I did tip the waiter 18% in spite of this food fail. No sense in punishing the waiter who did their job regardless of how flawed the restaurant is.