Our Gourmet: Nashua's Pig Tale has the goods

August 22. 2017 8:54PM

A recent upgrade to Sunday night dinners at Pig Tale prompted a visit to Nashua, where acoustic musicians now add their talents to the award-winning chefs and a new Soulful Sundays menu.

The bistro, formerly a pizza restaurant and closed on Sunday, now features local musicians for part of Sunday evenings at the bustling small eatery on Amherst Street, which brings very fresh food in a “farm-to-wood-fired oven” style — and a setting that bespeaks country charm.

We enjoyed smooth keyboardist/vocalist Ken Clark and his stylish set that brought a lot of Joe Cocker-like sounds to diners who filled Pig Tale on a recent Sunday. Closing time at 8 p.m. saw several would-be diners disappointed when the lights started to dim.

The regular dinner menu is just a wee bit different for Soulful Sundays, but the selections are widely varied, with creative little twists throughout.

Just the day before our visit, Pig Tale won the People’s Choice Award for its chicken wings at a Nashua-area fair, so we were quick to order some wings and a salad to start.

The wings ($13) are indeed worth a ribbon. Baked for a time with a Memphis dry rub and Campfire sauce, the meaty morsels are then fired to just a slight crisp in the wood-fired (former pizza) oven, and arrive at table very hot and flavorful, with a cooling creamy lime yogurt sauce for dipping. It’s a way-better taste than Buffalo spices and blue cheese, and a filling appetizer for two.

Our Romaine Salad ($11) was also different. Basically a Caesar salad, this bowlful of crispy Romaine with sliced parmesan was served in a large, frosty-chilled, metal bowl, with large chunks of wood-fired garlic pizza dough as croutons. Nicely mixed with a light Caesar dressing, the pizza chunks and fresh parmesan set this salad apart.

Co-owners Robert Jean (chef) and Chris Normandin (general manager) are on to something in this no-reservation, end-cap space in a strip mall on busy Amherst Street, where the west-facing businesses get glaring sun on summer afternoons. Dark-colored window treatments and modern curtainry make the glare go away, and the menu goes to great ends to offer cool culinary imagination.

Fresh eggs and specialty cheeses and smoked bacon and tomatoes are ingredients or accompaniments for many dishes from the grill or the oven, and the pizza menu is no exception. Pizza can include all of those, or shrimp, clams, pork shoulder, potatoes, white beans or asparagus, in addition to all of the favorite meats and veggies normally found on pizzas.

We eschewed the pizza for another time, and went the route of fresh eggs and seafood.

The Fritata entree ($14) was an egg-based meal, like an open-faced omelet, with fresh mushrooms, potatoes, onions and spinach layered with at least two different types of cheese. With a bit of the Romaine salad still at the table, the Fritata was flavorful and fresh.

There are seafood dishes on the Sunday menu and the regular Pig Tale dinner menu, such as Catfish and Chips, Grilled Octopus and Shrimp Scampi (a pizza), but Shrimp and Grits ($23) caught our eye. This was billed on the menu as an “Old Charleston Style” recipe, with andouille sausage and sweet and hot peppers.

Slathered in juices from the saute pan, this was a super-filling assortment of tastes, with grilled andouille added to the sauteed large shrimp and veggies, atop a large serving of moist, tasty grits.

Grits are not the most popular dish here in the Northeast, but we find the fine-ground, corn-grain base to be a tasty and moist alternative to potatoes normally served with breakfast. The shrimp were hearty and the sausage was spicy, and with sauteed onions and peppers, this was a knockout dish.

Pig Tale (two words made to look like one in company signage) offers a full bar and friendly service from a team of country-clad servers (plaid shirts and jeans). Memorabilia of porky orientation abound but, oddly, there are no ribs on the menu. But there is plenty of pork, as in Pork Belly, Pork Chop and Pork Shoulder (another pizza).

Lunch would be a definite winner at Pig Tale, too. Along with all the pizza varieties and salads on the main menu, there are a handful of sandwiches that sound yummy, such as the BLT with brown-sugar bacon; wood-fire roasted Pulled Pork Sliders; a wood-fired pizza dough pocket with chicken, spinach, sweet and sour sauce and lemon yogurt and a Kentucky Hot Brown open-faced turkey and bacon sandwich with mornay sauce.

Are you hungry now?

Our GourmetNashua

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