Food Review: Pig & a Jelly Jar
Pig & A Jelly Jar
401 East 900 South, Suite A
Salt Lake City, Utah 84111
Monday – Sunday, 7:30am – 3:30pm
Sunday dinner, 5:00pm – 8:30pm
The newest venture by Meditrina Small Plates & Wine Bar founders Amy Britt and Jen Gilroy, Pig & A Jelly Jar is a fresh eatery serving breakfast and lunch seven days a week, and a three-course dinner on Sundays in the west Liberty Park neighborhood.
After driving by Pig & A Jelly Jar and rattling the doors a few times in hopes that they’d feed me something amazing, I was thrilled when they finally opened. I ate there on their first weekend. The food that day was good, but it was obvious that—not surprisingly—they needed to work out some things. Possibly the best part of that meal was when “Fuck The Police” came on over the PA. I’ve never seen a restaurant owner move so fast.
Now, a few months later, the kinks are worked out and Pig & A Jelly Jar is on its way with a hip, friendly menu and a full-to-capacity dining room, at least on Sunday mornings. Fare here includes Monday-through-Friday blue-plate specials (Meatloaf, Pot Pie, Fish and Chips, etc., $9), the usual salad suspects (Caesar, Spinach and Cobb, $7-$9), and a variety of Frittatas ($8-$10) and sandwiches ($8-$9), crafted in the increasingly popular farm-to-plate model of locally sourced, seasonal ingredients.
Their take on Chicken and Waffles ($10) is good, but not my ideal. The waffle is crispy, the chicken is moist and nicely fried and the syrup provides a sweet counterpoint as it should, but this is a dish that should be more than the sum of its parts, and I’ve yet to find that outside of New Orleans.
The house-made sausages are delicious in their fresh simplicity. The Spicy Italian Sausage is very spicy indeed, while the Breakfast and Chicken Apricot Rosemary sausages are mild, but all are tasty and, surprisingly, are not overly salty. Being fresh, they don’t require salt as a preservative, which allows the ingredients to shine. A side of breakfast sausage is $4, while the Spicy Italian and Chicken Apricot Rosemary are both available as grinders ($9). The Chicken Apricot Rosemary grinder involves too much bread that’s a bit too dry, even with a smear of delicious aioli. The side of twice-cooked French fries, however, is divine.
The Spicy Italian Sausage also makes an appearance in the Italian Three-Egg Frittata ($9), which is served in an adorable, tiny skillet. A side of sliced, fried potatoes is good, but not as tasty or crisp as the fries. Three eggs is perhaps one egg too many, with so many other ingredients—a neighboring diner ordered his with only two eggs, which, in hindsight, seems like a good idea. Luckily, all breakfast and lunch items are made to order, and the staff seems happy to fine-tune your dish if asked.
I was particularly happy with the coffee ($2). Most restaurants rely on cheap, mass-produced coffee, but Pig & A Jelly Jar serves up a Salt Lake Roasting Company blend made especially for the restaurant. The roast is excellent and full-bodied, and the servers kept my cup fresh and full throughout breakfast. The menu also features freshly made orange and tomato juices, and tea from The Tea Grotto next door.
The Sunday night dinner ($20) changes weekly, and reservations are recommended. On the evening we went, the chef had made only one meatloaf, serving 10. Dinner hours are 5-8:30 or when they run out, whichever comes first. The bacon-wrapped meatloaf was stunning—sweet and filling, served with a pile of vegetables and creamy mashed potatoes and drenched in just the right amount of sausage-studded, white country gravy.
The dinner drink menu included a few obvious options of white and red wines, some local beers, and three mixed drinks based on Pabst Blue Ribbon ($3), with beer-based takes on the Bloody Mary, the Tequila Sunrise and, most unusually, the PBR-Tini. The latter involved a Cajun-spice rimmed glass of beer with two enormous bleu cheese-stuffed olives and a strip of bacon. The idea was amazing, but, excepting the hipster appeal of the PBR, I think this would work better with a more full-bodied beer. I find it surprising and a little unfortunate that the restaurant serves wine and beer at dinner, but does not have mimosas or the like on the breakfast menu.
The service is good, with upbeat, good-looking and knowledgeable servers who are willing to chat a little. They seem to like working here, and that says a lot. The owners are attentive and aware of the dining experience. We sat next to one of the owners, who was entertaining a friend. When our breakfast took a bit longer than the owner thought it should, she subtly asked the server to speed things along for us, a small gesture that she certainly didn’t intend for us to notice, and one which was greatly appreciated.
If you’re looking for homemade food with a hip twist, or need some après drum circle sustenance, look no further than this small eatery with a big heart. If they ever add some brunch drinks, I’ll probably be there every weekend.
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