Many restaurants offer whole-animal “feasts”, or what’s called “large format” in the trade. Recently, a group of friends gathered for the Whole Hog at DBGB, Daniel Boulud’s charcuterie and burger-centric restaurant on the Bowery.
The feast is offered on at least 72 hours’ notice, and costs $495 for “up to 8 guests.” (The advance notice shouldn’t be an issue: rounding up such a large party took weeks.) Anyhow, you get starters of salad and pig’s head terrine, the pig itself, and Baked Alaska for dessert. All the beer you can drink is an extra $200, but we ordered beverages à la carte and spent less than that. The full bill came to $636 before tax and tip.
Although not stated on the website, extra guests are $60 each, and if I did it again, I’d highly recommend bringing at least 10. The eight of us went home full, and there was still a ton of food left over.
The bread service and salad are perfunctory; you might as well skip them and leave room for the pig.
Then come dainty rectangles of pig’s head terrine, served on skewers.
After a while, Porky is brought out on a platter for all to admire. The skin is crisped to a sheen, and is brittle like a cracker.
Then, the server whisks it away to be carved and served on a platter with Brussels sprouts, pork cracklings, spaghetti squash, apples, and sage. Even after everyone had taken first helpings (below), there was a considerable amount remaining.
If you’re going to do this, you’ve got to be willing to eat while Porky stares right back at you. A few of us took second helpings, but still, a lot of food went back to the kitchen. No one tried to eat the head, although if I hadn’t been full to the gills, I would have been tempted.
The photo above (left) shows what a single serving looks like. The pig is stuffed with pork loin, chestnuts, wild mushrooms, and swiss chard. I thought it was terrific, but Wendy was not fond of the stuffing.
A side dish of bacon, kohlrabi & potato gratin (above right) was superb.
Finally, the meal concludes with Baked Alaska (above and below left) and DBGB cookies (below right).
A part of me weeps inside, as I think of all the food, especially some huge hunks of hog, that got left behind. It’s hard to imagine doing this again—so many restaurants, so little time—but if anyone reading this is tempted, and needs an eighth (or ninth, or tenth), please drop me a line.
DBGB (299 Bowery at E. 1st Street, East Village)