Building up from the bones of a pizzeria, When Pigs Fly in Kittery, Maine has a new chef who is putting some real heart into the menu.
Recently When Pigs Fly welcomed the well-known Seacoast chef Rob Martin to take the helm in the kitchen and I have to say, it was a brilliant hire and a great opportunity for Martin. If you haven’t ventured just a little north on Route 1 past all the shopping outlets to visit When Pigs Fly for lunch or dinner, you definitely should add it to your list. When Pigs Fly has a welcoming, large, open concept dining room. Additional seating areas of an enclosed farmer's porch and a back deck are also available, which at max capacity seats 160. It is ideal for date night, an evening out with friends or a meal with the family. The service for the most part on each visit I have made has been great. Only on one visit our server was not “on the ball”, but he explained that he had a panic attack shortly before our seating and typically he was more in sync with his tables (so I am letting that slide, ONCE). On the most recent visit, we had Kevin as our waiter and he was fantastic. I don’t think I had to ask for more water once as he kept a sharp eye on the table with every pass and that’s what I like to have happen. I hate it when you feel like you are bothering her server for water or napkins or anything you might need (and you know it happens out there, I have seen servers roll their eyes). This restaurant has been best known for their double wood fired pizza ovens cooking up Neapolitan pizzas with some of the freshest toppings on the Seacoast. It IS good pizza and the thin crust allows for the true flavors of the toppings to show themselves which is always a treat. Allow me however to share with you some of the amazing menu offerings that are appearing now with Chef Martin in the kitchen. For starters, I am a huge fan of the beet salad. It's funny how I refused to eat beets until I was in my mid-twenties. I always thought they tasted like dirt. Not that I ate much dirty, but you get what I am saying. Now I love seeing beet salads on menus and this one is perfectly prepared. The lightness of the beet salad served with spinach, dill, sunflowers seeds and honey vinaigrette is highlighted with Brookfield yogurt ($11). It’s served in a large bowl and you can opt to make it a meal by choosing to add a protein of chicken (+$6) or caramelized steak (+$6). There is quite a selection of snacks, appetizers and meat and cheese plates to nibble on as well. I am obsessed with the staple on the menu of the crispy brussel sprouts served with a ginger sesame sauce ($6). The warm dates with blue cheese and hot honey are also very tasty ($6). If you decided to try any of the meat and cheeses (offered at $5 per selection) you can easily share the board and have as a meal.
When Pigs Fly also offers up some great draft beer choices AND have “Happy Hour” Monday through Friday from 3pm-6pm of half off select draft wines (yes, I said draft wines) and select beers.
Now, to tempt your taste buds with some amazingly well prepared main dishes! I, as many of you know, am never one NOT to try something new or different. I like going to a restaurant and looking over the menu and having dishes jump out at me that make me think, “I have to try that!” and When Pigs Fly pulls this off with ease! They have a great selection of sandwiches to choose from (go figure with the amazing breads they bake up) including one of my tasty favorites, the meatloaf sandwich (no, this is NOT your mothers meatloaf) that has grain Dijon, tomato jam, & gruyere cheese served on two large planks of WPF’s sour dough bread ($12). I never can finish a whole sandwich here. Not a bad a thing! The cauliflower mac & cheese has great flavor with orecchiette pasta (aka elephant ears), truffle, cheddar, fried garlic & chives and is perfect for a chilly afternoon or evening ($10). Now for the dish that hits a sweet spot for me BIG TIME because it is simply tastes amazing; the Orange Duck Gnocchi! Wonderfully prepared and presented with confit duck, house made gnocchi (sometimes you can catch the chef walking around covered in flour and know he is back there making the gnocchi), orange jus and topped with seasonal vegetables. The house made gnocchi literally melts in your mouth and the orange jus with the duck is simple divine. A whimsical addition to this plate is a sprinkle of lavender ($14).
The menu is moving in a direction I certainly am going to visit again and again to follow. On my recent visit Chef Martin prepared a perfectly seasoned, “Shut The Front Door” tasting grass fed beef that was lightly basking in truffle aioli and surrounded with local fingerling potatoes. I don’t even think I had to use my steak knife.
It can be hard to find restaurants to eat at on the Seacoast that not only delight you with the meal options, but also don’t break the bank. The Seacoast is filled with overpriced, average meals. I have often been out to try a new restaurant and have been very disappointed by the food or by the service or a combination of both. When Pigs Fly is an ideal destination restaurant due to location and is not only great for locals, but also can serve up memorable meals for out of state visitors. I don’t hesitate to jump into my car or on a bike and head there for lunch or dinner. I like that feeling of “I can’t wait to get there and see what’s cooking” and KNOW that I won’t be disappointed. I hope you give it try and enjoy your meal as much as I enjoy mine with every visit.