Sometimes you have to wonder how a restaurant got its name. There are indeed some doozies in the Boston area, including MAST', Grumpy White's, and Lord Hobo. And yes, there is a place in Salem called In a Pig's Eye. How on earth did they get this name? Well, according to their Web site, alcohol may have played a role, which would certainly be a reasonable explanation. But beyond the goofy name and the offbeat vibe to the place, In A Pig's Eye has some seriously good food that helps make it a favorite among Salem locals.
In a Pig's Eye is a tiny little place with a cozy, warm feel inside. It seems like the kind of spot that is straight out of colonial America (which makes sense because Salem was settled in 1626). The dining area includes a handful of tables as well as a small bar, and, well, that's about it. Because it is on a relatively quiet street just east of downtown Salem, it doesn't attract too many tourists, which is probably just fine with the locals considering the size of the place.
The menu at In a Pig's Eye is mostly a combination of traditional New England entrees and pub grub, with some of the prices mind-bogglingly low. Appetizers include a hearty chili with a good amount of ground beef mixed with beans and peppers, and served with cheese on top if you wish (there is also a sweet-tasting Cajun beef and bean chili on special that is outstanding). A couple of other appetizers include fried artichoke hearts (rather decadent and very tasty) and crab cakes. Several types of salads are offered here, as well as chowder and homemade soups. For sandwiches, diners have a lot to choose from, including BBQ pork, a Cubano, a turkey meatball sandwich, and a shrimp BLT. Entrees include some very tender steak tips with either a house marinade or a zesty teriyaki marinade; a wonderful beef stroganoff with lean sirloin pieces, bowtie noodles, and a delicious mushroom gravy; and fish cakes that have more fish and less potato filler than most that this writer has tried. A few of the other entrees include a boneless center cut pork chop with chutney, a marinated lamb sirloin with mint jelly, and sauteed scallops with peppercorn cream sauce on spinach fettucini. The beer selection at In A Pig's Eye is quite impressive, with some excellent local microbrews available.
If you're a fan of offbeat restaurants, In a Pig's Eye may just be the place for you. It is fairly convenient to Boston as well as most of the northern and western suburbs, and the food, prices, and atmosphere combine with friendly service to make for a thoroughly enjoyable experience. The name may be odd, but don't be fooled; this is a place for some seriously good dining.
Copyright © 2008-2014, Boston's Hidden Restaurants (www.hiddenboston.com).