Note: First Looks give previews of new dishes, drinks, and menus we're curious about. Since they are arranged photo shoots and interviews with restaurants, we do not make critical evaluations or recommendations.
Dale Talde, David Massoni, and John Bush are very emphatic that their newest joint, Pork Slope in (shocker) Park Slope, is not a restaurant. And it's nothing like the trio's other spot, Talde. There's food, of course—burgers, fried chicken, a shrimp po' boy—but first and foremost, it's a beer and whiskey bar.
"I want you to walk in with $20 in your pocket and walk out full and with a buzz," says Bush. "Or at least a really good buzz."
And the food? "Really," says Talde, "it's just shit we wanna eat."
That means a few things on the more refined side—biscuits with Surryano ham, say. And a chili con carne: "I asked one of my cooks, Guillermo, for his mom's recipe. Pork shoulder with guajillo and pasilla chilies and two dark Mexican beers, and I'm serving it with tortilla chips, it's bomb." That's a recipe Talde takes no credit for. "He asked me if I changed anything, and I was like dude, it's your mom's fucking recipe, how could I change anything?"
But it's mostly 2 AM drunk food. "I want mayo to be dribbling down your face when you eat this shit," says Talde. "You should be saying, Oh man, I don't know if that was the best decision. Shouldn't have eaten that. But it's like, it's 2:00 AM... you've already made at least two bad decisions that night, you might as well just make another."
In the good idea–bad idea category: a "porky melt," which would be a cheese-stuffed bratwurst patty prepared like a patty melt, with mustard and griddled onions; a Chicago-style hot dog, a Vienna all-beef natural casing frank with mustard, sport peppers, and the whole deal. (Talde is a proud Chicago native.) And while it's heavy on the meat and grease, it's not all meat and grease.
"We're treating vegetables like meat—if we're doing a smoked meat platter, I want to play with smoking vegetables and shit too—no one wants to go to a bar and eat raw veggies. I mean, who wants crudités? I'd rather have French onion dip. That's my jam."
John Bush (pictured above) is the one getting you loose enough to kill a porky melt or two. "We're not reinventing the wheel here," he says; "we're making the kind of bar we want to hang out in."
"I'm bringing back the $5 shot-and-beer special. I want to know everyone in this neighborhood—everyone who works in the industry around here should come in and have shots." Shots, or sipping whiskey. "I want people to be able to come in and get a Jack and Coke, we're not above that. Or we can talk real whiskey. Either."
"You don't even understand how many whiskeys we have. We're getting Pappy and all that, some really cool shit, but Old Crow and Old Granddad too."
Along with those, Bush wil have three wines and 25 beers on tap ("which are all over the map—it's not just craft beer, you can get good craft beer, but definitely all the standards too.")
We sat down with Talde, Bush, Massoni, and head bartender Phil Macnamara as they tasted their way through an almost-final rendition of the menu. Along the way, we chatted drinking plans ("We're gonna have a 100-shot club, I have this big trophy that you get a plaque on once you hit 100 shots"), ideal clientele ("Go Nets. If anyone from the Nets comes in, they drink for free"), and, of course, drunk food memories.
Come take a look at what Pork Slope will be serving—until 2 AM every morning, they hope. Opening night is currently scheduled for August 18.