Even though I love meat and Belgian beer I'm somewhat ashamed to admit that I've never been to Resto. I decided to atone for this sin of omission by attending its second birthday party pig roast on Saturday. I love the image of the two cannibal piggies roasting one of their own on a spit, but that's not how chef Bobby Hellen cooked his 88-pound Berkshire sow. Rather than use a spit, Hellen went with a device know as a La Caja China, essentially a wooden box lined with metal that acts as an oven.
Erin was quick to make a Passover joke about the pig roast, but given that the pig emerged from the box on the third day, after one day of brining and another of hanging in Resto's walk-in, there's room for a sophomoric Easter joke as well. Many thanks to Sugar Rush Queen Kathy YL Chan for taking such wonderful photos. I still can't believe it was the first pig she'd ever seen roasted in New York City.
Chef Hellen and Resto owner Christian Pappanicholas tending the fire. Pappanicholas' Greek background makes him no stranger to whole-roasted animals. "We'll be doing more of these now that the weather's getting better." Speaking of weather, kudos to Hellen and his team for turning out such fine swine even though it was cold and rainy. The roasting box doesn't usually perform well under such conditions. Not to mention that it was also Hellen's first time using the device.
Here's the piggy emerging from the La Caja China. Since it was cooked in the backyard nextdoor, it was paraded through the dining room to much raucous applause.
While waiting for the birthday feast, Kathy and I munched on some crunchy, delicious pig ears with smoked paprika aioli. She deemed them "more addictive than potato chips."
The final product served over a bed of cranberry beans cooked with bacon and pickled ramps and topped with wood sorrel and broccoli rabe flowers. Quite possibly the most high-end version of pork and beans I've ever eaten.
The ribs were pretty darn good too.
Since Resto has a decidedly Belgian bent Christian was pouring Duvel and St. Feuillien beers from ginormous novelty bottles. I overheard one of several feather-boa wearing gals tell her friends. "Are those for every table? I don’t know if I could drink that much beer. That’s a lot of beer.”
Dessert was a liege waffle ice cream sandwich with wonderful clusters of caramelized sugar that brought to mind pralines.
Happy Birthday Resto. You can expect to see me long before your next birthday bash.
111 East 29th Street, New York NY 10016 (b/n Lexington Avenue and Park Avenue South; map) 212-685-5585
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