Raising the Bar: Finger-Lickin' Good at Bar Blanc Bistro

"The result is scrumptious porcine deliciousness."

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[Photo: Tia Kim]

One rainy night this week, tired, jet-lagged, and without much of an appetite, I stumbled into Bar Blanc Bistro in the West Village looking for a few flavorful bites to go along with a much-needed beer. After quickly scanning the bar menu, I ordered Crispy Pig Ears ($6), a Crostini ($7), and a Peak Organic Pale Ale ($3, half off before 7pm) on draft.

The pig ears brought me back to a conversation with someone I just met on vacation about restaurant horror stories. According to him, on his last vacation in Tokyo, he wanted something "normal" and went to a Spanish restaurant. The punch line was that at the restaurant he accidentally ordered pig ears. I think he expected me to laugh in disgust, but to his displeasure I only emitted a polite "ha, ha." Personally, I love pig ears. There isn't a part on a pig I don't like, and the pig ears that dreary night were no exception.

At Bar Blanc, wine-braised pig ears are cut into strips and deep-fried. The result is scrumptious porcine deliciousness: crisp on the outside, and gloriously melty and gelatinous with a few crunchy bits on the inside. The only drawback was that the pig ears were a tad too salty. Don't be surprised if your beer disappears more quickly when eating this dish. My Peak Organic, bitter at first but nutty and sweet at the finish, was halfway gone after two strips.

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The Crostini, with puréed white beans, boquerones, and olive tapenade, was a nice contrast of flavors and textures after the pig ears. The boquerones, Spanish white anchovies cured in vinegar and oil, still had a bite and weren't too fishy. It was perfect with the briney olives, the creamy white beans, and the generous drizzle of olive oil on the plate.

If I had to nitpick, I would say the crostini was a bit messy to eat. The bread, sliced extra thick and piled high with toppings, was soggy and wet in the middle, creating a finger-lickin' experience at the bar. It wasn't too big of deal, especially since the pig ears had me licking my fingers anyway, but if the bread had been a little more toasted or grilled, and perhaps sliced a little thinner, it would have been much easier to eat.

I'll definitely be returning to Bar Blanc Bistro. I went without an appetite, but found myself attacking the bar food in Colonel fashion. The next time I plan to go hungry so I can wreak some serious damage.

Bar Blanc Bistro

142 West 10th Street, New York NY 10014 (b/n Greenwich and Waverly; map) 212-255-2330
barblanc.com