Flavors were far more compelling than a glance would indicate. Its dressing is based on sheep’s milk yogurt and milk and tastes vividly of it, with just a bit of salt and balsamic, a creamy, tangy counterpart to the apples. Raw hibiscus leaf contributes to the tartness.
To me, it looks like a pretty unexciting deconstructed salad, a slightly fancied-up romaine wedge. But those bits that look like croutons? They're slowly rendered bits of guanciale, airy-light and dissolving between a crunch of the teeth to a pure bite of pig fat. Sound rich, against an eggy, oily dressing? It's egg yolk–based, for sure, but the yolks are tempered with heavy cream and then united with gelatin for a much less liquid, airier effect than you'd expect.
Greens precisely dressed with rice vinegar and good olive oil, chunks of compressed ogen melon and crunchy pistachios filling it out. Lardo drapes over the melon, and in the foreground, that's pistachio milk from fresh pistachios.
We were quite fond of our meatier starter, a delicate, fatty pig's head testa ($12) with huckleberry, celery, and black pepper.
Bread ($4) pictured with Olives ($6)
Loved the grain bread; loved the idea of toasting and oiling the crustier bread, but it ended up all crunch, like an oversized crouton.
Concord Grape granita
Served as an amuse on our visit.
Delicate bundles of fatty, tender pork. The neck is deboned, cooked for 12 hours, then cold-smoked over pecan wood before it's whipped with straciatella, egg yolks, and pecorino for the filling.
A very ducky ragu with duck heart, tomato, and pecorino; loved the straightforward meaty funk, though the pasta itself wasn't perfect, a bit stiff (as distinct from al dente).
Pork Shoulder ($21)
Slow-cooked pork shoulder, pan-seared with butter, with wild goldenberries and raw macadamia nuts.
Short Rib ($17)
Cooked sous vide, pan-finished, served
with new sweet potato puree, and wilted treviso and baby pencil leek.
Probably the best illustration of The Pines walking the border between interesting–good and interesting–just interesting. I quite enjoyed this porridge of sorts, the fine grain tasting strongly of pork and the 'nduja's various spices, with maitake mushrooms and gooseberries atop.
Chocolate gelato ($7)
I'm not totally sold on the granita-plus-another-frozen-dessert combination—in this case, as often, the granita melts so quickly it hastens the already-swift gelato melt—but I liked the tart fruit on the chocolate, and the crunch the cookie lent.
Banana gelato ($7)
With 'nilla wafers and caramelized banana slices; a whipped sheep’s milk cheese, just lightly sweetened, added a creamy, tart element.