The Blind Lady at The Blind Pig

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of checking out Jamie “The Bear” McDonald’s newest restaurant venture, The Blind Pig. If you’re not up on the Hartford-area food scene, you may be thinking, “Diana—bears? Pigs? What the hell are you talking about?” Well, read on.

Jamie McDonald is the owner of Bear’s Smokehouse. With locations in Hartford, Windsor, and South Windsor, Bear’s has been bombarding Hartford County with awesome barbecue for a few years now.

The other half and I are exuberant fans of Bear’s Smokehouse (we think it’s the best BBQ you can get in the area), so we when found out the Bear was opening a pizza place, we knew we had to check it out.

The Blind Pig is located at the former Hartford location of Bear’s on Arch Street (the new Bear’s location having moved to Front Street). The inside of the restaurant has a dark, hard rock, kind of industrial feel. That’s about all I can say about the décor because I’m blind.

We headed to The Blind Pig for something of a birthday celebration, so we treated ourselves to the works: an appetizer, two pies, drinks, and dessert. To start, we had the New England steam buns. Described as a pork-fat-griddled steam bun with pork belly, kimchi, jalapenos and General Tso sauce, this was one of our favorite picks. The “steam bun” is more of the classic New England-style split hot dog roll. Pork belly always wins in my book, and the kimchi and jalapeno did well at cutting through the richness of the meat and griddling. The Bear gets extra points for judicious use of jalapeno: I want to taste the flavor, not feel as if my mouth is being set on fire.

For the main event, we split the “cruben” (a take on a Reuben sandwich featuring beef cheek pastrami, spicy mustard, cheddar, and pickled onion), and one of their BBQ pizzas, the Texas, topped with brisket, mozzarella, cheddar, jalapenos, and barbecue sauce. The pizzas came perched on overturned tomato cans, which I thought was adorable and somewhat less anxiety-inducing than those pizza stands from which I’m always afraid to knock the pizza.

The Blind Pig’s pizza has a thin crust, but not overly so. I felt it was baked well: crisp without being charred. The tomato sauce doesn’t taste too sweet or “tinny”; it’s just right to me.

The cruben did deliver on its namesake’s flavor. I loved the contrast of the tangy mustard and onions with the rich cheese and beef cheek pastrami. Yes, beef cheek. Just eat it. The Texas was also tasty with thin-shaved brisket (put Bear’s brisket on anything, and I’m in) and barbecue sauce topping. Rob preferred the Texas, and I preferred the cruben. I just go nuts for anything mustard-y, and Rob enjoys disagreeing with me.

Once we’d sucked down our pizza at an embarrassing rate (is there any other way?), we readied ourselves for what truly enticed me into visiting The Blind Pig: dessert. I had heard they had a s’mores calzone, and pretty much any place with a s’mores-themed dessert is a place where I need to be.

S'mores Calzone /Photo Courtesy of The Blind Pig

When I imagined a s’mores calzone, I thought either it could never live up to my expectations, or I’d develop an unhealthy obsession with this dessert. Fortunately (or unfortunately?), the latter was true. We split one calzone (they’re perfect even for gluttonous individuals like us to share), diving into the gooey mess of marshmallow and chocolate inside. The Blind Pig makes this calzone using pizza dough that hasn’t been sweetened or gussied up in any way, and that keeps the dessert from being overly saccharine. Of all the items we tried, I am dying to get my teeth into this one again.

I look forward to going back to The Blind Pig in the future. Specifically, I’d like to try their white pies and more of their appetizers. I am so pleased that this new Bear’s venture did not disappoint, and I think it’s a great addition to the Hartford restaurant scene. Check this one out if you enjoy creative pizza and calzones that ooze chocolate all over your plate.