Looking back a few years now, the Oceanside Flying Pig was on the forefront of the North County dining revolution. Even more so in Oceanside where there were not a lot of places that were drawing foodies to the area.
Well we all know how that has changed over the past few years and despite all the look-alikes, the original Pig is still packing them in.
I expected more of the same when I headed out to Vista to give the newish Flying Pig Pub & Kitchen a try.
First a bit about the quietly expanding Visa restaurant and brewery scene…or should I use the word exploding? Is it the new Oceanside or will North County just blend together into a plethora of independent eating and drinking establishments? That would not be a bad thing but probably best saved for another column.
The new Flying Pig resides in a refurbished bank building and has a look and feel all it’s own and much different than the Oceanside location. It’s open and airy and larger, with outdoor seating and a bigger bar area. I thought it looked great. I went on a Tuesday night and the place was full which is a good sign. We sat at the bar though because that’s just what I prefer and our bartender and server were both eager to pair beverages with each of our courses which is a good reflection on the pride they take in providing a complete dining experience.
We started with a super fresh Stone Fruit Salad with tomato chimichuri that was light and refreshing and a perfect way to begin the feast that was on the way.
I believe the Bacon Mac & Cheese is on both menus and that’s a good thing. If there is one place that can rekindle my love of this dish it’s Flying Pig. My suggestion is to split an order, nibble at it and leave enough to be reheated or eaten cold for a solid lunch the next day. It’s rich, decadent and oh-so-good.
The next dish is perfect example of the kitchen at Flying Pig showing some creativity. The Katsu Curry with breaded Duroc Pork is freaking amazing. I got turned on to Katsu Curry at Ogata in Encinitas before they closed. Katsu is short for tonkatsu, meaning breaded pork cutlet and Katsu curry is one of the most popular dishes in Japan. It is usually served with rice and pickled daikon on the side.
I’ve mentioned Duroc pork often, as it seems to be the breed of choice among discerning chefs. It’s a rich flavored pork with superior tenderness and natural juiciness. It also contains a higher percentage of intramuscular fat or as we call it, marbling and that makes for delicious, flavorful pork.
Contrary to many folks preconceived notions (including mine) new Flying Pig is not just about pork. Our next dish was a beautiful piece of fresh local Halibut with a delicate garlic and shallot sauce. The fresh catch varies along with menu staples like the octopus salad done Tandoori style with fennel P.E.I Mussels in a green curry coconut sauce, a Nicoise salad with a piece of seared albacore, the Scottish Salmon entree and of course their shrimp and grits.
Another very pleasant surprise was the house made daily pasta. Ours was a super flavorful pork ragu sauce with perfect al dente spaghetti. This pasta was as good as I’ve had locally. The richness of the ragu was an indication of a low and slow simmer for maximum flavor.
The Chicken with Corn Succotash was another winner. Mary’s free-range chicken sits on smoked corn succotash, roasted peppers, pea tendrils and spring garlic. Mary’s Chicken is a San Joaquin Valley chicken farm and is a leader in the free-range chicken movement.
One of their signature dishes is the all-natural Compart Duroc Pork Chop. It’s served on a bed of creamy polenta, sherry braised Castelvetrano olives, shallot, garlic and petite mustard greens. Super moist and lots of great flavors that compliment each other perfectly on this dish.
Flying Pig has a nice craft beer selection and an extensive wine program that showcases owner Roddy Browning’s days as a sommelier. They keep desert simple with a Sundae that has vanilla ice cream, root beer reduction, fresh caramel and candied walnuts. That and a decadent Pot de Crème should make most folks happy.
Flying Pig Pub & Kitchen is located at 230 South Santa Fe, Vista. Call (760) 630-4311 or flyingpig.pub/vista-ca/.
David Boylan is the founder of Artichoke Creative an Encinitas based integrated marketing firm. He also hosts Lick the Plate Radio that airs Monday through Friday at 7 p.m. on FM94/9, Easy 98.1, and KSON. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (858) 395-6905.