Given chef Ben Hasty’s experience at the French Laundry in Napa Valley and with a few James Beard awarded Maine chefs, and given Jen Fecteau’s baking and front-of-house experience, this husband-and-wife duo could have settled anywhere to find success. But the New England natives came home, and lend their talents to the quiet town of South Berwick, Maine, providing their community an invaluable gift.
While farm-to-table isn’t a new mentality in this farm-conscious, earth-friendly area, Thistle Pig introduces creativity, talent and a devotion to each dish that raises the small town dining bar. Jen and Ben live on as well as source their meat from Breezy Hill Farm, which has been in the Hasty family for hundreds of years. They use local, organic products.
Thistle Pig is one of those places: it’s the neighborhood’s dining room, cozy and full of families – new and old – that have made it their own. Its bustling interior and quality singlehandedly craft the personality of the unassuming main street on which it resides, brining it life and guiding its food culture.
My family would eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at Thistle Pig if we could. Oh wait. We can, and we did. (Almost). During my latest trip home to Boston and Dover, NH we got a fill of everything Thistle Pig has to offer in one given (Saturday or Sun-) day. And you lucky readers get a visual.
While their brunch is delicious, it’s their dinner that’s so magical. So we’ll start with that.
Under all circumstances, the ordering of two items is certain (see above and below). The smoked salmon toast was voted one of the best items we as a family have ever had. We’ve ordered these toasts as a meal, we’ve ordered multiple in one sitting, they’re just that good. The dish manages to bring out each component’s flavor equally to perfectly complement each other, resulting in a delicious, highly addicting sensation.
These brussels are no different. They start our meal, they end our meal, they come home with us in take-out containers. They are perfectly crispy and fried in garum (fish sauce) that offers a slightly ‘agrodolce’ (sweet and sour) taste. The vinaigrette makes a lovely bath for them.
There have been a variety of unique main dishes, like faro and lentils with pepper ragu or the intriguing ‘Chef’s Choice’ each night. My favorite is this – spaghetti with ramp butter, button mushrooms and fava beans. It was the perfect balance of hearty with light flavors, of vegetables and a light butter sauce with parmesan.
Needless to say, a place that has us so crazy about their smoked salmon (I don’t even really like smoked salmon) will have us totally enamored by their dessert – their Chocolate Stout Cake, to be exact. This is possibly one of the best pieces of cake I’ve ever had. I literally had a dream about it after the first time I tasted it. It’s dense, it’s chocolatey, its consistency is balanced perfectly by the thick vanilla bean icing. And with all its rich flavor it manages not to be too sweet. Well at least on my sweet scale, which I admit is highly skewed.
Full? It’s time for brunch.
To start we had lemon ricotta beignets. These are the real, doughy, gut-coating deal.
The winning brunch entrees include…
…These strawberry pancakes. The cakes themselves were hearty, almost savory. The strawberries and whipped cream were oh, so real. I couldn’t stop until they were no more.
Lastly, the egg sandwich, which goes far and beyond other egg sandwiches out there. The ham was perfect. The fried fingerling potatoes were perfect.
279 Main St.
South Berwick, ME 03908