Chad Munsey, formerly of Ovinte and Bistro Aix, opened The Bearded Pig this past week in the San Marco neighborhood of Jacksonville. When you pull up to the restaurant you’ll find yourself at a shoe box shaped brick building and you can immediately smell the smokey deliciousness of good bbq wafting through the air. As you head in the door you’ll be greeted by a friendly face who will give you the rundown of the menu. When chowing down at The Bearded Pig you’ll find all the standard bbq fare like chicken, brisket, pulled pork, baked beans and beef ribs bigger than your head.
The Bearded Pig offers a platter called The San Marco, which includes 4 meats and 2 sides for $22. To get the full experience that’s what we went with. The first meat we dug into was the bbq chicken. The chicken was moist and well cooked. Next up was the pulled pork. The pulled pork wasn’t particularly good and definitely dry – very dry. It lacked flavor and is something I would pass on the next time around. The pulled pork needs work. The brisket was up next. It was flavorful and delicious. It was cooked well with beautiful burnt ends. If the brisket at The Bearded Pig doesn’t make you smile, you might not be a true bbq fan!
Next we dug into the ribs. These were remarkably tender and had good flavor. I would come back for the ribs. And we think you will too. So to recap the meats – solid chicken, thumbs down on the pulled pork, two thumbs up for the ribs, and a huge thumbs up to the brisket. For our two sides we went with the mac n cheese and the baked beans. The baked beans were pretty darn good. The Bearded Pig uses huge beans rather than the standard size baked beans. Some folks will love this. For baked bean purists I’m sure it will detract a bit from their enjoyment. We give the team at The Bearded Pig points for doing something a bit different from the norm. The mac n cheese was near perfection! There’s something to be said for a simple, yet beautifully done mac n cheese. This mac n cheese does nothing out of the norm, but in the best possible way. It took me back to my childhood. Think of the best mac n cheese grandma used to make (assuming grandma made a simple straightforward mac n cheese).
Unfortunately, sauces are The Bearded Pig’s weak spot. Every great bbq spot has a sauce or two that you would be willing to drive for miles to get to. The Bearded Pig sadly doesn’t have a sauce I’d drive one mile to get. They offer 3 kinds of sauce: OG, Sweet Spot, and Drizz. OG is their vinegar or tangy sauce. I’m not sure which really. It doesn’t go either direction particularly well. Sweet Spot, as you can imagine, is their version of a sweet. It’s slightly sweet and quite uneventful. Drizz is their mustard based sauce. It just doesn’t grab you like a good mustard sauce should, and to me almost tasted a bit diluted. Hopefully in time they rethink and improve their sauces.
Would we go back to The Bearded Pig? Definitely. The brisket, ribs and especially the mac n cheese will have us on our way back to The Bearded Pig next time we’re in San Marco and hungry for bbq.