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Thursday, November 8, 2018

Restaurant Review: The Blind Pig Kitchen and Bar in Rancho Santa Margarita

Have you been to The Blind Pig Kitchen and Bar in Rancho Santa Margarita lately? If not, it might be time for a revisit! Admittedly, it had been awhile since I'd dined there - although every time I go walk by their gorgeous patio, I always tell myself I really need to go back soon! Luckily for me, an opportunity came up and I jumped at the chance! 

If you've never been before, The Blind Pig sits on the perimeter of Rancho Santa Margarita Lake and has some prime real estate when it comes to water views. The interior has a fun speakeasy type vibe indoors with plenty of comfy seating complimented with brick walls and a bit of a retro industrial vibe. They have lots of nooks and crannies for intimate seating as well some large tables that can easily accommodate large groups for birthday parties or other celebrations. If you'd rather sit outside (and who wouldn't with those views!) they've done an excellent job of maximizing the space on the patio with some comfy couches surrounding fire pits as well as some high-top tables from which to catch the best glimpse of that sunset over the lake. 

The Blind Pig serves modern gastropub style food made for sharing. The menu includes an impressive range of cuisines as well as a stunning seasonal craft cocktail menu, and a vast selection of craft brews. No surprise that Executive Chef Karl Pleader comes from an equally diverse background of Filipino/Asian and Hispanic heritage. Previously he worked at the now defunct, but still fondly remembered for its fabulous food, The Crosby. He also made his way around to a few other places in Orange County having learned hands-on from some of OC's best Chefs. The diversity in training and background is evident upon first glance at the menu as current offerings run the gamut of classic and ethnic creativity including such items as beef tartare, French onion soup, wild boar meatballs and then switching gears to the Latin inspired mushroom saltado and the Filipino staple of chicken adobo. I am always one for diversity on a menu so long as the kitchen can get them all right. Often times, that isn't the case as diversity often means execution suffers when a kitchen tries to tackle too much on one menu. I'm happy to report that this definitely isn't the case at The Blind Pig.
The menu changes seasonally, albeit some of The Blind Pig's popular dishes remain on the menu continuously. On my recent visit, I tried the following...
Street Tacos -  It was Tuesday when I visited so we had to start with a couple of the street tacos. Every Tuesday from 6-9pm, the Blind Pig offers $3 a la carte tacos. These may be called "street' tacos on the menu, but they are most definitely gourmet all the way as the quality of the ingredients is evident with premium proteins and creative flavors. On this night, I had a delicious chicken taco and a pork taco with a fresh green sauce topped with slivers of onions and diced cilantro. Chef does mix it up every week so it's always a surprise as to what next week's tacos will be - just FYI.  
Beef Tartare - Now, I love me some beef tartare and order it just about anywhere I see it on the menu, so the Blind Pig was no exception. Here they serve it up beautifully with a house xo sauce, tiny dollops of a light crema, speckles of chive and a hint of oregano - all with a generous side of crispy mini crostini. It was literally perfection on a plate! This was actually my favorite dish this evening as it couldn't have been prepared more perfect for my taste. I loved the slight kick of the xo sauce with the cooling effect of the crema, and I don't think I've ever had oregano on tartare, but it seriously worked! Highly recommend you order this dish next time you visit! 

Grilled Octopus - For me, octopus is always a do or die dish. I've had as many good experiences, as I have bad when it comes to octopus and how well it's executed. Grilled perfectly tender and with not a hint of rubberiness, Chef Pfleider's octopus was the star of this dish.  It came to the table handsomely plated with a mélange of perfectly al dente brocolini, charred cherry tomatoes, tender chickpeas tossed in a red chile sauce, black rice chips and dusted with a scallion ash for additional flavor. I so enjoyed this dish and especially loved the mix of flavors together when getting them all in each bite of octopus. 

Chicken Adobo - So being that the Chef has a Filipino background I had to try the chicken adobo. As Filipino food has had somewhat of a resurgence of late in Southern California, I've been fortunate enough to try quite a few renditions of chicken adobo. While I understand that most of the dishes at The Blind Pig are more of a creative play on classics and not necessarily meant to mirror exactly the traditional dish, I do think the chicken adobo was pretty authentic flavor-wise.  I also have to say I enjoyed the playful, yet not typical addition of fennel shavings to the mix. The fennel brought a really nice brightness and spring-like quality to the somewhat pungent soy and vinegar taste of this classic dish. It also married well with the heavier potatoes and pearl onions. The chicken adobo, of course, was served with the perfect accompaniment of medium grain rice. 
I was really impressed with my visit to the Blind Pig Kitchen and highly suggest you give them a try if you've never been or haven't been in awhile! They also have many fun offerings on several nights if you'd rather try them out at Happy Hour or one of their special nights... 
Happy Hour is from 3-5pm daily, even on the weekends! 
They offer $5 wine, $6 well drinks & $9 specialty cocktails with a discounted food HH menu too!
Tuesdays are Tiki Taco Tuesday where tiki cocktails are $8 and of course, their $3 tacos from 6-9pm
Wednesday is $3 off glasses of wine and $8 house made Old Fashioned/featured whiskey flights
Thursday is their infamous "Kill the Keg" nights with $5 draft beers til the keg is gone! 
Sundays is $6 bloodmarys, $5 beers and $12 bottomless mimosas w purchase of an entree during Sunday Brunch. 
The Blind Pig Kitchen and Bar is located at 31431 Santa Margarita Parkway in RSM.  
Closed Mondays. 
Tuesday: 3 -11 p.m.
Wednesday & Thursday: 3 - midnight
Friday: 3 -1 a.m.
Saturday: 11 -1 a.m.
Sunday: 11-10 p.m.
For you north OC folks, apparently The Blind Pig is soon opening a second location in Yorba Linda! No word yet on exactly when it's opening but keep follow them on Instagram or Facebook to stay attuned to any announcements! 
Don't forget to tell them OCFoodieGirl sent you! ;) 

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