Press Herald critic James Schwartz enjoys another Maine meal, giving four stars to Ben Hasty and Jen Fecteau's Thistle Pig in South Berwick. A guy could get used to reviewing the Thistle Pigs and Slabs of the world.
Schwartz praises the relaxing atmosphere of the restaurant, which the owners have cultivated as a neighborhood favorite. He also enjoys the splendid cuisine, which is locally-sourced, playful, elevated comfort food. "The cuisine is...sumptuous, the atmosphere...relaxing," he notes, assuring readers that "an evening here is well worth the hour's drive from Portland - and the hour on the treadmill after you get home."
The food and the atmosphere play off of one another in unexpected ways, a fact highlighted in the Bottom Line section. "Thistle Pig is a delicious study in contrasts - a relaxed neighborhood restaurant that serves rich, artfully presented food," Schwartz enthuses.
The reviewer's positive feelings about this mixture mirror those of Rachel Forrest, who profiled the restaurant for Seacoast Online this fall and had a tough time finding the right descriptors. "Refined comfort food? Gastro comfort fare?" she attempted, concluding ultimately that Hasty wisely "does not skimp on richness or portions" despite dabbling in "fancypants" fare.
The owners make a good team, their skills playing nicely together just as the atmosphere complements the food. Hasty is "in charge of the kitchen. [Fecteau] gets credits for the flawless service and the desserts. The two are partners in business and in life," Schwartz explains.
The menu is printed anew each day, as the chefs are after the freshest ingredients and creative challenges. But Schwartz recommends nearly everything he comes across. That includes a couple of regular menu items like the Hudson Valley foie gras mousse (a "celebration of fat and flavor"), the "best-selling crunchy Brussels sprouts," and "any pork dishes that spotlight chef Ben Hasty's family farm," Breezy Hill Farm, located nearby and run by Hasty's parents. And this kind of solid, concise menu is a relaxing treat, indeed.