Pig + Poet

The Menu

The renovated Whitehall Inn, where poet Edna St. Vincent Millay was “discovered” in 1912, reopened with a splash last year by putting celebrity chef Sam Talbot in the kitchen of its restaurant, Pig + Poet. One year later, Dirk Yeaton has taken the reins as executive chef, creating a menu around his love for pig roasting, grilling, and the art of wine. A proponent of “daring eating,” Yeaton experiments with pig ears, compressed watermelon, and pickled vegetables, among other unexpected elements. On the whole, though, “everything is friendly and approachable,” Yeaton assures. “My job is to make people smile.”


Whitehall, 52 High St., Camden. 207-236-3391. pigandpoetmaine.com

Snacks

Crispy pig ears, hot sauce

Whole roasted corn, lobster butter, queso fresco

Pig trotter “jam,” pickled vegtables, toast

Julienned, barbecue-rubbed, then deep-fried – Yeaton can’t resist adding “a touch of mischief” to his menu. Served with a house-made sauce that’s a fusion of pepper and citrus – hot and cool at once.

Meant to be “eaten slowly and savored,” pig’s feet are coupled with smoked pork shank, resulting in a dish where “every bit is layered in flavor.”

Smalls

Lobster mac, orecchiette, mornay, English peas, pea and basil purée

Chowder, crispy pork belly, corn, potato croquette, little-neck clams

Compressed watermelon, vanilla Banyuls vinegar, micro basil, baby greens, citrus avacado purée, cassis

“The mornay is my mother’s cheese sauce,” Yeaton says. Though his mother may not have used Von Trapp Farmstead Bleu or basil purée, Yeaton’s kids nevertheless call it “Granny Sally’s mac ‘n’ cheese.”

The weight-compression process expels water, concentrates flavor and texture, and delivers what Yeaton calls “a super watermelon flavor.” Yeaton suggests pairing this plate with a rosé – its source of inspiration.

Raw Bar

Market oysters, traditional

Market oysters, passion fruit, cilantro, shallot

Even among oyster purists, this dish is growing in popularity, Yeaton says. “The fruity acidity of the mignonette and the beautiful, briny salinity of the oysters complement each other so well.”

Plates

Aldermere Farm burger, maple-glazed bacon, Maine rustic cheddar

Fried chicken, smashed fingerling potatoes, smoky black-eyed peas and greens, hot sauce

Shrimp and braised pork, creamy grits, parsley, sharp cheddar

Lobster Roll Louie, avacado, local greens, crispy leeks

Barbecued oysters, plump, briny Pemaquid oysters grilled then finished with sherried lobster butter

NOT A FULL MENU

“I let the burger do the talking,” says Yeaton. Made with Aldermere Farm Belted Galloway beef and Brazen Bakery buns, the burger is served with house-made cabernet ketchup that Yeaton calls “a perfect bridge” for a glass of cabernet with the meal. “I’ll let you in on a secret,” he reveals. “I don’t use butter on my buns – I use rendered pork fat. The flavor is even better, and I want to use everything I can.”

Yeaton loves to try “sneaky little things” for unexpected flavor. “I use shrimp stock and corn stock in the grits to layer the flavor from the rest of the dish. This dish showcases the effort put in to the final product.”

This lobster roll’s dressing would usually be found on a Crab Louie. Yeaton calls it “citrusy, with a Thousand Island flavor,” but it is by no means just that. He infuses it with lemon zest, capers, and flavored balsamic vinegar.

“I did a lot of barbecue traveling in this country,” says Yeaton of his influence and inspiration. “This is really my favorite way to do oysters – it’s simple and so delicious.”

 

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