Sunday, October 28, 2012

Union Pig & Chicken

Um.  I'm sorry.

That's all I can really think of to start off this post.  Have you ever really wanted to like something, give it a real, REAL chance, and hope that it turned out as wonderful as you imagined...?

...and fail?  Yeah.  I'm sorry.

I had visited Union Pig & Chicken not long after they had opened.  My personal problem with the restaurant is - I can't eat pig.  If I do, my intestines do the most violent dance, causing me pain, nausea, and cramping. Gross, right?  So I don't do pig - unless it's cured, like bacon, which seems to not have the same effect.
Union Pig & Chicken

TMI?  I'm sorry again.

Anyway, I had tried the fried chicken, and it was good - not great, but much better than KFC or Popeye's or any chain restaurant.  I really did want to LOVE it, but I can't say that I did.

Then I went back, hoping to confirm that it was indeed the wonderful place that it should be.

I went with James and some other friends of ours - John, Christina, and Gabi.  However, Christina and Gabi are not from Pittsburgh (although I would definitely consider them "honorary Pittsburghers") - they hail from Germany and Croatia, respectively.  We had gone to Salt of the Earth on their last trip to Pittsburgh, and decided to keep the Kevin Sousa tradition alive on this trip.

I started off with a beverage with which I am currently obsessed - horchata.  Their version was a Pumpkin Horchata, which seemed to have some pumpkin spice mixed in with the usual horchata ingredients:

Pumpkin Horchata
To eat, I went with the Fried Chicken again, with a side of cornbread:

Cornbread and Fried Chicken
I'm so, so sorry.  The chicken didn't TASTE terrible, but it was SO GREASY that anyone who has any consciousness with health would agree that it is just not ok.  Yes, things that are bad for you taste the best, but...I mean, there's a fine line between "greasy food" and "so-greasy-it-slips-out-of-your-hands food".  The cornbread...*sigh*... it was very hard and not easy to eat.  I didn't finish it, nor when I got the rest of my meal boxed up did they even put it in my bag.  I used the leftover chicken in a salad the next day, so that I didn't feel as bad eating it again.

James had ordered a few different items: pork shoulder (which I did not try, of course), brisket, and collard greens with bacon:

Pork Shoulder, Brisket, Greens with Bacon
The brisket was good - but, again, too fatty to properly enjoy.  I realize that they don't cut the fat off and smoke it as-is, but...I felt horrible eating it.  There is such a thing as too much fat.  The collard greens were equally as greasy, but I did like the way that they tasted.

Probably the best thing that James ordered was the Shrimp Ceviche, which was a special that night:

Shrimp Ceviche
I do love ceviche, and this did not disappoint me.  A smoky flavor (from what I do not know) accompanied the usual flavors of cilantro, lime, peppers, etc., giving it an original flavor not uncommon of most of Mr. Sousa's traditional dishes.  Bravo.

Christina and Gabi decided to order a dessert, and upon all of us trying a taste of theirs, the rest of us followed suit:

Apple Crisp
Apple Crisp.  But not just any Apple Crisp - this included smoked almonds, and the smokiness could be tasted throughout the dish.  Unbelievable flavor.  Definitely a redeeming moment.

I can't apologize enough.  I really, really, REALLY wanted to love the food, but I didn't.  I don't think I'm biased due to the inability to eat pig - the non-pig items were just not balanced.  The special and the dessert were great, but not the main attraction to the restaurant.

I'll stick to Salt of the Earth.

Union Pig & Chicken
220 N. Highland Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15206


Union Pig and Chicken  on Urbanspoon


  1. Go back for the brisket and the mac n cheese and you will NOT be disappointed! (My husband didn't care for the chicken or the cornbread either. Chicken was soggy.)

  2. The essence of your post is that you didn't like a barbecue/fried chicken place because the food was too fatty. But otherwise it tasted good.

    I think most people can live with that. They're not eating at UP&C every day. And this is Pittsburgh. Plenty of healthier options for people who want to go that route.

  3. This post makes me wonder if I'll like UPC, too. It's fairly high on my list, even thought it is one of those cash-only places {which is a pet peeve of mine}.
    Thanks for your candidness about you experience! :)

  4. While BBQ isn't "healthy" to begin with, the piece of brisket that you were served should have been smoked with ALL of the fat intact to keep it from drying out and to add moisture to the meat, and then mostly REMOVED before serving/ selling it to customers. (a very important step when serving BBQ in general and even more important at Union's price point!) I have had the same experience with the pork shoulder there- even though its a fatty cut of meat, half my portion should NOT consist of flab (and shouldn't taste like ham, either- thats from the other end of the animal, MR. Sousa- maybe a lil less brine/cure/seasoning next time??).

    Thanks for telling it like you have experienced it, while I usually like what Kevin Sousa has done, Union is an overpriced flop.

  5. It sounds like you just don't like barbeque.

  6. It's not a matter of not "liking barbecue". I do. Good barbecue, with a flavorful sauce, not overcooked, and TOLERABLY bad for you. This barbecue was not good. Not balanced, and way overpriced for such a product. I am a HUGE fan of cornbread, and this cornbread was almost inedible for the mere fact that it was hard as a rock. If I were supposed to be using it to sop up some sort of liquid, it may have been better - but I was eating fried chicken. Should I have used it to sop up the excess grease...?