Pig & Fiddle: A first look

Another restaurant lands in the midst of 50th and France.  Just three weeks ago the new Pig & Fiddle opened in the former Pearson's space. Brought to Minneapolis by Mark van Wie and Paul Schatz, who also run St. Paul's Muddy Pig, the room has been spiffed up and large front windows installed. The space is warm and comfortable, with the fireplace still intact. 

We stopped by on a recent evening for a quick bite and a first impression.

Two things the Muddy Pig does very well are keep a well-curated beer list and play great dining music. The same can be said at the Pig & Fiddle. The beer selection is full of craft brews, with a good amount of local beers making an appearance. While they were sadly out of Fulton's Sweet Child O' Vine, they did have Lonely Blonde on tap. (A Surly Cynic made a nice stand-in.)

The music can probably be described as Adult Alternative, with selections from the Ryan Adams repertoire. Warm wood tones and attractive lighting add to the ambiance. The staff is attentive, if still new. When we asked our server what was in the pasty, in addition to the pot roast promised on the menu, he stammered, "Vegetables? Like ... potatoes?"  Fair enough.

The menu is filled with Old World European dishes like borscht and pierogi. We ordered the moules frites, a pot roast pasty, and the Jagurwurst roll. In the kitchen is Stephanie Kochen, who was most recently cooking at Heartland--a restaurant that weaves a special kind of meat and preserved veggie magic.

Our first course arrived with a steamy whiff of disappointment. The top layer of mussels were dried out and overcooked. The beer broth they were steamed in was studded with bacon that was an unfortunate specimen of the thin, wussy variety. Served with a small bowl of chunky fries, they were $16.

Thankfully, the sausage sandwich rode in triumphantly. A pleasantly Polish-like flavored meat, split open and grilled, it was served atop a bed of housemade sauerkraut, crowned with a fried egg, all on a crusty, grilled hot dog bun-type roll. The salty meat was doused in rich yolk, spiked with a pleasantly tart sauerkraut, with just a bit of caraway seed on the flaky, bready roll. A manly sized portion for $12 includes a side of fries, salad, or mashed potatoes.

The pasty was rich beef pot roast with small bits of carrots and potatoes wrapped in a crispy, thin pie crust and baked until golden. A small crack had allowed some of the rich juices to spill out during cooking to add another layer of crunchy meat char along the back edge of the crust. Priced at $10, it's served with the same side options. 

The mashed potatoes are not hard up for butter--the rib-sticking, skin-on Yukon gold spuds were rendered creamy-rich.

With the expertly chosen beer selection, the weight of the dishes, and the roaring fire, the atmosphere is a refined, man-scaped vibe--decidedly dudely. A great spot for men with discerning tastes to grab a respite from the lady-like shopping areas nearby.

Pig & Fiddle
3808 West 50th Street, Minneapolis
Hours 4 p.m. - 1 a.m. daily

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