July 23, 2014

Taste Bud: Pickled at Silver Dollar

I like pickles. I especially like spicy, garlicky pickles. I even like pickled bologna with saltines.

Well, Silver Dollar has taken the pickle up a notch. You may or may not have noticed that a few months back, the menu changed and added a small box containing “house-made pickles.” The pickled items in question are not cucumbers, but rather include eggs, vegetables, hot sausages and pigs’ feet.

Yes, pigs’ feet.

In the 1800s and early part of the 20th century, it was common practice for a saloon to have free snacks on hand to go with your beer or whiskey — literally, it was something for customers to wash down to enhance the experience of their adult beverage. It also may have been true that such items, which ranged from pickled eggs to soft pretzels to rolled oysters, would also keep the customers thirsty, thus encouraging them to buy more beer or whiskey.

My guess is these new menu items at the Silver Dollar, 1761 Frankfort Ave., are an homage to those old-school bar snacks.

Being a curious person and one who will essentially eat any damn thing placed in front of me, I decided to give these pickles a try. Not wanting to brave it alone, however, I coaxed my friend Butch into joining me. We got pickled together.

We decided to try the eggs, hot links and pig feet. In true throwback fashion, we decided to pair our treats with Old Milwaukee from a can.

What struck us instantly was the surprised and yet strangely delighted look on our bartender’s face when we ordered. It was like he was fighting back shouting, “We got one!”

Our barroom delicacies came moments later in small mason jars resting on a white plate with garnishes of toasted bread and a creamy garlic and herb spread. It was an impressive display — it really does look as though they simply pop the top off the jar and serve them to you.

First, we tried the hot links. They looked and smelled like small Polish sausages, and that’s pretty much what they were. Butch picked up his fork to retrieve one from the jar and paused.

“Is it a breach of etiquette to use silverware with these?” he said.

The links, of which there were four, were tasty — cool and firm, with a medium spice, full flavor and not too much vinegar aftertaste, even though the vinegar did add a bit of tartness.

Next, we each retrieved one of the four tan-colored eggs. I picked mine up and took a bite, while Butch cut his in half. It was after a couple of bites that we began to really feel the sting of the vinegar.

“This definitely seems like a fifth or sixth beer item as opposed to a first beer item,” Butch astutely observed. Of course, I didn’t see him stop eating, and both of those chicken orbs, which basically tasted like strangely sour hard-boiled eggs, disappeared quickly. (The eggs are pickled with onions — eat a bit of the mildly sweet onion with every other bite for an added treat.)

Then it was on to the coup de grace, the pièce de résistance — a jar full of pig-foot flesh, pulled from the bone and pickled with hot peppers. As there isn’t a lot of meat on a pig’s foot, most of what we were eating seemed to be layers of skin. And fat. And cartilage.

“I’ve never eaten a foot,” Butch said as he considered the odd-looking, gelatinous blob I dropped onto his plate. “It looks like a pork rind that never made it to the fryer.”

I took a bite. And then another. Interestingly, I rather enjoyed the spice, and it was then that we both fully appreciated the garlic dip and bread, which provided a cool and creamy reprieve from the spicy, sour-tasting pig appendage.

I ate one piece, and then retrieved another, although I’m not entirely sure why. I remembered a couple of years ago I bought my dog a pig’s foot at Kroger and boiled it as something for him to chew on. He wouldn’t go near it. And here I was, an independent, thinking human being having seconds of the stuff.

“This is like something you see on a doctor’s shelf,” Butch said. “It’s like brains in a jar.”

When we finished (the hot links and eggs disappeared, but we had plenty of hoof trimmings left over), we asked the bartender if he sells many of these pickles. He said ours was only the third order of pig’s foot he’s sold since the pickles were added last November. As for someone getting multiple orders at once, he said, “I’ve never seen anyone do that before.”

He likely won’t again. I’ll get the sausages again, and maybe even the eggs. But not together. I’m still burping that stuff. 

Bless you and Butch for

By jowibo
Bless you and Butch for doing this sort of thing so the rest of us don't have to.