THE old Chook jalopy might be on its last legs.
It sounded like my mother-in-law after a night on the ciggies and Baileys Cream as I spluttered across Stirling Bridge on Sunday.
I was driving to a small bar in North Freo called the Piggy Food Co (sounds like somewhere Boss Hogg might have frequented in The Dukes of Hazzard).
Despite being situated on the busy Queen Victoria Street, Piggy was a shady, green oasis with lots of market umbrellas, plants and dangling lights creating a relaxing boho vibe.
Throw in some fake grass, chilled music and lots of water bowls for dogs, and you have a cool, family-friendly local bar.
The “Southern Californian” menu had a nice range of share plates, tacos, rolls, burgers, salads and desserts.
I liked how you could share dishes like hot wings, charred corn and quesadillas, or if you wanted something to yourself there were stand-alone options like the chorizo burger, Whole Hog Roll or fishwich.
First off the bat: the service was excellent. We were greeted with a lovely smile and welcome from the man behind the bar, who was super friendly and helpful.
It felt genuine and not like some spotty teenager reading off a corporate script when you walk into a franchise.
But a small bar with a rotating line-up of craft beers made me nervous about the food.
I’ve been in lots of small bars where the grub is over-priced and under-par – a one-toothed, trailer trash cousin to the main event – the beer.
But given the lovely service and ambience at Piggy, I was optimistic.
My two chilrdren have entered the pubic twilight zone between young kids and pre-teens, and are now asking for food from the main menu.
So I got them an American Cheeseburger ($16) and a BBQ Chicken Roll ($16).
The burger was served in a lovely soft buttery brioche bun and the patty was cooked to perfection – juicy and pinkish in the middle. This was a simple well crafted burger with the mustard, housemade pickles and ketchup completing the mouth-watering picture.
My son wolfed it down no problem and it gave it the thumbs up.
Piggy had a nice range of burgers and rolls, and if you’re really hungry I suggest you try The Whole Hog ($21) a toasted ciabatta with pulled pork, bacon, cheese, slaw, salsa fresca and smoked chipotle mayo.
Across the table, my daughter was tackling her intimidating BBQ roll with chargrilled chicken ($16).
The toasted ciabatta looked enormous, but it had a crunchy exterior and a fully middle, ensuring it was nice and light.
There was a lovely smoky tang from the chargrilled chicken, which was topped with refreshing slaw and a generous dollop of BBQ sauce. Another enjoyable dish which tasted fresh and was made with care and attention to detail.
I decided to get some hot wings (six for $13) and some Mac ’n’ cheese bites ($13) to share with myself. I went for the smoky chipotle wings and they didn’t disappoint – nice tender chook, chargrilled skin and a super-deep smoky flavour.
The accompanying ranch dip was a cool foil to the intense smokiness. It was a finger-licking treat, best enjoyed with a hazy IPA.
The mac ’n’ cheese bites were well made – super crunchy with a moreish filling of béchamel sauce, manchego cheese and strands of gluten free organic spaghetti.
Sounds a bit strange, but the spaghetti filling worked and added a nice texture to the dish.
My only complaint – it wasn’t cheesy and gooey enough.
I’ve been a bit disappointed with the North Freo dining scene in the past, but Piggy Food Co is a fantastic shout for a chilled Sunday sesh with superior beers and food.
Piggy Food Co
229A Queen Victoria St, North Fremantle