For the squeamish or the vegetarian, digging into a charcuterie board while watching a sow and her piglets snuffling around in the shade of some trees might seem macabre. Philosophical meat eaters, on the other hand, might interpret the milieu as an antidote to the dissociative effects of industrial agriculture — knowing where food comes from is good, and sitting where it comes from is even better. And for people who are neither squeamish nor vegetarian nor particularly philosophical about what they ingest, those meats at the Rooting Pig, on Broad Arrow Farm, simply make for a delicious meal.
33 Benner Rd., Bristol. 207-563-6576.
Bar snacks $6–$12; small plates and sandwiches $13–$17; charcuterie boards $30–$60.
From October to May, the Rooting Pig moves into the farm’s market, where there are bar seats and a communal table.
Broad Arrow Farm employs regenerative practices intended to improve soil health and foster biodiversity.
Owners Maggy and Dan Sullivan opened the restaurant last year, on the farm they’ve operated since 2017. The charcuterie boards consist of a dealer’s-choice selection of cured meats, plus local cheeses, olives, mustard, and other accouterments. On a recent visit, a Tuscan-style salami washed in sparkling red wine and a noix de jambon were in the rotation (the latter comes from the muscles of the hind leg and fits the profile of a meltingly tender prosciutto). The day was warm, and families were scattered around picnic tables and cornhole boards and lined up at the wooden bar to place their food and drink orders. All of the food prep happens behind the bar too, which is an impressive feat, considering the scope of the menu and the tiny space, equipped with a hot plate, a fryer, an air fryer, and not much else.
One menu highlight is the ’nduja, an Italian-style pork spread made with Calabrian chiles. The Rooting Pig’s ’nduja has a nearly creamy texture that the heat of the chiles nicely counterbalances, and warm bread from Damariscotta’s Head Tide Oven provides an excellent substrate for schmearing. The farm is also a whole-animal butchering operation, so chef and head butcher Jeremy Hardcastle constantly looks for ways to incorporate parts of the pig that don’t have the retail demand of, say, the ever-popular loin or shoulder. Hence pig wings, something Hardcastle ginned up by deboning spare ribs in such a way as to roughly resemble chicken wings, then slow-cooking in lard, deep-frying, and tossing in buffalo sauce. Sandwiches are also fixtures of the menu, and the Rooting Pig makes its own deli meats — from “pigstrami” to bologna.
Top left: Farm founders Dan and Maggy Sullivan, co-owner Anna Hymanson, and chef and head butcher Jeremy Hardcastle.
Not everything on the menu, though, is quite so meaty. Dishes that rely on produce from nearby farms change with the seasons: zucchini and summer squash, on a silky bed of hummus, tossed with parsley, crumbly queso fresco, and some bits of crispy pork-jowl bacon, or a balsamic-dressed salad of fresh greens, shaved radishes, strawberries, and thin strips of pancetta, with whipped, lemon-zested goat cheese. It would be a challenge to go home hungry.
But pastoral views unfurl from where the bar and picnic tables sit atop a rise by the barn, which makes for an awfully nice spot to linger, maybe with another drink after a meal — Anna Hymanson (who’s also a co-owner and butcher) puts together a well-rounded list of Maine beers and international wines, as well as cider from Winthrop’s Absolem Cider Company. Ordering dessert is a good idea too. The big chocolate-chip cookie, crispy on the outside, remains slightly, wonderfully gooey in the middle. And, of course, it’s laced with candied bacon.
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