Porter & Pig
Author: Becca Edwards | Photographer: M.Kat Photography
A Chef’s sampler platter of charcuterie and artisan cheeses at Porter and Pig in the Village at Wexford.
Sweet dates stuffed with chorizo and wrapped in crispy bacon finished with a side of creamy jalapeño sauce. Beer braised, homemade sausages with beer onions and homemade Stone Smoked Porter mustard on a toasted roll served with crispy kettle chips. An a la carte order of artisan cheeses and meats, served with pickled vegetables, olives, sliced bread, berry compote, nuts, and fresh and dried fruits accompanied by a locally crafted beer. Yes, these and other delicious dishes attract people to Porter and Pig, but the true siren song of this trendy (but not in man-bun, hipster kind of way) dive bar is its owner Ivy Burdick.
“No, now I don’t want to talk about me,” Burdick said. We are sitting at her bar. I’m savoring a glass of Butternut pinot noir. Burdick starts to take a sip of her white wine when the phone rings. Because of hurricane Matthew and Governor Nikki Haley’s mandatory evacuation, outside is like a scene from an apocalyptic movie. There are few lights on and even fewer signs of life.
Burdick answers the phone. “Thanks for calling Porter and Pig…yes, we’re open…we would be happy to set a table aside for you…great, thanks.” She hangs up and then walks back to the bar. “Where were we?” she asked.
“We were talking about you,” I joked.
“But see we are like so many Hilton Head businesses. As merchant, it’s our goal to give back,” Burdick said. “It’s not just about Porter and Pig; it’s about supporting our local economy and community organizations. In the Village of Wexford, for example, there are many female business owners, and we work together. Also, other restaurants work together. If one of us is short staffed or needs something, we help out.” Burdick then tells a funny story about Chef Nick Unangst who “graciously taught me how to portion cut fish and clean soft shell crabs.”
We arrive on the topic of community involvement because a national guardsman is parked nearby and Burdick wants to see about feeding people who are part of the relief effort. Having been on Hilton Head Island for a long time, we have both evacuated before but this time feels different. It was as though we were counting down to something unsettling. Something life-changing. Something disastrous. And by her body language, it is obvious Burdick is worried and wants to protect not just her bar-restaurant, but Hilton Head Island. I mention I live by deep water, and she quickly offers to help move my furniture and rugs upstairs, which is touching and telling, because she has a home, family and business to manage. But she naturally puts other people first.
Ivy Burdick and her daughter Phoebe.
Asian Meatballs: Pork meatballs rolled with garlic and ginger topped with Sriracha aioli and crushed peanuts, served with a cucumber and carrot Asian slaw
After assuring Burdick I am fine (many times), we finally get back on the topic of Porter and Pig. Since opening nearly two years ago, Burdick and her staff have grown quite the cult following. Many of the regulars include other bar and restaurant owners and employees, which speaks to the quality of food and libations as well as the general vibe, which has a modern Cheers energy. It’s cozy, casual, and neighborhood bar-ish. Instead of Sam Malone, you’ve got Burdick. Instead of Woody Boyd, you’ve got Aaron. And instead of Norm Peterson and Cliff Clavin, you’ve got you and me ponying up to the bar and shooting the “shiraz.”
“Phoebe [Burdick’s daughter] was eight months old when I signed my lease, and I love the fact that we see the same regular people and have such a great clientele that patrons know her name,” Burdick said. “That’s the best part of owning Porter and Pig.”
I ask her how she came up with the name Porter and Pig and Burdick laughs. “We spent more time naming this place than naming our daughter. Because it has such a chill vibe, we thought about calling it The Cove or The Den, but finally settled on Porter and Pig because of our craft beer selection; we wanted the pig to be our mascot.” Burdick rotates eight different draft beers and consistently offers one porter on draft. She is also constantly working with her staff to make seasonal changes to the menu. “We have a team approach to food,” Burdick explained. “We don’t follow a rule book or recipe. We get inspiration from other chefs and each other. I think it’s important to be collaborative so everyone feels part of what we are creating.”
Porter and Pig also makes food approachable and affordable. “We have six to eight different cheese selections, and you can customize the board to fit your needs. That way you can have a glass of wine with some friends and get $5 worth of great cheese to share for a light bite,” Burdick said.
I mention that there is something fun and intimate about enjoying a charcuterie plate. Burdick smiles and nods. “When I was younger and gone for a period of time and I would return home, my mother always welcomed me with a platter of summer sausage, Jarlsberg cheese, mustard and Triscuits. We would hash over what had happened while away. Offering charcuterie and cheese reminds me of my family and how I was raised.”
On Mondays from 5:30-8:30 p.m. you can also enjoy live music from the Jalapeño Brothers, live music is also available one night on the weekend. “We have a lot of local talent here in Hilton Head, and we try to showcase that. It has to be a band that fits, though. We don’t want to have music just to have it,” Burdick said. Some local favorite bands include Amanda Russ’ (of Pomodori) band Finkle and Einhorn, and the Port O Johns. “Both bands have really become part of our atmosphere.”
When asked what’s next for Porter and Pig Burdick looks outside, and I know she’s thinking about hurricane Matthew. “No matter what, we want to be a local establishment that supports our community and continues to give people a place to be happy.”
Porter & Pig is located at 1000 William Hilton Parkway, Village at Wexford, Suite J7C. For more information, visit porter-pig.com or call (843) 715-3224.