Arrogant Swine has existed too long in New York City without my visit. It's promise of East Carolina whole hog barbecue should have had me long ago, as I've said ever since a trip down south years ago that this was my favorite style. I am not from the south, but have traveled through most of the places in the country to be considered good in barbecue, from coastal Carolina to Texas. I do not speak of barbecue as religion as many do, but I can respect those that preach their gospel.
For me, the holiest site of barbecue was on a backroads corner of the Hemingway Highway in South Carolina at Scott's Variety Store, where the Scott family has been smoking whole hogs over wood since 1972. After being rubbed and mopped with vinegar and pepper during smoking, the meats from the whole animal are mixed and served shredded.
The first item on the menu is this East Carolina whole hog ($12 alone, below), which we upgraded to add coleslaw and cornbread for $3. The sides are influenced heavily by Williamsburg, so I would not relate them to the Carolinas in any way, but they are good.
One of the geniuses of Carolina barbecue is that the crispy skin of the hog is chopped up with everything, so you find these bits mixed in with your otherwise soft and vinegary pieces. This does not seem to be the case here, but they add pork rinds to the top of your tray in what seems to be a nod to this. I like pork rinds, I won't complain. The important part is the pork meat below, which is excellent to my taste, and even better given that we are about a nine hour drive away from the state on a good day.
Less interested in the Western Carolina outside brown shoulder ($11), we opted instead for the spare ribs ($12, below) which use a wonderful South Carolina mustard sauce, my second favorite type of barbecue. Without any burning, the ribs are excellently tough-skinned off the smoker with such tender meat inside.
There are some sauces available in the back for customers, but we were not told about them nor offered any. This seems to be on purpose, and for the best as nothing was necessary for these two dishes.
Besides an excellent craft beer selection, the bar also has creatively-themed whiskey flights. Including a piece of "free bacon!" which we only found out about when it arrived, the flights include three pours. Our Japanese flight was $24 and especially on this frozen evening, paired perfectly with our meats.
The piece of bacon (below) is a cut of meat in itself, a foot of thick fat glazed with some kind of sugar on top.
All in all, Arrogant Swine is a win. If you do not mind a little smoke in the air and some stinky clothes, it could even be a nice spot to just come for a drink or two. All this of course changes in warm weather, as the outdoor gardens seat most of the patrons under the sun or stars.