Pork Belly Appetizer at the Press Gang Restaurant in Halifax
When I walked by the Press Gang Restaurant in Halifax late one afternoon, I was drawn by a sign outside offering an interesting daily selection of Oysters. I ended up returning for supper and, in addition to sampling two different sorts of Oysters from Nova Scotia, and an ‘imported’ kind from PEI, I enjoyed a number of other excellent dishes as well. I particularly enjoyed the Pork Belly Appetizer you see pictured above.
I very much enjoyed the Press Gang as much for the ambience as the food. The ceilings are very low, with rough hewn wooden beams, and the walls are stone. There is a lot of dark wood and brass, and the place is very comfortable and inviting, as well as having good, friendly service.
The menu I was given is probably best described as being simple ‘Surf and Turf’ array, without any exotic or offbeat items particularly leaping to one’ attention. It did seem, however, that quite a number of dishes were quite inventive in the way simple ingredients are paired and plated.
I will note that, on a recent check of their on-line menu, the selections seemed far more limited and less interesting than on my visit. In fairness, this may well be due to conditions dictated by the great 2020 Pandemic.
Anyway, the Pork Belly Appetizer I selected turned out to be very nicely plated, and looked delicious, but the dish itself was a bit of a surprise. The menu specified ‘Braised Pork Belly’, but what I was served appeared almost certainly to have been roasted, or perhaps broiled given the crispy, golden skin. I wasn’t disappointed by this at all, but it was definitely not what I expected.
The Pork Belly was accompanied by a Pineapple Cilantro Salsa, a Chipotle Pepper Coulis and a crispy pickled Jalapeno. There wasn’t any Cilantro in the salsa that I could detect (which was not a problem as I don’t favor the herb), but there were some red flecks I took to be Chili Pepper and the taste was moderately spicy overall. The Coulis and the crisped Jalapeno slices were interesting enough but the pork belly itself really didn’t need much in the way of enhancement.
As for the Belly itself, the balance of meat to unctuously delicious fat was perfect. The skin was at the perfect degree of crispiness at first bite combined with a nice sticky, chewiness a few seconds later and the textural quality of this was complemented by the unctuous juiciness of the meat and fat. I thought this the best pork belly appetizer I have ever been served.