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“Amazing food!”
5 of 5 bubbles Review of Thistle Pig

Thistle Pig
Certificate of Excellence
Cuisines: American
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Bar scene, Families with children, Special occasions
Dining options: Lunch, Dinner, Full Bar, Seating, Serves Alcohol, Waitstaff, Wheelchair Accessible
Cheltenham
1 review
“Amazing food!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 19, 2014 via mobile

I've been all over the world and have eaten in amazing restaurants, and this is one of the best. An absolute gem of a place.

Helpful?
Thank Heather M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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106 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    77
    21
    5
    2
    1
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Italian first
  • Any
English first
Eliot, Maine
2 reviews
“A memorable feast!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 15, 2014

Last night was my second time at Thistle Pig and the food and service on both occasions was top notch. I highly recommend the dinners for two. The cocktails - especially liked the "herb garden" were fabulous. Great job - we'll be back!

  • Visited July 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Pauline L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kittery, Maine
Level Contributor
110 reviews
74 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 48 helpful votes
“A welcomed addition, they truly provide a farm to table experience.”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 13, 2014 via mobile

When Pepperland closed, there was a gap in the South Berwick dining scene. The town itself isn't a foodie mecca but certainly there are good places to eat. That being said, Thistle Pig has raised the bar on what is "good".

I had heard of Ben Hasty from my mom who works in Kittery, as he was the executive chef at When Pigs Fly. I didn't realize he was from South Berwick, though, so it was nice that he wanted to come back and set up roots in his hometown. You can tell he cares about fresh and local food, since most of the items from the menu are from his own farm, truly a "farm to table" experience.

But it's not just that. The plating of the food and the atmosphere of which it's served in is just as vital to its enjoyment. When first entering Thistle Pig, you'll notice how the bar area (where the bar used to be at Pepperland) is gone and widened up - which provides more seating as well as a big communal table. The colors have been updated as well - gone is the mustard yellow and red. The design is all muted colors with exposed brick and repurposed wood. It's causal yet cozy and not in the least bit pretentious.

Which brings me to the food! A place selling craft beers and foie gras? Polenta with fiddle heads? Roasted carrots with Harissa? Did I somehow end up in Portland or Portsmouth? Nope, still in South Berwick. The menu, while deceptively "out there", is a refreshing assortment of items that are unique as well as items that have been revamped into something completely different.

On the first go, my mother and I went in for lunch. She tried the roasted carrot salad and I went with the crab risotto. I have recently discovered risotto (as it's now one of my favorite things) and for $16, I was eager to try. We went with the cheese plate as an appetizer and it was more than substantial for two people. In fact we were each trying to divvy up the cheese because we didn't want to waste any. The accompaniments were also tasty (the cheese in itself is sourced from Vermont and Massachusetts) our host - I believe her name is Jen? - made a point to tell us that Ben really tries to get the best cheese possible. Certainly, it's worth paying $14 for. (See my picture).

The risotto was one of the best I've had - crab meat was mixed into it - and I didn't mind the jalapeños. My only very small critique was that there was too much cilantro thrown on top (I like cilantro for garnish and taste but a few sprigs would have sufficed) and perhaps the jalapeños could have been diced so that every bite had an equally dispersed portion. Mom loved her carrot salad and even let me have a try. The mint yogurt sauce works well with the spice and Harissa. All said and done, the meal came to about 70 dollars. Our server, Abby, turned out to be a neighbor! She was nothing but attentive and kind. It's nice to know there's a friendly familiar face working there!

On the second go, my boyfriend and I stopped in for dinner. No reservation but quickly seated by the bar at a nice corner table.
Our server was also one of the bartenders, Ben. He was one of the best people I have ever come across working in the food industry. Despite being busy (we came in before 5 pm and thankfully so, as it filled up quick!) he was always ready to answer any questions and help us out with our choices. When inquiring about foie gras (as I've never had it before and always wanted to) he made a special mention that the ducks were from a local farm and were raised humanely (something that I appreciated!) Watching him and the other bartender (I think her name was Leah?) work together as a team with a nonstop flow of customers was also appreciated because I know just how crazy working in a restaurant can be. Never once did I see or overhear them lose their cool. All around, there's some talented professional folk there.

For an appetizer, my boyfriend had radishes with butter and sea salt. Not being the biggest fan of them, I gave into trying one and I'm glad I did. The freshness of the radish combined with the creamy butter and sea salt was a perfect blend. I can safely say that the Pig has turned me into a fan.

For mains, he had the Breezy Hill burger (medium well) and I had the scallops with pork belly and mushrooms. His burger was cooked to perfection and my scallops were seared without being tough or rubbery, rather tender enough to cut with my fork. I thought that maybe the pork belly would be wrapped around the scallops but imagine my surprise when it arrived with flavorful chunks of delicious pork. I loved playing with the combinations and also enjoyed the mushrooms as well. We also sampled some of the craft beers (looking for Bud or Sam Adams? Tough luck, pal!) and were delighted with our choices. I went with Brooklyn Sorachi Ace, which was a lighter beer made with Japanese hops and lemongrass (a must try if you like Blue Moon). I also recommend their Strawberry Fields Forever cocktail, which I had at lunch. For dessert, we opted for the banana chocolate chip cake with scotch glaze. It was a nice chunk of cake with just enough sweetness and the best part was the fact they use real whipped cream.

Overall, while pricy for both meals, the quality of the product is on par with any fine dining you would come across in a bigger city. For SoBo, it may be a little high but certainly comparable to Isidore on the Rocks and Spring Hill. Fans of Pepperland Cafe will not be disappointed, either. The changes that Chef Ben and company have made don't deter from the space that Pepperland used to occupy, instead they are pushing the boundaries of what local food can do. Kudos to you, Thistle Pig. I am excited that you are open and doing well. I can't wait to return with family and friends.

  • Visited June 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
2 Thank MovementandLocation
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Northeast
Level Contributor
32 reviews
23 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
“Wonderful little place, was happy as a pig in mud...”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 13, 2014

This is a charming little new restaurant in South Berwick, just slightly but very pleasantly off the beaten track. The menu was quite diverse and each dish intriguing; we had trouble deciding what to order. The appetizers are on the larger side and the entrees are on the smaller side (but priced accordingly) so the combination was perfect. One of our friends at the dinner was a real foodie and he loved everything he ate, as did we all. Very fresh ingredients. Lovely atmosphere, nice bar (great drinks, with a good selection of craft beers on tap), very friendly waitstaff. We are definitely returning as soon as we can.

  • Visited July 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank Hudson8Northeast
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
South Berwick, Me
Level Contributor
28 reviews
20 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
“Delicious food”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 6, 2014

Went to this restaurant for dinner with my husband and son. Great atmosphere. You might be intimidated with the menu but don't let that put you off. The waiter we was very helpful. At the bar we ordered popcorn and it came in a brown bag. For dinner I had the spaghetti with lobster, my husband had the roasted scallops with mushroom and tomato purée and my son had beef pot au feu. They were all delicious. I would highly recommend this restaurant. Excellent food and friendly staffs.

  • Visited July 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank shasha59
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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