Taking the pig out of Piggly Wiggly

It was a bright sunny and windy Tuesday in mid October, the wind was too strong so we were unable to launch the boat and as a result unable to go diving so I decided it was time to head back to Johannesburg.    I spent about an hour looking over my maps and speaking with the dive master at Agulahas planning my route back and then packed up my things and headed to the N3 in search of the R103 to enjoy the back road trip home.  About 3 hours into my journey I was starting to get hungry and was about to consult Google maps on where to find food when I came across the Piggly Wiggly.  Now in all my travels I have come across a few places, mostly in the US, named the Piggly Wiggly and they have always had good, or at least OK, pork BBQ so I got a little excited at the prospect of some good BBQ pork spare ribs (the only ribs I like better are my Dad’s BBQ beef ribs).  I pulled off the road, parked, and headed in to see about getting some BBQ.

Sat down, got the menu and boy was I disappointed there wasn’t a single pork dish on the menu, not even a ham sandwich.  At this point I should have picked up my things and hit the road, but I was hungry and did not know when the next place would be (turned out to be about 100 Km down the road) so I looked through the menu and eventually settled on the French mustered fillet.  The dish was described as a “200g beef fillet rolled in Dijon mustard and encrusted in ground black peppercorns, grilled to your preference and served with sautéed potatoes and a side salad”… sounds good right, well we will get to that in a few.

The waitress came over to take my drink order, and while I will not say she was rude she was not very friendly either.  I ordered the home-made lemonade, which turned out to be carbonated lemonade in a plastic bottle with home-made written on it so I sent that back and asked about the other drinks if any thing was fresh.  The answer in a nut shell was “no” and it seemed the only non carbonated beverage available was water so that’s what I had.  I then asked the waitress a few questions about various menu items and it quickly became apparent that she did not know anything about what was on the menu and could not help me so I just ordered the fillet as I mentioned above.

The waitress never asked how I would like the fillet cooked so I guess there goes “grilled to your preference” and when it came out it seemed to be close to the medium well side but not tough, however this was not the problem.  Had that been the only thing wrong with the dish I would have been OK but my luck was not that good.  Instead of rolling it in Dijon mustard and encrusting it with black peppercorns It was just drenched in something trying to pass its self off as Dijon without a hint of pepper anywhere.   It was quite apparent that this had just been done up in a pan, dropped on a plate, and had mustard straight from the jar dumped all over it.  I took my first bite and the mustard just hit me like a tun of bricks causing me to choke, tear up, and my nose to run… definitely an overpowering taste of mustard.  It was at about this point when the waitress came by to check on me, though she did not say anything and I had to take a big swallow of water before I could tell her “this is way too overpowering, there is too much mustard on it (I can taste it again as I write this 3 days later).  She said something along the lines of OK and walked away with out an offer to replace.  A few minutes the hostess or maybe manager came over so perhaps the waitress had reported my complaint after all.  The manager asked me how it was and I told her the same thing that the mustard was way to over powering.  She said she would inform the chef but did not make any offer to replace the dish either.

I found that if I scrapped most of the mustard off and cut the outside of the fillet away the remaining meat was not too bad, though it was definitely a lower quality cut of beef and not a fillet.  Moving on to the accompaniments; the sautéed potatoes were dry tasteless deep-fried chips or french fries, and the salad was an undressed pile of greens with a slice of onion and a cherry tomato on top.

All in all a very disappointing meal and I will not return, next time I will just keep on driving and look for something better.

-erik

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7 thoughts on “Taking the pig out of Piggly Wiggly

  1. Yip, sad thing about South Africa, most waiters do not know what is on the menu and how it is made. Talking to the manager about how important it is to have your front of house represent you well, they often just shrug helplessly … Often when you ask: about today’s special or the soup of the day, the answer is: I have no clue what I am doing … “There goes your tip, then.” … 🙂 only way to teach.

    • It’s actually a problem through out most of Africa. I used to wait tables myself long ago and the manager made sure I tried every dish once so I would know what I was talking about.

      • Well good for that manager. I have been to the Piggly Wiggly in Nottingham road as well. Long Story, it’s deserving its colours for being kind of a subversive counter-destination to the highly marketed Midland’s Meander attraction. Thus it developed a real bit of arrogance (what Meander, we ARE the Meander) with all their little craft stalls. We were there with 2 toddlers, the waiters were unattentive, the steak not cooked to order and the drinks mixed up – I remember that so well because our then 2 year old threw a heavy tantrum for not getting Cream soda, hahaha.

  2. I’ve never seen a restaurant in America called Piggly Wiggly, just a (dying) chain of grocery stores. And I’m from Arkansas, the land where pork is cooked into everything (including vegetables).

    • I’ve seen atleast one somewhere along the east cost but no idea where or when it’s been 10+ years since I’ve done any real travel around the US. I do remember seeing the grocery store though.

  3. There are some Piggly Wigglys out on the west coast. I used to shop there with my grandma but I never remember eating there. That meal sounds dreadful! So does the waitress. I always travelled with a jar of Branston pickle (lol!) That way I never went hungry. Boy it’s been years, I should hunt some up and see if it tastes as good as I remember. Probably not!

    • I may be mixing up the Piggly Wiggly grocery store with some other BBQ joint, it’s been a while. But the fact remains if you are going to call a restaurant Piggly Wiggly you should have some pork on the menu. And BTW there are a couple other restaurants in the same tourist trap stop, they are just hidden in the back and I wish I had found them before I ate.

      And yes the meal and service were dreadful, I gave them one star on TripAdvisor and only wish I could have given less.

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