There’s no wolf at Raymond Tatum’s new dining venture, Three Little Pigs, but the food will certainly blow your house down. The renowned chef, formerly of Austin institutions such as Jeffrey’s and Jean-Pierre’s Upstairs, has finally opened his own trailer, with the help of his son, Rory, featuring a pork-inspired menu that is inspirational. The favorite entrée of the evening was definitely the cracklin’ meat loaf. Wrapped in just-crisp bacon, it was fork-tender, hearty, and relatively lean. It was hard to choose which was better: the meat itself, the generous serving of cheese grits hiding below, or the slightly sweet, stewed collard greens piled on top. Altogether, the three items formed the kind of down-home dish you dream about on a cool, hungry evening. The pork belly slider proved good as well. The ever-popular pork belly was transformed with a maple-soy glaze, cozy fried onions, and a crunchy slice of green apple served on a griddle-toasted bun. The fatty parts of the belly were delicious, but a few meatier spots were on the tough side, and the edges were burned more than charred. But the Asian slaw, with long, thin slices of cabbage in a light sauce with plenty of sesame seeds, made up for any grill mishaps. The only disappointments were the pig cheeks with daikon. The beef cheek craze has hit the ground running, almost fast enough to threaten the aforementioned golden child of food trends, the pork belly. So you can imagine my excitement when I saw the piggy version on the menu. The three or four large hunks of cheek were tender, but the texture and presentation were offputting, the lumps of fat inedible and spilling into the overly fatty sauce. I was also disappointed by the big blocks of pungent, anise-like daikon, which did not complement the cheeks well. Surprisingly, one of the only kosher dishes on the menu turned out to be among the best: the Asian-inspired panko-crusted eggplant on a bed of aromatic jasmine rice. It’s hard to beat crispy panko with soft eggplant resting underneath or the accompanying fresh baby bok choy. The brown sauce with Thai chilis and peppers was spicy with a delicious kick of ginger, though I could have done with fewer chili chunks at the bottom of the bowl. From these particular offerings (the menu changes almost weekly), I gather that Tatum and son are trying to match the gourmet sensibilities of other trailers around town (like Odd Duck). With a bit of work on presentation, they will definitely get there. And they’ve already proven that their food is hearty, comforting, and interesting enough to make this little piggy cry yum, yum, yum all the way home. Trailer behind East End Wines, at 1209 Rosewood Ave (512-653-5088). Tue–Sat 5–10. Closed Sun & Mon. Posted by Megan Giller
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