by Rebecca Frankel
When I stepped into The Cultured Swine on 317 N. 2nd St., I was greeted with vibrant red walls and an even more vibrant “Hello! How are you?” from the owner. There were cute little pig knick-knacks on the shelf that held the different sauces, hog art hung on the crimson walls, and there were even adorable piggy salt and pepper shakers on the tables. The small space was bursting with energy, which made me feel excited to try out some barbeque.
The menu allows you to get their various items as either a $6-$7 sandwich or a $3.25-$3.75 soft taco. I decided to go with soft tacos so I could sample more than one menu item. I got the Tarheel Special, which is pulled pork with “swine sauce” and coleslaw, The Jerk, which is jerk chicken with mango pico de gallo, and the Pig-In-A-Poncho, which was a pork and potato tamale with pepper sauce.
The Tarheel Special was just okay. It was your basic pulled pork with only a tiny drizzle of BBQ sauce. It tasted good, but wasn’t anything to rave about. I am a big fan of pulled-pork sandwiches, and the best ones have a great BBQ sauce and an interesting tasting coleslaw; this one just didn’t measure up. The Jerk was more interesting. I loved the mango pico de gallo, which had mango, jalapeno, and red onion. The disappointing thing was that every bite contained chunks of hard cartilage and there was a sharp chicken bone sticking out. The Pig-In-A-Poncho was pretty boring and kind of dry. Their housemade sauce wasn’t very memorable either.
I will say that the service was very good. I got everything very quickly and the people who work there are very friendly. They sparked up conversation with me and introduced themselves which made me feel very welcome. It’s too bad the food doesn’t measure up to the great atmosphere. The Cultured Swine’s barbeque food isn’t bad, but it doesn’t quite stack up to the great Richmond food scene that I have come to love.