Restaurant Review: Velvet Pig

Velvet Pig goes whole hog on butchery in the Ice Box Bar

Photos by Elizabeth Gelineau

Feasting on a menu of whole-hog butchery inside a former giant walk-in ice freezer might sound like an experience you didn’t know you needed in your life, but you do. Velvet Pig on Monroe Street just off Canal and Broad should be added to your list of experiences to try again and again.

Max Donaldson and Mackenzie Klyce, the co-owners and husband-and-wife team behind the concept, brought their expertise from New Orleans to Mobile, Klyce’s hometown, last year to begin their new venture. “We both worked in New Orleans for about six years and started a barbecue-style popup over there,” she says. “We eventually decided we wanted to open our own place.” Their vision came to life as they opened Velvet Pig inside the Ice Box Bar in November. The wide-open space, with high ceilings and windows, is filled with natural light in the daytime. Eclectic artwork sends splashes of color dancing against the silver metal walls, an industrial indication of the building’s frigid past. Plentiful seating, pool tables and an outside area with swings cement the restaurant as a go-to spot for the 21-and-up crowd.

Klyce is the main chef while Donaldson handles the butchery and front-of-house operations. “We pretty much make everything that comes out of the kitchen from scratch except our bread and our mayonnaise, which both come from New Orleans,” says Klyce. “Everything else takes a couple of days to make.” That includes the meat of the menu, that is, the pig. A whole hog is delivered every week from a farm outside Oxford, Mississippi. Donaldson gets to work, butchering it himself for that week’s dishes. Not an bit goes to waste. Pork belly, boudin, pork shoulder, sausage, pork rinds and the like utilize every ounce of pork.

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Velvet Pig balances a fusion of familiar and experimental into a creative menu serving solo plates and shareables. Careful planning dictates that week’s offerings. “Pork belly goes on our Cuban, so if we ever decide we want to do something else with pork belly, the Cuban has to come off,” explains Donaldson. Some listings remain consistent, like staples such as boudin eggrolls. Anything else is fair game for a change, and the owners like to expand their palette. “We’re bringing some more seafood on and really trying to keep our focus for sides on what’s local and in season,” says Klyce. The duo serves up a barbecue and butchery experience like no other, crafting a unique spot in the Port City’s Downtown dining.

Left to right Gulf Shrimp Salad and Alabama Hot Fried Chicken Sandwich

On the Menu

Gulf Shrimp Salad 
Diced local shrimp are mixed with mayonnaise, lemon, fresh dill and green onion for a light, fresh appetizer served with saltine crackers.

Pork Belly Skewers
Melt-in-your-mouth pork belly is seared with a raspberry chipotle glaze and sprinkled with cracklin dust for a crunchy finish.

Pork Belly Cubano
A pressed pistolette contains crispy pork belly, roasted ham, Havarti cheese, pickles and mustard for flavor in
every melty bite.

Alabama Hot Fried Chicken Sandwich
A cornmeal-battered chicken thigh dunked in Tabasco mash with lettuce, Alabama white BBQ sauce and pickles makes a monster sandwich you won’t put down.

Velvet Pig755 Monroe St. • 510-1485 • Wed – Thu 11 a.m. – 10 p.m., Fri 11 a.m. – 12 a.m., Sat 12 p.m. – 12 a.m., Sun 12 p.m. – 7 p.m., closed Mon – Tue

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