I slipped hungry into the Steel Pig on 90th & Aurora Saturday for lunch. I navigated my attitude around the sleazy-dive-bar ambiance successfully enough, I thought, and found a seat. A poster on the wall declared "It's All About Pride," but that is the only such expression evident in the place. Scoping what seemed likely to be an employee in this cavernous joint, I asked, over the din of the TV, "is this the BBQ side?," to which she said, without any apparent reconition that I had come to eat, "it's all BBQ," and went back to wrestling with the furniture, or a bar-towel, or something. This desultory (it is a sports bar, I grant) approach to service was thematic. It was evident in the upkeep, the decor, the sounds, the food, and even the air in there.
I don't blame her for failing to take any initiative to neaten the joint up some. Surely she is not getting paid enough for hazardous duty. Eventually, she seemed to realize I might be there to eat, and slipped a grubby menu across my even grubbier table, after freeing herself from some engagement with a balky drawer behind the bar. Afraid, already, of the ribs, I angled the menu just right to be able to make out some words in the dark and ordered a pulled-pork sandwich. Eventually, the order went in, and by-and-by came the telltale ding of a microwave and another round of by-and-by. Apparently, the kitchen dude took the microwave bell as signal to put the Gai's "hoagy-roll" on the grill, because after a little more than about the appropriate amount of time to toast such on such, out came a plate, bearing a remotely foodlike object somewhat reminiscent of a sandwich. It was cut at a sharp angle, like a sandwich might be, and it was brown, like a sandwich often is, but that is where the resemblence ended. Inside it was surely pork, and for all I know, well-smoked pork, but issues intervened, for me: One does not pull pork with a knife, that I ever saw, and one hopes to taste that smoky flavor, here obscured completely under a layer of hyper-sweet orange goo (actually, if it had been orange in flavor, that might have been interesting, but no, it was just a peculiarly orange color...). Last, but surely not least, the Gai's roll had got itself wet in a way never clear and was soggy on the bottom, especially at the edge, near where the microwave had vulcanized it. I understand the impulse to microwave the sandwich, as it had been ages since ding-time and the meat was by then cold, but it's simply too bad the wave-time engendered was too long for the bread and too short for the meat, which arrived approximately at room-temperature, with a few refrigerator-grade frost-pockets here or there (who cares, anyway? - surely not staff). I came away certain they could, though, truthfully represent this as food they would eat themselves, so I won't suggest that nobody who works there could ever have actually tasted this glop, but prideful it ain't.