Munch goes to the Bigham Tavern
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There's a minor sin of omission that we journalists are occasionally guilty of called "burying the lede." It occurs when in the course of writing a story, the alleged journo provides lesser details before getting to the main news crux of the story.
As in this case, when Munch wants to shout a bulletin like Walter Winchell: "Mr. & Mrs. America and all the ships at sea! -- Munch eats sandwich with five pork products!"
But Munch can't do that without first saying where said sandwich was procured -- the Bigham Tavern on Mount Washington. Seemingly forever, this place was a dingy joint called Kaib's until reopening in October 2010 under new ownership.
The bar is cleaned up but retains the look and feel of a handsome old tavern -- heavy on dark woodwork. A number of faux-vintage hand-painted wooden signs from the Old Glory Sign Co. in White Oak give a fun retro feel. In a scene Munch still isn't used to, patrons intently watched the Pirates game, even yelling at the screen at times like it was football. Speaking of football, Mike Wallace's name is mud here, although Antonio Brown is becoming a folk hero, at least to the guy named Tim sitting next to Munch.
Service was friendly, though uneven at times.
So about that sandwich.
That'd be the self-titled Bigham ($9) -- which really means BIG HAM. Bacon, cappicola, honey-roasted, honey-glazed and baked hams make up this hogzilla sandwich that's topped with a brown mustard and served with some crispy housemade chips.
Munch cannot possibly stress this enough: four kinds of ham. And bacon. Somewhere that "weeeeeee" pig from the Geico ads is getting nervous. This might be the first time Munch slipped into a food coma before actually eating.
But forget for a moment that Munch crammed the whole big honking thing down in like four bites. Forget that it was delicious. Forget that ingesting that many nitrates in a single sitting is probably as healthy as huffing on the business end of a Chrysler tailpipe. Bigham Tavern staff -- you're pushing four different kinds of ham and none of them is Isaly's chipped? In Pittsburgh? Zounds! You have to add this, if only for the irony factor.
Sticking with lunchmeat, as Munch did on another visit, ordering the Pittsburgher -- fried bologna and fried egg with American cheese on Italian toast. This is a solid sandwich, seemingly created solely for the purposes of soaking up beer, in this case a couple of hoppy Full Pint Chinookie IPAs, part of the Bigham's very respectable suds list.
This brings Munch to another Pittsburgh gripe. Can we collectively reinstate the use of "Jumbo" to describe bologna? This is one of Munch's favorite disappearing Pittsburghese words, probably mostly because people rarely eat bolog -- er, JUMBO -- anymore.
Finally, the wings.
In taking over Kaib's, the Bigham inherited a legendary Wednesday wing tradition that stretches back decades, and it does it justice, with 26 different sauces available ($7 for a half-dozen, up to 50 for $30). Munch liked the Honey Garlic Habanero, the Cajun Wet, and the Bourbon, although the Atomic was not as hot as advertised.
The rest of the menu is ho-hum bar food -- hoagies, burgers, salads with fries, etc., although according to staff, a new menu is nigh, as is a large outdoor patio with landscaping. The Bigham is a good Mahnt tahnie bar, a good demographic swath of the blue and white collar, young and old denizens that make up the neighborhood. But with a little bit of tweaking, it could become a bit more of a destination spot for the rest of Pittsburgh.
Just not for pigs. Or chickens.
First Published August 9, 2012 12:00 am