What do you get when you cross a Culinary Institute of America-trained chef, whose cooking made a splash in the Coast Guard, with an abandoned KenTacoHut building in Poquoson? Blue Crab & Purple Pig Bistro, of course.
Located at 8 Victory Boulevard, the new restaurant will provide “upscale comfort food.” The owners are planning a soft opening for Thursday, June 17 for dinner, Friday, June 18 for lunch and dinner, and Saturday, June 19 for brunch and dinner. The restaurant will officially open to the public on Tuesday, June 22.
“Initially, we’re going to offer 75 percent of what people are familiar with, and 25 percent around the edges that we’re going to play with,” said Executive Chef and Owner Barry Wildman. “We’re not going to throw a New York-style French restaurant in the middle of Poquoson and expect everyone to be wowed. But I do like really good ingredients, so that’s why I say upscale comfort food. It’s food people will recognize, but with better ingredients.”
Wildman understands that trying to impress people with upscale food is not going to achieve his objective. At least not right away.
“People in the Coast Guard are pretty conservative—when you try to serve them fancy food, you lose them,” said Wildman. “But I found that if you provide them with 60–70 percent of what they recognize and they like it, they’re willing to try other dishes. You have to win them over first.”
The setting for the restaurant is industrial chic, with exposed rafters, industrial lighting, a brick wall behind the bar, a craft zinc-top bar, and wine racks with a rolling library ladder to reach the top shelves. Because of skilled trade shortages, Chef Wildman did much of the buildout himself, with the help of his Under Chef, Joshua Hutter.
“Joshua comes from Washington, D.C.,” said Wildman. “He worked there for years and is a very experienced chef. He’s very, very talented. I only had three people apply for the sous chef position, and thankfully, one of them was way over-qualified.”
In addition to changing the menu quarterly, Wildman has an amazing vision for the space the restaurant occupies. The current drive-thru in the front of the building will give way to a covered patio and outdoor seating. The back area of the property will be turned into an herb garden that will provide fresh ingredients for the restaurant, and Wildman is envisioning an area with tables that would be ideal for a small reception or if someone just wants to sit in a nice setting and have a glass of wine. Wildman is also certified by the Court of Master Sommeliers, so he’ll be able to recommend a perfect pairing for any dish.
“Obviously, I want the restaurant to be a success, but I also want to recreate the love of food and cooking that I had in the Coast Guard and combine it with my private training to bring them together,” said Wildman. “At the end of the day, I want to look around, see that we did some really good stuff, we created some great food, and the crew really enjoyed what we are doing.”
The restaurant’s website is still under construction but should be available soon. The current website shows their catering capabilities, which they will also provide once the restaurant is fully up and running.