I am not an expert on the New York City restaurant landscape, nor do I claim to be.
There are many restaurants and several types of cuisine I have yet to experience. Although I enjoy discovering lesser-known places, being in the position I am in, I know that there are a few restaurant experiences I simply need to have. The Spotted Pig falls into that category. So last night, I went with a friend to enjoy some food and conversation.
Walking over to the restaurant from Hudson Street had us lost in the beauty of New York City’s West Village. Historic townhouses and ivy-covered brick buildings lined the narrow streets that led us to the corner of West 11th and Greenwich. As we approached the restaurant we noticed the silver “spotted pig” hanging from above the door, surrounded by plants, bushes and flowers of all-types.
Expecting a long wait (the no-reservation policy makes TSP infamous for this), we had our name in early but were pleasantly surprised to be seated within 30 minutes. On our way to second floor dining room, we marveled at the décor for this supposed Michelin Star restaurant. Thousands of pig figurines of varying sizes lined the rail tops and window sills, pictures of rugged country sides and farm animals scattered the walls, and other brusque looking flea market items were strewn about the whole place. Right down to the dirty t-shirt and unshaven appearance of our server, there was an unbridled “hick” about The Spotted Pig that was fun and interesting. Needless to say, pretentious “fine dining” New Yorkers need not apply.
First, we got into the drink menu which was dominated by heavy ales, stouts and IPA’s; unless you are a cicerone, you probably wouldn’t recognize the names of half of them. The small wine and cocktail selection made it such that you could hear April Bloomfield in your ear saying: “C’mon, you are at an English inspired gastropub, get a goddam beer!” We listened and I went with Samuel Smith’s Organic Ale- it was delicious.
The food menu had three main sections: Bar Snacks, Plates, and Entrées. For a snack, we had the Chicken Liver toast. A thick spread on rustic country toast drizzled with olive oil was a great way to start the meal with tons of flavor.
Next, we had the Prosciutto & Ricotta Tart with Marjoram. I enjoyed this dish for the fresh prosciutto and the flaky puff pastry. Overall, it was not incredibly impressive.
For the main course, we split the famed Chargrilled Burger with Roquefort & Shoestrings. This was not your standard 80-20 ground beef as the meat had me feeling like I was eating a fine steak. It was complemented by an interesting (albeit large) bun. The sheep’s milk Roquefort was a nice addition- it definitely added a unique salty element to the burger. The real star of this dish though was the shoestring fries smothered in garlic and rosemary. After I was full, I kept eating them.
Overall, The Spotted Pig was a great restaurant experience. The food was tasty, but I cannot agree with most that they serve one of the best burgers in New York City; I just did not feel that way. Come here for the charm of the West Village, good food, and to learn how great restaurants don’t need to follow a rigid formula for success anymore.