I have heard nothing but praises for April Bloomfield’s the Spotted Pig in the West Village. By the way, what IS a gastropub? I found this very detail analysis of gastropub in England over at Pubology. Most of what I have heard about the Spotted Pig was how awesome their burger and shoestring fries were. I was more curious about their other food besides the burger but I do love to have some shoestring fries with rosemary. So when my sister was over here in NYC for a wedding photography gig, I used the chance to take her to the Spotted Pig and finally find out why everyone loves this place.
West Village is a mystery to me. I rarely go beyond 6th Ave and W. 4th St because West Village is like a maze, a jungle of buildings where the layout of the streets make no sense at all. I have gotten lost with a friend once after seeing an art show. We thought we were going in the correct direction and later found ourselves somewhere else. And it doesn’t help that most of the streets in the West Village aren’t numbers. Like the scene in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry and the other competitors are stuck in the ever changing maze. That’s how I feel about the West Village. I might randomly find a nice restaurant to only lose or forget where it was that I first saw it. But now that my phone has a map function this might all change. *Shrugs
After taking my sister to check out The High Line over at Chelsea we walked over to the Spotted Pig around 6pm. They open at 5:30pm for dinner and I hoped around 6pm on the Friday of a loooonngg weekend it will be quick to get a table. When we walked in I was half right and half correct. The room was already crowded with diners but we only waited 10mins for our table. We were led up to the 2nd floor and into a tiny nook with 5 other pairs of diners. It was kind of weird to sit inside that tiny nook with 10 other people. It was a bit dark and as it got darker outside they decided to dim the lights lower, huh? Okay….. Dimly lit places make me sleepy.
As always I have already checked out the menu beforehand so I knew what I wanted but as always I tend to change my mind once I get there. My initial picks were Chicken Liver Toast, Poached Duck Egg with Lamb Tongue & Flageolet Beans, either the Grilled Skirt Steak with Summer Beets & Horseradish Cream or Crispy Pork Belly with Bean Purée with a side of the shoestring fries. That’s not too much food right? But of course I might entirely get something else, depending on what my sister was going to order. Apparently she was quite hungry. She wanted the chicken liver toast, the pig ears salad and quite possibly the burger or the crispy pork belly. I actually thought that was too much food and she agreed once she saw how big the burger was. Since she ordered the 2 things I wanted to try, I ordered the poached duck egg with lamb tongue and the crispy pork belly. Like I said before I’m prone to changing my decisions when I’m actually at the restaurant. Before putting in my order, I thought about getting the Corn Soup with Chanterelles because 3 tables in our tiny nook ordered that and it looked good! I love corn soup. But I stuck with the poached duck egg and lamb tongue. As we sat waiting for our food and me drinking my Old Speckled Hen the same 3 tables that got the corn soup ALSO got the crispy pork belly. I noticed all the diners that ordered the pork belly were having trouble cutting into the crispy skin. I’ll have to wait and see for myself.
We were given small plates of olives and salted almonds to chew on. I rarely eat olives and almonds because they don’t really appeal to me but these were pretty damn good. Finally our pre-entree food came. The reason why I got the poached duck egg with lamb tongue was because it’s similar to Babbo’s poached egg with lamb tongue salad which is one of my favorite dishes from Babbo. So when my dish came I was expecting to see tiny pieces of tongue but nope there were chunks of tongue. The egg, perfectly poached and the lamb was just lamby enough for me. Combined with the beans the dish was a great Fall season comfort food. It was good, I wanted another bowl.
Another amazing….aaaammmaazing dish was the chicken liver pate over toast. Oh my gosh, the pate was the BEST pate I have ever had. So flavorful and the bread was perfect also. Nice and crunchy on the outside and soft, chewy in the inside. Okay so far so good.
And FINALLY my pork belly and my sister’s burger came. The crispy pork belly resembled a slab of crispy pork from Chinese places it even tasted a bit like Chinese crispy pork. Sadly it wasn’t as satisfying. First off, the pork skin was not crispy at all. I wasn’t able to slice through it with a knife. I had to, in a Norman Bates sort of way, repeatedly stabbed the skin to break it into small pieces. As for the fat and the meat of the pork belly it was cooked waaaaaaaaaay too soft. Everything just melted. I was able to lift up the entire piece of skin away from the fat. The whole slab just became a pile of pork mush, it was quite sad. I WAS quite sad. Also the bean puree was okay.
Next! The infamous burger of the Spotted Pig. Yes the burger wears a wig made out of shoestring fries. Tasty wig. I know some people likes it with and some likes it without the cheese. My sister ordered it medium rare and it came out perfectly medium rare. She cut half for me and well I finished it. I’m not a big fan of strong stinky cheese but this was tolerable. I took a bite and woooo really loved the bun, toasted bun always a plus, stinky cheese and…eh…uh where was the patty? Hm…it’s right there but I didn’t feel it in my bite. The 2nd bite was the same. The patty was so soft I wasn’t able to feel it, I need texture damit! I did like the burger and awesome fries over my pork belly.
Did I say the service there was excellent? The waitress was soooo nice and friendly. She kept apologizing for the long wait even though it felt normal to me. She offered us a free dessert. We declined at first because we were just too damn full. But she insisted and told us we can take it to go and so we did. Yay I love free dessert. I got the Walnut, Chocolate & Amaretto Cake. I left it in my fridge for a day and when I tried to eat it it was kind of dry but it was okay. I would’ve gotten the Crème Caramel but that was the one she said it wouldn’t be very good as a to go. Oh well.
Overall it was a good meal even though we sat in a “a little too cozy” nook and ate a sad slab of piggy. I may not understand, still, what a gastropub is, if all gastropubs are as good as the Spotted Pig I want to go to everyone of them.