The Spotted Pig has been on the top of my ‘must try’ restaurant list since I began my blogging adventures. For one reason or another it took me nearly a year to get here, but I finally made it. This West Village gastro-pub, serves some serious eats. They have a strict ‘no reservations’ policy, making it notorious for long waits. Like most popular NYC establishments, you cannot be seated or counted on the wait list until your entire party arrives.
The clouds parted on a surprisingly warm, winter’s night, after a day of pouring rain. Just as I left work at 9 o’clock, the rain stopped and the city seemed still. As I got off the subway at West 4th Street, I made my way into the heart of the West Village further away from the hustle and bustle of regular city life. There’s something so easy to love about the West Village; it’s quaint, simple charm with beautiful brownstone buildings and trees lining the streets. Most destinations are a bit of a walk from a subway stop, which keeps all of the cool, little restaurants for locals that know their way down named streets.
Just a word to the wise, or not so wise, directionally challenged individuals attempting to find Spotted Pig. It’s located on Greenwich Street not Avenue. I sat people watching for a while, as my friend and dinner date, Rachel made her way from the Avenue to the Street. While I waited at the front bar, I began to understand why so many people rave about The Spotted Pig. It’s a relaxed atmosphere, attracting both the trendy tattooed crowd and businessmen loosening their ties after a long day at work.
The restaurant is filled with every kind of pig statue or picture you would find at a yard sale. However, the decor works and hardly borders on tacky. The white linen tables paired the cloth stools epitomize the restaurant. Gourmet food, relaxed feel.
Rachel arrived shortly after, and we were promptly seated towards the back. I sat in the booth style seat, against a mirror decorated with specials, while Rachel sat on the stool. We stared at the tattooed gentleman doodling on the table next to us, while we waited for our waitress. He turned the brown paper on his table into artwork, leading us to believe that he was an extremely talented tattoo artist.
I glanced over the drink menu, confused by the “Cask” section with a Spotted Pig Bitter. I asked the waitress about the beer, and she described it as a warm, flatter beer, but claimed it to be very popular. I requested a taste of the beer, and after one sip, couldn’t continue. It tasted like left-over warm, frat-house beer. I don’t know why anyone would spend $10 on a cup of this, let alone $1. I promptly ordered a Flying Dog Lager instead.
I looked over the menu, slightly torn since only one dish caught my eye; the Roquefort Burger with Shoe String Fries. The Spotted Pig is known for this dish, and burger lovers from far and wide come to have a taste of their house special. I watched the plates of burger, with the signature cross-hatched grill pattern marking the top side of the bun. However, we felt a need to try something else, as well. While we debated over what other dish to try, we ordered the Deviled Eggs from the ‘snacks’ part of the menu.
These deviled eggs are salty and acidic, putting a twist on the classic. The addition of red pepper flakes adds a surprising kick of flavor. The pureed yolks mellow out the burning sensation from the pepper, making the dish bearable for someone like myself that doesn’t love spicy. These are good, not necessarily my favorite dish of the evening, but a great way to start the meal.
I also wished we had ordered the Devils on Horseback, another famous staple at the Spotted Pig, where you realize anything with bacon, at a self “pig” titled place will be awesome. With Bacon wrapped Prunes, you really can’t go wrong.
For our main courses, we decided to split the burger, with the Prosciutto and Ricotta Tart with Marjoram, as the appetizer.
The tart was good, fresh slices of lean prosciutto mixed with the warm ricotta filling the crispy exterior. The arugula salad was lightly dressed, with a sweet and acidic vinaigrette. The sweet olive oil and grated parmesan added additional layers of flavor. Each bite was unique, leaving it up to you to attempt to create the perfect bite, combining all of the elements on the plate. This dish was definitely good, but nothing extraordinary by any means. I should have listened to my conscious and just gone with the burger.
Finally, the star of the meal arrived, the burger.
This burger tasted even better then it looks, if that’s believable. The crispy bun, marked with their famous cross-hatched grill marks, is just as essential as the deliciously, juicy meat that sits between the bread. I sliced the burger in half, giving Rachel one piece, and keeping one for myself, watching the bloody interior drip onto the dish.
Easily one of the best burgers in New York City, combining the sharp blue cheese with high quality meat and sandwiching it between two delicious pieces of bun. The burger is chargrilled, giving a smokey flavor to the meat. The blue cheese provides a stark contrast, slightly melted and giving a sharpness to the burger. My favorite combination is blue cheese and steak, and this burger transports the classic dish to a whole new level.
The shoe string fries on the side are awesome. Super light and crispy, which pieces of fried garlic making its way into the mix. The rosemary adds a depth of flavor and spice to the fries, which can pretty much stand on their own. I requested mustard on the side (they do not serve mayonnaise), to discover it’s what I have dubbed since Paris “crack mustard.” In other words, horseradish mustard that gives an addicting kick of heat, that will clear any sinuses. Combine the mustard with crispy, rosemary fries, and you have an easy winner for some of the best fries in the city.
Overall, this meal easily exceeded expectation and lived up to the hype. The burger is absolutely awesome, but at $20 a burger, it’s not a meal you can just have casually every week. For those special occasions, when the craving comes along, which it most likely will, only a burger from Spotted Pig will give you the fix you need. You can attempt to make it at home, thanks to Serious Eats, but I think nothing will truly beat the real thing. If you haven’t been to Spotted Pig, you definitely need to make your way to this West Village gastro-pub which serves some serious grub. And trust your instinct, you are there for the burger.
The Spotted Pig = 314 West 11th Street – New York, MY
The Spotted Pig
Location: West Village, NY
Type: Pub, British
Perfect For: Impressing Foodies, Neighborhood Hang, Late Night
Reservations: Not Accepted
Favorite Dishes: Chargrilled Roquefort Burger, Deviled Eggs, Devils on Horseback