On recommendation from my sister, Em, we absolutely had to try The Spotted Pig in Greenwich Village, New York. After our first day of sightseeing in New York, we walked to The Spotted Pig and as you can’t make a reservation, hoped and prayed for a table.
Timing is everything and unfortunately the building is currently covered in scaffolding however the owner, realising the iron bars will be there for some time, hired a landscaper to cover the eye-sore with grape vine and fairy lights. I thought it looked very pretty.
Walking into The Spotted Pig, I was surprised at what a tiny venue it is and it appeared more like an English pub than a restaurant. The bar was crowded with people several feet deep standing as close to the bar as they could, talking in small groups. The crowd was young, sophisticated and trendy and most of the people looked like they had walked in on their way home from work.
They also looked like regulars and the venue appeared like a cosy and intimate place to catch up with friends or a loved one over a drink at the bar or a meal at one of the small and cosy tables – amongst the noise – this is not a ‘can-hear-a-pin-drop’ venue.
The restaurant and bar was so crowded we doubted there was seating available however, we were fortunate to be shown to a table at the rear of the restaurant that was comfortable but a tight squeeze. But having had around nine hours sleep in the previous 50 hours, I was grateful for any sign of comfort.
Once seated we had a look around the restaurant and the floors are very dark polished timber and the ceilings pressed metal but painted in a dark colour and while pretty, the dark tones are every photographer’s worst nightmare!
We took our seats in the corner of a banquette and shared a little table. Another couple was seated beside us with the woman next to me and so if I needed to get out I had to ask her to move; like sitting on a window seat on a plane and telling the person on the aisle you need to get out. Bu this isn’t a plane and diners are more than accommodating and seem to understand that seating in this restaurant is at a premium and that everyone will be having a cosy dining experience.
As we’d just had our first day in New York we felt the need to celebrate and so I ordered a glass of the pink-hued Prosecco. The sparkling wine was a wonderful start to our holiday as we sat amongst the New Yorkers in a tightly-packed restaurant with summer views out to the sidewalk covered in fairy lights.
The menu is printed daily and there are only a few choices but what they do, they do well. There was a special of the day of morel mushrooms and so we ordered that as an appetiser. It was served on toast with lots of primavera greens like broad beans, peas, mint and a touch of lemon juice. The appetiser was wonderful; the bread was crispy and crunchy with that toasted flavour and the mushrooms a rich earthiness. The greens gave colour and texture to the dish as well as adding light flavours.
Compared with Australian portions, the servings were extremely generous. The couple next to us were regulars and they shared the burger between them. They told us that when they order a main course each, they always have leftovers and ask for these to be boxed up and on their way home they give them to the homeless.
Arabella ordered the Chargrilled Burger with Roquefort Cheese and Shoestring Fries. We had a lot of burgers while in New York and Arabella said this was the best burger of all (it was also the most expensive!) She loved the blue cheese flavour that ran through the burger and the meat pattie was incredibly thick and cooked wonderfully rare. The fries were amazing as they were the thinest fries I’ve ever seen – almost as thin as a strand of pasta and there were more than a few of them. Arabella gave this a 10 out of 10.
I ordered the Grilled Skirt Steak with Crispy Potatoes, Spinach and Bearnaise. The meat was extremely tender and the cooked as I had requested it, rare, but the bearnaise was thicker than I expected and more like the consistency of an aioli. No matter, it complimented the steak beautifully.
After such filling main courses, we didn’t need dessert but went ahead and ordered them anyway. I ordered the lemon and lime tart. It had a buttery light pastry and the curd had a tang that was smooth and not overpowering.
Arabella ordered the flourless chocolate cake and it was very bitter, rich, dark, smooth and velvety. It was served with a quenelle of cream that cut through the richness beautifully. After such a big burger, Arabella could only manage a few spoonfuls.
Then it was time to find the restrooms. These are like a ‘cupboard under the stairs’. You cautiously open a door (so you don’t knock out anyone standing on the other side of it) and enter a space the size of a matchbox. Adding to the space crisis is the fact the ceiling is incredibly low. There are signs on the walls asking you to be mindful of not opening any door with force as the two unisex bathroom doors open outwards and if opened with force, would put the person standing at the basin in a long-term coma. Best to tread carefully if using the restroom.
We had a really lovely evening and found this to be a relaxed, cosy and friendly dining experience in the tradition of an old English pub that came across as ‘everyone’s favourite local’. It’s not however, cheap; the prices are quite startling and this was the most expensive meal we had during our time in New York.
Verdict: A genuine New York experience with the feel of an English pub.
The Spotted Pig: 314 W. 11th St., New York, NY 10014
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