Restaurant: The Spotted Pig
Last visited: September 5, 2011
Location: Manhattan, NY (West Village)
Address: 314 W 11th St (at Greenwich Street)
Nearby subway stop: Christopher St – Sheridan Square
Price Range: $20-30
1: Poor 2: OK 3: Good 4: Very good 5: Excellent 6: Tres Excellent!!
Food: 4.5 (based on what I had)
- Since 2007
- 1 Michelin Star
- Chef April Bloomfield
- Award winning
- Seasonal menu
- Local & tourist favourite
- Popular for brunch
- Long lines at dinner hours
- Extensive beer & wine list
- Late night hot spot/Chefs’ hang out
- Very casual
- No reservations policy
- Brunch: 11am – 3pm (weekends)
- Lunch: 12 – 3pm
- Bar Menu: 3pm – 5:00pm
- Dinner: 5:30pm – 2am
**Recommendations: Chicken Liver Toast and the Gnudi is not to be missed. Order the Chargrilled Burger if you have to see what the fuss is all about, but I wasn’t as enthusiastic about it although it’s very good!
Another restaurant with impossible to see signage. This is almost a theme of good restaurants in New York. It took me a while to find this hidden gem that’s tucked away in a somewhat residential area of the West Village, but I found it! And even better was that there was only a small 20 minute line up, which is short! It’s a hot spot for brunch or dinner, but dinner has even longer waits and they don’t take reservations. Yup, it’s that big of a deal.
The Spotted Pig is a big deal and it’s not a big deal. If you ask a New Yorker some may call it “so last year” (I heard that at least a few times), but the fact is, if you’re a foodie or food enthusiast, you have to come here at least once if you’re in New York.
It may not look like it, but this is a 1 Michelin Star restaurant. It’s frequented by all types of chefs due to it’s food, drinks and late night hours (open until 2am daily). I was expecting a fancy restaurant, but it’s actually a very casual neighbourhood gastropub reminiscent of ones you might see in the UK. It looked like a place for a hangover breakfast, but more from hangovers resulting from Belevedere or Italian wine rather than Smirnoff Ice and Yellowtail. The food and ingredients speak higher than the ambiance, and although it can be stereotyped as “gourmet comfort food”, it stands out above the others in its category.
Just like Traif, it was another “pig lovers” restaurant. You could say the pig was the theme of the restaurant and the decor definitely suggests it, but it only comes up a few times on the seasonal menus. I do love the pig, but I came here for very specific menu items and neither of them had pork. So if you’re not a fan of the pig, don’t let the name stop you as it is vegetarian friendly as well.
Although The Spotted Pig may be considered “old news”, you wouldn’t know unless you lived there and were heavily invested in the food scene. It’s like the cupcake. It’s so yesterday, but it’s still good. Therefore as a tourist, this is still a solid restaurant although there are newer options that come up to its par. Nonetheless it was one of the restaurants that did deliver to its hype and I would go back again. The modern British and Italian menu was interesting and well delivered and it made me want to explore the menu more, which is all I can ask for.
On the table:
- Sheep’s Milk Ricotta Gnudi with Basil Pesto $16
- This is one of the most memorable dishes I had out of all the 150+ dishes from 58 restaurants I had in my 2 weeks in New York.
- If it’s not listed on the menu, just ask them for it and they can make it for you. That’s what I did. It’s always on the menu.
- These are the richest and creamiest, pillowy soft, melt in your mouth gnudi I have ever experienced. They’re amazing!
- Gnudi is basically gnocchi meets a ravioli, or maybe even a perogie, and the potato aspect is exchanged for cheese. Even better!
- These were super pockets of possibly one of the best tasting things you’ll come across.
- They were clouds of melting cheesy goodness floating on a classic beurre blanc sauce.
- It was ultra rich and two were more than enough to satisfy the most indulgent appetite.
- As if the soft gnocchi like skins weren’t smooth and tender enough already, but your teeth just sink into this filling of super smooth, rich and fluffy cheese that just oozes out of the dough that cradles it.
- The creamy sheep’s milk ricotta cheese filling was perhaps mixed with Parmesan to give it salty flavour and it was light yet creamy in texture. The cheese is not gamey.
- It was topped with this very fresh and high quality home made pesto that was intense with fragrant basil, toasted nutty and buttery ground pine nuts, and fruity Italian olive oil.
- I could bite into crunchy bits of pine nuts and the beurre blanc (white wine and butter sauce) intensified the richness, but luckily it had enough lemony tang to keep it balanced. It was saucy, buttery, cheesy and decadent.
- A drizzle of truffle oil may have topped it off, but I’m not complaining about anything.
- They were even better than the Butternut Squash Ravioli I enjoy so much from Cactus Club Café. I know it’s a surprising comparison, but those raviolis are amazing.
- With Roquefort Cheese & Shoestrings $17
- The burger is “the thing” here and plates of them were being served, but I think there’s better than this burger on the menu.
- The pile of fries spilling over the edges of the plate reminded me of a gourmet presentation of Five Guys Burger and Fries.
- The fries were shoestring fries, but they weren’t very crispy and actually a bit soft.
- They were very well flavoured though with shavings of crispy fried garlic chips and fried rosemary leaves throughout.
- The garlic chips and rosemary didn’t stick to the fries though so I was eating it all a bit deconstructed.
- In the realm of shoestring fries I think the most enjoyable I’ve had them was actually at Vitality Bistro Food & Spirits in Oregon – see White Truffle Baked Parmesan Fries. A very unexpected find!
- Although I did enjoy the burger very much, I wouldn’t say it’s the best I’ve had, but it does have hype as “the best burger in NY”.
- At a gourmet level I still enjoy The Grille’s Signature Cheeseburger at The Capital Grille, and there were other burgers in New York that could top this one at The Spotted Pig.
- The burger was just a bit simple with few ingredients and toppings, but it was patty focused.
- The best thing was that this burger came medium rare. That’s perfectly cooked for me and it was actually served medium rare.
- I do like the patty to cover the surface of the bun though, and as much as I love brioche buns, it was still too much bun for me.
- I loved the grill marks on the bun, but the bun was actually a bit dry and thick, although soft.
- It wasn’t the greatest brioche bun and I was hoping it to be much lighter, fluffier and at least moist.
- My favourite brioche bun is still from the Lambwich at Belle’s on Thirty Two Restaurant.
- The beef was buttery, tender and moist, with a good fat to meat ratio, but it wasn’t leaking or bursting beef juices with every bite.
- The beef juices were in the patty, but it still wasn’t as juicy as I’ve had. The flavourings were easy and simple and it was just natural tasting beef flavour.
- The saltiness came from the salty blue cheese. It was crumbled and melted on top of the patty. It wasn’t a ton, but it was enough that I could taste it.
- I love blue cheese, but non-blue cheese lovers could tolerate this too.
- Some crispy fried onions or something more would have helped the burger along with a better brioche bun recipe.
- Cubano Sandwich with Mixed Greens $18
- The menus are seasonal so this Cubano is not always available.
- This “ham and cheese sandwich” was made with prosciutto and Gruyere, and it was grilled and pressed like a panini.
- Being at The Spotted Pig, I felt it was necessary to order something with pork, and this was one of the few items being featured where pork was the highlight.
- It was a great Cubano, but I don’t think it was really worth it.
- I enjoy gourmet Cubanos, but it’s not something that has to be. Some of the street style Cubanos I had in New York were actually more enjoyable regardless of the price difference.
- This Cubano bread was thin and crunchy and very well buttered with a tangy spicy relish to help balance out the richer pork and prosciutto sandwiched inside.
- I would have preferred much more roasted pulled pork, especially for the price, but it was savoury, juicy and well seasoned. It wasn’t sauced, and it shouldn’t be, and there were no strong spices, and if there was I couldn’t taste them.
- The thin single layer of prosciutto got a bit lost and I was hoping it would be crispy so that it would almost mimic bacon.
- I could taste some buttery melted Gruyere Cheese, but I needed more of that too.
- The pickled and tangy spicy hot peppers were a bit dominating and I couldn’t taste the mustard either and I think I just wanted the pork flavour to stand out more.
- The bread was one of the highlights, and that was one of my favourite parts to this sandwich. It was more like Italian bread and it simply added great flavour and crunchy texture.
The Spotted Pig does offer a few desserts, but I was off to Chelsea Markets for dessert, so I passed. However if you do want dessert and there’s nothing on the menu you want, then I would also recommend The Magnolia Bakery since it’s only a block or two away. It’s famous for starting the cupcake craze and known for their Red Velvet Cupcake. I didn’t try one and people will always debate who has ” the best cupcake in NY”, but this is one of New York’s most popular and beloved cupcake shops. It was featured on Sex and the City and The Devil Wears Prada, but just be prepared for long line ups.