I’m a little sad to be sitting back in my quiet home office this morning after a fantastic girls' weekend in New York City. While I was there, I ate two of the best meals I’ve ever had. One was at the hip and trendy The Spotted Pig in the West Village.
My friend Susan and I headed there at midnight on Saturday night after one of the most cringingly bad comedy club experiences ever, and we were hoping to have a restaurant experience to cancel it out. We got one.
We walked into a very crowded restaurant and were told there would be a 20-minute wait for a table. (At midnight — I definitely was not in South Jersey anymore.) We ordered wine from the bar while we waited, and our table was ready in less than 20 minutes.
Here's where the night could have gone wrong if we hadn’t had great people seated next to us. We were seated in a section where the tables were so close that our table needed to be pulled out so I could get to my seat. Once seated, I was fairly trapped. We might as well have been dining with the couple next to us. Fortunately, Susan and I hit it off with Britta and David, a young couple from Williamsburg, Va., and spent the next hour chatting with them.
The Spotted Pig is a one-star Michelin rated gastro-pub that serves “seasonal British and Italian food with local ingredients when possible.” Chef April Bloomfield trained in Ireland, England and California (at Alice Water’s Chez Panisse). She brought what she learned to New York City in 2004 when the restaurant opened with the backing of owner Ken Friedman and investors like Mario Batali and maybe Bono (rumor says he is and investor, but no one ever confirms it).
Michelin-rated, local ingredients, chef that trained at Chez Panisse, rumors of Bono — that got my attention. But what really sent me to The Spotted Pig was what I’d heard about the signature $17 burger topped with Roquefort and nothing else. Delish recently named it one of the 25 best burgers in the country, and the burger has been talked about on so many food blogs that I already knew what I was ordering before I looked at the menu.
Was this burger made from brisket, rump and chuck able to live up to its image? Yes. And again I say yes. This was the best burger I have ever eaten (unseating a burger at Philadelphia’s The Standard Tap that I ate years ago). The Spotted Pig’s burger was so moist and flavorful and there was enough Roquefort on it to get some in every bite. I think I exclaimed “oh my gosh, this is soooo gooooood” after each and every bite. The shoestring fries that came on the side were addictive, although the heap was so large that I left three-fourths of them uneaten.
Susan ordered the Crispy Pork Belly with Polenta & Chard ($27) that was also very good. Our unexpected yet welcome dinner companions Britta and David said their dinners, Smoked Haddock Chowder with Homemade Crackers ($15) and Grilled Beef Tongue with Duck Fat Potatoes & Pickled Beets ($28), were excellent, also. The great food was topped off by attentive, friendly and timely service.
If you don’t think you’ll ever make it to The Spotted Pig, Serious Eats has attempted to recreate the recipe for the burger, right down to the grilled buns. However, if you find yourself in New York City trying to decide where to eat, I highly recommend The Spotted Pig because of the great food and the emphasis on seasonal and local ingredients.
That second great meal I had over the weekend that I mentioned? I’ll tell you about that tomorrow. But I’ll tease you with this — ravioli and pistachio.