Thursday, September 10, 2009

Travel Dish: The Spotted Pig

Continuing reports of “The Single Guy and The City” as I blog from New York.

Classing Up the Pig
314 W. 11th St. (at Greenwich St.), New York
Greenwich Village
PH: 212.620.0393
Open daily for weekday lunch, weekend brunch and dinner
No reservations, major credit cards accepted

There’s a lot of pressure being a food lover visiting New York. There are so many buzz-worthy eateries to try, but after awhile you just don’t feel like making any more decisions about breakfast, lunch and dinner.

That was the case when I was planning to get together with my friend Sylvia. I’d already eaten several fantastic meals in New York, but the richness of the food was probably getting to me and I started to feel ambivalent about eating. (Yes, it does happen to me now and then.) So I left it up to Sylvia to decide where we would meet for dinner.

The only requirements I requested was that it was casual since I’ll be wearing shorts coming straight from spending all day watching the U.S. Open. Sylvia selected The Spotted Pig, a popular gastropub in Greenwich Village that she says is her go-to spot for out-of-town guests. Also, Sylvia was craving the restaurant’s specialty drink Pimms Cup, which they only make during the summer.

I’d heard about the Spotted Pig, but never been to it. It’s been open for a few years, and the owners also own another popular restaurant called John Dory. The restaurant feels like it’s on the edge of the Greenwich Village neighborhood away from the hustle and bustle of the main drag and instead nestled among the brick town homes.

When you have a place called The Spotted Pig, you can imagine a lot of pig paraphernalia everywhere, starting with the big ceramic pig flying above the entrance. The pub looks small when you arrive, but there’s also a second floor space that Sylvia and I were taken to.

Sylvia ordered her Pimms Cup, made of pimms and ginger soda. It did look refreshing, and I liked how the early evening light backlit it. I ordered a beer called Speckled Hen Pub Ale that was full body. I just wished it was colder, but Sylvia says that the English serves it room temperature. They also always have cold fog.

The menu was an interesting mix of starters and entrees and they take their pig theme seriously because several dishes had pork or pig parts like pig cheeks and crispy pig ears. Like I said earlier, I was wimping out on eating after a few days at some fancy Manhattan restaurants so Sylvia and I decided to just order a few starter dishes instead of entrees.

We decided to share a starter called Ricotta Gnudi with Brown Butter and Sage ($15) because it definitely sounded rich. But our server gave such an enticing description we just had to order it. The gnudi were little pasta balls, almost a cross between a ravioli and gnocchi. Each gnudi was will filled with milky ricotta and then quickly pan-fried. This was so amazing because of the fresh milk flavor and the melt-in-your mouth gnudi. It did feel rich, but it was well worth it.

Sylvia ordered the gazpacho soup ($13) and a side order of beans ($8). She was really excited about her soup, which came out in a glass cup. It did look like it had a variety of ingredients in it, and it was more a creamy orange color instead of tomato red. I tried a bit and agreed that it was not your typical gazpacho that always taste just like tomato sauce to me. This had many layers of flavor and was very enjoyable.

I got the Seared Squid Salad ($18), which was a generous helping of greens and squid. It was lightly dressed with a vinaigrette and sprinkled with fried chickpeas (which I had recently at another restaurant in a salad). I liked how all the ingredients tasted fresh.

I also ordered the Pig Cheeks ($18), which wasn’t the most pretty of dishes (it looked like a big brown glob). But how can you make cheeks pretty? I’d eaten cheeks once before and The Spotted Pig’s version was just as tender as I’ve had before. Pig cheeks remind me of cow’s tongue that my mom make. So I have no problems eating them. These pig cheeks had lots of flavor, with a slight twang.

Everything about The Spotted Pig was comforting and surprising at the same time. Our server was helpful and engaging, adding to the overall neighborly vibe. And the food was tasty and inventive, which gave me a second wind in wanting to explore food again. I was expecting to spend most of the night catching up with Sylvia, but I was pleased to discover another great restaurant in Manhattan.

Single guy rating: 3.75 stars (Wonderful Standby)

Explanation of the single guy's rating system:

1 star = perfect for college students
2 stars = perfect for new diners
3 stars = perfect for foodies
4 stars = perfect for expense accounts
5 stars = perfect for any guy's dream dinner

Spotted Pig on Urbanspoon

Travel here too:
Axel Kitchen (Buenos Aires)


agent713 said...

I think this is on my list of places to hopefully visit when I get to NYC. The Ricotta Gnudi sounds fabulous!

And is it just me or did you eat a lot of squid and octopus in NY? ;)

Single Guy Ben said...

Yes, I love squid and octopus, especially grilled and done well! And when in New York, I've been eating a lot of pig too! See Saturday's post to see what I mean! ;-)