The Spotted Pig is truly an fun experience. Delicious food (a mix of classic English and Italian cuisines), great service, and a really cool ambiance. This gastro-pub located in the West Village gets a lot of press and has always been on my list. When we (my crew that came to town this past week to cook at the James Beard House) walked in we were lucky enough to get a table right away. I have always heard its tough to get a table but I guess we had good timing. (Ok, not true-we knew someone) From the moment we were seated, it was clear that this was a laid back kind of place. With the waiters and servers in t-shirts and the walls decorated floor to ceiling in quirkiness, it didn’t take long to settle in and enjoy. And what better way to enjoy a meal then with an extensive wine collection, all reasonably priced, along with a wonderful selection of draft beer including one of my favorites, Old Speckled Hen.
But the beer isn’t the only reason to come to the Spotted Pig. To start our meal we ordered the Chicken Liver. WOW! Don’t tell my Grandma Rose, but Chef April’s is perfectly creamy, fresh and served on thick cut grilled bread. Then there was the Roasted Pumpkin Salad with Pinenuts; balanced against Baby Arugula which is peppery and coated in a dressing that made everything bright and garnished with Pecorino which added a creamy component and a few drops of Balsamic which were like perfect angel drops of tartness. If you k now me, you know I had to have the Crispy Pig’s Ear! Two HUGE flash fried ears seasoned with Sea Salt and served Radicchio and a tart Lemon, Caper Dressing. The only problem was I had to share it….
Next came the signature Sheep’s Milk Ricotta Gnudi served with brown Butter and Sage. It’s probably a good thing I had others to share with because I would have easily eaten the whole dish and asked for bread to dip in the sauce. Okay, so I did ask for bread to dip in the sauce ,but I couldn’t resist! These clouds of decadence are a must have. After stabbing the ball with your fork, a quick swirl in the brown butter sauce is necessary. Upon biting down on the gnudi, it nearly explodes on your tongue with warm sheep’s ricotta. A cheese “caviar” if you will! The melt-in-your-mouth gnudi, small, plump, lightly fried cheese dumplings. From what I can discern in the poetic language of Italian cuisine, gnudi are “nude” ravioli whose fillings have been shorn of their pasta clothing and garnished with crispy Sage Leaves.
There was also the tender Braised Octopus Stew with Olives and Saffron or the full of flavor Grilled Skirt Steak with Roasted Beets and Horseradish Cream.
Lastly we split the thick Burger which had roquefort cheese (no lettuce, no tomato, no onion) The Pig sells upwards of 250 $17 burgers a night, rumor has it that this is the single most profitable dish in NYC. The Spotted Pig gets a ton of attention for their patties and rightfully so. Served with shoestring fries was the ultimate. The burger was cooked perfectly to my liking and had so much flavor on its own. We finished the meal with the Chocolate Cake, it has a subtle and light texture, with intense chocolate flavor. The “Chocolate Nemesis”, based on the famous dessert from the River Café, is a flourless chocolate cake/pudding served with cool and Sour Crème Fraiche on the side, Once named the best chocolate dessert in New York.
Turn off the computer, call some friends and go!!