Is The Spotted Pig Worth The Hype?

spottedpig-1THE SPOTTED PIG

Neighborhood: Manhattan/West Village
314 W 11th Street
(between Greenwich St & Hudson St)
New York, NY 10014
(212) 620-0393

I visited The Spotted Pig back in the Spring, before their chef, April Bloomfield, was given a coveted Best New Chef award in the July issue of “Food and Wine” magazine.  The hype around this West Village “British Gastropub” has become somewhat cacophonous.  I don’t wish to add to the overstated buzz regarding this surprise hit whose dishes often feature animal innards not always so popular in the States, but I couldn’t resist sharing my take after a recent visit.

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The clientele and staff are certainly “hipster”, with all that word implies, though minus excess attitude.  What surprises me, given the type of food, is how Spotted Pig came to be such a favorite with rock stars, artists and all-around fashionable people?  All I know is, I felt at home in this odd little place even if the food grew tiring.

The hype grows with its three years running Michelin rating, making my expectations of the food high.  It was all of great quality, but not every combination hit the right note.  Most dishes at least intrigued me, but in the end, I came away that night feeling slightly ill every time I remembered the layer of lard-like fat atop the Pork Rillette (similar to a pate), a dish not as complex as I’d hoped. It almost tasted to me like a dry tuna.  Pan Fried Calf’s Liver with Pancetta ($16) was better, but still, more interesting than amazing.  A Prosciutto & Ricotta Tart ($16), on the other hand, was amazing – how could you go wrong with that?  Their  “Bar Snacks” actually ended up being some of the best items on the menu, like Chicken Liver Toast ($5.50), or my favorite, the Devils on Horseback ($7), prunes wrapped in bacon, dipped in honey – morsels of savory, sweet goodness.

I’ve noticed that even since my recent visit, the menu looks more palatable than ever, making good on their website claim to be “British and Italian influenced food”.  There is much I’d love to try still, such as the popular Sheep’s Ricotta Gnudi in Brown Butter and Sage ($15) or Day Boat Scallops with Corn Pudding & Basil ($32).

With the wealth of excellent food in NYC, I would hardly recommend this among a best-of, though drinks and bar snacks would start an evening in the West Village out nicely.  For those wanting to try something new, it is certainly an ambitious, though imperfect, enterprise fitting a unique niche in the city’s dining scene.