Thursday, January 03, 2008

The Spotted Pig (314 W. 11th St.)

I know that Teddy reviewed The Spotted Pig for Fergus Henderson's offal-packed guest appearance(Link), but since I missed that amazing night, I felt compelled to add my 2 cents into the proverbial pot.

After our insane culinary tour of Montreal, I had planned to take a break from heavy eating, but I couldn't pass up an opportunity to eat here with the gang. I braved the freezing cold weather yesterday (don't be fooled by the stock photo I used above, it was COLD!) to meet up with Teddy & Singapore Sid @ The Pig.

We sat at the bar by the front door downing Speckled Hen (an amazing ale). I hadn't eaten all day & we were in between lunch & dinner services, so I ordered the Chicken Liver toast from the bar menu. It was an excellent small snack to tide me over till dinner, I particularly liked the country-style toast.

It seemed to get progressively colder as we waited; customers coming in & out & the kitchen staff bringing goods up from the cellar, so the ill-fitting door was open more than not. Rather than suffer from frostbite, we moved to the upstairs bar & onto the equally tasty Captain Lawrence Pale Ale. Grant joined us shortly afterwards & we were pretty much ready to roll.

Since we were among the first people there, we got pretty much the best seat in the house; right at the top of the stairs, facing the bar. We decided to order a bunch of food & share. We started with the following;
  1. Roasted Fennel & Goat Cheese Tart.
  2. Sheep's Ricotta Gnudi w/Brown Butter & Sage.
  3. Pigs Ears.
  4. Beau Soleil Oysters w/Mignonette.
I had checked out the menu before I left the house, so I had to look up gnudi; they're basically gnocchi, but contain cheese & little or no flour (interesting article here). However you want to describe them, they were delicious! I really wasn't blown away by the tart, but did enjoy the oysters. The real star was the pigs ears. Deep fried to a crisp at temperatures nearing that of the sun, the ears were still moist & gelatinous after you bit into them. After wolfing mine down, I spent quite some time scraping the roof of my mouth to get every last morsel of that insanely amazing dish.

After our starters, things really started to get busy. Upstairs was packed with hipsters, socialites & NYC's upper crust... & there was us 4 foodies, filling our faces in the best seat! Excellent! We followed up with 3 mains;
  1. Grilled Skirt Steak with Horseradish Sauce & Roasted Beets.
  2. Sauteed Quail with Roasted Trevise & Pomegranate.
  3. Monkfish w/Marrow.
We pretty much demolished all 3 dishes in record time. I really liked the quail which were like flavorful little snacks (remember, we shared). I think we all were a bit disappointed with the Monkfish special. It turned out to be the tiniest sliver of monkfish wrapped around a large bone, hardly enough there to feed a baby mouse.

All in all, I had a great time at the Pig & would definitely be going back there. The food was top-notch (a Michelin star 3 years in a row!), the service was great (particularly from our waiter upstairs, this really cool Australian dude) & the atmosphere was crowded but cool.

My only real problems with the place (besides the monkfish) was the freezing front door, the throngs of people milling about & finally the number of staff they had working there. I mean, I love service, but the amount of waiters, porters & hangers-on they have in the joint was insane. It was hard to know who was who.

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