Monday, July 28, 2008

The Spotted Pig

Day 2, Brunch - Again, we found ourselves waiting patiently outdoors for the restaurant to open. And by patiently waited outdoors, I mean, we eagerly, yet awkwardly, opened the unlocked door to stumble in on the wait staff's pre-service meetings, got shot looks like we had just walked in on someone in the restroom and then feeblishly waited outdoors until a hostess came to inform us that they were now open. What can I say? I had read online that the place gets packed, we were attempting to make it to the ballpark in time for the first pitch, and skipping the restaurant all together was not an option. So please, Spotted Pig, forgive us for our over-eagerness and only take it as a compliment.

Chef April Bloomfield (Chez Panisee alum - go Bay Area!) has been on Iron Chef America and The Spotted Pig has been featured on Rachael Ray and Anthony Bourdain's shows, so when there wasn't a line of people behind us, it frankly surprised me and made me wonder, "Is this the right restaurant?" Perhaps people were still recovering from Friday night antics though, since about 20 minutes into our meal, the place really began to fill up. Not to mention, it's probably more of a dinner/late night snack scene with chefs and other food industry personnel dining after their shifts.

The restaurant serves seasonal British and Italian fare, using local ingredients when possible. We found ourselves in a cozy pub atmosphere that I could feel myself being a regular at (Picture above is of the first floor only since I forgot to check out the upstairs) and the wait staff was relatively attentive and friendly. Being the first meal of the day, we decided to forgo the menu items that I'd heard so much about (gnudi and burger) and instead ordered more typical brunch fare.

Ricotta and Lemon Pancakes with Maple Syrup ($16)

These actually beat my previously favorite pumpkin pie pancakes from The Griddle. They had a nice little crispiness on the outside with a light and fluffy inside from the ricotta. Blueberries and lemon always taste delicious together and the sprinkling of almonds added that extra touch. Portion-wise, when I first saw the pancakes, I worried about not having enough to eat. By the time I was licking my plate, my tummy was just right.

Cubano Sandwich with Arugula Salad ($15)

Research had turned up a lot on this little sandwich, so we decided it was worth the extra 15 minutes of preparation - and worth the wait it was, although it was certainly fun to make fun of Mr. A for his sandwich being the reason why we didn't yet have our food.

I don't think my review of the sandwich quite does it justice, so I'm turning to the help of Serious Eats here, who declares the Cubano at The Spotted Pig one of the best. "Chef-partner April Bloomfield uses heritage pork shoulder to sublime effect by brining it for three days, slow-roasting it, and then cooking it in duck and pork fat; the pickled jalapeno peppers add just the right amount of heat; Prosciutto de Parma or speck (smoked prosciutto) is a better quality ham than you will find in any other Cubano around the city; and the aged gruyere lends the whole thing a deeply funky flavor." We found the bread to be perfectly fresh, a little crunch and a little chewy. The meat had fantastic deep flavors and the pickles really added the perfect little spice kick. Oh, and the cheese. But then again, good cheese on just about anything makes me a little weak in the knees. Overall, though delicious, it was a tad on the salty side for us (another reason to order the pancakes to balance out that salt with sweet!).

Speaking of cheese, here lies our biggest qualm with our visit - our initial waitress didn't mention the specials! When we later overheard the other waitress mention a special including a glorious sounding grilled cheese, we were both quite disappointed...although we did end up order a grilled cheese to go that sure does beat any ball park food!

Next time I'm in NYC, I'll be sure to check out the late night dining scene here. Meanwhile, if you're in NYC, I'd recommend giving this place a try.

The Spotted Pig
314 W. 11th Street
@ Greenwich St.
New York, NY 10014
Tel: (212) 620-0393

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