The Spotted Pig is somewhat of an institution in New York City’s West Village, which I’ve concluded is my favorite area in Manhattan. Small, winding streets, some cobblestoned, are lined with quaint retail storefronts and attractive Boston-like townhomes. The Pig has been on the scene since 2003, certainly not as long as many beloved New York icons. But it was one of the first gastropubs so it has a unique spot in the city’s food lore.
Gastropubs are popping up all over the country, but what are they really? A gastropub is a pub that serves high quality food, and no one does it better than chef/owner April Bloomfield, which only makes sense since she hails from England. The Spotted Pig also has a quirky and fun vibe. Walking through the door, it’s hard to know where to look first, there’s so much to take in. An attractive bar is situated in the first of two rooms, rooms that are barely separated by an arched, punched-out brick wall, and all of the tables are crammed close together. The ceiling is lined with pressed tin, and small porcine figurines dot the restaurant. The restaurant is bigger than it looks at first glance; there’s a second floor full of tables and another bar. Potted plants overflowing with herbs and flowers cover the walls outside to complete the charming scene.
The menu only has a handful of entrees, but the large assortments of “Plates” (considered first courses or appetizers) range from roasted beets and smoked haddock chowder to soft shell crab and ricotta gnudi.
I was there for lunch, and decided to listen to all of the reviewers who have raved about the hamburger with blue cheese. It was huge, juicy and heavenly. I don’t eat meat, much less a burger, very often, so when I do it has to be something special, and this was. It definitely lived up to the hype.
We also enjoyed a wonderful pressed Cuban sandwich with slices of pork tenderloin and swiss cheese. I think I detected ham as well, which is a traditional ingredient, but it was definitely heavy on the pork. It didn’t have mustard as a Cuban typically does, but it was loaded with pickles and I got mustard on the side so I was a happy camper. The burger came with a huge mound of shoestring fries, the ideal accompaniment for both sandwiches.
The Spotted Pig doesn’t take reservations, which is why I went for lunch on a Monday, figuring I wouldn’t have trouble getting a table and I didn’t. I’d love to go for dinner or brunch sometime, but I’m not especially fond of waiting for a table. I suspect it would be worth the patience to go back. If our two dishes were any indication, there’s a reason the Spotted Pig has achieved cult status.