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The Spotted Pig, Gastropub in the West Village - Owner Ken Friedman Once Again Caught Without Any Chefs, as Gabrielle Hamilton and Ashley Merriman Depart - Closed Jan 26, 2020


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314 W. 11th Street (Greenwich Street)
New York, NY 10014
Phone (212) 620-0393
Web: http://thespottedpig.com/
Menu: http://thespottedpig.com/food.php

For my last meal on a (too) brief trip to New York, I went to The Spotted Pig in the West Village. It was my first time at April Bloomfield's much-hyped Gastropub (an overused term that actually applies here), and I enjoyed it quite a bit. I started with a Spotted Pig Bitter ($10) from one of their two beer engines, an excellent rendition of the style. Next I went with a Smoked Trout Salad with Creme Fresh and Pickled Onions ($16), an arguala salad with chunks of good, lightly-smoked fish that seemed too heavily dressed at first, but the dressing had such a balance an brightness it worked. I paired a La Formica Soave ($13) with it that was a nice match. For my main I had the special of the day, Pork Cheek Faggots (I swear that's how it was written on the board) with English Peas and Mustard, which were kind-of like football shaped sausages, kind-of like meatballs, and kind of like braised shortrib (except, obviously, cheek), and, though a bit over-salted, delicious. Despite the salt, I get them again without a second thought. I ordered a Domaine Jessiaume Pinot Noir with it that was also a good paring. All-in-all, for $90, it was not a bargain, but a nice meal in a place I'm eager to return to. Particularly for the burger, served with shoestring fries ($20), which many in the dining room ordered and which looks incredible.

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Given that The Spotted Pig was a 2016 James Beard national finalist for "Outstanding Restaurant," I went there for a second visit, and left over $100 (just over $100) poorer, but not at all disappointed; in fact, I was quite pleased with every aspect of my meal.

Starting with the wines - I'd gotten to the restaurant just before 5 PM, right when they stop serving food at the bar, but before they begin seating for dinner at 5:30. I pulled up the very last bar stool, right at the pass, and enjoyed a glass of white wine ($10). The Spotted Pig has very good wines by the glass, and it's really not necessary to know the producers or vintages; regions alone are perfectly adequate with this cuisine, and given how strong their wines are by the glass - they aren't inexpensive, but they're quite good. I don't even remember the varietal I had, because I was so zonked when I got there - it might have been a Savennières (Chenin Blanc), but I was just grateful for a place to sit down, and for a glass of wine in my hands - I nursed it for a good thirty minutes.

Having put my name on the list early, I got a two-top right at 5:30, when the restaurant was still empty (but it filled quickly on this Monday evening). I ordered a glass of Rudolf May Silvaner Trocken ($13), a wonderfully aromatic wine that was fermented completely dry, and was a logical follow-up to my Chenin Blanc.

For my first course, I wanted something that would match the wine, and I selected the Sheep's Milk Ricotta Gnudi with Basil Pesto ($20), and oh my goodness, this dish was just about perfect. A medium-sized bowl of gnudi, with the most wonderful lemon-butter sauce surrounding the fresh pasta and well-sourced ricotta. I was starving, and it was a food-and-wine pairing that was pretty much made in heaven. I positively savored each piece of gnudi, and didn't waste a droplet of sauce, and when I was finished with this course, I was a new man - having gone from exhausted, to invigorated.

I hadn't eaten the entire day, so I was truly hungry. For my entrée, I ordered the Grilled Skirt Steak with Broccolini, Romesco Sauce, and Cipollini Onions ($35). I'm not sure when skirt steak got so expensive, but this is one hell of a lot of money - and it didn't come out flopping off the plate as it sometimes does; it was sliced, thus difficult to tell about the portion size, but it was ordered and cooked to a perfect medium-rare, and everything on the plate was in sync. It was a great, if fiendishly expensive, skirt steak, and a large-enough portion so that I was quite full when I'd finished. One thing I noticed is that, despite it being a Monday night, every single detail on both plates was perfectly executed (including the all-important sauces) - when you have name recognition like The Spotted Pig, you get to hire the cream-of-the-crop when it comes to line cooks and sous chefs, and it really showed on this drizzly Monday - the kitchen was doing outstanding work.

With my steak, I'd ordered a glass of Domaine Ruet Brouilly ($15), a single-village, cru Beaujolais that might have been a touch light for this dish, but it was the wine I wanted, so I got it anyway (you're better off with something from the Rhone Valley here).

Had this been an ordinary meal, I would have left full and happy, but I really wanted to test this restaurant, so I got a Blueberry Tart ($10) for dessert, and yes, it had been pre-prepped sometime earlier, but it was still really well-made, and the blueberries themselves were just as you'd want them - not west-coast good, but still good. A fitting finish to a meal that hit on all notes, met-and-surpassed my reasonably high expectations, and reaffirmed just how good of a gastropub this restaurant is (and The Spotted Pig *is* a gastropub). It might not be fancy, but it's worthy of consideration for the Beard Award.

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55 minutes ago, DonRocks said:

I hadn't eaten the entire day, so I was truly hungry. For my entrée, I ordered the Grilled Skirt Steak with Broccolini, Romesco Sauce, and Cipollini Onions ($35). I'm not sure when skirt steak got so expensive, but this is one hell of a lot of money - and it didn't come out flopping off the plate as it sometimes does; it was sliced, thus difficult to tell about the portion size, but it was ordered and cooked to a perfect medium-rare, and everything on the plate was in sync. It was a great, if fiendishly expensive, skirt steak, and a large-enough portion so that I was quite full when I'd finished. One thing I noticed is that, despite it being a Monday night, every single detail on both plates was perfectly executed (including the all-important sauces) - when you have name recognition like The Spotted Pig, you get to hire the cream-of-the-crop when it comes to line cooks and sous chefs, and it really showed on this drizzly Monday - the kitchen was doing outstanding work.

I can tell you from experience (as I worked there in 2008), that no matter the day and no matter the shift, this place is run with the utmost attention to detail.

Back then, the skirt steak was $28 and it was served kind of like a Thai style steak salad. I remember thinking how outrageously expensive it was. But they were always full and people never really barked at the prices for the skirt steak or the beef tongue or lamb heart.

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16 minutes ago, Simul Parikh said:

Trying to go Saturday evening. How long are the waits? If I went at 6, think I could eat around 8? 4 people.

I don't know; I do know that if you went at 6, you wouldn't be eating at 6 - if you get there at 5:30 on the dot, you can be *out* by 8.

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Got there at about 545p, seated at about 745p. 

Neat place. Cool drinks/atmosphere. Very loud. Almost communal dining. Luckily, seated next to two guys from Melbourne who were quite charming and funny.

Got the chicken liver toast and the pickled herring. I liked them both a lot. Lady friend did not like either. Rutgers Oncologist enjoyed both, though, not as much as me. They split the burger and the skirt steak. The burger was overpowered by the bleu cheese, and neither would put it in the top tiers of burgers that they've had, although it was cooked a legit medium. The skirt steak was enjoyed. I had the squid stew, which was on toast, and brussel sprouts. I liked the squid. Was tender. 

Not a very detailed review, but honestly, not super impressed with this place. The Gnudi wasn't available, but I would have liked to have tried that. How about a pasta place called "The Gnudi Bar"? I'm hilarious. 

The skirt steak was $35. The burger was $25. The Gilded Age ...

Prior to that, we went to McSorley's. How fun is that place!! 

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It had been a year or two, but we interrupted our four-day dumpling extravaganza last weekend for some Spotted Pig. Where, of course, we immediately ordered the gnudi. (dumplings! ahahah.) We also ordered and inhaled the Devils on Horseback as well as Deviled Eggs. We valiantly held onto the gnudi bowl and defended it against all service staff until my rillettes and toasted bread showed up... and our server volunteered to get us more toasted bread, for which I could have kissed her. and then the burrata and squash showed up, along with Nick's sage shoestring fries. We rounded it all out with homemade ice cream and a couple cocktails. It's less crowded than it used to be (although, NYC on a fairly empty holiday weekend is perhaps not the best metric), but, the food and the drinks and the service were excellent as always.

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Ken Friedman, Power Restaurateur, Is Accused of Sexual Harassment, by Julia Moskin and Kim Severson, December 12, 2017 on nytimes.com.  Guest appearance by Mario Batali, aka the Red Menace.  I wonder if the James Beard Foundation can revoke that award to Friedman for outstanding restaurateur of the year on the basis of after-acquired evidence?  If the IOC can strip Olympic medals, I don't see why not.  I consider doping a much lesser offense.

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On 12/12/2017 at 1:40 PM, dcs said:

Ken Friedman, Power Restaurateur, Is Accused of Sexual Harassment, by Julia Moskin and Kim Severson, December 12, 2017 on nytimes.com.  Guest appearance by Mario Batali, aka the Red Menace.  I wonder if the James Beard Foundation can revoke that award to Friedman for outstanding restaurateur of the year on the basis of after-acquired evidence?  If the IOC can strip Olympic medals, I don't see why not.  I consider doping a much lesser offense.

The James Beard Foundation Is ‘Evaluating Its Policies’ In Light of Industry Harassment Reports, by Hillary Dixler Canavan, December 14, 2017, 7:45pm EST, on eater.com.

Hmmm...  maybe somebody is listening.

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31 minutes ago, dcs said:

What a great interview. Even back in college Ashley was well-spoken and had an interesting, nuanced perspective. Here's hoping that they right the ship, for the good of the nearly 100 people employed at the Spotted Pig.

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I really do get that lots of employees are negatively affected if this place closed, but some of the industry's reputable folk could have picked them up at other local places if Hamilton/Merriman and others helped broker a deal.   Instead, its annoying that they will be partnering with Ken Friedman.  Should he have been bailed out in this way or should he have been pushed to leave the business the way Batali & others have?  And, is it really possible to continue running a top restaurant in a location where the industry's offenders had a "rape room"?  Seems more than a little tone deaf to me.  Not that I was ever a regular at either place, but I don't think I'll be going to Spotted Pig or Prune anytime soon,  whereas I've not stopped going to Otto or other ex-Batali places.  Just me?

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9 hours ago, Steve R. said:

I really do get that lots of employees are negatively affected if this place closed, but some of the industry's reputable folk could have picked them up at other local places if Hamilton/Merriman and others helped broker a deal.   Instead, its annoying that they will be partnering with Ken Friedman.  Should he have been bailed out in this way or should he have been pushed to leave the business the way Batali & others have?  And, is it really possible to continue running a top restaurant in a location where the industry's offenders had a "rape room"?  Seems more than a little tone deaf to me.  Not that I was ever a regular at either place, but I don't think I'll be going to Spotted Pig or Prune anytime soon,  whereas I've not stopped going to Otto or other ex-Batali places.  Just me?

Probably not just you. I’ve been off of Batali places since way back when he was taking tip money.

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1 hour ago, guanabana said:

Gabrielle Hamilton and Ashley Merriman Dreamed of Writing the Second Chapter in the #MeToo Story; Instead, they got scorched, by Maggie Bullock 14 Oct 2018 Grubstreet/New York magazine

Crafty PR, but I'm still left with more questions than answers and the sense that there's some amount of eliding.

Not having read the article yet, I'm fascinated by why you say this - can you expand? Even just on "unlikely-but-possible" scenarios?

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16 hours ago, dcs said:

The Spotted Pig, Where Employees Were Sexually Harassed, Closes, by Julia Moskin and Kim Severson, January 27, 2020, on nytimes.com.

Not having followed this as closely as I should have (please read that clause until you're not irked at this), I'm "shocked and saddened" by the loss of The Spotted Pig - I have some wonderful memories here, and I'm having a tough time visualizing its absence. ☹️

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