Okay, so this is probably just a little quirk of mine and not universal at all, but I frequently have this dilemma where I’m trying to decide what meal I should eat at a restaurant for the best experience. By that I mean, should I go for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner to really understand and see what a restaurant can do. I know, I know…true first world problems, and a lot of it stems from the fact that I don’t really eat somewhere twice just because there’s so much else out there I want to try. Irrationally, it’s a one-shot kind of thing in my head, so I want to get it right (even though really, when is eating at a good restaurant ever wrong?). Luckily for me, I didn’t have to think too hard about The Spotted Pig because I came in focused in on one entree alone–the burger–and that baby was on EVERY menu.
The Spotted Pig is one April Bloomfield’s restaurants. You might recognize her from some of the Mind of a Chef episodes or from the fact that two of her restaurants (this one and The Breslin) each have a Michelin star. Supposedly The Spotted Pig is one of Kanye West’s favorite restaurants. YEAH. Now, their burger is the stuff of legend. It’s on plenty of “Best Burger” lists, and it actually just made the The Daily Meal’s “The 101 Best Burgers in America” at #3. When you see it on the menu, it actually looks quite simple. It’s described as a “chargrilled burger with Roquefort cheese and shoestring fries.” That’s it. No fancy truffles or even tomatoes, lettuce, and onion here. It’s to the point, and with so few ingredients and so much buzz, there must be something to it.
But let me back up a little bit and describe the restaurant itself. It’s in a brick red building on a quiet corner in the West Village, and the outside is surrounded by variously pots and planters filled with greenery and flowers. The inside is casual, yet impeccably pieced together to create a stylish, tavern/pub-like atmosphere. There are squat little cushioned stools for seating, tons of figurines and decorations with pigs on them, brick archways in the main dining floor, and an upstairs with even more eclectic touches. Overall, it has that charming, thrown-together look where when you look more closely, everything is picked and placed just right.
To the food! Brunch is one of the more popular meal times here, so while my friend and I did go on a Sunday afternoon, it didn’t really matter because their famous burger is offered all day as I mentioned before. Other brunch menu items include the dutch baby with house bacon and maple syrup, lemon ricotta pancake with candied almonds, and pork rillette with mustard and pickles. The main difference in menus is really between brunch/lunch and dinner, which offers additional entrees and sides like the grilled skirt steak with roasted potatoes, asparagus, and bearnaise and the butter roasted turnips. All in all, the food is a combination of British and Italian and uses local ingredients whenever possible.
Have I made you wait long enough to talk about the burger? Well, here it goes.
It was everything I wished it would be.
I must say I’m a sucker for when menu items have a long list of interesting ingredients, so if I wouldn’t have known that this burger was a “thing,” I probably would’ve glossed right over it. Lucky me! Perfectly cooked and juicy with the nice tang and pungency from the cheese, it didn’t need anything else. And those fries! In my book, skinny fries > wedges any day, and these were so thin and crisp and flavorful. It was actually a running joke between my friend and I throughout the meal that we were having such difficulty eating them because we would only be able to pick up so many at once and it felt like a never-ending pile that was taking hours to get through. But I’m not complaining!
The Spotted Pig doesn’t take reservations, but adorably, the hosts have maps of the neighborhood so you can check out the West Village if you have to wait. They also take down your number so you don’t have to hang around outside waiting for your name to be called. On their website, they mention that 7 to 10 pm is their busiest time, so something to think about if you’re planning a trip here to try the burger. Because yes, it is worth the hype.
Chargrilled burger with Roquefort cheese and shoestring fries
314 W 11th St
New York, NY 10014