The problem with roller coasters is the line. If I have to wait for an hour and a half, it doesn’t matter how great the ride is, I will inevitably be disapointed. Some have argued that the wait only builds more excitement and nervous energy that adds to the whole experience but I’ve yet to be convinced. In the absence of a line, there is no time to think, no time to analyze, just pure adrenaline. In other words, as a good friend recently said, quoting Alex Turner from the Artic Monkeys, “Anticipation has the habit to set you up for disappointment”.
Earlier this week I decided I really wanted to try the new Vietnamese Restaurant Pho Sure. Despite the cheesy name, Pho Sure has been getting a lot of good press. Coming off the success of the Baoguette (Vietnamese Sandwich Shop) restaurants in Murray Hill and the East Village, the newest outpost would also be serving my favorite dish Pho. I could spend days discussing why Pho is the greatest soup and possibly the greatest meal of all time but I’ll just have you take my word for it. I also won’t delve too far because I get depressed knowing that with all the greatness of NYC, I can’t seem to find the quality Pho I’m so used to back in Philly. Anyways, I saw the opening for Pho Sure mentioned in the Times and couldn’t wait to give it a shot. But to my disappointment, Pho Sure had yet to be opened, with only a hope to be open by the end of the week. Luckily, my friend who lives in the area suggested an alternative. An alternative that I had been wanting to try forever, but with this quick decision made, I had no time to anticipate…
The Spotted Pig was truly an experience. Delicious food, great service, and a really cool ambiance. This gastro-pub located in the West Village gets a lot of press and has always been on my list. When we walked in we were lucky enough to get a table right away. I have always heard its tough to get a table but I guess we had good timing. From the moment we were seated, it was clear that this was a laid back kind of place. With the waiters and servers in t-shirts and the walls decorated floor to ceiling in quirkiness, it didn’t take long to settle in and enjoy. And what better way to enjoy a meal then with an extensive wine collection, all reasonably priced, along with a wonderful selection of draft beer including one of my favorites, Old Speckled Hen. But the beer isn’t the only reason to come to the Spotted Pig.
If you take a look at the NY Mag’s restaurant guide for the Spotted Pig you will notice two suggestions. Someone has clearly done their research. To start our meal we ordered a few snacks. The pot of pickles was delicious and dare I say adorable. Being served in a small glass container, just like the one you would buy at the hardware store, these fresh vegetables have been pickled to perfection and were perfect as a beginner. We also ordered devils on horseback. Not sure where the name comes from the these dates wrapped in bacon were simple and perfect. Sweet, salty, rich, and delicious. Next came the Sheep’s Milk Ricotta Gnudi served with brown butter and sage. It’s probably a good thing I had two others to share with because I would have easily eaten the whole dish and asked for bread to dip in the sauce. Okay so I did ask for bread to dip in the sauce but I couldn’t resist. These clouds of decadence are a must have and clearly NY Mag agrees. Lastly we split the Burger and a salad of fennel, celery, and botarga. The salad was a bit boring but the burger was unbelievable. This thick burger which had roquefort cheese and served with shoestring fries was the ultimate. The burger was cooked perfectly to my liking and had so much flavor on its own. No Lettuce, no red onion, and no tomato were served with this burger that only needed a cold beer and a few napkins to be perfect. And the fries were not even close to an afterthought. Crispy fried with garlic chips and rosemary, these shoestrings were piled high on the plate but didn’t last long. We didn’t have room for dessert but just enough for another beer as we decided which part of the meal was our favorite. Although no real consensus was made, only good things were said.
I doubt I would have been disappointed if I had known I was going, all day sitting at work in anticipation. But I will say, being able to get on this roller coaster without that long line truly made this dinner memorable from start to finish.
The Spotted Pig 9/10