The Spotted Pig

In this solo dining adventure, Gary enjoys dinner at The Spotted Pig when good friend JP makes his way into New York City late on a Friday night.


A busy night at The Spotted Pig’s bar.

A few months back, friend of the blog JP and I came up with a list of restaurants we wanted to try in New York City. Being the huge tech geeks that we are, the list lives on Google Wave. As the list expanded, forcing us to come up with different categories, one we didn’t use was “burgers to try” despite the fact that there were some places listed solely on the existence of a standout burger. One such place was the April Bloomfield’s The Spotted Pig in the West Village.

The reason we were clamoring for their burger that night was because of A Hamburger Today having published a how-to on making The Spotted Pig burger at home. JP and I had been talking throughout the week about going but the article just tipped us over the edge, making it a necessity we go and a major disappointment if we didn’t get in. When I mentioned our plans to another friend (Dave G.), he said that trying to get in “on a Friday night is a hipster bloodsport, son,” something that may have been made more difficult with the AHT article going up the same day. Surprisingly, we got there at 10 pm and were told it would be an hour and a half wait, but we were seated within an hour. Mission accomplished!

By the way, lest I be chastised for distilling the place as just another spot with a hyped (or over-hyped depending on who you ask) burger, I’m well aware of the fantastic menu there. The Pan Fried Calf’s Liver or the Braised Rabbit are things I would normally order, especially at a restaurant of the esteem that The Spotted Pig is held. One of the specials that night, a the Stuffed Pig’s Ear, was almost enough to push me off my plans for a burger that night. But, no, a burger is what I wanted and, goddamn, that’s what I was gonna get.


Potted Beef on Toast with Cornichons.

We started with one of the special appetizers of the day, the Potted Beef on Toast. When I saw that on the menu, I immediately thought of chipped beef or, as those in the military would put it, Shit On a Shingle. To my relief, this was nothing like you’d find in an MRE. This was a creamy, beefy tasting pâté-like spread which, served with toast and cornichons, made for a nice start.


Deviled Eggs.

Ordering the deviled eggs was a fait accompli – The Spotted Pig is known to make a great deviled egg and to not try it in my first visit here would be foolish. The filling was mustardy as expected and, with the addition of the chili flakes, had quite a bit of kick to it. Loaded on top with chives, sitting in a pool of olive oil, and sprinkled with plenty of salt, they were not, to quote JP, “discreet about flavor.”


Chargrilled Burger with Roquefort Cheese & Shoestrings.

Appetizers consumed, it was time for the raison d’être, the infamous The Spotted Pig burger. We ordered it medium-rare as the chef intended for it to be served (JP asked for the burger to be cooked whatever way the chef thought it should be; I just dittoed that) and, when I cut the sucker in half, I quickly confirmed that it was cooked precisely to that level. On my first bite, I actually bit into the middle of the burger from the cut side so I could be sure I got the whole strata of burger – soft brioche bun, a healthy dose of the Roquefort, and the differently cooked levels of ground beef. The tangy saltiness of the cheese and the wonderfully chargrilled beef went perfectly together and even the brioche bun, which is something I normally would not go for to hold a burger, managed to hold up.

All the flavors on the burger work well together, at least at the beginning. As I took more bites of the burger, it became obvious to JP and myself that the cheese was just too strong, overwhelming the beef’s more delicate (by comparison) flavor. This was compounded by the shoestrings which, don’t get me wrong, I loved but had way too much salt. I could only finish half of the fries on my plate because all I could taste on my tongue was salt. On the other hand, JP managed to finish all his fries (that Irish constitution), leaving behind only a sea of fried garlic chips, something that I am proud to say that I did not leave unfinished on my plate.


The kitchen staff works to keep up the pace on a busy Friday night.

Final Thoughts

Despite the overpowering cheese (simple solution being to just scrape it off, leaving as much as you can stand), the burger here is outstanding and deserving of the pedestal others have placed it on. Is it as good as the Minetta Tavern Black Label Burger? No and it’s not even close. Even at $26 for Minetta’s Black Label and $17 for the The Spotted Pig’s, I think the Black Label is actually the better value. Don’t take that as a slam of the Pig’s burger but as a qualifying observation. I’d gladly order this again when I come here (oh, there will be future visits) though maybe I’ll try to work my way through the other enticing entrees before I circle back to the burger.

The Spotted Pig. 314 West 11th Street, New York, NY 10014. [Show/Hide Map] (212) 620-0393.

8 Comments

  1. Gary — I like your friend Dave G.’s turn of phrase “hipster bloodsport”, which can probably be applied to most places in NYC on a Friday night. I applaud your stick-to-itiveness, though I’m sure it was worth the wait. One of the better burgers in the city, though in my opinion a little bit of cheese goes a long way. I love the fries, but the saltiness can be uneven at times. In your ongoing search for good burgers the old standbys such as: Corner Bistro, Fanelli’s or Donovan’s Pub (in Woodside) are can’t-miss. My new favorites are the
    ones served at Prune, Telepan and Stand. Happy Hunting. Thanks Gary.

    1. @Mike I’ve had the burgers from Corner Bistro and Donovan’s Pub (post-Mets game meal!) but not Fanelli’s. Will get to that someday. Prune is on the list of burgers to try and I’m hoping to knock that one off soon.

  2. I like the Spotted Pig Burger ok. But just as a basis for comparison, I feel the same way about the Prune burger that Kate feels about Amy’s Pink Cake.
    Plus, I think the shoestrings at the Pig are annoying. Too much effort to eat, and you’re constantly ending up with salt and grease all over your hands. The Prune fries are like an upscale take on Mickey D’s fries.

  3. gary– i’m feeling defensive for what i thought was one of tastiest burgers in the city (in my burger eating days). dude, you Don’t Like Cheese in the first place– don’t you think you’re a touch biased to be saying there’s too much on the spotted pig burger?
    yes, it has been several years since i’ve had one, but i actually enjoyed it several times. it was one of the select few that i visited in my month of saying goodbye to burgers. for me, the richness of the meat and the buttery sweetness of the bun are the perfect contrasts to the sharp blue cheese. just my opinion of course. 🙂
    i agree with Dave on the fries though. super annoying to eat.

    1. @kate It’s absolutely a great burger but the cheese was totally overwhelming. It had nothing to do with me not liking cheese (though I’m working on that one) but the Roquefort ain’t exactly a mild flavor. The burger definitely benefitted from the addition of the cheese but I just didn’t need as much as they put on it. Of course I’ll never be able to get you to come around on that because you Don’t Eat Meat!
      @dave I agree with you and Kate on the fries – it’s too much work to eat them. That and the saltiness made it easy for me to leave a lot of it on the plate.

  4. I know I am late to the party but…
    @kate There is too much cheese. I love cheese and the amount we got overwhelmed the meaty goodness of the well chosen and cooked meat. Other than that it was very good.
    @dave @Gary Really my problem with the fries were the salt and flavors. Good at first but over the top quickly.

  5. well hearing it from you JP, makes it official. i believe gary now. there must have been too much cheese on your poor little burgers.
    back in the day (2006/07) when i ate that burger semi-regularly, it was a restrained little shmear of blue cheese goodness. maybe whoever was making it the night you guys were there had a heavy hand. it’s tragic, really. you’ll have to go back.

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