The Spotted Pig, West Village, New York City, NY

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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