The Spotted Pig, New York.

February 2016.

This little place on West 11th Street in what I guess is the extreme West Village is one of many gems spotted as it were all over this spectacular city. It bills itself as a gastropub. The food is terrific and the atmosphere unassuming and comfortable. I’m always happy about the tendency in newish mid-scale restaurants to emphasize fatty meat, kind of in concert with the current young generation’s cigarette smoking. Fuck you, it says to “my” generation of parents with our healthy rules. And (exclusively on the culinary side mind you) that’s good by me.

We Uber’d up with our luggage on the way out of town on a Monday at noon and were cheerfully accommodated at a comfy corner table. Nice businesslike young girls man as it were the front, and an extensive team of porters and chefs come and go carrying reassuring tubs of raw ingredients from the sidewalk to the kitchen.

The wine list is short and looks thoughtfully considered. We went for a Sicilian white that was inoffensively at-expectation: fragrant and short.

The lunch menu is mouthwatering. We had a grilled cheese sandwich with onion marmalade and mustard, and a Roquefort-endowed hamburger. Onion marmalade has to be one of the happier recent fads and the sandwich was dead-centre on the comfort food map. Deliciously sour with its mustard and warm with soft bread. The burger was a hungry man’s wet dream. They asked how I wanted the meat done, and when it came “medium rare” I didn’t mind raising a quivering tired traveller’s middle finger to food health safety alongside my hosts’ red- and cool-centred patty, succulent and juicy. I love Roquefort. Its rich saltiness is a perfect natural contrast to great beef to make a gorgeous mouthful. Okay, the difficult spicules of accompanying shoestring potatoes with their rosemary and garlic were a bit frustrating, but the flavour was so good I kept stuffing.

Prices reflected a Manhattan location, our contribution refracted by the embarrasing Canadian exchange rate. You can’t go wrong here if you’re looking for really good simple food in a tastefully raucous setting. Food 9.0, service 8.4, ambience… faux old pub; like it or not, value 7.0. We would go back if we were in the neighbourhood.

About John Sloan

John Sloan is a senior academic physician in the Department of Family Practice at the University of British Columbia, and has spent most of his 40 years' practice caring for the frail elderly in Vancouver. He is the author of "A Bitter Pill: How the Medical System is Failing the Elderly", published in 2009 by Greystone Books. His innovative primary care practice for the frail elderly has been adopted by Vancouver Coastal Health and is expanding. Dr. Sloan lectures throughout North America on care of the elderly.
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