Sometime in March 2010, the NJ Turnpike was backed up for miles because an over-sized truck crashed into an overpass. Can you imagine being the truck driver that had to call up his boss to break him the news? “Eh, uh. Boss? I underestimated how tall the truck is and uh, sorta, broke the overpass.”
Now can you imagine the guy, behind in the kitchen, who’s making the batch of burgers and accidentally knocking over the jar of salt? “Hey uh, boss, I accidentally used a bit of too much salt in that meat.”
Yeah- so much salt that I ran into Mickey D’s for Sprite and chugged bottles of water after I got home. What a painful bus ride home.
The Spotted Pig rides on a coveted resume that could turn any hopeless restaurant into an esteemed establishment. First you have Mario Batali, who is the partner of April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman (the owners). No introduction necessary there on Batali’s part. Then you have April herself, whose background includes a stint at the famous Chez Panisse run by Alice Waters. For those of you that aren’t familiar with Chez Panisse, it’s the crown jewel of the slow food movement, where dining meets organic and fresh, locally grown ingredients. Rumor even has it that April worked with and came highly recommended by the awesome Jamie Oliver. Clearly, The Spotted Pig comes from a good pedigree.
Since the restaurant doesn’t accept reservations (and we got lost), we waited for about 20 minutes for two top on a beautiful Saturday night around 6:30pm. We waited at the bar downstairs on plush covered stools, sipping beer on ‘draught.’ If you’re a Blue Moon type of person, I’d definitely try the Harpoon “UFO.” There’s limited seating downstairs, but upstairs, there’s another bar with some more seats.
Devils on Horseback: Bacon wrapped prunes with pear ($7)
We were seated in a round corner that somehow magically seats six tables of two. That’s because there are no chairs, just a long, curving booth-like couch with individual circular tables. So if you could imagine two people dining at a table while both sitting on the same couch, well, let’s just say that you better be comfortable with whomever you’re dining with. Needless to say, everyone in that room was a couple, except for Sabrina and me.
While we were waiting at the bar, we repeatedly saw this dish that had bacon wrapped… somethings. We couldn’t find it on the menu, but the server informed us that they were “Devils on Horseback.” Of course we had to get some.
They were seriously and undoubtedly the best apps I’ve had in a long while. I don’t think I need to tell you how wonderfully well bacon works with just about everything. But when you combine that salty yet succulent stomach fat with the sweet prunes- man. It’s just magic.
Chargrilled Burger with Roquefort cheese & shoestrings ($17)
Is it surprising that I got the burger? Besides the fact that I had absolutely no interest in anything else on the menu (like pig ears?!) The Spotted Pig’s burger has repeatedly been dubbed as the absolute best in NYC. I’ve read that the burger is a combination of different kinds of meat- chuck, short rib, and even pork?! Either way, the first bite is simply what you’d imagine what paradise would taste like if it were made of burgers. Juicy, tender, and just oh so flavorful. That first bite answered our question as to why the burger is served naked- sans tomato and lettuce.
- The meat itself (or at least within the first bite) is without a doubt the most flavorful burger I’ve ever tasted. At medium rare, it’s still tender pink and oozing with juice.
- Love, LOVE the brioche bun and the chargrilled marks. Massively impressed that the bottom bun was able to hold up from the juice that was running from the burger
- The Roquefort cheese. Some people say that it’s too overpowering, but I say that it added a nice contrast. Except somewhere between the fifth bite and the last, I could no longer tell the difference between the Roquefort and the salt.
- Dear god, the amount of salt! After the first bite, I commented that it was a bit salty. Then the third bite, even saltier. In fact, it was so salty that I couldn’t even taste the seasoning from the fries, and I even tried some of the fried rosemary! For the last few bites, I had to cut the burger in half because of the salt. It was heart wrenching.
- The shoelace fries. They’re a bit too thin, to the point where each bite is bursting with oil and not potato. I suppose it’s meant to be like that but…
The salt couldn’t have been from the cheese because Sabrina ordered hers sans cheese. She did take half the burger home and admitted that when eaten at room temperature, the salt is more bearable.
Had it not been for the salt, this burger would have, hands down, topped even Shake Shack (which I’ve immortalized as the best burger). It’s such a shame because Sabrina and I refuse to believe that the burger is supposed to be that salty. It must have been a mistake and whoever was making it obviously either did not realize the amount of salt that was used or was too scared to tell his boss. That is some expensive meat there you’re dealing with here.
Either way, it can’t be as bad as the trucker who ran into the overpass.
And let me know if you’ve had a similar experience with the saltiness.