The English chef Fergus Henderson is in town this weekend, giving New Yorkers a chance to sample his renowned “nose to tail” cooking. He’s working tonight at The Spotted Pig (menu here), and tomorrow at Momofuku Noodle Bar (menu here).
I dropped in on the Pig earlier this evening. I was fearful of an intolerable wait, but I was there at 5:00, they opened the kitchen at 5:30, and I was seated at 6:00. (I drank a couple of beers in the meantime.) The man at the table next to mine, who seemed to be a Fergus groupie, said that last year’s wait was much worse. For those into celebrity spotting, I saw Anne Burrell and Tom Colicchio. I’ve no eye for that kind of thing, so I probably missed a dozen others.
The menu included such Henderson specialties as Roasted Bone Marrow, Ox Tongue, Devilled Kidney on Toast, and Deep Fried Rabbit. All of those looked interesting, but I started with the Pressed Pig’s Ears ($16; above left)— basically a terrine, fatty and gelatinous. Fat, indeed, was the order of the day. Pot-Roast Bacon, Trotter & Prune ($28; above right) was also a plate full of fat, which is not a bad thing, but one must accept it for what it is.
I wasn’t quite as enthusiastic about a side of Roasted Parsnips in Duck Fat ($7; above left), which seemed too slimy; or a slice of Walnut, Chocolate & Amaretto cake ($8; above right), which was too dry. In fairness, the latter is a standard Spotted Pig dessert, and had nothing to do with Henderson’s presence.
This was my second visit to the Spotted Pig (earlier report here). For a place that’s a gussied-up pub, the service is impressive. The server was well schooled about the unusual, one-time-only menu. Amidst a crush of humanity, they were still willing to transfer my bar tab to the table, and my napkin was refolded each time I got up to visit the washroom.
The special menu’s signature item was a Half Pig’s Head for 2, for $55 (above). The man next to me ordered this all for himself, as his companion was having none of it. As he dug in, he said to her, “I’ll let you know when I get to the meat; so far, it’s all skin and fat.” By the time I left, he had dismembered most of the head, but skin and fat were all he found. I must say, it looked pretty good, but not to the point that I’d eat one all by myself.
Was it a revelation? No. But it was fun to try a couple of things that no one else in town is serving. The couple next to me was planning to follow Fergus to Momofuku Noodle Bar tomorrow night. I don’t think I can ingest that much fat two nights in a row.
The Spotted Pig (314 W. 11th Street at Greenwich Street, West Village)