Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Bagging the Burger: The Spotted Pig

Ever wondered how to satisfy the hankering for the über decadent, legendary burger at The Spotted Pig without the 90-minute wait? You are not alone. On a recent packed Thursday evening this West Village Manhattan gastropub seemed as happening as it did seven years ago when it first opened breaking Village rules with its decadent no-substitutions food and no-reservation policy. The curious flocked for the sheep’s milk ricotta gnudi and Devils on Horseback. The regulars appear to keep coming back, and judging by my prime seat by the kitchen one recent evening, what they’re mostly coming back for is the burger.

This is not any ordinary fast food burger. The burger at The Spotted Pig is a good 1.5 inches of rich, fatty ground chuck topped with Roquefort and placed a pillowy bun. No mayonnaise, no mustard, no ketchup. Just meat, cheese and bun.

My waitress that evening confirmed that on any given night 75% of the orders are for the Spotted Pig burger. This seems an astronomical number even in a country as burger-obsessed as the United States.

With so many people clamoring for a taste of this high end patty of ground beef, what tips could our friendly waitress give for a local who wanted in on the beefy party without such a painfully long wait? I got the scoop.

1. Eat at the bar. Tables might take 60-90 minutes on a regular night. However bar seats are on a first-come first-serve basis and the whole menu is available if you happen to snag an empty stool. (This is hardly as secret as the host tells this to everyone who walks in the door but it is worth remembering.) Just come prepared with sharp elbows to work your way up to a stool through the Wall Street suits.

2. Get your order in, stat! On occasion, the burgers do sell out. But if you are having a drink at the bar you can actually reserve your burger, saving the coveted sandwich for when your seat finally becomes available.

3. Hold the Fries. This is a painful sacrifice, I know, but according to our waitress if the burger is taking a long time it is usually because there is a hold up at the fryer for the crispy nests of shoestring fries that accompany each burger. Spare yourself the calories for a night and order the burger solo- you will probably be satisfying that craving a lot sooner.

4. Make Monday Burger Night. While the more socially conscious are practicing Meatless Mondays, consider doing the exact opposite and indulge in your carnivorous side. Like many restaurants, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday are the slowest nights at The Spotted Pig. But even then, expect a little wait unless you don’t mind starting dinner after 10 pm.

5. Come for lunch. You could make like the models of nearby Meatpacking District and eat cigarettes for lunch, or you could walk south to The Spotted Pig for a pleasantly quiet mid day meatfest. But if you plan on ordering the burger, you might also want to slot in a post-prandial siesta. Meat that rich will put you into a coma faster than Ambien.

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