The Spotted Pig Burger, Nekkid


Photograph by Robyn Lee

If you're a burgerhead living in New York City, you already know the Spotted Pig has some amazing blue cheese burgers. They're tasty sandwiches, almost always cooked to temperature. Their perfectly square grid of grill marks on the thick patty and dark-brown brioche bun tip you off that it's a flame-grilled burger. And you need that visual cue; without it, you'd be hard-pressed to taste the flavor of the grill over the noise of the blue cheese.

What you may not know, though, is that chef April Bloomfield and company are perfectly willing to omit the cheese on the Pig's signature burger.

I certainly didn't know this until recently, when a reader here on AHT hipped me to this fact. On a visit to this Greenwich Village hot spot earlier this week, I figured I'd have a go at it.

The Hardest Part

If you've never been to the Spotted Pig, the first thing you must know about it is that you're gonna wait.

And wait.

And wait.

The place blew up big time almost immediately after opening in early 2004, an almost instant classic among Greenwich Village locals and foodies from around the city. And when the "gastropub" received a 1-star rating from the New York City edition of the 2006 Michelin Guide, your hope of ever walking in for dinner and sitting down within an hour of arrival vanished.

That was certainly the case Tuesday night, when we arrived at 6:40 p.m. and finally made it to a table by 8:30. It helps if you have good company, as I did, or if you have other things to do in the neighborhood that you can occupy yourself with while you wait for the host to call you on your cell.

No worries, though. The place is a class act and comped us our first round of drinks for the much-longer-than-estimated wait.

The Burger: Like Steak on a Bun

Having had the blue cheese version several times before, I was eager to try this thing nekkid. And banishing the cheese changes everything. I rarely say this on AHT—in fact, I don't know if I've ever said this about any burger I've written about—but the thing truly does taste like steak on a bun when the meat's flavor is allowed to express itself.

There are very few burgers I'd happily eat without cheese, toppings, or condiments, but this is one. Beefy and juicy, cooked perfectly to temperature, hearty but not overwhelmingly so. The Spotted Pig burger sans blue cheese just made it up there into my personal top 10.

That said, I can't help but wonder perversely what it would taste like with a couple slices of American cheese—one below and on top of the patty. Honoring the request to remove blue cheese is one thing; bringing the chef your own slices of American would be another.

The Spotted Pig

314 West 11th Street, New York NY 10014 (at Greenwich Street; map) 212-620-0393

Other Burgers Nearby & Further Reading

The Corner Bistro (corner of West 4th and Jane streets)
What's the Best Cheese for Cheeseburgers?
Recipe: Blue Cheese Burger with Grilled Onions
Recipe: April Bloomfield's Rosemary Straw Potatoes (as served with the burger here)