whole pig at the Breslin
It started with a tequila on the rocks with a wedge of lime.
I am still amazed at the crowds at the Ace Hotel. An area that was a year ago a total no man's land has become the hottest spot in NYC. People are flowing out into the street at 730 because it is so crowded inside....and then there is always the need for the quick smoke.
You can make a reservation in advance for a whole roasted pig dinner at 3 separate times; 6pm, 8pm and 11pm. The menu is fixed. This is the only reservation at the Breslin. When I walked into the bar, the first thought that went through my mind is thank god we have a reservation because we could be waiting for hours to eat. The place is humming.
The pig table sits in the center of the restaurant. The meal is for 8-10 people. Here is where the problem lies, the table. The table could easily sit 14 and would be a much better dining experience. The noise level is high and the table is so large that the intimacy of the experience is completely lost. We found ourselves all trying to move to one end of the table leaving a huge gap on the other side. In the end, that didn't work either because you can really only converse with the people to the right and left of you.
But let's get to the heart of the matter, the food. Like the sister restaurant, the Spotted Pig, which is one of my all time faves, has service that is slow moving. We spent a lot of time at the beginning of the meal looking around for someone to pour the wine which was hidden from our grasp. It would have been a nice addition if some bar snacks were put on the table at the beginning while we waited at an empty table for the meal to be served. It was kind of strange sitting at an over-sized empty table, attempting to create table conversation by yelling back and forth while waiting.
And then all of a sudden, the food begins. The pig is really incredible. Beautiful presentation. The meat falls off the bone and the skin is crispy. Bottom line, the pig is divine. Served on the side were two sauces. A salsa verde and a salsa rossa. Either green or red were quite tasty but the red seemed to be the fave.
On the side is served a killer caesar salad. Long pieces of romaine lettuce, not cut but whole leaves, tossed with a warm anchovy dressing and toasted anchovy croutons. I couldn't get enough of this salad.
There was a dish of chopped broccoli rabe which was simple and probably doused with butter.
The potatoes were quite large and intense. Roasted and then deep fried in duck fat. Crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Think excellent tater tots. Lots of thought went into how these potatoes are made.
At this point, I had probably treated myself to more than my portion of the pig. The person sitting to the right of my actually commented on how much I could consume. I promised him that it was not something I did nightly because if I did, we probably wouldn't have to worry about the table being too big.
Dessert does come next. Small bowls of salted peanut gelato and slices of a bittersweet chocolate tart. The gelato was quite tasty and the salty peanuts on top are a nice touch. The tart was actually too bitter for me. Had the bite of a bitter coffee. Believe me, it was probably a good thing that I didn't like the tart.
We rolled home. One friend said he preferred the bo saam experience we had at Momofuko much better but I do believe he was reacting to the intimacy of the meal more than the food. The food at the Breslin, as well as the Spotted Pig, is always delicious. Sharing a meal like we had the other night was an event that should work from start to finish. The Breslin needs to come up with a better area in the restaurant to serve the pig otherwise I'd rather see if they can just do a pig with all the sides to go.