The Spotted Pig – New York

The world’s teeniest bar in what looks like a flower shop?

Being an information geek and a food blogger it should come as no surprise that I’d prepared a list of potential bars and restaurants for us to visit during our trip to NYC this week.

On The Spotted Pig I was undecided: it’s a Michelin-starred ‘gastro pub’, reputedly British in style, and apparently – if top search engine results are to be believed – where certain celebrities hang out (and where numpty celebrity-stalkers go to try and see numpty celebrities. All this numpty celebrity stuff put me off. Mr West, Ms Swift… bah! who cares? really?).

To be honest, the dinner menu didn’t look all that appealing either (I mean – “pigs ear salad” ew?). We’d pretty much written it off.


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Pussy willows, flowers and pig decorations outside The Spotted Pig

As it turned out, we had a lovely walk this morning from the Financial District through Tribeca on our way to the Whitney Museum of American Art in the Meatpacking district (popping in to the Tribeca Tap House for a late breakfast, and a tiny, street-fronted Irish bar the-size-of-a-living-room for further refreshment on the way).

So we happened to be passing The Spotted Pig anyway, and it looks so appealing and small and befitting its local community with all the pussy-willows (I’m a sucker for furry catkins and had them in my wedding bouquet) and plants and pig decorations outside (a bit like your local flower shop) that we just had to step inside to check it out.


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One of the teeniest bars you’ve ever seen?


Ours was a Friday afternoon visit so perhaps not as busy as it might get in here.

There were plenty of available stools at the tiny bar (to the left side of the picture above) so we sat down for a drink, trying a local Brooklyn craft beer and gin or two.

This might’ve been one of the smallest bar service areas I’ve ever seen but on the plus side, we didn’t have to shout or wait to order a drink and it was served immediately. Hooray for intimacy and immediacy.

Enjoying the friendly bar service and banter going on around us, as well as the appealing pig-themed interior with funky food fabric stools (bacon patterns, pepper prints, etc) – not to mention our ‘taste testing’ of local-ish Brooklyn gins – we decided to have a late lunch at the bar after all…

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Battered bar, bacon and pepper patterned stools, pigs

We both homed in on the chargrilled burger with roquefort cheese and shoestring fries @ $25.00. The beef patty itself was good and the roquefort gave it a strong blue cheese flavour but overall, the assembled burger was plain, distinctly average and wasn’t carefully crafted in any way (it lacked imagination) – it was simply a beef patty with roquefort in a brioche bun.

While the shoestring fries with rosemary looked attractive, quantity had been prioritised over quality – it was a massive mound of greasy fries (and they were very oily) with some rosemary needles thrown in.

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Nice enough burger but a bit plain with greasy fries

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Good patty – pink patty


This was a straight-forward enough afternoon visit and we had a good time – enjoying the intimate bar service.

We were glad to have made this a lunchtime visit rather than a more special evening meal out, and it was close enough to the Whitney Museum so it was on our route. But I really don’t understand yet why this place has got a Michelin star….


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Potato, potato, potato…


The verdict: Quaint enough bar if you’re passing, but not somewhere to rush to.


Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
~ Type: Burgers, gastro-pub, British? (in New York)
~ Address: 314 West 11th Street, New York
~ Zipcode: NY10014
~ Website + menus: The Spotted Pig website
~ Photos on flickr: images of The Spotted Pig
~ Location: The Spotted Pig map

The Spotted Pig Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Raymi Peruvian Restaurant + Pisco Bar – New York

Lively Peruvian restaurant + bitter-tastic pisco cocktails

Having stumbled across a Peruvian jazz club on our last trip to New York (which has sadly since closed down) K was keen to re-live another Peruvian-themed evening during our visit to NYC this week so we booked a table in advance at Raymi in the Flatiron district, to try Peruvian food and cocktails. A brand new experience for us.

On being promptly greeted and seated, K ordered a passion pisco (overly sweet for me, containing passion syrup) @ $14.00 while I had a classic pisco sour @ $13.00 (made from pisco sour, lime, egg white and bitters) – lovely and bitter – while reading the food menu.


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Passion pisco, roasted corn kernels and pisco sour


Service was excellent right from the start, with our friendly, helpful waitress answering our questions about the menu and making recommendations for us. We wanted to share dishes and eventually chose charred octopus @ $18.00 from the Chef’s Corner menu (specials available Thursday to Sunday only), a mixto cerviche @ $16.00 from the Cerviches & Tiraditos selection, a ‘jalea’ fried mixed seafood @ $14.00 (a small plate) and an arroz chaufa @ $26.00 (a large plate).

Our waitress recommended that the charred octopus and mixto cerviche be served together (as a starter course) and the jalea and arroz chaufa together afterwards. So that’s what we did. And those food pairings worked well.


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Mixto ceviche – aji rocoto (red peppers), corvina fish, shrimp, squid, octopus + sweet potato

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Charred octopus – with butternut squash, potatoes, mussels

The charred octopus was lovely and tender with a smoky flavour (gorgeous) and the fishy ceviche was nice and sharp in contrast.

With a busy bar area and buzzing atmosphere, along with interesting eclectic furnishings and soft lighting, this was a really comfortable restaurant to dine in and relax.

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Inside Raymi

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Pisco bar at Raymi

I was already fairly full after sharing the starter plates and was glad to have a break before the next course arrived!

The arroz chaufa arrived in a large stone pot containing a mix of jasmine rice, egg, broccoli, ginger, char siu chicken, shrimp, chinese sausage, scallions and peanuts (unusual, with the predominant flavours being of Chinese style spices) while the jalea fried shrimp, squid, corvina fish, yuca, salsa criolla, and aji amarillo (peppers) was served with a tartar sauce (again, really good but I was sadly too full to eat much of this course).


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Arroz chaufa – jasmine rice, egg, broccoli, ginger, char siu chicken, shrimp, chinese sausage, etc


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Jalea – fried seafood with tartar sauce


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Basement bathroom area – a relaxing feel with plants and a water feature


The verdict: Impressive food and drinks selection, outstanding service. I would love to return (with a bigger appetite). Check the website for Latino music and dancing nights.


Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
~ Type: Peruvian (in New York)
~ Address: 43 West 24th Street, New York
~ Zipcode: NY10010
~ Website + menus: Raymi website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Raymi
~ Location: Raymi map

Raymi Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Spanglish Mexican Kitchen – Chicago

Brunch bliss in the form of a bacon burrito

My last morning in Chicago before heading over to O’Hare involved a last-minute shop along South State Street, where I passed Spang-lish Mex-i-can Kitchen.

Initially attracted by the restaurant’s name, then the menu options, and price, I ventured in. It was an easy place to go in and eat on my own – a simple diner where you order and pay at the till then wait (with enough interesting artwork to keep you occupied) until your food arrives.

IMG_8802b_inside Spanglish

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Art @ Spanglish – this piece is by Stefani Villanueva (seemingly a self-employed designer in the Chicago area but I can’t find your website. If you happen to see this post, contact me + I’ll link to your website here…)

I ordered a breakfast burrito @ $5.75 – a giant flour tortilla filled with a base of beans, lettuce, tomato, cheese and sour cream – and opted for the bacon and egg variety, with a side of guacamole and tortilla chips @ $3.00.

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Breakfast burrito with guacamole + tortilla chips

IMG_8810b_EggBaconWrap at Spanglish

Bacon and egg burrito – packed with fresh ingredients

IMG_1618b_Egg + bacon wrap at Spanglais
Giant burrito – so stuffed it stands on its ownor is it a Spanglish work of art?

Including a bottle of water @ $1.10, my entire brunch meal came to $10.00 (about £6.50). Outstanding value without compromising on quality. Very pleasing.

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: Mexican, cheap-eats
~ Address: 555 S State St, Chicago, IL 60605, USA
~ Photos on flickr: images of Spanglish Mexican Kitchen
~ facebook page: Spanglish Mexican Kitchen on fb
~ Location: Spanglish map

More Chicago dining:
~ Gilt Bar
~ The Gage tavern
~ Howells & Hood
~ Tesori

Spanglish Mexican Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Tesori – Chicago

Tonight’s dinner was booked at Tesori, an Italian-inspired fine dining restaurant serving classy food (by chef Andrew Deuel) from carefully sourced ingredients. And I was pleased we were on a set menu, making it easier to choose.

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Insalata starter

For starters I had beet insalata, a beautifully composed salad of beets, baby spinach, white balsamic, asparagus, gorgonzola, and crushed marcona almonds (currently $13 on the a la carte menu), accompanied by a Californian craft beer: a Lagunitas IPA. Joy.

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Chicken cacciatore

The chicken cacciatore main course dish turned out to be succulent chicken with crispy roast skin, in a rich, heavy ‘hunter’s sauce’ gravy with mushrooms, capers and olives (currently $19 on the a la carte menu).

Another great recommendation in the Chicago dining scene that should be shared and passed on. And on.

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
~ Type: International, gourmet, Italian-inspired
~ Address: 65 East Adams Street, Chicago, IL60603
~ Website + menus: Tesori website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Tesori food
~ facebook page: Tesori on fb
~ Location: Tesori map

More Chicago dining:
~ Gage Tavern
~ Gilt Bar
~ Howells & Hood
~ Spanglish Mexican Kitchen

Tesori on Urbanspoon

Gilt Bar – Chicago

Having met in Chicago this evening, L and I wandered across the city, both to stretch our legs and find something to eat.

Au Cheval on West Randolph Street had been recommended to her (“of all the restaurants in Chicago you have to eat at Au Cheval” she’d been told; quite a commendation), and Gilt Bar had been recommended to me. At this point, we didn’t know that – coincidentally – they were both Hogsalt restaurants, a small chain concerning itself with “the preservation of food culture”.

We followed a curiously strong smell of chocolate in the air (it seemed surreal at the time but later discovered there’s a huge Blommer chocolate factory at 600 West Kinzie Street) to Au Cheval which looked small, cosy with an appealing bar area (nice craft beers on tap) but so busy that there was a two hour wait. Shame.

So, on to Gilt Bar at 230 West Kinzie Street where we had more luck. This restaurant was bigger but still had a cosy appeal with dark corners and soft lighting. It was also packed out but we were able to get a table for two straight away.

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Ricotta gnocchi @ $15.00

I ordered ricotta gnocchi with wild mushrooms @ $15.00 which was simply sensational. The blend of flavours (strong earthy mushroom and contrasting grilled-topped, goo-ey ricotta) made this, without doubt, the best gnocchi I’ve had (note: I’ve since been to Italy and eaten some mighty fine pasta and this still stands).

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Crispy ham + pea ravioli @ $16.00

L had crispy ham and pea ravioli @ $16.00: it tasted as wonderful as it looks in the photo above.

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Brownies a la mode @ $11.00

The verdict: You won’t be overwhelmed by an extensive choice of dishes at Gilt Bar. With their short, specialised menu they serve top quality food.

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4.5 / 5
~ Type: International, gastro pub
~ Address: 230 W Kinzie Street, Chicago
~ Zipcode: IL 60654
~ Website + menus: Gilt Bar website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Gilt Bar food
~ facebook page: Gilt Bar on fb
~ Location: Gilt Bar map

More Chicago dining:

~ Gage Tavern
~ Howells & Hood
~ Spanglish Mexican Kitchen
~ Tesori

Gilt Bar on Urbanspoon

GustOrganics New York – CLOSED

GustOrganics may be pushing the superlatives by claiming to be the world’s only restaurant serving “100% certified organic food”. But they can have that one: food here is top quality and the organic certification they refer to applies only in the USA.

GustOrganics NYC – Lardbutty restaurant of the week

The Argentine style empanadas were a popular starter among our party. Between us, we tried all varieties with hempanada being the favourite for originality and taste – made from hemp flour (black appearance), sweetcorn, mushrooms, zucchini (courgette) and mozzarella. The house speciality beef stew was divinely tender and tasty, with a soft, melt-in-your-mouth texture like pulled pork.

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
~ Type: Argentinian/ Organic
~ Menu: GustOrganics dinner menu
~ Address: 519 Ave of the Americas, New York
~ Post/zip code: New York 10011
~ Nearest metro station: 14th Street, NYC
~ Website: GustOrganics website
~ Location: GustOrganics map
~ Photos at GustOrganics

Gustorganics on Urbanspoon

Smith + Wollensky – steak perfection, New York

Smith & Wollensky on Urbanspoon

“One of the most trafficked restaurants in New York and among the most celebrated steakhouses in the world” – so says Smith + Wollensky’s website.

I was delighted to eat here on this visit to New York (my attempt failed last time – unsurprisingly – with a vegetarian friend!). And even more delighted that it fulfilled my expectations after a three year build-up. Hopefully, the photo below (courtesy of theanorak) shows the quality of the steak cuts and preparation. Outstanding.

Lardbutty restaurant of the week: Smith & Wollensky
Fillet and sirloin steak

While Smith & Wollensky might fall into the premium restaurant bracket, it feels very comfortably down to earth with it’s cosy bars and friendly, efficient service.


Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: American / steak-house
~ Menu: Smith + Wollensky menus
~ Address: 797 Third Avenue, New York
~ Post/zip code: New York 10022
~ Website: Smith + Wollensky NYC website
~ Location: Smith + Wollensky NYC map