Gormandism: The Spotted Pig Has Spots

I went to The Spotted Pig a couple of weeks ago, expecting to have one of the better cheeseburgers of my lifetime. I went with friends from work, all of whom have a tremendous love for all things on a bun, and they too were expecting a whole lot of beefy goodness for the $17 they were about to invest in America’s most basic meal.

When we got there, the place was overrun with burger hopefuls. Granted, we already knew that would be the case. We were hoping that a Thursday night would be slightly different from a crazy Friday, the day of choice we had tried to go the week before. Instead, Thursday was about crazy as I could ever imagine the place, and the wait of 2 hours was all too familiar to the weekend wait times we had seen on yelp.com.

OF course, it didn’t help that we had rolled seven deep in this bar/restaurant, and it doesn’t help that this place doesn’t except reservations either. However, being the blood-sucking, money-vulturing, capitalistic restaurateurs that they are, they “kindly” recommended that we eat while standing up at the overcrowded, upstairs bar; thereby, guaranteeing that they wouldn’t lose us during the two-hour wait, and would still give them the same amount of revenue while providing us the service of a walk-thru McDonald’s drive in. Needless to say, we took the bait. Who the hell was going to wait two hours for a food item specifically designed for ease and quickness?

We got upstairs and we talked and we mingled. It was a fun group, so the wait wasn’t much of an issue. It probably took us a good 30 minutes just to get beers, and we literally had to fight for elbow room at various junctions of the bar just so we could talk to one another. Nonetheless, the burgers eventually came, one after the other, usually about 6-10 minutes apart. Knowing that was the case, we encouraged our first eaters not to wait for the rest of us, so they dug in. The reviews were good on the burger. My friends remarked positively on the bun, the preparedness of the beef and interesting taste that blue cheese gave this cheeseburger. I didn’t have to wait for their reaction to the fries though, as those were open season and I dug into them like nobodies business. The fries were indeed good—incredibly salty—but good.

My burger was one of the last, if not the last, burger to come out of the kitchen. Mind you, we were standing while eating these burgers, so I had to carve out some space on the edges of a platform that stuck out from a column in the middle of the bar space. I took my first bite of the burger, as a waitress excused herself past me on her way to the cash register, which was also conveniently located by my column, and I was overcome by the taste and aroma of blue cheese. To put it simply, blue cheese, in my opinion, does not go very well with salty foods. I couldn’t tell if it was the burger, this particular type of blue cheese, or the overly salted French fries, but that first bite of the burger was way too salty, and salt and cheese don’t exactly make for a dinner party in my mouth—know what I mean?

Of course, my ravenous appetite and “gluttoness” eyeballs weren’t going to allow me not to finish that burger. I downed it pretty quickly, staying away from the fries as best as possible, as the salt only added to the discomfort I had while eating the burger. Don’t get me wrong, it was very edible and I wouldn’t exactly throw it off my table if someone brought me one for free. But for whatever reason (cheapness), a $17 burger doesn’t taste that good when the beef is lacking flavor, the cheese is overly pungent and it feels as if salt is being poured onto your tongue while eating it. Perhaps that’s just me though.

So in rating the burger at the Spotted Pig, my firm, one-word review is “Overhyped.” That’s right, in the infamous words of Chuck D, don’t believe the hype. The Spotted Pig gets rave reviews, is crowded beyond belief each and every day, and in pictures, looks like one of the best burgers to ever grace the fine streets of the West Village. However, just getting to this burger, a food that by design is meant to be made quickly and easily, is far too painstaking to even be remotely worth the price of admission. Beyond that, the flavor is forgettable, the bun is too big, and the novelty of blue cheese is overdone and nixed by the overrun of salt surrounding the entire platter.

That being said, if you haven’t had it, I recommend you try it. While no one I know ever has any intentions of going back there, the place was and is always crowded, so I assume some people like it. Don’t’ go there trying to ask for it without the blue cheese or the salt mounds known as French fries, they simply don’t accept substitutions. Enjoy!