All kinds of exciting food news today. First, the James Beard Award winners. My two faves on the list are Sam Hayward, from Fore Street in Portland, Maine, and Allison Vines-Rushing, from Jack’s Luxury Oyster Bar, here in NYC. I have had the pleasure of dining at both of these restaurants, and they are up there as some of the best meals I have had. My parents were even lucky enough to win a dinner cooked by Sam Hayward in a silent auction fundraiser. They were supposed to send me a copy of the menu (ahem). My meal at Jack's was outstanding, and would have been an ideal romantic evening, had I actually been there with a date.
Next, a brief review of The Spotted Pig, and a first glimpse at 5 Ninth. We arrived at The Spotted Pig at about 7:15, and were informed that we would have a 45 minute wait for a table for two. Since there was no room at the bar, I suggested that we walk to nearby 5 Ninth, which had recently opened. We could check out the menu there as well, and then make a decision. We entered 5 Ninth tentatively, as it appeared from the outside that it might still be under construction. Once we entered, however, we were greeted with a calming, mellow atmosphere, with high, beamed ceilings (similar to Chickenbone Cafe, where the chef used to work). We took a glance at the menu, which looked fantastic, but a little above our price range for the night, so we only had a glass of wine. I have plans to go there next Tuesday for dinner (after payday) with some wine society folks, and now I'm really looking forward to it. The service was a little spotty, especially just for a glass of wine, but I'm going to chalk it up to being so new. Hopefully they'll tighten up a bit by next week. Back to the Pig, where we were told that our wait would be another half-hour. We debated outside for a while, but luckily the half-hour turned into ten minutes, and we were seated at a comfy table in the back. Although the atmosphere is somewhat pub-ish, the food seems much more complex than anything you'd find at a pub. We started with the much-reviewed gnudi, a gnocci-like dumpling made of cheese, served with brown butter and sage. It was creamy and delicious, and although we agreed that the serving was pretty small, I didn't think I'd be able to each much more, as it was very rich. My dining companion disagreed, but he's a guy with a pretty large appetite, or so he says. For our entrees, I opted for the burger, served with a highly seasoned mound of shoestring fries. It was good, but I'd still be more likely to walk the few blocks to the Corner Bistro to get my burger fix. Ethan got the steak with potatoes, artichokes, and pancetta. Once again, I thought it was pretty good (he was kind enough to give me a taste), but nothing extraordinary. All in all, though, it was a pleasant dining experience. I'd like to hit the place again on an off time, and maybe sit at the bar and order several of the appetizers, which seemed more interesting to me than the main courses.