With the numerous places we ate at in New York, I noticed a similarity with the names of a few of them. Names a tad porcine related, so why not lump them together in one post?
Anyone with a slight interest in food, or particularly pork, that happens to be in NYC may just know the name of this place. Porchetta. With a shopfront that’s barely big enough to swing a suckling pig, Porchetta focusses more on take-out than eat-in. At least there are a few stools for those of us that prefer to park our posteriors and eat right away.
The menu is simple and covers a few pork-related items, a soup, a vegetarian option and a few sides. I’m not sure why you’d schlep there for a mozzarella, tomato & herb sandwich when the main drawcard stares at you from the cabinet. Glistening loins of slow-roasted pork with a crispy and golden skin.
The porchetta plate (15) buys you slices of roast pork, skin, garlicky sautéed greens and stodgy beans. It’s a decent plate of food but I wasn’t all that thrilled with the dryish lumps of meat I was given. There’s also the porchetta sandwich (12) which is nothing more than a ciabatta roll stuffed with meat and crispy/soft skin. It’s ok.
Porchetta – 10 E 7th Street, East Village
Ok it may not be pork related, but if you’re up for something a little sweet after the pork you’ve just consumed, merely cross the street and step into Big Gay Ice Cream. Things are kept simple here as well, with a bunch of cups and cones, ice cream sandwiches, floats and shakes to try.
Fresh and rock-hard from the freezer is our lovelet (5) ice cream sandwich, featuring cream cheese ice cream in a red velvet whoopie pie cookie. We also try the Rue McClanahan (5), with bourbon ice cream between pecan praline cookies. Both are ok, but I doubt I’d make too much of an effort to return.
Big Gay Ice Cream – 125 E 7th Street, East Village
A place that was on my “must try” list is way up in the Upper East Side. Nancy’s Pig Heaven. The thing I really wanted to try was the ribs, but a few other dishes made it to the table as well.
These guys have been churning out their Chinese and Taiwanese food for decades, even attracting the odd A-lister or two.
The shui mai (5.95) are pretty standard in appearance and flavour and the Cantonese-style suckling pig (13.95) comes hacked into bite-sized pieces of cold-yet-tasty meat. Really good crispy skin, and much like the stuff you’d get in Chinatown.
I’m a bit partial to tofu now and again so it was pretty much just myself tucking into the ma po bean curd (12.5); swimming in gloopy sauce and not as spicy as I’d have liked.
As for the bbq spare ribs (12.95), the house signature, these were worth the two subways and ten minute walk to Nancy’s. This was just a small serve but each sticky and sweet rib had a heap of tender and juicy meat between each bone. Sensational, especially those blackened caramelised edges.
* The restaurant advertises a 12pm opening time but it’s more like 12.30 on certain days. Call before you rock up with an empty stomach, as we did.
Nancy’s Pig Heaven – 1540 2nd Avenue, Yorkville
The name of this place denotes something pig-related but it isn’t the drawcard. Swine is located in the West Village along busy Hudson Street, a short walk from the apartment we were staying in. What drew us to it on that particular night was the combination of “where are we eating tonight?” and the cosy look of its fit-out. There’s a real bar vibe to Swine; a place to kick back and settle in with drinks in one of it’s very dimly-lit up or downstairs rooms. We opt for downstairs.
The menu is typically “bar style” and broken down into charcuterie & cheese, a few snacks, starters and mains.
A bottle of vino gets us going, then a dainty little plate of Maine diver scallops (18) with charred plums, frisee, watercress, radish and brown butter hollandaise.
Halibut (25) is next, teetering on warm lentils, oven roasted tomato, purple cauliflower and fried egg. Great dish but the white was oddly removed from the egg.
I couldn’t pass this one up. A bone marrow and brisket burger (18). Your typical brioche bun, a beautifully juicy burger that has marrow mixed through the meat, tarentaise cheese, caramelised onion and thick wedges of crisp potato. Some harissa aioli is there for some dunking as well. This was one seriously delicious burger.
Dessert wasn’t required but when our server told us about the special, we needed to try it. It’s called the French detective (12) and consists of a door stop-sized lump of brioche, Guinness ice cream and blueberries. All of the piped cream was a little unnecessary, though. The bread was more like French toast in texture and the slightly bitter ice cream was distinctly Guinness in flavour. Great dessert, despite its enormity.
Swine – 531 Hudson Street, West Village