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Oct 13, 2008 11:51 PM

Opinions on the best Gastro-Pubs!

Hey! My girlfriend and I will be coming to New York next week for a bit and we were really interested in visiting some Gastro-Pubs in Manhattan as we have heard it has taken off quite hugely there. In everyones opinion here, which ones are a "must visit" for some great food and local / good beer? Thanks!

Donnie and Emelie

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  1. I think a lot of them try way too hard and don't have the "feel" of those I visited last year in London. I've found myself feeling like I was in a "TGI Fridays" pub.

    I'd still go to The Spotted Pig but probably skip most of the others.

    Was there one in particular that you're interested in?

    2 Replies
    1. re: CornflakeGirl

      The best, i agree, is The Spotted Pig, but if you're on a mission to hit them all up, here's a few (there are a bunch in Brooklyn; but I dont know if you're interested in checking those out).

      The Inn LW12
      7 9th Ave. (@ Little W. 12th St.)

      European Union
      235 E. 4th St. (Aves. A & B)
      East Village 212.254.2900

      1. re: kcijones001

        Hey! Cheers for the opinions. I have heard some great things about The Spotted Pig so far, how do you guys find the food? What is it that makes the Spotted Pig that makes it so good in your opinion, besides not feeling like a TGI Fridays haha.

    2. Don't forget the Ear Inn in far Soho on Spring Street. Not the Spotted Pig, but solid food- not as much of a wait and great beer.

      4 Replies
      1. re: malibu

        Oh, I like the Ear Inn, but it's nowhere near what I would call a gastro-pub. The food is definitely not the focus there.

        1. re: egit

          While I agree Spotted Pig is the best, Ear Inn is a gastropub as it goes beyond basic pub food. It's also quite good. Maybe you could name a few that you like?

          1. re: malibu

            Other pubs where the food is surprisingly good and goes beyond just standard grub, and haven't been mentioned yet in this thread:

            Waterfront Ale House
            The Half King
            The Hideaway

            Those are just a few off the top of my head. The Ear Inn, while it's a great bar in a historic landmark building, doesn't even post their menu on their website, let alone menupages. The food there is good, but it's not an alternative to Spotted Pig.

            1. re: egit

              I thought the food at Ear Inn was just passable, and I also wasn't impressed with the one meal I had at Spotted Pig, though it was certainly better than Ear Inn. So take that for what you will.

      2. Spotted Pig is the best you can get in NYC. Great food, drink and scene.

        1. I'm a little fuzzy on the term 'gastro pub' (is it just any drinking establishment where you can also get a decent meal?) -- but hopefully someone will correct me if I misclassify. These are a few favorites:

          Puck Fair (food is nominally Irish, wide range of beers on tap)
          Lorelei (pretty well made German standards, great German beers on tap, mildly divey)
          Belgian Beer Bar / aka Vol de Nuit (limited food menu, mostly just moules frites -- but those are well made; lots of good beers, many by the bottle, Belgian and otherwise)
          Corner Bistro -- pretty standard beer offerings, as far as I remember (Stella is as exotic as it gets), good burgers.
          Russian Vodka Room -- more about the vodka obviously, but beers also available; good Russian standards, esp. the large appetizers of smoked trout and other fish, potato pancakes, etc...

          For more wine bar-ish places should you be in the market for those: caselulla (spanish, best for cheeses), xai xai (s. african in unfortunately tiny portions), casa mono (spanish and great), modern bar room (nominally alsatian).

          For local beer... Hmm... We do have the Brooklyn Brewery in Brooklyn (pretty easily accessible by subway). Although they don't serve food, they do encourage you to bring your own.

          2 Replies
          1. re: cimui

            Nope, none of these are gastro-pubs. OP should go to Spotted Pig. Take a look at their website to see its menu - a take on traditional pub classics, but with a greater detail to quality ingredients, classic techniques and dedication to detail.

            1. re: chow_gal

              "dedication to detail" seems like a fuzzy rule to apply if you're looking to define the term "gastropub" -- but thanks, i do get the general gist.

              this one may be a little less subjective:

              puck fair should fall under that definition, I'd think -- as well as a few others if you're willing to look beyond british style pub food.

          2. Even though I didn't like it, Resto is also another gastro-pub in NY. While it has been lauded by the critics and some hounds, there's another faction that finds the food pretty bad. So you should read the reviews and decide for yourself.

            And I totally agree with those who say that the Spotted Pig is a must.

            13 Replies
            1. re: Miss Needle

              I'm going there for lunch today. Is there anything that one must have? I looked at the online menu. I'm not a real dessert person, I just need to have it after a good meal, the bourbon chocolate orange cake caught my eye.

              1. re: michele cindy

                The gnudi. The roll mops were also very good, as was the chicken liver on toast and the deviled eggs. The hamburger, although good, was my least favorite dish, though the rosemary shoe string fries are incredible.

                  1. re: michele cindy

                    "Sheep’s Ricotta Gnudi with Brown Butter & Sage" - they are dumplings of a sort - they have semolina on the outside, creamy ricotta inside.

                    1. re: MMRuth

                      Yes, I've also heard them described as ravioli without the pasta shell, even though there's a thin layer surrounding the ricotta. Sometimes they're served with brown butter and sage. Sometimes they're served with pesto. Whatever the sauce, the star is the gnudi, and it is indeed a must-order.

                      I've also liked the tongue there. Very well prepared. It also seems that 50% of the people order burgers. I haven't had it, but they do look good -- perfectly round, thick and succulent. And the chicken liver toast is the best I've ever had -- very rich.

                      1. re: MMRuth

                        One more question... they sound really good, but I don't care for many cheeses other then those made from cow's milk. Are they at all gamey in flavor, as goat cheese is? I've tasted many goat cheeses, and I just can't tolerate the flavor no matter how mild. But I can eat romano, but not sheep milk feta.

                        1. re: michele cindy

                          I had the gnudi at Spotted Pig. I also don't prefer the "gamey" quality of many goat cheeses (chevre, etc). I don't recall it being gamey at all. I'm not overly sensitive to "goaty" cheese, but I don't really like it all that much. I think I'd remember it being goaty if it were.

                          Your mileage may vary, of course. It's been about a year since I endured the scrum trying to get a table there. So my memory may not be entirely reliable.

                          1. re: egit

                            I should have given the gnudi a try, I wimped out and got a burger, I like Roquefort so it was good. I asked if I could have a slice of raw onion and they told me no. That's pretty annoying. It turned out ok in the end, my friends both had the grilled cheese and it came with an onion relish that no one liked, it reminded me of branston pickle and it went well with the burger. the shoe strings were tasty, but barely warm. I had the orange flourless chocolate cake, very creamy, very rich. No one was drinking; I would have liked to taste their bitter. The staff was ok, but kinda really aloof. They asked for our plates before we were even finished, then when we were obviosly finished they didn't come by for about 20 min to give us the dessert menu.

                            1. re: michele cindy

                              I've read that too about them not changing any items on the menu. Sounds like you had a less than great experience. I've found the service to be on the, shall we say, casual/non-chalant side - similar to that at Ssam.

                              1. re: MMRuth

                                I think that's silly, not allowing someone to change up their burger a little bit. I've heard that too, but really... it's a HAMBURGER, it's not the Mona Lisa. If I want to sub some cheddar for the roquefort, or I want a slice of onion on it, I should be able to do that.

                                Service at more casual, trendy, popular places tends to be that way. It's either the I'm-too-busy for you, or I'm-too-cool-for-you attitude that can be off-putting. As long as the food's good I don't really care that much. Fortunately the food at Spotted Pig is good enough that I don't really care about the service.

                                1. re: egit

                                  There was an article in the A NY today, I read it after the lunch, it was about how better restaurants were bending over backward to accommodate more elaborate requests then just a simple slice of onion. They did give me extra cheese, I don't know how much it cost, but it was needed. MMR you are correct I had a less then great experience. Not good enough to return anytime soon.

                              2. re: michele cindy

                                Sorry to hear about your bad experience here. I'm somewhat conflicted about this restaurant since I enjoyed my one meal there, but wonder if their "gnudi" might be a reference to the Emperor's New Clothes quality to the place.

                                I want to suggest something for diners in the future, and would be interested to hear if it effects anyone's experience. When we ate there we forewent the formidable wait and went up to the bar to eat. Beyond the hostess we only really interacted with the bartender, who took our order, and provided some of the better service I've had in New york. It probably would have been appropriate for the guy to cut us off (I was pretty drunk) but instead he gave me a few free drinks. He was the opposite of aloof. I wonder if we just got really lucky, or there might be something to be said for bar dining as an option here. Maybe it's one way around the Spotted Pig's spotty service?

                                1. re: TarquinWinot

                                  Given the choice, I always prefer to sit at a bar rather then a table. I think you are right in your observation. One thing I just thought of, is from a bartender's standpoint, it's there opportunity to have a big check, rather then the average tab of a few drinks, they probably try to make the most of it too, (for those who get to keep all of there tips).