Posts Tagged With: west village restaurants

Piora – You Had Me at DM

PioraYou know the place is popular when you show up and the door is locked.  You’ve been trying to make reservations for the past 3 months until you finally score a “senior citizen” slot of 5:30 and show up at 5:15 courtesy of zero traffic (Thanks to our borough presidents who endorsed Chris Christie).  A locked door was a first for us.  Hearing DM (Depeche Mode, aka “Greatest group in the history of greatest groups) as soon we walked in was a first as well.  I knew right there and then that this will be a fun evening.  And it was!

Piora is as refined and polished as they get in this class.  Its not quite Italian, not quite Korean, not quite “Fusion” (why everyone hates you “Fusion”.  I say you are misunderstood).  Hence, the default “New American” tag applied.  Does anyone eat “Old American” anymore?  Piora (“Blossom” in Korean) is the strange, but hey it works, combination of an Italian-American executive chef and a Korean owner/manager in the West Village.  A cozy back room overlooking a stunning snow dusted garden (a rarity these days).  The atmosphere almost seemed odd which sort of worked in our favor, if it makes sense.  You just dont expect alternative/clubby music in a place like this but it worked.

Piora - Leaves FallingBefore I dive to the food though, mad props to one particular drink here.  “Leaves Falling” — Plymouth gin, Calvados apple brandy, Earl Grey tea, maple syrup, lemon and apple.  I want to try making one of those at home, when I’m down, or watch Turkish movies.  All I need now is all those ingredients and a bartender.

Some of the dishes were a little on the salty side, though thanks to the Falling Leaves I cant remember what they were.  All by design of course, and all still quite complex and enjoyable

Monkey bread – With Lardo and seaweed butter.  This was pretty good as expected and a no brainer starter but so are a lot of very interesting bread baskets all over town that cost $6 less

Piora - Monkey Bread

Carrots – Perhaps the most memorable dish.  Wonderful array of different flavors and textures with pistachios, yogurt, showered with pink “ham snow”.  A glorious dish.

Piora - OctopusBarbequed Octopus (left) – Quite nice.  Tender octopus prepared with Gochujang (a Korean Chili paste), pine nuts and basil.

Egg – Very Good!  Poached with 3 succulent deboned chicken wings, potato, and artichoke Barigoule.  Is it me or every “New American” menu these days must include a dish called “Egg”

Bucatini – Perhaps the most celebrated dish on a menu that includes 3 pastas.  A very unique blend of squid ink Bucatini, black garlic (The Korean black garlic, not the feh! kind), Dungenese crab, Maitake (yum) and chili

Gnocchi Special –  Excellent!  Picture below is half the normal size (they split some dishes for us).  Not your traditional Gnocchi.  Texture closer to fried potatoes in Gnocchi shape.  With lobster (not skimpy), sitting on a bed of artichoke puree, with some hints of French black Truffles.  Meaning, its the kind of truffle that surrenders to the rest of the ingredients rather quickly!

Piora - Gnocchi

Rigatoni – Very Good!  Red wine, duck sausage, fig and spigarello (a distant cousin of broccoli.  The one that never calls because you don’t call)

Rohan duck – A great dish!  Nice and crispy skin, peking duck-like, faro, and yet more of that lovely black garlic

Trout – Tasted fine according to the Hummus Whisperer.  BTW, we were joined again by the Hummus Whisperer and his wife the Hummus Punisher.  (That’s what he calls her, don’t know why and frankly don’t want to know.  Whatever they do at home in their spare time is not my business)

Olive oil potatoes beat out the Sunchoke hazelnut in the extras match.  Desserts weren’t memorable (damn you Falling Leaves) but the meal overall was indeed.



430 Hudson st

Recommended Dishes:  Monkey bread, Carrots, Egg, Bucatini, Gnocchi (Special), DuckPiora - Carrots

Piora - Duck Piora - EggPiora -Rigatoni Piora - Bucatini

Categories: New York City, West Village | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Spotted Pig Burger – Its the Fries, Stupid

Spotted Pig Burger

The Russians have a saying that loosely translates to “like sunflower seeds” which basically means “I cant stop eating this”.  In a culture obsessed with sunflowers seeds, its not unusual to see it served as an after meal snack, and if you don’t hold a bag full of seeds on the Brighton Beach Boardwalk, you risk being frowned upon.  And its not that they think sunflower seeds are really that special.  They just enjoy eating sunflower seeds, and since its not that filling they have trouble stopping sometimes.

Such is the case with the fries at the Spotted Pig.  They don’t seem that amazing as you first eat them, but you soon discover that you cant stop eating them.  The fries are shoestring cut (very thin as you can see) which I don’t normally love as I prefer them “meaty” like Belgian style.  But all the seasoning, rosemary and garlic chips make SP’s fries truly addictive.  Like eating Sunflower seeds!

The burger itself was very good.  Especially if you like burgers with Blue Cheese.  The Roquefort here is slightly overwhelming for my taste as any blue cheese would, but I still enjoyed it.  The meat was cooked well (medium rare, leaning toward rare) but I had to send the first one back after getting it practically well done.  While not quite in Minetta’s Black Label territory, a solid burger overall and I can see why its consistently ranked as one of the city’s best.

I don’t know why it took me so long to get to the Spotted Pig, the mother of all the city’s gastro-pubs.  The place was busy on Friday lunch time.  Two teachers to my right were talking about the teachers favorite subject these days, lice.  A Dutch couple to my left was very eager and excited about the meal.  And judging by some of the items they ordered they did their homework well (deviled eggs one of the specialties here).   My waitress was running around holding my bill for a few painful minutes (for me), forgetting that final crucial step of actually handing it to me.  We had a good laugh.  She was I must say, very friendly and knowledgeable.

Spotted Pig

Categories: New York City, West Village | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Ziggy does West Village

Dominique Ansel“Its 10:00 PM do you know where your children are?”  One of the perks of living in America.  Television, not only brings us great entertainment and news, and Kardashians, but it also helps us with the daily challenges we as parents face.  Laundry, food shopping, making sure you didn’t forget the kids somewhere, work, cooking, remembering that you have kids, bills, Facebook politics, are just some of things we need to constantly worry about.  So thank goodness we have our broadcasting system to remind us that a) We didn’t forget our kids in Home Depot,  and/or  b) We have kids, and at this moment we have no idea where the hell they are and its for our benefit as a family to find out where they are at this late hour.  Maybe call them or something?

“Its 10:00 PM and you have just decided to take a day off tomorrow to spend the entire day in the city with the family.  Do you know where you will eat?”.  Sleepless night follows.  If only my kids were missing instead!  Woke up next morning and had about 90 minutes to come up with some sort of a plan that involves eating, drinking, site seeing, and walking (a lot of walking – sort of a test drive before the big Italy trip.  Test drive failed.  With all the current cool inventions we get these days you would think they would invent comfortable shoes for women by now).  Hence, the second annual Father’s Day Eating With Ziggy in a NY neighborhood.  Last year it was the East Village.  This time we move cross town, all the way to the West Village and Soho.  And since we cant do it on Fathers Day this year, we did it a few days earlier.

We started with the one place just outside of the area, The Anne Frank Center.  It feels sort of odd to mention this place in this post and context but it was indeed the first stop.  Although we were somewhat underwhelmed by the small center since we visited Yad Vashem, and the actual house in Amsterdam, we were impressed by the amount of history packed here.  It seams like the focus here is on bullying and discrimination, things kids today can relate to.  There’s a 25 minute video which we missed.  If you cant make it to Amsterdam and you have kids, it may be a good idea to pay a visit

We moved on to the Soho area and the first food stop, Dean And Deluca, one of New Yorks premier food stores.  Really a pioneer in its industry.  We sampled some delicious spicy Gumbo, and a lentil soup.

Dutch - BurgerWe then visited The Dutch, a 2 year old with a menu that falls neither here nor there hence “American” but since it deviates from your normal “neither here nor there” its “New American”.  From the team that owns Locanda Verde, the Library at the Public, and the newly opened Lafayette who’s generating all kinds of buzz now.  The food was good.  The Dutch is known for some of the best Fried Chicken in town and it did not disappoint.  Lightly fried, not greasy whatsoever, perfectly crispy exterior and a  juicy delicious interior.  Ducth - PastaThe burger with the 28 day aged beef from the legendary Pat LaFrieda (Minetta Tavern’s Black Label) was perfectly cooked, flavorful, and their tangy secret sauce provided even more palate excitement.  Not as thrilling as the Black Label, but not bad at all.  Malfatti pasta was ok.  Sort of a cross between open faced ravioli and broken lasagna sheets with spring peas, bacon and pesto sauce.  Although the pesto was mostly at the bottom and wasnt very evident at first, so perhaps a bad mixing job.  Although Malfatti basically means “badly made” so I guess it was a success?

Dutch - Chicken

UPDATE:  Yesterday I saw this feature on the cooking channel about the Dutch.

Before lunch we enjoyed the walk toward D&C, especially some of the architecture on Greene street.  We passed the site of the “Massacre of the Butchers” where in 1854 the Butcher housing complex on Greene street was targeted by an angry mob of NYU students demanding better cuts for lunch (look I’m not a tour guide and my history of the area ranges from shaky to none existent so I had to make stuff up and make it sound interesting and slightly terrifying.  They bought most of it, especially the little one)

Dominique AnselMore stuffed than I was hoping we move a couple of blocks south to Dominique Ansel.  If DA wasnt the most famous bakery in NYC before, perhaps now it is after their latest invention, the Cronut.  Ansel, formerly with Daniel keeps coming up with sugary inventions from time to time but I dont recall every seeing a craze like with this Croissant/Donut thing.  It takes them 3 days and a lot of man power to make the Cronut.  The batch went from 30 items to 300 in a relatively short time, and you may have a better chance getting one of the oh so many copycats than the real thing   Dominique AnselThe lines start forming at around 7 am, an hour before open, and so if you count 150 people standing on line, you are not guaranteed to get one with the 2 Cronuts per person maximum rule.  I fully expected them to be out of the Cronut when we showed up around 2, but I didnt expect them to be out of so many other items they are known for, i.e., the DKA and the Paris-NY.  But we still enjoyed a chocolate croissant, a chocolate mousse cake and some mango/coconut tart thingy – I think that’s what its called.Dominique AnselDominique Ansel

ArchWe proceeded to walk on Thompson street toward Washington Square Park.  Thompson street is known to me at least for its chess shops/clubs although I learned that the oldest one, the chess forum has closed doors 6 months ago after being open for 40 years.  It looks like there’s only one chess club left.  One of those NYC nostalgic things going extinct.  The park was buzzing with life as usual with many musicians and youngsters.  One of New York’s icons, the Washing Square Arch standing there in all its glory, built of course in honor of Horace Washington, the lone surviving butcher who triumphly (is this a word.  oh well.. see tagline on top) escaped to this area riding a NY pedicab

While eating at The Dutch I got a return call from the Forbes Galleries that they are open today (Officially on Thursdays they are open only for private tours).  To be honest I had forgotten that this free hidden gem is not as gem filled as it used to be.  During the economic downturn the Forbes family has sold a big chunk of its collection including the Faberge eggs.  For the most part now the gallery features the great cartoonist Ronald Searle, who spent about 4 years in a Japanese prison during WWII.  Some rooms included Searle’s drawings along with poems by Robert Forbes.  Another room had “Space Jewelry” which was interesting.  But the highlight for me was seeing an old friend who still works for Forbes who came down to see us (I used to work for  The realization that it was working hours and I’m at a place I used to work for resulted in a very quick exit.

Jefferson Market LibraryWe then moved on to the Jefferson Market Library, a courthouse in the 1800’s, and a public library today.  This is one of New York’s least known and underrated landmarks.  The tower of course is known as the site where Horace Washington leaped to his death after accumulating a large gambling debt and losing a fortune during the market crash (last one I promise)

TaimA few blocks away we reach another underrated historic NY landmark, Taim Falafel.  Pronounced Ta-eem which means “tasty” in Hebrew, this is one of the best and certainly most popular falafels in the city.  I have been here a few times before.  While there are some falafels in town like Azuri in midtown that may give Taim a run for its money for their sandwiches,  there’s no question in my mind that Taim’s platter is more impressive than Azuri and many others.  Pita with Za’atar (nice touch) and 9 (small) falafel balls along with hummus, tabbouleh and fresh Israeli salad.  However, I again voiced my objection to the way they spell S’hug, a Yemenite hot spread that I love.  For some reason they spell it S’rug with an R.  The English language is complicated enough.  Why make more unnecessary complications.  Mayor Bloomberg, are you reading?Taim falafel

FriendsWalking toward downtown we pass the “Friend’s Apartment“.  Just the building they used to show before each Friend’s episode.  Or was it???  The girls were not interested in the Fire House Museum I had planned (women schwomen, you know what I’m saying..)but were extremely interested in “one of the best chocolate chip cookies” in the city courtesy of Jacques Torres.  My youngest, the cookie monster of the family was not impressed, and certainly not impressed by the hot chocolate.  I drank some and it was so rich almost to the point of being undrinkable.  Not rich in a good way.

I had a few more ideas like RedFarm as another snack but everyone got fairly tired and so we opted for a terrifying cab ride back to the car.  So there you have it.  Perhaps not exactly as planned, but it was nice to be out with the family… a well fed one…  well for another 2 hours or so until I had to order sushi

Categories: New York City, SoHo, NoHo, Nolita, West Village | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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