Swine NYC, a West Village restaurant which opened about a month ago on Hudson Street, seems like it has all the elements in place to be packing 'em in for a meaty, boozy party this fall. It's run by West Village local John McNulty, who's done time at such first-rate spots as Jeffrey's and Cafe Cluny, and who presumably knows how to please this part of town. Swine's Chef Phil Conlon has assembled a menu of pig-centric crowd pleasers, with plenty of on-trend offerings like a Pickles section, a Toasts section, a Condiments section, plenty of Salami and house made Charcuterie, several marrow-based dishes, and snacks like Deviled Eggs and Potato Chip Nachos. The bi-level room (bar-ish upstairs; dining room-ish down) is decked out in cred-building punk, rap and indie memorabilia, there are special cocktails, and, just in case your date is a snooze, a pinball machine. So the model seems right. Question is: is Swine NYC any good?
A Visit to Swine NYC in the West Village Starts Well
We stopped by this restaurant in the West Village for an early dinner the other night just to sample a few things and feel out the place. Of course, Swine NYC is much more of a later-night sort of spot, so if nothing else it's guaranteed to be a whole lot louder than we experience it if you go at, say, 9:00. Anyway, our meal started out on a better-than-right foot, with a terrific Crispy Pig's Head Terrine, a crunchy-fried little brick filled with juicy chunks of saucy swine. This was dense and rich but well-balanced in both texture and flavor and we happily wolfed it in about a minute and a half. Good stuff. Continuing on with pig parts, next up was the Swine Chop… and so our troubles began.
Swine NYC Falls Flat at the Entree
Now, we rarely order chops in restaurants, as they're difficult to plate without being disappointingly dry (or grossly uncooked), but here we asked the barkeep in advance if, in fact, the kitchen knew what they were doing. He assured us, that, yes, our food would be good, and this is nearly the most expensive item on the menu, and the place is called Swine for heaven's sake, so it should be fine, right? Right? No it was not. In fact, it was among the driest, most overcooked pieces of meat we've ever been served. Our waiter (with an assist from owner McNulty) was kind enough to replace the order with another item, so we went with the menu safety, the Bone Marrow and Brisket Burger, with melted Gruyere and a pile of "caramelized" (read: fried) onions. It was ok, a bit of a mushy mess, and the bun was dangerously close to stale. AND it was $18.
But the most depressing part of the plate? The pickle. Limp, discolored, like something you'd see on a sandwich tray from some lame deli three hours after all the other food is gone. There's no way whoever was plating our (again: $18) burger would have chosen this pickle for him or herself to eat, so why give it to your guests? It just shows that no one cares back there, or that the people who do care aren't paying attention. And on a restaurant-heavy stretch of Manhattan that features such proven winners as Red Farm, Frankie's, Corsino, and Fatty Crab (to name just four personal favorites with five blocks or so), that's a dangerous way to be… no matter how cool your pinball machine is.
Swine NYC’s West Village Restaurant Location
Swine is located on Hudson Street between Charles and West 10th, and is open on Monday to Saturday from 3:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m., and on Sunday until 12:00 midnight. For more information and a look at the complete Swine NYC menu, please see the Swine website, here