For the past week, Team Spotted Pig — executive chef April Bloomfield along with co-owner Ken Friedman and their sous-chefs, Nate Smith and Peter Cho — have been eating and drinking their way through the U.K. on a recon trip for their New York restaurants. The trip pertains especially to the Breslin Bar & Dining Room, which is to open "soon" at the Ace Hotel on 29th and Broadway. (Cho will be the chef there.) The menu at the Breslin will be hearty and even more forwardly English than the Spotted Pig, Friedman told us recently. There will be lots of nose-to-tail cooking and whole-animal feasts, so they're getting a U.K. tour from Fergus Henderson, who literally wrote the book on the genre.
At Henderson's St. John Bread & Wine Bar, the team lunched on dishes like nettle soup with back fat — a very fresh, "spring-y" soup, as Nate Smith described it, "with little bursts of fat." Also crispy pig's tail — "the fat renders just enough so it's not solid. It's just chunky. You get a real creamy fat with the crispy fry ... " — and then suckling kid liver and heart — "super firm, super sexy." Other stops included the venerable Groucho Club; the Churchill Arms in Kensington; plus, the River Café (Bloomfield's pre-Pig gig) and Mark Hix's Chophouse. At the chophouse, they ate mutton diaphragm (that "little flap of meat above the rib cage"), steak and oyster pie, and squirrel, as well as a single skewer of lamb kidney, heart, meatball, and chop. These dishes will inspire the menu at Breslin, says Nate: "[It's] not overly fussed, but at the same time is very elegant." The group returns to New York on Wednesday.