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Northern Spy Food Co


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So, what's the problem? Start off with perhaps the most uncomfortable seating (on the benches) I've ever experienced. Ssam and Noodle Bar feel like a Barcalounger compared to this.

 

Better than the stools, I painfully assure you.

 

And I really love this one: used knife and fork resting on the empty plate ready to be bussed. Server removes said used knife and fork and puts them on the table. From my dirty plate. As if I want to use the same silverware. No thanks, bring me new ones. She does. And then does exactly the same thing to my dining companions. Please - you can't be saving that much money by giving us fresh silverware, can you? As a matter of fact, I find the food to be a nice value - so how about adding a dime to the cost of the entrees, and just bring fresh silverware without the customer having to ask. This customer would be so much happier.

 

Has to be a style thing, doesn't it? Like let's all pretend we're sitting around the farm table with family. Casual French restaurants have always done this, but I don't think Northern Spy is trying to be French.

 

I was at Northern Spy shortly after joethefoodie last night, apparently.

 

This place seems to me to be the new mean for mid-priced NYC restaurants. Everything was well-prepared, at a level we never would have expected in the midrange years ago. But the menu is BORING. It's all the stuff all the other places like this serve. I wouldn't avoid Northern Spy, but I can't see going there, either.

 

You are getting to be a tough crowd. Hearth was boring a few weeks back.

 

Did nobody try the terrine? It was the best thing I found there.

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former chefs from A16 and Myth opened a cute little neighborhood place on E. 12th between A and B. Part store (pickles, jams, milk, etc.), part restaurant. Simple food, some of it pretty tasty althoug

Amazingly have never been to Terroir, not for lack of wanting to. Am a fan Grieco to be sure. Gotta get in there. I blame the wife.     Yeah but who's going to do the changing? I'm not advocat

I know several restaurants who pay full greenmarket prices (plus the wages of the people who go to union square to pick stuff up). I'm sure if Northern Spy buys enough kale to feed an army they get a

I'm sort of in between old-fart and hipster age. And maybe that has nothing to do with it but in any case I'm quite surprised by the general response here to Northern Spy. It's triggering something. I've had, I think three perfectly satisfying meals that didn't bore but also (quite to their credit) didn't qualify as entertainment. Good servers and a roomy-ish space considering the scale and price range of the place.

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I think part of the reason for the vehemence of my reaction is that I have to travel to go to Northern Spy.

 

I think we all can agree that it is very far from a destination.

 

If it were on Vanderbilt Avenue in Brooklyn, I'm sure I'd be more welcoming.

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I certainly liked some of the food there, and when I reviewed the place I really tried hard to acknowledge that my main problem was a profound sense of deja vu. It did not help that it was pork belly night.

 

I understand that these guys are from California, and I'm prepared to believe they aren't copying Marlow & Sons or Back Forty. But from the whole pig broken down every week, through the Porkslap-but-hardly-any-wine beverage list, to the market sides and the pretend general store in the back, it was a real struggle not to be bored.

 

Of course, I didn't have to travel to get there, and would probably use it more if I didn't just happen to prefer Back Forty.

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Of course, I didn't have to travel to get there, and would probably use it more if I didn't just happen to prefer Back Forty.

Two of my friends vowed to never, ever set foot into Back Forty after the way they were treated by the host this past Saturday night. He was a major douchebag. Not a great service model.

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Did nobody try the terrine? It was the best thing I found there.

i did last week and it was wonderful, easily a dish i'd go back for.

 

also nice spring farro risotto (peas, turnips) and meatballs. the most gorgeous - and delicious - focaccia with regular and purple potatoes. one of these days i need to save some room for dessert.

 

the market space has been converted into lovely banquettes and i hear they are adding a proper wine list, too.

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Of course, I didn't have to travel to get there, and would probably use it more if I didn't just happen to prefer Back Forty.

Two of my friends vowed to never, ever set foot into Back Forty after the way they were treated by the host this past Saturday night. He was a major douchebag. Not a great service model.

 

What can I tell you? I know both the male hosts, and have had only great service from them since the place opened. This is a story to which I can have no reaction. I wasn't there. Plainly the place is packed most nights with regulars who don't have a problem. This is not to say your friend didn't have a problem.

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Having just reread your review, I don't know if I mentioned it at the time, but actually you do see pickled eggs all over the place these days. It was inevitable. (Good thing they're almost always delicious.)

 

Not a bad thing, of course, but again - it's funny to see a cheap, throwaway beer snack which fell out of favor (in the UK) when I was a teenager, being revived and re-invented.

 

Reminds me I had craft/artisanal pork scratchings in San Francisco last year.

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To Sneak's point about travel, I'd like to add some nuance. I happen to live somewhat near Northern Spy so it's not a stretch to end up there. There's a phenomenon for me of sort of a proximal awareness whenever I leave my stomping ground about what I have access to. If I'm in Spanish harlem I'll likely eat Patsy's pizza, if I'm anywhere between Brooklyn Heights and Park Slope, chances are I'll go to Franny's but maybe also Al Di La. Tudor city or nearby, I'll feel the pull of Tsukushi, sushi Yasuda or maybe Sakagura and the other night when my lovely wife took me to see the slightly disappointing Fela, we had actually a commensurately disappointing meal at an old favorite: Hagi. In other words, Northern Spy for me might fall into a category of place where if I happen to be nearby, I'll quite happily take the opportunity to eat there. I wouldn't take the subway from Brooklyn to 12th and A if the main attraction was the delicious and weird kale, cheddar and squash salad.

 

The whole pig thing is annoying. As a trend this sort of behavior has peaked. Bloody hell if the butchers have woolly beards and wear and leather belts around their bloody aprons, well I am so totally over it. And of course the inevitable consequence for a small restaurant is that the menu becomes way to pork-centric. On the other hand, (I know this because I've done it) buying a whole pig and breaking it down into parts and thinking about how to cook each different cut is great fun. There is a lot of integrity in putting your brain to work figuring out how to use all the parts of the animal. Interestingly, Craft restaurant has been doing this for years. Their production is much larger than a place like Northern Spy so it doesn't look gimmicky, in fact you wouldn't even know they're doing it.

 

Every time I've been to Northern Spy I've kind of tried to ignore the porkish bit (because of the trendiness for better or worse) and find the other stuff on the menu like that kale dish or the chicken thigh sandwich. I like that they don't really compose the plates. I wish they didn't fall for the "putting an egg on it makes it better" thing. Not that it doesn't--at home--but in a restaurant I just find it facile.

 

We're in a transitional moment with wine and beer. I had a server last night at a mid-range restaurant that will go unnamed who I considered choking to death based on his descriptions of three Italian wines. I like to drink the stuff some of the time but the surrounding culture and language especially in this country. . . oy vey. Also I like beer a lot, I like that I can drink one for under ten bucks with my meal. Americans are making better beers, little by little and we're also importing some nice ones. In the now to the near future, in more casual restaurants, I think the balance of wine to beer is likely to mirror that of Northern Spy and Marlowe.

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To be more nuanced in response, I didn't really travel to Northern Spy. I was in the neighborhood anyway and stopped in. And my problem is, in a neighborhood with so many genuine destinations, I can't see wasting my time at Northern Spy, a place that does (well) what so many other places already do. I can only see frequenting it if you live right nearby.

 

It is NOT to the East Village, IMO, what Franny's and Al Di La are to Park Slope.* It's more like what the Stone Park Cafe is to Park Slope.

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* Obligatory reminder that while you might go to Franny's when you're in Park Slope, it's actually in another neighborhood entirely.

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We're in a transitional moment with wine and beer. I had a server last night at a mid-range restaurant that will go unnamed who I considered choking to death based on his descriptions of three Italian wines. I like to drink the stuff some of the time but the surrounding culture and language especially in this country. . . oy vey.

 

Isn't the solution to change the surrounding culture and language in this country, rather than to jettison what is surely one of the highest achievements of human culture (I'm actually being serious)?

 

I mean, you never have that problem at Terroir, right?

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To be more nuanced in response, I didn't really travel to Northern Spy. I was in the neighborhood anyway and stopped in. And my problem is, in a neighborhood with so many genuine destinations, I can't see wasting my time at Northern Spy, a place that does (well) what so many other places already do. I can only see frequenting it if you live right nearby.

 

It is NOT to the East Village, IMO, what Franny's and Al Di La are to Park Slope.* It's more like what the Stone Park Cafe is to Park Slope.

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* Obligatory reminder that while you might go to Franny's when you're in Park Slope, it's actually in another neighborhood entirely.

 

Thinking about this some more, I guess what I'm saying is that, like you and your wife, I have go-to restaurants in certain neighborhoods, too. But usually they're neighborhoods that don't have a lot to offer. You don't need an enjoyable-but-in-no-way-exceptional go-to place in the East Village, the single best restaurant neighborhood in Manhattan and probably the City as a whole. It's easy to find great places to eat in the East Village.

 

Contrast Northern Spy with the Vinegar Hill House, my go-to place in Vinegar Hill and DUMBO (Brooklyn). The food at the Vinegar Hill House is no better than at Northern Spy -- and it may even be a bit worse. But, unlike Northern Spy, the Vinegar Hill House has a uniquely appealing location (it's the only restaurant on a very attractive and characterful street). Unlike Northern Spy's cliched/nondescript decor, Vinegar Hill House has a very charming interior; it's a pleasure to be there. And, most important, quite different from Northern Spy, Vinegar Hill House, mediocre as it is, towers over every other restaurant in the neighborhood.

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The clientele at Northern Spy perhaps doesn't help (the children, or grandchildren, of Sex in the City), but the restaurant is hardly to blame.

 

Nothing to disagree with in Ned's last post: a very good take on the place.

 

For those who don't know the details, Northern Spy's avowed approach is to take the weekly pig and serve a different pig entree every night. I'd certainly have avoided the pork belly, but the alternatives weren't appealing - tilefish chowder? There's usually chicken too. Of course, you can stick with sandwiches and sides.

 

ETA: Only half a pig per week, apparently.

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