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Pete Wells Gives One Star Apiece to Salvation Burger and The Spotted Pig

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Pete goes on a burger-eating odyssey in Midtown East and the West Village

Salvation Burger

The Times critic files a Bloomfield/Friedman twofer today, with reviews of 11-year-old classic The Spotted Pig and its new sibling Salvation Burger. At the latter, Wells loves the burgers, the chili, the fried pies, and the bar snacks. Here's the critic on April Bloomfield's double-decker Classic burger:

Slumped in a dirty tank top in the lowbrow corner is a double-decker burger called the Classic. If the Salvation Burger tastes like a steakhouse, this one tastes like America. The two patties, pancaked to a blackening crunch on the griddle, sprawl beyond the borders of the bun, running with "special sauce" and yellow cheese that works as a second sauce. Pickles are hiding inside, good ones, but everything on this burger comes together in a single impression that bypasses analytical thinking and goes directly to raw, thumping want.

The hot dog is a sleeper, but Wells is underwhelmed by the oysters. Overall, he gives Salvation Burger one star.

Down in the West Village, the critic finds absurdly long waits for a table and some dishes that miss the mark at Ken Friedman's first restaurant with April Bloomfield, The Spotted Pig. The service can be frustrating as well:

The servers at Spotted Pig give the impression that they are going to get up to something at the end of their shift that’s more interesting that whatever I’m going to do. This can be charming except when they seem in a hurry to get there.

When they finally let you eat, the food can be wonderful. The smoked haddock chowder is a creamy bowl of winter solace, and when it was succeeded on the menu by a minted sweet pea soup with soft shredded ham hock, I cheered for spring. I loved being reunited with an old Pig standby, the bitter green salad with lobes of lemon pulp and pigs’ ears fried to a crackerlike lightness, and I have a new appreciation for the plump mussels in a lightly sour curry that tastes of toasted spices.

Sometimes, the kitchen doesn't nail staples like the gnudi and the chicken liver toast, which is a shame. After weighing the hits and misses, Wells gives the Spotted Pig one star, which is the same rating that Frank Bruni bestowed on the restaurant a decade ago.