Chef April Bloomfield’s nose-to-tail gastro pub, The Breslin, is so achingly cool, so painfully hip, that even on a Friday at 5:30pm the dining room is buzzing with nerd glasses, beards and skinny ties as far as the eye can wander. The hype surrounding this place – and the Ace Hotel in which it is housed – has come fast and furious, turning a characterless stretch of midtown into the new downtown, and the hosannas heaped upon Bloomfield’s cooking have been near constant since her arrival at The Spotted Pig a few years back. Naturally the New Yorker in me was fully prepared to be non-plussed – even a little bit pissed off – by it all. Then out came the golden pig.
The Breslin notoriously doesn’t take reservations unless you order one of their two special feasts: lamb or pig. Unwilling to wait for an hour in the crowded bar of hipsters, I gathered eight adventurous friends willing to engage their inner cannibal and ordered the chef’s table suckling pig dinner. Even at this ungodly early hour I must confess it was a minor miracle of piggy goodness worth scheduling your day around. Something happens in the brain when an intact beast is ritually placed before you. You go hog wild, pardon the pun, tearing into it with gusto: the butt, the bacon, the rump, the loin, and sweet Jesus, those crispy cracklings! When the waiter came back to crack open the head there was almost a fight for the cheeks. The tongue, the brains – one adventurous lady even went straight for the eyes, bless her soul. It was a true pig-a-palooza of porcine indulgence unlike anything I’d ever experienced before. Oh, and there were side dishes, too: Caesar salad, broccoli rabe, roasted fennel, and duck fat roasted potatoes that will forever infect my dreams. To counteract the meat-sweats, a bittersweet chocolate pie arrived for dessert – flecked with just enough sea salt to take the edge off. St. April, forgive me my trespasses: by all that is holy, I believe in the one true pig.