Dinner by Candlelight at the Spotted Pig


The toasted sandwich at Spotted Pig was a pleasant distraction from neighborhood worries.

A check of the two dozen or so West Village restaurants still open without electricity and operating by candlelight indicates that very few of them are actually serving food. Nevertheless, most were one-third to one-half full, often with drinkers from other neighborhoods who had traveled by foot, limited subway, and bicycle to experience the blackout conditions in the neighborhood.

At the corner of Perry and Hudson, Spasso was one of the few places furnishing full meals.

Exceptions included a strip of three restaurants on Perry Street between Hudson and Greenwich: Spasso, Aria Wine Bar, and Left Bank. With nearly a full menu, Spasso was jammed with diners – at one point there was a waiting line in front; Aria was full, too, offering a more ambitious bill of fare than usual; while Left Bank was offering a limited menu, and, deeper in the darkness away from Hudson Street, had fewer customers.

While Mary’s Fish Camp – which had been open the night before – was now closed, and Agave, The Windsor, Gusto, Fiddlesticks, and Wilfie & Nell could manage no food whatsoever, Diablo Royale, decorated as if for a Satanic Mass with hundreds of tall bodega candles, managed to turn out some magnificent skirt-steak nachos, and also offered a range of quesadillas. I met a pair who had sojourned down from the Upper West Side, first by subway to 34th Street, and then on foot, to take in the conditions in Greenwich Village, and have a drink.

Spotted Pig had re-opened the day before, offering a limited menu consisting of a single soup, a sandwich, a frittata, and a couple of bar munchies. A friend and I decided to dine there. Around 6:30, instead of the thronged first and second floors we would have usually encountered, the main floor was about half full, lit by dozens of votive candles in various colors. The atmosphere was agreeably chill, though the room was warm.

The hand of April Bloomfield was evident even in the sparse offerings at the Spotted Pig.

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The Spotted frittata

The drink menu was limited, too, to three bottled beers, the house cask-conditioned ale, a couple of white or red wines, and mixed drinks – though you had to drink them with no ice.

Groups of two and three sat in little pools of light, some playing board games. The service was great, and the waiters and bartenders seemed to be as pleased to be there as the neighborhood types that found refuge. A kind of Halloween spookiness still prevailed, and no one mentioned the storm.

The food, limited as it was, turned out to be near-magnificent. Everything was served on paper plates with plastic flatware. There was a toasted sandwich of prosciutto and basil mayo with a little side salad of arugula, greasy and delicious as hell ($16); an oddball soup of tomatoes and potatoes with chunks of pancetta thrown in (though the menu said “creamy,” it was pleasantly uncreamy, $8); and a rich frittata crammed with chard and cheeses ($8). “What an unusual thing to stick in a frittata, but quite good!” my dining companion exclaimed. Nevertheless, we thought the portion a little smaller than it ought to have been.

Totally fortified by eating these three dishes, and drinking a couple of bottles of beer, we ventured back into the dark night.

Fajitas at Diablo Royale