What do you look for in a date night spot? For me, the ambience should suggest that it’s special, the drinks should be good, getting a table shouldn’t be annoying, it shouldn’t feel like a ripoff, and of course, the food has to be great.
I think Swine in the West Village is the kind of place that delivers on all fronts. It’s a little off the beaten path and definitely feels special. Upon entering and heading towards the bar, the first thing I noticed was this awesome, retro pinball machine. I hear it’s free to play, but I didn’t want to bother the diners sitting right next to it, so I figured I’d save that for another, more appropriate time.
The entire restaurant looks great. I’ve dined on both floors, each has its own style. The lower floor is near the kitchen and allows you to watch all of that action whereas the upstairs is near the bar and lets you scope out what’s going on there. There’s a kind of upscale dive bar feel going on throughout the whole place between the decor and the low-lighting.
To start of the meal, we decided to have some cocktails. All of the choices sounded so great that I found it hard to choose, but after consulting my waitress, I went with a drink called the Captain’s Quarters.
I tend to like strong, boozy, smokey drinks and this one hit all the right notes. This drink was delicious and had some very interesting combinations of flavors. It’s made with Sombra mezcal, violet-agave, lime, Burlesque bitters, a Beachplum gin float, and has a sea salt rim. By the way, if you’re not in the mood for a cocktail, they serve a number of great wines on tap too.
On my last visit, I had an incredible burger topped with bone marrow. That was one of the best burgers I’d ever had, but I spotted something else coming out of the kitchen that day that I knew I would have to order on my next visit. I saw a massive tray of Roasted Bone Marrow that looked downright ridiculous, so on this visit I gave it a shot.
This bone marrow did not disappoint. In fact, it tasted even better than it looked! This appetizer (ha, right, appetizer) came with three humongous, halved beef bones, loaded with tender oozing marrow and something they call salsa verde. I think their salsa verde was really similar to an Argentinean chimichurri and the brightness of the greens paired really well with the rich unctuousness of the marrow. It was bursting with rich, buttery, garlicky amazingness and was great smeared onto toast points or scooped directly into my mouth. This was one of the most stupidly decadent things I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating.
For my main course, I ordered an incredible preparation of pork that they called the Swine Pork Porterhouse. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of pork being served as a porterhouse – traditionally a steak cut that has a T-bone straddled by short loin and tenderloin meat. This pork was some of the moistest, best-cooked, well-seasoned, and nicely-textured pork preparations I’ve ever had. The char on the outside was so excellent, it’s amazing that they were able to achieve such crispness while retaining so much moisture and flavor.
The Pork Porterhouse came served with Cheddar Jalapeño Grits that were easily the best grits I’ve had in NYC and totally impressed my Texan girlfriend with their incredible flavor and authenticity. I’d come back just to have these grits again.
If you ask me, Swine is hard to beat for a unique, interesting, cozy, and truly excellent date spot. The food is consistently outstanding and the drinks are equally as great. The vibe is right and so are the prices. Give it a shot, you won’t regret it.
531 Hudson St. New York, NY 10014