(Photo: Ingram Publishing/Alamy)
Ever since April Bloomfield introduced the word gastropub into the lexicon of New York restaurants, to describe the mood and food of what was to become the Michelin-starred Spotted Pig, New Yorkers have debated just what it is that makes a gastropub a gastropub, and not, say, just a casual bar and restaurant. Local entrepreneurs, of course, didn’t bother grappling with the definition (a place in which you can have a drink, but which also serves great food, according to British food writer Diana Henry in The Gastropub Cookbook)they just latched on to what seemed like the next big thing. Suddenly, New York was awash with purported gastropubsSpike Hill Tavern in Williamsburg, Kitchen/Bar in Greenwood Heights, the ill-fated European Union in the East Village, which finally wangled a beer-and-wine license two weeks ago from an intransigent community board. Chat Noir, a French spot opening this fall off Madison Avenue, has the gall (Gaul?) to bill itself as a gastro-bistro. But none of those aspirants to gastropubdom rankle Spotted Pig owner Ken Friedman as much as serial restaurateur Jeffrey Chodorow’s reported plan to resuscitate the space that was previously Caviar and Banana as an authentic British gastropub called the Spotted Dick. The mere mention of the suspiciously similar name is enough to cause Friedman, an exL.A. surfer dude who usually conveys an air of breezy nonchalance, to take on the disposition of a peevish Rottweiler. We don’t own the name Spotted, ’ and we don’t own the name Dick, ’ admits Friedman. But a spotted dick is a dessert which features raisins and suet pastry, and you never name a pub after a dish. Pubs were for poor people who couldn’t read, so they would hang a wooden pig or duck or swan. You wouldn’t hang a brownie or a piece of apple pie or some spotted dick. I’m not sure that Jeffrey realizes that. Maybe his shtick is I like restaurants with dumb names.’ I mean, Bananas and Caviar is almost as dumb as the Spotted Dick. Chodorow, for his part, is still mulling over both the concept and the name, according to his publicist.