Note: First Looks give previews of new dishes, drinks, and menus we're curious about. Since they are arranged photo shoots and interviews with restaurants, we do not make critical evaluations or recommendations.
At first glance, Swine seems one part CBGB and one part Spotted Pig. The two-floor interior is dark but not cave-like, rock concert bills paste the back walls, and if you breathe in deeply, you can smell the pork in the air. In the small open kitchen, Chef Phil Conlon cooking accessible, friendly food: bar snacks, charcuterie and salumi, and plenty of meaty (both literally and figuratively) entrées. Or, as he puts it, "things that taste good."
"We're not trying to reinvent the wheel here," says Conlon of his newest home. "I think of this as the kind of place I'd want to eat and drink at on my day off." You can find artifacts of the relaxed vibe, such as Keith Richards' countenance adorning the State Alcohol Notice. "Even when it comes to charcuterie we're trying to be accessible—we're not Bar Boulud."
The snacky menu focuses more on small plates to share than full entrées. Though it leands toward the heavy, meaty side, some vegetarian options and lighter fare (portobello carpaccio) are available.
But house-made charcuterie forms the backbone of the menu, built on Chef Conlon's work under Mina Newman, Cedric Tovar and Joey Fortunato (at Dylan Prime, Django and The Tonic, respectively). From a vegetable and goat cheese terrine to chicken liver mousse, all the charcuterie can be ordered on boards of 3, 5, or 7 ($15, $24, $31). To that you can add Murray's cheeses and an assortment of salumi, including house-made duck proscuitto, merguez, and gravlax.
Though Swine has only been open a couple weeks, it's already settling into its West Village location. One pull has been the late night menu, available until 3 a.m., which features all bar snacks, toasts, charcuterie, salumi, and a few small plates. In the future, Chef Phil is looking to add some specials, dinners for two and even large format meals, such as whole hog.