The host, draped in a Hefner-esque jacket, parted the velvet curtains to reveal a faintly lit room. Candles set off the textured wallpaper and pressed tin ceiling. Mismatched chairs were pushed against tiny two-tops covered with mosaic swirls. Above the door to the kitchen, neon spelled out "The Bourgeois Pig," casting the space in a dusky red glow. The heat was turned way, way up.
Such atmosphere would be a cliché if it didn't work so well—this is one of the sexier eateries in New York.
From our vantage point in the "mezzanine"—a raised platform with a handful of tables—we watched couples lazily sprawl on the chaise lounges, stare lovingly at one another, and stroke thighs or hands. (We could only wonder where the group of friends nestled into one corner was headed after they left.)
In addition to a strong selection of whites, reds, and rosés from France, the restaurant serves interesting cocktails like Provence punch ($40/pitcher), champagne mixed with elderflower, lemon juice, blood peach puree, and orange bitters. (Death & Co. mixologist Philip Ward helped develop the drink list.) Mondays, Tuesdays, Saturdays from 5 to 7 pm, and Sundays from 5 to 7 pm, bottles are half-off.
The menu offers plenty to mix-and-match for sharing potential. Tempting though a charcuterie plate ($20) may look, we'd recommend the bruschetta sampler ($12): two each of cheddar with Fiji apple, brie with strawberry and mint, and creamy taleggio with artichoke and a few shreds of prosciutto. Perhaps the bread could have been crisper and the cheeses spread a little thinner, but the overall effect was good, especially the way the freshness of the strawberry and mint augmented the richness of the brie.
A plate of the Morocco tartine ($11) gets you four open-faced sandwiches topped with merguez, red pepper, and harissa, floating on a huge sea of dressed arugula. There almost wasn't room at the table to accommodate the plate. Too hard to cut with the abnormally little flatware, they had to be picked up and nibbled whole, sending pieces of ground lamb in all directions. Once we recovered our dignity, we enjoyed them, though they didn't have quite the kick we expected from the combination of merguez and harissa—we could have used more friction between the usual heat of those ingredients and the sweetness of the peppers.
With the sharing, the dripping, and the swirling, few foods seem so immediately erotic as fondue, a specialty here. The four cheese ($24) blended Romano, Parmesan, mozzarella, and provolone into a salty, bubbling pot of goodness; oregano, rosemary, and thyme underscored the Italian focus. As central as the cheese is, the bread can kill a fondue—too soft and each bite is a soggy mess, too hard and you may as well be at an airport Pizza Hut. Thankfully, ours—a mix of sourdough, olive loaf, and whole-wheat toast points—was just right; it held the cheese well and gave sturdy contrast while being pliable enough in the center to spare our teeth.
The French onion fondue ($26)—Gruyère mixed with onions and beef broth—also looked delicious. Alas, one order is plenty for two, especially if you get a petit plat (appetizer) or conclude with dulce de leche fondue ($26) or dark chocolate mixed with cherries and Bailey's ($28), although by the end of a meal here you'll likely have other plans.
This East Village restaurant is all about making it—do not come here with anyone with whom you'd like to remain platonic. The Bourgeois Pig is best for: a date between consenting adults.