511 E 12th st. (btwn Ave A & B)
Overall: 3.5 stars
Location: 3 stars
Food Quality: 4 stars
Atmosphere: 3.5 stars
Hospitality: 3 stars
(Out of 4 stars)
Ever since I was forced to watch the documentary Super Size Me in middle school, I often wondered where my food originated from. As New Yorkers, we all know that there are countless supermarkets and restaurants that claim they only source from local, organic farms, but we know that is not always the case.
At the Northern Spy Food Co., you no longer need to wonder where your roasted chicken came from. In fact, they will tell you the exact farm the chicken was from, and probably even tell you how many friends she had and whether or not she liked romantic strolls down the beach. If you are curious about where they get their Brussels sprouts, beers and meats, they take the extra step of providing a long list of their purveyors on their website.
Their menu is concise, straightforward and, best of all, seasonal. Executive Chef Hadley Schmitt regularly changes the menu based on whichever ingredient is freshest that day. Their philosophy is based on exclusively serving locally sourced, rustic, seasonal food – a philosophy that perfectly reflects their name. Northern Spy is actually the name of an apple local to East Bloomfield, New York, that is supposedly the ideal apple for pies, cider or just eating fresh. Honestly, I was disappointed to learn that the restaurant was not run by spies.
Chef Schmitt brings an unparalleled wide-eyed, creative paradigm to Northern Spy that sets them apart from any other “rustic, seasonal” New York menu. Some highlights of their dinner menu are the Pork Sticky Rolls ($7) and the Battenkill River Valley Pork ($21). If the idea of Pork Sticky Rolls sounds odd to you, that is because it is. They look exactly like cinnamon buns, but do not let that throw you off. The rolls are stuffed with impeccably moist pulled pork and topped with a parsnip and Dijon mustard glaze that looks just like the sugar glaze on cinnamon buns. Served as a starter, it definitely challenged the way I thought about using something as simple as pork and parsnips. The Battenkill River Valley Pork is certainly a must as well. The cut depends on the day (I had the shoulder), and it is served with black eyed peas, collard greens and natural a jus.
Unfortunately, there is one downside to the Northern Spy: space. There was one point during the meal when I had to ask the waitress if I could move because there was a table of four sitting next to me and I could barely hear my own thoughts. The waitress seemed a little frustrated at my request, but she complied. I normally would never request such a thing, but it was impeding my dining experience. Otherwise, if you are able to make reservations on their website, you should be good to go.
Northern Spy has managed to take traditional values behind food, such as striving to use every part of an animal out of respect and to avoid waste, and translate it into a fresh take on otherwise ordinary ingredients. With their ever-evolving menu and admirable philosophy, the Northern Spy Food Co. is a place I would recommend to anyone who wants to experience a new perspective on food.