Good dive bars, attracting regulars from all walks of life, are as integral to the fabric of the city as rent control, bodega flowers and angry cabbies. Many serve food, but that’s rarely the draw. Occasionally, though, the boozing takes a backseat to the kitchen. The Corner Bistro’s burgers long ago put that West Village hole-in-the-wall on the map. And some people swear by the hot wings at Wogie’s nearby.
Those places, and many others just like them, have one thing in common: No one cooking inside would ever claim they’re a “chef.” So why would a guy with Morimoto and Buddakan on his résumé try to enter that lowbrow arena?
This summer, former Top Chef contender Dale Talde launched his own dive bar, Pork Slope, not far from his hot Pan-Asian eatery, Talde. The new project, opened with his partners in the first restaurant, was designed as a trashy homage to Patrick Swayze’s schlocky classic Road House, complete with a pool table, a PBR sign and taxidermied boars’ heads. The menu, a survey of bar-food classics, includes crisp, golden Tater-Tots and better than-average wispy, sweet onion strings, along with ribs, chili, fried chicken and wings. There’s also a too-faithful replica of a McDonald’s cheeseburger, right down to the gray patty, plain squishy bun and ratio of squirts of ketchup to mustard (Talde has admitted a fondness for the Golden Arches original). It’s all hot, fresh and terrible for you—and none of it tastes like it was cooked by a pedigreed chef.
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