On The Menu

Pigalle (JP Review)


Category : , ,

Let me preface this review by saying that we went to Pigalle during restaurant week a couple of years ago and had a great, great meal. The service was great, the food was beyond tasty, a very classic French bistro menu, and the atmosphere was very intimate and romantic. If we had this blog back then, I would have given it a 3 1/2 or a 4. Sadly, this was not the same Pigalle that I remembered.

Looking around online at menus for my birthday dinner, I knew I wanted to a restaurant that was holding a prix fixe menu or a special chef tasting menu that was under $50. A tall order, but there were some tasty, or so it seemed, choices. Hamersleys is currently holding a $40 3 course meal, and places like Salt and EVOO were having their midweek chef's tasting specials as well. Then I saw that Pigalle has their entire menu up for a 3 course dinner at $35. Now if Hamersleys had their famous roasted chicken on their special menu, I would have opted to go there, but they didn't, so Pigalle it was.

We got their a little early because we caught the Silver Line immediately. As we walked past the windows, we saw that the restaurant was basically empty. We walked in and there were a few people standing around the host stand...normally a bad sign. We were seated immediately at a very cute booth that faced out onto the rest of the restaurant.

We ordered all three courses at once. I went with the Steak Taretare (a $5 supplement), the Coq Au Vin, and the Apple and Cranberry Cobbler.

And so we sat with our drinks...when bread came. As many of you have probably read, Pigalle gives one piece of bread per person. A bread man comes around and places said bread onto your plate along with some butter, which was the typical french butter that was slightly cheesy in flavor. The butter was good, bread, nothing special.

Our appetizers came, and my Steak taretare came garnished with a soft fried egg, capers, some picked peppers and a small copper pot of waffle cut fries. The steak taretare was not the best steak taretare I've ever had, but was not bad at all. It just seemed to be nothing out of the ordinary. The waffle fries were slightly over salted, but cooked perfectly and crispy. The soft fried egg was clearly the highlight of this dish. I wonder how they cooked it...if they soft boiled an egg and took off the shell and then battered and fried it would be my guess...Abby got the House-cured Salmon to start...I'll let her talk about it.

Now we waited a long time for them to clear our dishes and then another long wait for our main course. No biggie because we were just enjoying a night out to ourselves, but something to note in a not quite busy restaurant.

I was pretty pumped for my main course of Coq Au Vin. I've been wanting to try this classic French dish for a long time. Basically ever since I saw Alton Brown cook it up in a Good Eats episode a few years ago. I've seen it on the menu at a few places, but I just never felt right about ordering it. Tonight I figured would be one of my best chances to get this dish done properly. I was after all dining at a restaurant that specializes in French classics. On the menu was also the steak frites that I usually order, but I really wanted to branch out tonight. So I went for it. Abby went for the Crispy Half Duck.

So my Coq Au Vin tasted like...well, it tasted like slow braised chicken. Something I've cooked many times before. Maybe it's because I hyped up this dish so much in my mind. Maybe it's because I have a strong belief that meals that have origins as being poor people's food usually turns out to be some of the best meals in the world and this is the one time where that belief is wrong. Maybe Pigalle's Coq Au Vin is nothing special...who knows, but this was just a very, very average dish. The chicken was cooked very well, the mashed potatoes were pretty tasty. The carrots and pearl onions, classic additions to Coq Au Vin, were good, but not great. I just didn't get the magic I was expecting with my first bite. Needless to say, I was slightly disappointed.

After they cleared our plates (another long wait) we sat and I soon realized that I was extremely full. Even though my first two courses weren't the greatest tastes I've ever had, the portions were a good size. I wasn't sure if I'd be able to eat my dessert. Which finally came after another long wait.

This was the highlight of my meal. The apple and cranberry cobbler was very good. The cobbler crust was the perfect combination of crispy and crumbly and the vanilla ice cream on top made it all the better. A very good dessert, that I sadly could only have 3 or 4 bites of because I was way too full. Abby had no problem eating up all her Creme Bruelee and seemed to be absolutely in love with her dessert. So at least the meal ended in a good note.

I read a bunch of chowhounds and yelps of how Pigalle has seemed to be going in a downward direction and was just hoping that those reviewers just happened to go on a bad night, maybe during the summer when others have mentioned that the cooking staff leaves to cook on the Cape or the Hamptons. Sadly our experience on my birthday night were no better than those reviews. I give Pigalle a disappointing 2 and 1/2 out of 5.

Pigalle on Urbanspoon


let me just first say I think your review is very thought provoking and helpful but I think that some of your blog is a little short of the mark.
#1 you based your taste and experience of a dish (coq au vin) on something you saw on television, to me trying is the way to have a solid base to an opinion
#2 you criticized service based on timing and I got to tell you if I saw someone sitting as a regular guest doing a photo shoot with their dishes I would give them a little extra time to be alone...
#3 and lastly I have been to Pigalle during it's regular menu and with the most recent 3 course $35 menu and I find that the service and quality is one of the more hidden jewels in Boston.