Having not visited Pigalle for two or three years, my wife and I decided to go there last weekend. The meal, I'm afraid to say, was definitely not up to the standards of our previous visits there.
Upon our arrival (9:00 p.m.) the dining room was almost empty, which made for a kind of strange environment in such a small restaurant. We took our seats and decided to order a bottle of wine. The waiter brought our bottle over, and upon trying to open it the cork cracked in half--never a good sign. A bad cork is understandable, but the waiter made the wrong decision--as soon as the cork cracked, he turned around, shoved the cracked half in his pocket, and continued prying the other half out of the bottle. I was a bit surprised by this reaction, and after he got the cork out I was not surprised that the wine tasted like wet cardboard. Psychological--because I'd seen the cork crack in half? Or was the bottle actually corked? Who knows, but we ended up sending back the bottle and getting another one (much better on the second try). The waiter's behavior set the tone for the rest of the night, with him pretty much ignoring us except when it was time to serve us something...
For an hors d'oeuvre I ordered the duck liver pate, and my wife had the roasted beet spring rolls. The pate was nice, served with a a few toast points and a berry preserve. The spring rolls, unfortunately, were quite bland, and even the horseradish cream couldn't bolster their flavor enough to make me want to go back for a third bite.
The highlight of the meal was my entree, the crab duxelle-stuffed chicken breast. I never, ever order chicken when I go out to eat, but this sounded too good to pass up, and I'm gad I didn't; it was fantastic. The chicken was incredibly crispy yet perfectly moist. My only complaint was the "foie gras French toast" which accompanied the dish. The French toast part was eggy and a great foil to the leek sauce that the chicken was served with, but the chunk of foie gras seemed to have seen better days--it was tough and unappetizing.
My wife, alas, did not fare as well with her steak frites. The frites were tasty--salty, crispy, and dusted with parsley--but the tenderloin was incredibly tough (especially for a tenderloin!) and served with a lemon compound butter which my wife rated as "interesting" and which I personally felt was a disgrace to the meat.
For dessert we tried the maple-glazed profiteroles with plantain ice cream. This was the biggest disappointment of the night. We were unable to detect any kind of glaze or maple flavor, and one taste of plantain ice cream and I knew why I'd seen them fried and grilled so many times, but never used in a dessert context--chalky and starchy are not the first adjectives I'd think of when describing my dream ice cream.
All in all, a lot more bad than good. Definitely not excusable for a $250 meal--so Pigalle is henceforth migrating to my "avoid" list, at least for a while. Perhaps I'll give it a try in another couple of years. In the meantime, there are many other places I'd rather dine...
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