Restaurants & Bars

piperade - another review

the glutton | Jul 23, 200303:18 AM    

ok, so it can't hurt to have another review of a good restaurant, right?

first let me say this: gerald hirigoyen (sp?) deserves to be knighted or sainted or something. every time i eat at one of his places i have to look twice at the prices, they are so fair. no boutique pricing at his establishments, just good solid value.

called this afternoon for a res., got an 8:30, was there at 8:35, seated at 8:36.

started with what i guess are already piperade classics: bean salad w/ anchovies, red peppers and egg; duck foie gras w/ sauteed grapes adn squid on frisee; and the ham/sheep cheese terrine. had a white wine by the glass - don't recall what it was, but was the waiter's recommendation, and worked fine with all.

the terrine was what you'd expect - what it lacked in subtlety it made up for in robustness. the bean salad was an easy sell on this lover of any bean that's white. the beans (a lima variety i believe) were practically fist-sized, the dressing a nice complement and not boisterous, the chives a welcome surprise. the anchovies were silent until you bit into one, then splendid (the same variety they make boquerones from i believe - white fleshed, less salty/more meaty than your typical anchovy). the one thing i don't understand is how the tri-color eggs (white, yellow, and greenish rim separating the two) were served when chez gerald was in the house. oh well, a tiny quibble.

[a moment of disgust: the couple next to me not only ordered the bean salad *sans* anchovy, but had something else that they felt the need to inquire re: it's egg-nicity. they had previously been exclaiming disgust over caesar salads and raw egg. sorry if i seem judgemental, but what's this world coming to!? are you really going to eat at a basque place if you're vegan? (and i don't think they were...)]

finally, the foie. now, i'm not big on innards, but my dining friend suggested it, adn i'm in training for french laundry, so i thought i'd better bite the bullet and test my mettle. the sauce was spectacular, the gras from the foie - delicious, the initial impression of the meat on my tongue quite nice. but after a minute, it just got....too parenchymal? i know - i'm a heretic. then again, i guess i'm a (somewhat) cheap(er) date. the squid, i'll eat for days. it was a good sized slab of foie. i'd say a good 100g - so if liver's your thing, go get em tiger.

for big plates, we split the cod with chorizo and rioja potatoes and the lamb chops with a potato gratin (forgive me if i'm butchering the details. i *did* just have half abottle of rioja + a glass of white...). the cod will probably go down in history as the quintessential hirigoyen dish. it was just wonderfull. the fish perfectly cooked, the flavor perceptible even through the chorizo. the brothy sauce one that you won't want to waste (glad they serve good bread). the potatoes dyed inky purple from rioja on the starchy interiors, yet deceptively natural from the skin side. i could eat this again and again. and AGAIN.

the lamb was probably suffering from a bit of hollywood syndrome - you know how starletts tend to be 29 years old for a few years? i.e., i would have preferred 3 or 4 *lamb* chops to the two "lamb" chops we got. but the again, that was my first impression. the flavor was wonderfully garlicky, the diddle of sherry vinegar dressed onion topping a revelation, the extra few months of age just an added dimension of flavor. the gratin, well.... it wasnt bad, but not as inspired as the rest of the meal.

we drank the '99 allende rioja, adn it was very nice with both dishes. didn't overpower the cod, but stood up to the lamb. would have been a delight without any food too. but then i love rioja. (note - it wasn't the burnished tawny rioja that dreams are made of, but then it was $30 a bottle and had a nice balance. good fruit without too mcuh brightness or tannicity. very drinkable. i might look for this for home).

for dessert - well, we wanted the walnuts and sheep milk cheese thingy, but the waiter described it as the richest thing on the menu. (actually, it was worth dinner to see him describing this...). and we thougt that something like that really needed a nice glass of tawny, but i had to ride amotorcycle across the bridge, and royer.... well he just declined on principle (though he had to drive too....). so we decided to save that for next time when we'd get maybe one or two fewer savory plates. settled for espresso and the orange blossom beignets. didn't catch much orange blossom, but then i'm a smoker. nice texture though. (hey - i was also pretty full. still in training, remember?)

$80 a piece inclusive of t&t and i'm not complaining. if it weren't for so many other places yet to be tasted, i'd be there again soon.


info: www.piperade.com

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