Negative review of Pigalle in Inquirer
Althought there have been times when I've thought LeBan has been *way* off base in his reviews, I think in this particular instance he hit the nail on the head. Having been to Caribou Cafe several times in the past, I was expecting Pigalle to have a polished bistro menu without any glaring missteps. What I found was an inattentive wait staff that delivered uninspired bistro fare. Granted, the decor is gorgeous -- deep reds, dark wood, subtle lighting -- but the food just didn't measure up.
My duck confit was hardly as infused with salt as it should have been, and the reduction that accompanied the dish was a strange, sour mix of blood orange, stock, and capers. My girlfriend's fish dish (and I unfortunately can't remember what it was) came out rather bland, though the fish was exceptionally fresh. The winner of the evening was the marinated chickpea salad that LeBan noted in his review. It was well balanced, flavorful, and simply snapped of freshness. To be fair, I certainly do think LeBan's measurement system needs to be revised, as it's far too limiting (only 4 bells, and he grants no half-bells)and though the place does have potential, it's got a bit of work to do before it catches up to others in the city.
If you scroll down to Sylvia's posting of "Thanks for Pigalle" and my response you'll see that I correctly predicted that Craig LeBan would inevitably find things to criticize and give Pigalle one bell. As the posting also states, this is why, while I look at his reviews, I rarely if ever take his advice.
Now I am NOT saying I am any kind of food critic by any means, but I know what I like and I think I know what good food is. Pigalle is NOT an average place to dine by any means. It is definitely above average in food and I think has beautiful decor, all in all a desirable place to go. Is it Overtures yet? Definitely not. Let's remember though that the chef is 26 and the place has been open about 3 months.
Personally, I think listening to real people who like good food and eat at varied places often is safer than listening to food critics. In other words, I'll trust the Chowhounds over people like Leban any day!
re: David De Silva
Listening to food critics can be very helpful, so long as the critic is consistent in his/her evaluations.
That doesn't mean you have to agree with the critic's evaluations. But if you know the bias of the critic (and we all have our own biases) and those biases are consistent, reading a particular reviewer can be most useful.
Same thing holds for movie, dance and theater critics.
Above all, keep in mind that one can never argue with Gus. It is, after all, a matter of taste.
re: David De Silva
Is it just me, or does LaBan go out of his way to find something negative to say about every restaurant he reviews. He may feel this is "balanced reporting", and I can understand the challenge of being a "reviewer". It's become almost a joke in our house on Sunday. How long can he stay positive. Who can he praise and slam in the same paragraph? Maybe it is just me, but I think, barring something unspeakably awful, you just shouldn't give the press to a place you don't like. Two famous quotes "If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing" and "If you have nothing nice to say sit next to me". I'm half way between these two opinions, however, short of a catastrophe only review restaurants you want people to frequent. I can understand pointing people away from less desirable dishes etc., but he loses me sometimes with his Liberty Bell ratings. IMHO