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Pigalle Not Good

Went to Pigalle last night with fairly high expectations based on lots of positive reviews on this board and their website that proclaims that "Food and Wine" named their chef, "Best New Chef" for 2004, but came away terribly disappointed. The positives, the restaurant is very attractive and the waitstaff and hostess were very friendly and professional. The word that keeps coming to mind for the balance of the meal, the portion size, the pricing, the quality of the cooking, is pretentious. It seems to me that they believe that they are much better than they really are.

First, I want to say that throughout our meal, the restaurant was very slow, perhaps 3-4 tables or about 10-12 diners total so there should have been no excuse for turning out poor food, they certainly did not have the pressure of a full restaurant and a backed up kitchen struggling to get food out. One odd (pretentious) thing about the bread service: they served each one of us one piece of what I would describe as very average bread (not artisinal bread) on our own individual plate and when we each finished, the servers removed the barely used bread plate and provided us with a new one for the next slice of bread...a little unnecessary. Only one of the 3 of us got an appetizer which was a mushroom consumme (broth) with a few pieces of shitake and 3 miniscule duck quennelles, it was tasty but certainly not worth the $15 price tag. For entrees, my daughter got the tenderloin ($40), I got the sirloin ($46) and my wife got a mushroom risotto ($38). Both the tenderloin and sirloin, I estimate as between 4-6 oz pieces, not very large for the pricepoint. I ordered my sirloin medium rare and it came out with no observable pink or red, I believed to be medium to medium well. I asked the waiter what he thought and he said he thought it looked more like medium. He offered to take it back if I didn't mind waiting which I had him do and what was a little odd was that he had another piece out in less than 5 minutes saying, "we had another one in the pipeline" but it came out so quick it made me wonder if these had been precooked and were being held? The second piece was equally small, cooked medium rare to medium but lacked a strong beef flavor. My wife's risotto was delicious but noticeably undercooked, a little too much of a crunch, 5 more minutes on the stove would have been perfect but because I had sent my meal back, she did not want to do the same. All I could think of is that if this were "Hell's Kitchen", my steak and the risotto would never have left the kitchen and would have been splattered against the wall in an obscenity laced tirade from the Executive Chef. None of us had dessert but we had a total of 5 glasses of wine and 1 cappaccino. Total bill for 1 appetizer, 3 entrees, 5 glasses of wine and 1 cappaccino was $203 plus tip. Not to be repetitive, but given the pricing, the portions were ridiculous and given that the restaurant was very slow, there was no excuse for sending out overcooked steak and undercooked risotto.

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  1. Thanks for your review. I'm surprised as Pigalle has been consistently good over the years and fairly priced. I don't recall that their strength was grilled meat but still, your entrees should have been better, I haven't been in about 9 months (coincidentally running into Limster who was seated at the bar) so maybe they've jumped the shark. Perhaps others can pipe in about recent experiences

    1. Sorry to hear about your experience. We generally avoid Pigalle in the summer as the chef/owner is generally not around and the consistency most definitely suffers.

      Definitely give it a try again sometime in the fall or winter when it is very consistent.

      8 Replies
      1. re: Gabatta

        That's amazing; he hasn't trained anyone to do his dishes well enough to serve?
        They don't reduce prices in the summer, tho....

        1. re: galleygirl

          It does seem a bit strange, as it is not like he is in the resturant every night between Labor Day and Memorial Day. One can only guess, but as with any business, any prolonged abscence by the boss can lead to slippage.

        2. re: Gabatta

          I think I read somewhere that Orfaly is on the Vineyard guest-cooking at someone else's restaurant this summer.

          1. re: MC Slim JB

            I wish I had been forewarned but they should still have someone who can execute the dishes equally well. I was going to email my comments to him and his partner but their is no contact email on their website.

            1. re: bakerboyz

              I really hope you will send along your report to the restaurant. As gg says, they don't reduce the prices to account for the chef's absence in the summer. There's no reason you should reduce your expectations.

              1. re: yumyum

                I actually emailed the restaurant about 30 minutes ago; I will report back what they say, if anything.

            2. re: MC Slim JB

              He cooks at the Summer House in Nantucket for at least part of the summer.

              1. re: iamsam

                I'm having lunch at Summer House this weekend - really looking forward to it. Maybe I should slip Chef O a note to let him know he should check in on things back in Boston! :-)

          2. I also had a terrible food experience at Pigalle in the past...service was very good, but all four of us were not just disappointed --the food was so salty it was actually really inedible. This was during August, but as other posters mentioned, should this really matter? I have seen so many glowing reviews for Pigalle but I just don't think I'll ever give it a second chance. There wasn't even one glowing redeeming dish out of four of us who each had an appetizer, entree & dessert.

            1. We were there last night as well and heard that comment re " another one in the pipeline " and in fact think you likely got my steak as a replacement which was indeed in the pipeline ...there were 4 of us and we had no complaints ..In fact our guests had never been before and were totally satisfied. DH and I have been 3 times this summer and havent noticed any declination in food. Sorry u had a bad nite. Email is info@pigalleboston.com...

              2 Replies
              1. re: capeanne

                Curious - did your steak come out after the other three entrees since they presumably had to start from scratch for you?

                1. re: heathermb

                  Nope we were at end of apps when this occurred . entrees arrived at same time maybe 10 minutes later 2 steaks 1 lamb 1 fish .

              2. I didn't think Pigalle was in that stratosphere of high prices. $46 for sirloin, yowzer.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Joanie

                  Mushroom risotto for 38 dollars!! It better had been covered with freshly sliced truffles?!? That is ridiculous.

                  1. re: Elvis74

                    Nope, just drizzled with truffle oil.

                  2. re: Joanie

                    I used to have Pigalle in my top tier of new (to me) places to try, but when I checked the menu a couple of months ago, I noticed a big price jump. I moved it into the second tier, but after reading that even at those prices you can't expect an adequate portion size or quality, it's banished from the list until I hear things have turned around. For me and others who can only afford those prices for a special occasion, it's not worth the seemingly high risk. And that bread plate thing is too precious.

                  3. I'd be interested to hear other's recent experiences....I've never been but have a RW rez at the end of Aug. At least if it's not great I won't feel like I spent too much $$ but clearly am not interested in having a meal there if it's better to wait till the fall...

                    1. I have posted on my recent (two weeks ago) Pigalle experience in a few other places. We enjoyed the 5-course tasting menu (each having a different course - making it 10 separate dishes plus an amuse that we ate) and have nothing but positive things to say about each and every course, the atmosphere, and the service. Our filet was cooked perfectly - my husband will usually tell a server that he likes his meat cooked rare to medium rare or "3 out of 10" on a doneness scale. Ditto the lamb chops. The only thing I would complain about - and this is a matter of taste preference only - is that I did not like the seasoning on the lamb chops - it was slightly too exotic for my taste. If I had to search for something off I would say the crab dish was not exciting. Delicious, artfully prepared, just not as inventive, assertive or flavorful as, say the tuna tartare - which blew my socks off. The vichyssoise was velvety, rich, creamy and beautifully flavored. It knocked my previous vichyssoise top dog (from La Chaumiere in DC) off its pillar. The beet salad was excellent - though I have enjoyed his beet terrine with horseradish foam and aspic soooooooooo much more in the past, that it was anti-climactic. These are the harshest words I can find for a diiner that was otherwise sublime, delicious, expertly prepared (as ordered) and overall one of the nicest dining experiences I have had in the past few months.

                      1. The fact that I don't remember a single thing about my meal from the one time I've eaten at Pigalle -- and that was within the last year -- is testament to how average I found it.

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                          I did the write-up on our dinner there during last year's restaurant week (link below). It was very good but even at RW prices it was decidely more expensive than we usually go, even when we're splurging, and not so swoon-inducing that it left either of us yearning to go again in spite of the price.

                          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/42912...

                          1. re: Allstonian

                            I'm surprised by all of these negative reviews of Pigalle. Every time I've been there (multiple times for regular menu, once for RW), I've had a wonderful, delicious meal with charming service! (In fact, I think it's one of the most generous, extensive RW menus in Boston.)

                            1. re: iamsam

                              If you follow the link and read my review, it's not negative. The meal was indeed delicious, just not amazing enough to make me yearn to drop that kind of money for a repeat experience, particularly since Pigalle's prices run WAY above my normal dining-out budget, and even above my special-occasion budget.

                              What can I say? I don't eat out a lot, I normally stick to pretty cheap eats when I do, and when my dinner tab goes over $60/pp I want a special experience. Pigalle was very good, but as Barmy said not especially memorable.

                              1. re: Allstonian

                                I agree that Pigalle's food was good, but not that memorable. We ate there in May, and I had to look back at my notes to recall what we actually ate there.

                                We were put off by its astronomical price, so we went on a Sunday to take advantage of the $40 3-course prix-fixe.

                                If I had to choose between Pigalle's $40 prix-fixe and Rendezvous' $38 prix-fixe, I'd pick Rendezvous.

                                1. re: Allstonian

                                  Exactly: there wasn't anything about the room, the service, the food, the drinks, or the experience as a whole that made me feel I ever have to go back.

                                  1. re: Allstonian

                                    You're right, and I didn't actually mean to specifically respond to your post, just to the general comments of this thread. Sorry about that.

                              2. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                                Again, that is too bad. We have eaten there many times - would not say frequently, but would say 4+ times per year. I would not characterize any of these as an "average" experience. Not La Chaumiere or Citronelle in our last burg in DC, certainly (both of which I love and have had extraordinary dinners with many of these same courses) but nothing approaching average. I still say Pigalle is at the top of dining experiences in Boston - based again on few, but consistent trips.

                              3. Anyone eaten at the bar?

                                I'm curious about their food there since they have one dollar oysters this summer. Also wondering if they have good bartenders, or if it's a typical flavored vodka type place.

                                1. As a follow-up regarding my experience, I emailed the restaurant about my poor experience and their response: None, thus far.

                                  1. I have had many very nice meals at Pigalle but as of late the service and food have dropped a few notches, still very good if the prices had not also gone up. I plan on going back soon, maybe when the Chef is back from Nantucket.

                                    1. Ate there myself 2X and was underwhelmed. Nothing bad, just nothing notable.

                                      $38 for mushroom risotto is absurd.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: StriperGuy

                                        Agreed, so is $46 for an overcooked, 6-8 oz sirloin!

                                      2. Af a further follow-up, to be fair I wanted to let fellow hounds know that I received a telephone call from Kerri Foley, Owner/Manager, and she was extremely apologetic and very nice. Kerri expressed that had she known the level of our dissatisfaction, she surely would have tried to make things right immediately that night. It may not change anything but I appreciate that she was so concerned with our negative experience and that she would do whatever she could to undo or reverse our previous experience. I plan on going back and will report back on my next experience at Pigalle.