Anyone been to Piedmont in Durham since the management changed?
Yes, I ate there with a group the other night. I hadn't eaten at Piedmont for a long time, having given up on it after several consecutive bad experiences. We had a really nice experience this time. First of all, one of my favorite bartenders in town has started working there. I think she'll really kick up the cocktails there. I didn't try that many things, but we had a nice cheese plate, good pommes frites with aioli, and I had the tagliatelle, which was very nice. The menu itself didn't rock my world... it was fine, but it wasn't like there were so many great-sounding things on the menu that I couldn't decide what to order. But my impression is that there are bigger menu changes to come down the line. Overall, we had a nice time, and I really like the vibe there, and I'm feeling optimistic that this time Piedmont will be able to fulfill its potential.
Unfortunately, I must say that my most recent visit there was somewhat disappointing. The space is the same, and the menu is similar, with perhaps more of a focus on pastas. But, outside of the desserts, the food was a big letdown. To begin with, three crudely cut sections of doughy whole wheat bread arrived, accompanied by some very bland butter. The thickest chunk of bread was gummy, or undercooked, in the middle. I ordered a potato gnocchi / caramelized leek / country ham / tomato jus dish that was served as a very small portion with a nice parmesan tuile on top. The gnocchi was a little dense, the country ham flavor was not present enough, and the leeks were tough and chewy. Still, it was tastier than my wife’s tagliatelle / mushroom / carrot / aged balsamic / cream dish. Her noodles were soft and delicate, and it was a creamy dish – nice for a cold night – but it was terribly underseasoned and lacked much of any flavor. Dessert, on the other hand, was much better. We tried a perfectly decadent chocolate soufflé and an almond-fig pithivier (puff pastry like thing). The latter suffered from a pastry that was a bit tough but was redeemed by the scrumptious filling. It came with a few superfluous apple slices and a little smear of sabayon. The magnificent soufflé was accompanied by a tiny dish of caramel ice cream and some extra ganache. It was wonderful and insanely rich. Either dessert was easily big enough to share. When we were finished, the waiter brought us two small chocolate chip cookies with our check. I thought it was an odd touch after we had just polished off two large desserts.