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Ate at the "new" Legume and...

... sadly, our party of 4 left disappointed. The food was all right, enjoyable in some cases. But the overall experience was really lacking.

To start with, our apps were generally good. My wife had this blue cheese souffle type dish that was quite tasty. I had the dandelion salad with poached egg, and it was also enjoyable. The apps our friends had were also well prepared. But nobody raved. There were no "wows" coming from our mouths.

Before the apps, we shared a broiled feta with jalapeno jelly. It was, well, uninspired. I could have easily made it at home, and that's not really what I'm looking for.

The entrees also fell short. My wife and I had lamb steaks with golden potatoes. Again, uninspired. Lamb steaks were fatty, so hard to get much from them. Potatoes were well prepared. No other vegetable was offered to accompany it. Again, I could make this at home.

Our friends had the scallops and the haddock. My wife tasted the haddock and said it was not good. Our friend did not complain, but he did not praise it either. His wife had the scallops. I tasted one. It was satisfactory, but, again, no unsolicited "you have to taste this. It's fantastic." I come back to the same word: Uninspired.

The deserts were good. The apple tart was enjoyable, as was the white desert wine we had with it. The lemon verbena panna cotta, also good, but very one note. Needed something for texture.

The biggest disappointment is the atmosphere. Very white, very cavernous. Lack of art on the walls. Still feels like a stodgy restaurant for, well, older people. We actually brought out own wine, even though Legume now has a bar. $15 corkage fee seems to be a little much.

I don't feel good writing this. I really appreciate what Legume tries to do. They live and breath sustainability and quality food. I guess, though, when I'm spending a good bit of money, particularly given the number of restaurants in Pittsburgh now that are serving some really top-notch food, I'm looking for a truly enjoyable dining experience across the board. I love simple food and could care less about molecular gastronomy, but I don't want to pay $25 for an entree I could make at home, and possibly even make it better.

I know Legume just re-opened, and it's still in a soft-opening phase, so it deserves some slack. But the fact is, the options for really good food in Pittsburgh have grown substantially in the past few years. If Legume is going to survive, they're going to have to step up their offerings and the larger experience. I hope they do.

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  1. Thank for the review Whigsboy!! I missed the chance to eat at the regent square location and really enjoy how they posted the menu on the door.. It made for a type of adventure i guess. I hope the increase in size does not decrease the quality of food.

    I do not mind spending top dollar for food, but it is such a disapointment when leaving underwhelmed... unforntuatley this happens more often as of late with the local restaurants.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Augie6

      'unforntuatley this happens more often as of late with the local restaurants.'
      ------
      hmm. I thought Pgh area dining has gotten a lot better over the last decade. Or do you just mean Regent Square?

      Haven't been to Legume though, so thanks for the review, Whigsboy.

      1. re: cowboyardee

        I agree 100% that there are some really great offerings most of which I haven't tried yet, including legume. Sometimes the money just isn't worth what you get imho.

        The last 3 places I ate, Mallorca, Kaya, and Picolo Forno all seemed to leave me wanting more. I am not saying these places are not well worth going to eat and will be back.. However when I pay around 30 a person I do not want somethign I can make at home easily.

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        Mallorca Restaurant
        2228 E Carson St, Pittsburgh, PA 15203

        1. re: Augie6

          I'm sure others would disagree with me, but I sorta think that if you spent $30/person at Picolo, you ordered the wrong stuff. Their apps, their sandwiches, their soups, and their pizza is all fantastic and cheap. Their pasta dishes have been a little more hit or miss for me. Just not a huge fan of the way they do some of their sauces/ragu - too muddled, not mindblowing. The pasta itself is usually pretty good though.

          I'm also of the opinion that the same applies to Kaya. That place has seriously diminishing returns with their higher priced items.

          Haven't been to Mallorca yet.

          I'm not really into the 'can I make it at home' type of logic in evaluating a restaurant, but it's cool if that's a big point for you. At any rate, for those three places, I can easily name a bunch more that are serving great, harder-to-prepare-at-home food that weren't around a few years ago.

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          Mallorca Restaurant
          2228 E Carson St, Pittsburgh, PA 15203

          1. re: cowboyardee

            Mallorca has been around for a while. I believe you can still get a good meal there, but you can definitely get a better meal elsewhere.

            As for the "make it at home" approach, I do cook a lot and can make some pretty darn good meals (as well some duds!). With young kids and just a generally busy life, I don't get to eat out that often, so when I do, and particularly if I'm spending a healthy dollar, I really want an enjoyable/fantastic meal that is beyond what I could accomplish at home.

            And I do appreciate the idea of simple, suistainable food/classic technique that Legume seems to live by. But they should still strive to serve something, for lack of a better term, special. And we definitely did not get that.

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            Mallorca Restaurant
            2228 E Carson St, Pittsburgh, PA 15203

            1. re: cowboyardee

              Great descritption of Picolo... and 30 is high for a meal there I sorta of lumped them in with the other two. I personally was not impressed with Mallorca, but others do love it.

              There is no doubt that Pittsburgh dinning scene is very much improved .. a couple years ago we could not have a resonable discussion on places to eat. I just find that if I spend a decent amount of money on going out to eat, I also need to have that "wow" factor.. either in the atomosphere of a place or the food, in a perfect world both.

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              Mallorca Restaurant
              2228 E Carson St, Pittsburgh, PA 15203

      2. Whigs,
        Haven't been to the new space yet, but sounds like your review was fair and objective, with the caveat that it's a soft opening. Sounds like the space is disappointing, but also sounds like that's an easy fix.

        What I'm gleaning from the other comments is that the bar for Pittsburgh restaurants has been raised permanently thanks to a handful of chefs with vision and talent (of which Legume was a big part of and probably will be again). So overall, that's a very good thing.

        The irony of the "I can cook that at home" thing is that there is still a paucity of great bistro food around here - the slow cooked stews, cassoulets and whatnot you could cook at home if you could devote a day or two to it. But you don't, so you're happy to pay for it.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Panini Guy

          There are some good restaurants but surprised anyone would consider Piccolo good; it is a glorified pizza shop. Food is ok but this is not.... Mallorca has to be the most overrated place in the area; everything tastes the same and the service....forgetaboutit.

          Never been to Lugume.

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          Mallorca Restaurant
          2228 E Carson St, Pittsburgh, PA 15203

        2. Had very similar thoughts on Legume when I dined at their old location about a year ago. Pleasant, quality ingredients, but nothing I found crave-worthy or memorable, which are my unoffical standards for a good meal. I have had meals I personally enjoyed more at Avenue B and Root 174, restaurants I consider to be in the same general genre.

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          Avenue B
          5501 Centre Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15232

          1. I also had a meal that was less than perfect, so I agree that the "new" Legume is still trying to find their way, but they've technically been open for about 2 weeks. The space is a bit generic, but then there aren't many restaurant interiors in Pgh that I love - they are often over-designed and not very warm. I think it takes a long, long time for all the pieces of a restaurant to come together. Read Danny Meyer's management/restaurant-empire building book - I think he talks about it taking at least a year, if not longer, for a restaurant to really hit its stride and 'gel' in terms of the people cooking the food and the people serving it. On the other hand, they are charging money and we are paying for a meal, and as such, we have certain expectations based upon the old location and how unique and amazing it was. As someone who ate at the old location on multiple occasions, I trust the owner/chef at Legume and his vision, and I think they bring something to the table in this city that no one else does. And their duck confit is fucking otherworldly IMO!!

            1 Reply
            1. re: pgh_eater

              I hope so. But it would take a lot of good word of mouth from people I trust to get me to return. With 2 kids and busy schedules, dinners out at good restaurants are luxuries these days, and I want to make everyone count.