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Jul 18, 2013 01:29 AM

Porcelain Problem

Currently, my husband and I, never having registered, own a small, rather girly set, of Corelle dinnerware that I purchased years ago for my own use. These plates have seen better days.The decoration has rubbed off considerably, utensil marks are apparent, and I recently shattered a plate by placing it on the counter a touch too forcefully.

I've long since changed my tastes and my needs have likewise changed considerably. As an aspiring pro chef, I'd like to go with your classic, rimmed, French Porcelain; both for everyday use AND formal occasions. As it stands, I'm leaning strongly towards either Pillivuyt or Apilco. However, I have some reservations regarding each.

Firstly, I mostly love the Apilco Traditional collection seen here:

Design wise, I enjoy the look and feel of these plates. Generally speaking, I strongly favor thinner, gently curved rims, which these have. However, I really dislike how shallow Apilco's pasta/soup dishes are; in my opinion, there's hardly much difference between these and their ordinary plates. Furthermore, Apilco does not seem to be quite as durable as Pillivuyt. I'd like to be able to place dishes under the broiler without fear.

Unfortunately, Pillivuyt seems to be difficult to find in American Stores, other than a limited selection at Williams-Sonoma and a few specialty shops. Of course, the flagship line, Sancerre, isn't carried by Williams-Sonoma, so I haven't been able to actually have a look at it in person. Furthermore, I can't seem to find any decent images online to be able to get a better grasp. The closest thing I could find in stores was the Basketweave collection seen here:

I don't plan on purchasing anything so decorative (hence why I'd like the Sancerre) but regardless, I really disliked the shape of these plates. Strictly speaking about shape, the rims seemed overly large and were virtually flat. They had a much more modern look than I'm in the market for, plus I feel as though some sauces might easily spill on to the edges.

I still would prefer to stick with Pillivuyt, both for their durability, soup/pasta dishes, and, while much less important, their shade of white. However, with such a large investment, I'd like to actually ENJOY the plates I'll be looking at everyday.

With all that being said, has anyone here actually compared the Sancerre line against something like the Apilco Traditional in person? Better still, does anyone own both? I'd really just like to know if the Sancerre is comparable in shape and form to the Apilco Tranditional, or if it follows those same flat, modern lines as the Basketweave pattern.

Also, assuming I go for the Pillivuyt, does anyone know how well the Cecil line matches the Sancerre? I'm not a fan of the Sancerre cups one bit and would prefer something more traditional.

Any help would be appreciated, Thank you. :)

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  1. How often will you really be placing dishes under the broiler? I'd make the size, shape, look, and feel your major priority.

    It is remarkably difficult to find undecorated porcelain in traditional shapes (versus modernistic). Your best bet might be to get cups & saucers and pasta plates in a plain older pattern from Replacements or another china matching service, to go with Apilco or Pillivuyt plates & bread plates.

    I like the thick, chunky porcelain (from China) that W-S offered about 20 years ago, but have had difficulty finding plates and pasta plate/bowls of the same size and proportions. So if you find something you like, get one or two extra to anticipate breakage.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ellabee

      Thank you for the reply! :)

      Sadly, I DO stick my plates under the broiler semi-frequently for various dishes. I like that Pillivuyt claims it can go from freezer to broiler without any crazing or cracking; that's pretty impressive. I hope for my new dishes to last a lifetime and I'd like to go with a reputable company that will stick around a while. If Apilco just had deeper pasta/soup bowls, I think I'd be fine going with them and finding a way around the broiler issue.

      I also don't mind mixing and matching porcelain, but I'd like the colors to be fairly similar. I'm a bit anal; it irks me to see off-white aside bright white, or warm vs cool. For example, the Apilco has a grayish tone while the Pillivuyt is a brighter white. That being said, I've been looking into the Revol Lipari cups/saucers. I wonder if anyone knows how well this line matches Pillivuyt's white? (I don't think my cups need to be broiler safe...ha).

      By the by, I've heard great things about the lines the major stores like W-S and Pottery Barn offer. However, I've read several reviews stating that in the past few years, these same lines have gone downhill. I often see people complain that they finally broke a plate after 15 years and the replacement was no where near the same quality... but still comes with a hefty price tag. You're very lucky to have purchased these when you did; I envy you!

      This is semi unrelated, but am I the only one in love with the Pillivuyt Brasserie collection? My husband thinks they're hideous, but I love that "French bistro" look. Of course, this defeats the purpose of purchasing something plain and timeless. Still, a girl can dream.

    2. Hi there~! Most of my dishes are Revol, but lately I have had some trouble getting more. Sur La Table doesn't carry as much as they used to, but I did get some at Amazon as well as the Pillivuyt Sancerre Pasta dishes and salad size plates (8 1/2"). I agree, the Revol seems like a more refined plate, but I'm happy with the choices I made with the Pillivuyt. I hope you can find more choices at Amazon. (Who knew?)

      1 Reply
      1. re: anadimae

        Hi anadimae,

        How coincidental you chose to reply today of all days. :) I FINALLY got around to figuring out what to do with my plate dilemma and completed my orders just yesterday. I don't take these sorts of purchases lightly. haha

        I too looked at the Revol but agree that their selection is limited. I ultimately decided they were a bit too delicate for everyday use and the shape wasn't quite what I was looking for. In the end, I found my perfect plates through Pillivuyt after all. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of looking at their French website, which meant I was exposed to several lines that aren't carried in the US. I fell in love with the Paris line, which are the traditional restaurant plates the newer Sancerre are based on. The Paris line is all over Europe, but for whatever reason, is special order only in the United States; no one could tell me why.

        I inquired if it was possible to obtain these plates and, much to my surprise, the president of Pillivuyt's US branch contacted me back. Unfortunately, she didn't seem very well informed, but I did more inquiring and found that I could get the plates from Steelite International, Pillivuyt's professional/restaurant distributor in the US.

        For anyone curious, I did quite a bit of research regarding the various lines. The Paris plates may be what many people are looking for if you're willing to deal with the extra hassle of longer wait times. Still, I know one major complaint these days is that dinner plates can be too large and don't fit into many cabinets; the Paris line is a perfect 10.6 inches. They're actually the very same plate as the Brasserie, just minus the decoration. They're thicker and more sloped than the more modern Sancerre (which turned out very flat indeed) and as a result are more resistant to chips, cracks, and sauce spills. Of course, this also makes them slightly heavier. I personally plan on mix and matching the Paris plates with other items in the Sancerre line.

        As for order these on Amazon, I just had a very bad experience with this. I received six of the Sancerre 6 inch bowls as a Christmas gift, and they were all defective. These were sold BY Amazon but blatantly not first quality. Looking at other Pillivuyt pieces on Amazon, this wasn't an isolated incident. I saw reviews of other items that people had received defective, or turned out to be defective after a bit of use. Last I knew, Amazon was not an authorized seller of Pillivuyt, but I was also told by Steelite that the US can be slow to update their information. I was skeptical over getting the bowls off of Amazon, especially since they were much cheaper than anywhere else, but Amazon has always been good to me in the past. My husband contacted customer service to inform them they were selling defective products, and two different representatives claimed to not understand what a "second quality" or "factory reject" was. They also claimed not to know where they got their stock from, but I wasn't expecting them to give out that information. Either way, they acted ignorant of the situation, but not two days later, the bowls disappeared. Well, they didn't disappear completely, they're being redirected to be purchased through Wayfair, and Amazon was showing them as sold out until further notice. I also saw that the price was hiked up by several dollars... very odd, but accurate to where the price should be. I don't claim to understand what goes on behind the scenes of Amazon, but I do know I've seen more and more items being removed until further notice due to customer complaints, some even being fakes! I'm starting to wonder if they aren't stretching themselves a bit thin and getting lax on their suppliers and quality control. For right now, I'm steering clear of their Pillivuyt items and I'd advise others to be wary as well.

      2. My main advice would be to order extra sets because the only thing that's inevitable is that one or more of dishes will be broken at some point and it's more expensive and frustrating to locate and replace individual pieces. (Especially frustrating right before the holidays or a big dinner party).

        My dining table seats 10 people (12 if extended fully but nobody likes being crowded) and the breakfast table seats 4, so on my last tablewear investment I purchased settings for 16, leaving me with two full extra settings.

        I realize it isn't the question you asked, but you did say any help. :)

        1. Hi Elbereth,

          Found this thread while doing in depth research on Pillivuyt and Apilco for our own tableware. I sure wish it were easier to compare these products - product photography is certainly lacking! I think I might love the Paris plates too, for the same reasons you spoke of. I was wondering if we could connect through email? I'd love to correspond a bit about how your order turned out, etc.