Dinner at Le Pigeon   Leave a comment

The menu changes at Le Pigeon weekly, but only slightly to account for the seasonal ingredients and what is best on the market. So, it should be no surprise that perhaps the staff when it's time for them to eat, turn to ramen or… a girlfriend delivering Burger King! Ha! At least, that's what we learned from a fellow diner is what she saw the previous time she visited. She thought it was scandalous, while I just thought that if someone ate like this all the time, it wouldn't be that healthy… since I'm not cooking, who knows what butter/lard/cream/etc is in this stuff. Who cares! We're eating out, which isn't everyday! And bad things make food delicious. Several tablemates said they wish they could eat like this all the time, while I was thinking it was an interesting treat but even too rich for me to imagine dining like this daily. I guess the problem overall I had was that I was quite cognizent of the richness, rather than complexity of flavor and texture, or simple good ingredients. I still thought it was an interesting experience, but perhaps my expectations were too high coming in.

Take the starter course- the healthiest offering was probably the beets, walnuts, endive, and toast. The others probably were quite savory- a flatbread with lamb, pecorino, and caramalized onion was tempting to me, as was the pork belly with gribiche and cabbage (I was not interested in the foie gras with apples and cinnamon roll or the mackerel with broccoli, prosciutto, and croquette), but I ordered the sweetbreads with fallen porcini souffle and truffle. The sweetbread was great- the souffle was good for the first few bites, but then was sorta mushy- not sure if that was a casualty of the large party of 13 at our table since I was with a dinner group. The truffle was ok, but it is hard to be impressed with truffle shavings anymore when I see them offered at the Portland Farmer's Market at $15 an ounce and I can shave them myself on whatever I want (which in fact, I did the next day with the truffle I had bought earlier that day). One great thing with living in a dark damp northwest is the mushrooms! Perhaps the dish should have used truffle shavings and truffle oil to really push the flavor profile.

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Entrees, the cornbread stuffed onion with butternut squash and pear had an execution problem- dry at the top, but getting moister as you continued down the onion, but then greasy at the bottom. The part that was in the middle was good, but sadly, the salad that accompanied it ended up being the star on the plate. M
 
My monkfish with lobster and leeks had a great broth which flavored the lobster wonderfully, and my only small complaint is that the monkfish, though perfectly cooked and moist and tender and delicious, did not pick up that great flavor and I had to keep sopping it back and forth in the broth- if only it had transferred to the fish as well. Not that the fish wasn't fresh and tasty- like I said, it was cooked just perfectly, I just wanted some of that broth to have transferred onto it as well as it did the lobster and vegetables, which were amazing. That broth really was wonderfully flavorful. I could have picked up the bowl and drank it.
 
Also looking around the table, the only entree I was jealous of was the beef cheek bourguignon- I stole a picture taken by Joanne, the delightful group organize, to share with you. If only it had been organic beef, but as you can see, it was quite a meaty dish…

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The dessert board teased me from the moment I sat down. What would I want, the foie gras profiteroles with caramel sauce and sea salt, or the honey bacon apricot cornbread with maple ice cream? So torn! Eventually I asked the waiter to break the tie in my mind, and went with the latter. I also got a bite of the chocolate date cake but I thought it couldn't compare to the great chocolate dessert that I had had at Belly. The cornbread was generously bacon-ed, and all I could wish for was more butter for the cornbread or some tabasco (which is how I usually like my cornbread) to add a bit of kick to it. I barely noticed any apricot, and really… some spice would to contrast with the honey would have made this so much better. But, I did eat the whole thing up, so not like it was bad either. How can I say no to bits of warm bacon bits?

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And, as a surprise treat, Joanne took pictures of the table, so you can actually see me for a change since I am not behind the camera. As you can see, the kitchen is directly behind the table (if you don't have reservations and don't have to wait, you can sit at the counter and actually watch them cook right there before you- like a sushi bar but it's an actual restaurant kitchen), and I would turn to strain my neck once in a while. This place is teeny- besides the 10 seats at the kitchen bar and the table I was at which fit 14, there were only two other eight-top tables (if I recall correctly) to support the communical dining setting here. Here's a glimpse at me beyond the food!

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Overall, I wasn't unhappy- but I did not feel it was necessarily a five star experience. Maybe three and a half or four stars. As I mentioned, there were little things they could have done which would have brought them up to the level I've seen in Chicago, such as Shawn McClain of Spring and Custom House (as well as Green Zebra, but I prefer those two other restaurants of his), but this didn't even compare to Chicago's Sweet and Savories for me, though I felt like Le Pigeon was trying to fit in a similar niche. I tell you, I'm a bit spoiled from other experiences, that's all, and because of the hype, I was expecting that level, and it just wasn't there, th
ough it wasn't a bad restaurant. Just didn't meet my expectations: it need a bit more finess in execution, but I can see the potential in the creativity of the menu created. 

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Posted November 22, 2008 by pechluck in Uncategorized

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