Restaurant Week: I'm into it. But if you've been reading this blog for a good amount of time you likely already knew that. I procrastinate making reservations until week #2, often because it sneaks up on me, and then because I spend the week debating over where I might like to go. Plus, kitchens or servers that might have flustered the first day or two, at this point, usually have it together. The establishments I've had the good fortune of visiting aren't overlooking details be that creativity, quality or hospitality. They're putting their best food forward and taking full advantage of the crowds.
At Pigalle, the hostess warmly greets us and takes our coats, and at the end of the evening made it a point to ask how the meal was. Her as well as our waiter and the rest of the staff we encounter make us feel right at home without trying too hard. They move swiftly about the tiny dining room, they're all collected and efficient. We begin right away with slices of french bread served in a square tin basket accompanied by a dish of sweet creamy butter that I want to eat with a spoon it's so tasty.The cocktails all sound superb and I choose one of their originals, made with sparking wine, violette, bittermans grapefruit and creole bitters called the Violet Hour ($9). Something about that name is beautiful and serene, as is the drink itself that arrives a flickering purple hue and tastes like a bouquet of flowers. It's entirely different and that's definitely what I'm looking for in a cocktail these days. To whoever created this one, nicely done.
For the first course, my extremely large, crisp and firm Blue Point Oysters are heightened by a cucumber and tomato mignonette. They finish with a mild sweetness and a pronounced brininess. Adam's Braised Beef Shortrib French Onion Soup with four cheese gratin was on the other end of the spectrum - richly flavored and hearty. Pigalle offers a number of choices for each course, looking to appease the various appetite cravings induced by March weather. (You know - when it goes from 70 degrees one week to 35 the next.) Tonight it was a pleasant temp somewhere in between the two. The entree courses came along and gave me a mild case of food envy. I lusted over Adam's Crispy Confit Half Duckling with a parsnip dijon mustard purée, bacon brussels sprouts and and dried cherry glaze. The half duckling still presents a generous portion and I got to steal ample bites. This dish (also on their regular menu) is clearly a Pigalle specialty. (Sorry I didn't get a photo.)My delicately prepared Uni Crusted Tilapia Filet with a miso and saffron potato purée and a sauté of corn, green beans and radishes also proves to be a first rate dish. I was craving lighter seafood fare this evening, and the well cooked flaky fish appeased, even though the duck outshines it. I cleaned my plate, only wishing for a little more green beans and radishes along the way. Both dishes have me entirely stuffed, but luckily I manage to make room for the Orange Walnut Profiteroles with marshmallow sauce, nutella powder semifreddo and strawberries.This is one of the best restaurant week desserts I can remember, creative and whimsical, that sticky marshmallow sauce was divine as it pooled over airy puff pastries sandwiching a homemade ice cream with a subtle citrus flavor. The crunchy hazelnut counterpart added by the nutella semifreddo was equally fantastic.
It was great to finally check out what Chef Marc Orfaly has long been praised for at his chic Theatre District bistro. Somehow, I still have not yet paid a visit to his second endeavor in the North End, Marco. That will change soon! I have a feeling his modern Italian fare is just as elevated and inspired as the French cuisine we had pleasure of enjoying tonight.