Adding Spice to Peppers
David Barigault and George Gozem, Bistrot du Coin's former executive chef and general manager respectively, have turned the former Peppers space on 17th Street into Le Pigalle, a French bistro. This is good news for locals and gourmands who've long bemoaned the shortage of reliably tasty destinations on the popular and patio-laden strip.
The new owners have been sitting on the restaurant since they bought the property seven months ago. They changed the name last month and have been slowly updating the space and rolling out different French dishes leading up to the restaurant's grand opening last night, May 10. Until its official debut, the menu has offered only a few wines, a small array of salads, stews, including a garlicky concoction of scallops and mussels, and entrees and a few lingering remants from the Peppers menu, including hot wings.
New items include Moules Mariniere, mussels in white wine and garlic. While slivers of garlic were visible among the mussels, the broth lacked the depth of flavor that diners enjoy at Bistro du Coin. That said, the portion was ample and the accompanying fries were cooked to perfection. They gave a snap without being crispy and had a touch of parmesan flavor without tasting breaded. The goat cheese salad featured a light vinaigrette with chopped tomatoes and walnuts and goat cheese smeared on slices of bread. I would prefer chunks of cheese on their own, but I did relish the chance to plunge my bread into the bowl of mussels.
Entrees include quiches and hearty meat dishes like lamb, steak and duck. The steak, which was slightly overcooked, had carmelized onions on top and a sweet red wine sauce. Beef bourguignon featured cubes of tender beef in a nearly flavorless sauce. The highlight of the meal was the roasted half-duck with five pepper sauce. The juicy duck was full of flavor and carefully balanced by the crispy skin. Further, the sauce, one that I would normally associate with steak, had a bit of kick and was a pleasure to eat with the steak and fries, too. I wish that the other dishes had the spice and panache of the duck.
With Chef Barigault's success at Bistrot du Coin, I have high hopes for the food at Le Pigalle. I hope that, as the restaurant gets situated, he will take risks with the dishes and be more liberal with spices and flavors. Dare I ask him to add more peppers? All in all, I'm thrilled at the promise of this restaurant. I think that, given the dishes churned out by most of the neighboring restaurants, this is a welcome addition to the area. I will post updates when I go back to try the fuller menu.-Erin
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