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Wednesday, April 11, 2012


I was fortunate enough to try out the restaurant Place Pigalle in Seattle on a recent trip. If nothing else, the place has near impeccable service and pacing. With a key location overlooking the bay in Pike's Place market, one could dine there just for the view.
One thing I loved about the place is a pot of edible brassicas and chard outside set to grow wild as decoration. My dining companion did not recognize the kale and other edible plans used ornamentally, and it was truly quite lovely.
The food is classically French inspired with an homage to the ingredients available to the abundant Pacific Northwest. As with most French restaurants, there is an emphasis on pairing with wine, but then again, the test should be the appeal of the food in the absence of such a pairing. The complimentary bread was beautifully baked, with nice butter to go with it, and the each table had a bottle of large flake pink river salt in a conventional shaker - and odd receptacle as the flakes couldn't come out of the shaker top anyway. Our waitress conspiratorially mentioned that this was done to be a topic of conversation.
Our appetizer of mussels with a bacon glaze was a knockout. The sauce was redolent with butter, and delicious sopped up with crusty table bread. And given the incredibly rich nature of the foods served here, perhaps I should have stuck to ordering appetizers.
I chose to order the oxtail and marrow bones. It came with a peppery arugula salad and a very crusty roll sliced into connected slices (that is not a potato). The oxtail was simmered and then roasted, and the marrow was a straight roast. Both were rich and unctuous, and I needed all of the arugula to cut through the fat - and never finished the dish.
But I found the flavors strangely monotonous. It was rich, true, but lacked contrast and complexity. Funny thing is, I tended to compare the two cuts if they were cooked in the Filipino tradition: the oxtail in karekare (a peanut and annato based stew) and the marrow in bulalo (basically pot a feu for marrow bones), and would have had more flavor. The simple treatment, in this case, merely left a sense of indulgent boredom. So much so that I didn't want dessert.

Bring back the mussels.

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