Sunday, October 15, 2006

Not Perfect, but Not Bad

We'd had a long week, so we decided to treat ourselves to a nice Sunday dinner. My mother had really talked up the site of her latest birthday dinner, Pierre's, to Margy (who was in Maine at the time and missed it), so Margy lobbied for that. I capitulated immediately.

Well, my second meal at Pierre's was almost as good as the first, but with a few bumps in the road, starting with our server being wholly incapable of answering even basic questions about the menu and the wine list.

Dinner began with an hors d'oeuvre tasting plate that was rather wonderful in all its Frenchness and included an endless array of goodies: celery root salad, lentil salad, ratatouille, cured salmon, red cabbage, country pâté, cornichons, beets, and a nice dried sausage. It was a great way to start things off and would have made a perfect lunch with just a good chunk of bread.

For her entree, Margy had duck breast with yams, Brussels sprouts, and sour cherry sauce. The flavor was excellent, but I must say the duck was overcooked by a pretty wide margin. This brought forth a bit of a dilemma, as we're not send-it-back'ers, and so Margy chose not to ask for a portion that was cooked more correctly, even though she would have been well within her right to do so. In fact, I'm guessing that whoever plated the duck knew there was around a 50-50 shot that it would be sent back and just decided to roll the dice and hope that the recipient either liked well-done duck, didn't know any better, or just didn't want to be bothered with sending it back.

That latter category is us. Who can be bothered? If the thing had been inedible, I'd like to think we'd have returned it. But I had a nice hot skate wing in front of me, and if Margy had asked for a new piece of duck, the timing of our meal would have been off the rails completely, and who wants that? Again, the duck was delicious, so she just forged ahead. My skate wing was also terrific, crispy around the edges and tender in the middle -- pretty much like the duck should have been. It was served with capers, napa cabbage, and an "olive oil emulsion" that seemed a hell of a lot like mayonnaise. But hey, at least it was good mayonnaise (I'm not normally a fan).

Desserts are definitely Pierre's blind spot. When I went with my parents, we had run-of-the-mill profiteroles that left much to be desired. Tonight Margy and I had a slice of plum tart, which was better than the profiteroles but still seemed a little tired and had zero visual pizzazz. The dessert-cart presentation surely doesn't help. Who wants to see their food paraded around the room for hours -- up and back, there it goes again -- only to be unceremoniously sliced into a portion and shoved their way? It's not like the cart is being replenished all that often. In our case, all the desserts were there and there to stay.

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