Food trends! It seems that everything lately is about what’s trending today. Though it’s amazing to have innovation in food and to experience new things, trends that pop up one day and disappear the next are fleeting! And that’s why, sometimes, even though you tried that funky buddha bowl with black rice at the latest popup, you also just want to dine in style, where you know service excellence is key, meals are expertly prepared, and quality is of the highest standard.
That’s how Pigalle remains a classic, stylish dining institution, especially in Jo’burg. And that’s why we recently made our way to Sandton to remind ourselves why they offer some of the very best in service and seafood.
In their own words:
“The Pigalle Group comprises of four individual and breathtakingly decorated restaurants. Situated in both Cape Town and Johannesburg, each present luxurious interior design with a unique fine dining ambience. French accents evident in the furnishing, extensive champagne collections and international dishes meet a Portuguese flaire, inspired by owners Victor and Naldo Gonçalves, who previously owned the Villamoura Group. Our restaurants also offer a wide selection of top South African wines and French champagnes which further set the tone for elegant, exuberant occasions.”
Since we were dining at Pigalle, we knew that seafood and fish had to be the way to go, this being the speciality for which they are particularly known. For this reason, I ordered a lovely, light unoaked Glenelly Chardonnay (I’m not big on heavy oak), and it was a definite winning pairing!
As we were being hosted, we ordered off an existing set menu instead of À la Carte. This is a set menu often used for functions, events and big groups. All that you love about Pigalle will be on there so if you do need a spot for your special occasion or year-end vibe, this is recommended.
For starter, I ordered the Salmon Duo and Tall Dark & Handsome opted for the Stuffed Calamari. Though we both tasted and enjoyed our original order, we both opted to swop dishes. I was madly in love with his stuffed crusted calamari tubes and he loved the fresh and flavourful elements of my salmon duo dish. The salmon dish definitely won in the “gorgeous” stakes: a layering of cured salmon served on fresh avocado alongside a sesame-encrusted seared salmon fillet, drizzled with a Teriyaki sauce. Both starters were gorgeously plated and we spent an eternity taking photos and visually feasting. Though I parted with my salmon duo for stuffed calamari, I would have loved enjoying this particular dish with a crisp and well-chilled rosé!
Our mains were just as delicious. Again, I longed for Tall Dark & Handsome’s dish over mine (his had cheese!) but this time, he was not willing to part with his main, enjoying it far too much. This should by no means detract from my own main but I did feel a lot of cheese envy. His dish was a Mediterranean kingklip fillet topped with feta, olives and sundried tomato, and accompanied by mash and veggies. My own dish was the Baragoul line fish (silver fish, as indicated by our lovely waitress Fiona), grilled with lemon butter and served with nicoise vegetables and a creamy carrot sauce.
As mentioned, most of the dishes listed above are also available on the À la Carte menu. Though Pigalle is legendary for their shellfish, we choose to err on the side of caution ordering from that section, as prawns especially are often listed on the SASSI Red list and it’s advisable to try for something from the Green list if possible. It all depends on the sourcing, of course, so feel free to chat to the restaurant owner or manager to find out from where they get their seafood and shellfish.
Dessert, guys! Dessert. I hardly ever join in on dessert. We’re usually too full but also, I prefer to avoid sugar if at all possible. But here goes Tall Dark & Handsome and orders the baked cheese cake. He never orders cheese cake. I couldn’t believe it and when it came, with a generous scoop of delicious vanilla ice cream, all resistance crumbled. It must be the loveliest presentation of cheese cake I have ever seen. A beautiful way to end an amazing lunch, indeed! I’ll let the photo speak for itself and yes, it was worth the cheat. It rates high in my cheese cake books (and I’m a stickler about proper baked cheese cake), and the creamy vanilla ice cream is the perfect accompaniment.
As we were finishing our dessert, we joked with Fiona that it was definitely time for a leisurely Sunday nap. She concurred that it would be the right way to end a great lunch. Sometime later, on our way out, Fiona called, “Enjoy your nap!”. It was such a nice gesture, and it is this kind of service and being made to feel like you are welcome and at home that seems like such a rare thing of late but that will always set Pigalle apart.
Our thanks to Pigalle for a lovely invitation and a most delectable lunch. We enjoyed spending our Sunday with you.