Sunday, July 29, 2012

Piedmont disappoints

Back in late February, I wrote a blog entry in which I noted that Piedmont Restaurant, which once was one of my local favorites, wasn't what it used to be.  I haven't been back since then, and I had no plans to return, but then two things happened: I learned that they had hired a new chef, and I received an email extolling a special heirloom-tomato dinner.

I decided to give Piedmont another try.

The menu that came in email looked interesting:

First Course

 Sunburst and heirloom farmer’s market tomato gazpacho, Coastal sweet poached shrimp, radish salad

Second Course

 Coon Rock Farm Heirlooms, Chapel Hill Creamery mozzarella, puree of basil, toasted pecans, balsamic reduction

Third Course

Roasted swordfish, byaldi, wilted butter lettuce, Roma tomato confit, herbed butter sauce

Fourth Course

Grass fed beef short rib ravioli, roasted garden heirlooms, Brinkley Farm’s snap peas

Final Course

Tomato curd, peaches, shortbread cookies
I admit to being concerned about the tomato curd in the dessert, but I'm always game for interesting food prepared by a good chef. 

After three in our group sampled this menu, while another ordered off the main menu, I am sorry to have to return a very clear verdict: Piedmont is a shadow of once it once was, and I won't be going back until something significant changes.

The meal started out fine, because the gazpacho of two types of tomatoes was both attractive and tasty, if a bit bland.  The salad was also good, though it needed twice as much cheese.

Things began to fall apart with the swordfish dish, in which the tomatoes were lost and the fish merely meh. 

The ravioli dish was a failure in every way.  The dish featured a single ravioli as big as some muffins.  The ravioli itself was chewy, the meat dry--a sin with short ribs, and the tomatoes again lost. 

As for the dessert, one of us liked the tomato curd, but the rest were desperately hoping to sneak in some ice cream later.

The service, which was weak last time, was simply bad this time.  Our main server was a very nice young woman with good intentions, but she was lost most of the time and failed to get even the basics (such as asking if anyone wanted a beverage) wrong.  Another person brought one of our dishes and wandered to all the nearby tables offering it to them before we could flag him down and get it.

An old friend owns the company that owns Piedmont, and I want to support his businesses, but there are so many better restaurants in the Triangle now that I just can't see myself going back to Piedmont anytime soon. 

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