For quite a few years, most of them with its original owners, Piedmont Restaurant occupied a regular spot on my local list. I dined there often and always left happy I had. Then, under the current ownership and with a variety of chefs, its food quality descended so far that, after a genuinely bad meal there a couple (or so) years ago, I wrote it off and haven't been back.
Until I learned that John May, formerly the sous chef of Vivian Howard's Chef and the Farmer in Kinston, had come on board as the new chef. After waiting a bit for him to make the place his own, I returned with a group this past weekend.
On balance, I'm happy to report that the food is good enough that I look forward to returning when the seasons change.
The menu uses the now common modern trick of mostly naming ingredients and leaving you to wonder how the chef will use them. The approach is getting a bit tired, but I'm generally fine with it, as I was here.
I opted to start with the rocket robiola, which proved to be an absolutely delightful mix of robiola cheese and sweet peaches.
The curry powder offset the richness with a bit of tang, enough to be tasty but not so much as to be overpowering.
For my main, I went with an item that replaced the ribeye on the menu: a short rib combo with the same potatoes and greens as the ribeye.
The potatoes were flawless, soft and smoky and delicious. The greens were a tad bitter but good enough that I ate them. The garlic chips were great. The short rib itself was quite tasty, but they left on too much fat and, despite the sous vide preparation, didn't make the meat as tender as it should have been.
The dessert menu featured four options, most of them interesting to me.
Wanting to keep it light, I chose the peach sorbet.
Smooth and delicious and not too sweet, it was definitely a winner.
I tasted a bit of lamb tartare that another person in our group had ordered, and it was, frankly, a mess. It tasted okay, but whoever prepared it appeared to have used either a food processor or a dull knife, because instead of being perfectly minced, the meat was almost bruised.
Across all the dishes, the vegetables shined, while the meat was just not quite at the same level. May needs to work with his team on the land proteins.
Piedmont is not in the top tier of Triangle restaurants, but the food is good enough that, as I said, I will go back.