Moules du Jour

There’s something about mussels. People tend to either love them passionately or hate them fervently. As a former New Englander, I belong to the first group. But I understand the second group’s aversion – it’s simply too easy to get bad mussels, horridly overcooked, stringy, tough little bastards. But well-prepared mussels are a revelation, and that’s just what I got (somewhat to my surprise) at Le Pigalle.

What better way to celebrate my imminent departure for the City of Light, a friend and I thought, than to have some French nosh? We decided to check out Le Pigalle, encouraged by the GOG’s review of this new venture by the former Bistrot du Coin chef. Snagging a table outside, we settled in for some prime 17th Street people-watching over glasses of red wine (no wine list yet, but a few selections of perfectly acceptable house glasses). At first we really weren’t sure what we wanted, but our pleasant waiter Laurent let us relax and waited for our choices without pressure. Ah, the French way…

We eventually roused ourselves to eat (something about that second glass of wine and not wanting to drink your dinner…). The menu features a variety of bistro classics including salads, quiches, duck, scallops, and mussels. Mussels? My stomach growled. Two varieties were available – the classic moules mariniere with white wine and garlic, or moules du jour, which happened to be curry that night.

Later, dipping my addictive frites into the delicious liquid, my fingers turned yellow from the curry, I expounded on the virtues of the most temperamental of mollusks. Le Pigalle got them right that night – soft, delicate, plump, and decadently swimming in curry sauce. To die for.

Later Laurent sheepishly explained they didn’t have an espresso machine yet, so we sadly ordered regular coffee. Our moods picked up when he brought over the highly tempting dessert tray – honestly, if the dessert tray doesn’t look good at a French restaurant you’re in serious trouble – and we succumbed to a chocolate coma.

I’ll defintitely return to give the relaxing Le Pigalle another try to see if the mussels remain perfect, especially given its expansive outdoor seating. However, they should really reconsider the inside decor – an all-white seating area that looked rather “French mental hospital” to my friend – though the bar had a swank feel so I suppose you could drink away your psychosis. But we all know the true joy of eating on 17th Street is the people-watching and patio dining anyway, so it’s a small complaint.

So, have oysters at Hank’s around the corner, continue with mussels at Le Pigalle, and you could have a wicked good moment of Yankee happiness.

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