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Piedmont – Don’t Ruin Your Cheese!

Posted by Guest Poster 18 May 2008 17 Comments

I went to Piedmont yesterday. It was good but not great.  The french fries were delicious (double fried, probably with animal fat, served with aioli) but the pork shank did not taste quite as good as it sounded on the menu (“red wine & plum braised pork shank with creamy polenta, & braised rapini”).  That’s a recurring theme of Piedmont dining, but it’s not such a bad thing because their menu is really very well written. The people at Piedmont could, however, really do themselves and their customers a favor by putting an end to their habit of serving their wonderful local cheeses with stale, mediocre fruit and nut bread. It overwhelms the flavor of the cheese and significantly detracts from what could and should be terrific food.  Piedmont – the reason we have cheese is to taste it, not to put yellow hats on overly complicated bread.

17 Comments »

  • TSQ75 said:

    It seems out of the entire population that has eaten at Piedmont, its essentially divided, though i think leans toward the positive end of the spectrum.

    I think out of approximately 6 visits there for dinner, i’ve had 1 negative, and 1 mediocre experience. I justn really enjoy the simplicity of their flavors and composition…and its all tied together by a really great atmosphere, we generally end up eating at the bar, and generally just have a really good time chatting with eachother and with the bartenders. always an intimate feel, even surrounded by people.

    i guess we just dont expect much…

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  • Chops said:

    There can’t be too much of a split, because the place is always packed. I am a huge fan of Piedmont. In my opinion there are certain preparations they do better than anyone. Braised meats, stews/soups, charcuterie…..these are some of my favorite foods, thus the love for the place. I also eat at the bar, so I have no comment on the service.

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  • Durham Bull Pen said:

    I actually think the bread and fruit pairs well with the cheeses and the cheese / bread / fruit combination complement each other pretty nicely.

    But we all can’t like the same thing or the world would be boring indeed! :)

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  • Dim Sum said:

    Maybe this is an economic divide, but does anyone think the prices are a little high at the Piedmont for food that’s pretty good, but not great? I’ve eaten there a few times and I don’t have any complaints, but it feels overpriced to me, for forgettable “good” food- like I’d rather eat out less and spend more on a memorable meals, like at the Magnolia Grill or something. (also, I work nearby, and it’s never always packed- I would say about half the time I go by, it’s 2/3 empty.)

    That’s why I make sure to check out this blog- getting beyond the Piedmont-Watts Grocery-Rue Cler-etc type places, to the variety of places to try out, especially in East Durham. I would be interested in more on bars in town (I feel pretty limited by the same stuff near downtown), and maybe something on instances of bad service in Durham- enough of that has happened to myself and friends in town that we’ve started referring to it as getting “Durhammed”- I haven’t run into this happening consistently anywhere else I’ve lived, curious if it’s common for other people here.

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  • TSQ75 said:

    see, we reserve Piedmont for “special” occasions. And while it’s pricier than we normally like to spend money on, its ok for a special occasion, and wont break us.

    we just like it…we also happen to not really care for the other more upscale places in town…its our indulgence

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  • Durham Bull Pen said:

    Dim Sum: Sorry, I can’t recall having any bad service problems in Durham and we go out to eat fairly frequently.

    In fact, I encounter bad and snotty service routinely in other nearby cities and I’m usually glad to get back to Durham to good and friendly service.

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  • mistercheap said:

    I like the space, and as a friend of Barbara Rothschild I love what her husband has done with the space. But when I asked for a vodka gimlet they didn’t know what the hell I was talking about.

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  • mistercheap said:

    meant to say I like what Scientific Properties has done with the building. As I recall 401 Foster was one of Andy’s first projects.

    He got a good interview yesterday on WUNC’s “The State of Things”, the podcast is worth a listen.

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  • TSQ75 said:

    I dont know a bartender there who wouldnt know what a vodka gimlet was…weird

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  • john said:

    The term is “Bull Citied”. Like when you go in a bike shop to get a flat fixed and they say, “Oh man. You got a flat. That sucks, but we just sold our last tube. We’ll have more next week.” Or, when well know sandwich shop to get a sub, and they say, “Oh man. That is a really great sandwich, but we just ran out of bread. How about this really nice salad.”

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  • durhamfood said:

    I had a great meal at Piedmont the other evening. The pork ravioli was divine, and actually made parsley stand out and be assertive!

    The soft shell crab appetizer isn’t fantastic, but it’s really quite fun to eat an entire crab, claws and all!

    My friend had the risotto with summer truffles and garden peas, which was excellent. I’m not one of those ‘anything with truffles is awesome’ people, but they worked wonders in this dish.

    By the way, if you feel like spashing $10 on a dessert (drink), get their ’96 Madeira. It’s really lovely – delicate and port-like, rich coffee flavors and a very smooth finish. I only got it because they were out of Sauternes, but didn’t regret it for a moment.

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  • L. said:

    I’ve only been once (brunch), but the shrimp & grits was fantastic. I’ve heard a lot of acclaim for the shrimp & grits at Crook’s Corner, but I think Piedmont has theirs beat hands down.

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  • Tooth said:

    Piedmont has the best brunch in Durham.

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  • Julie said:

    My husband and I ate brunch at Piedmont a few Saturdays back and it was delicious! We both ordered the “eggs piedmont” which from their menu is: two poached eggs over grilled bread with crispy prosciutto,
    spinach & tomato hollandaise served with homefries or grits

    I’ve yet to try them at dinner, and I notice that all of the negative or lukewarm reviews are from 2008. I think we’ll have to try them at dinner sometime…

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  • TSQ75 said:

    so my husband and I have always loved Piedmont and knew Drew and Andy, so we generally went there for special occasions or quiet celebrations, have always been either happy or satisfied. If nothing else, we felt we were getting what we paid for.

    we decided to have dinner there a couple of nights ago, our first visit since the change of ownership.

    I hate paying too much money for a completely mediocre meal. my (kinda small) dish of pasta with wild mushrooms, onion broth and truffle butter didnt seem like much more than you could whip up on a busy weeknight at home–for $19. I guess i had become accustomed to the fresh pasta, and was thrown off by the dried spaghetti. Paired with a glass of Txacoli that had obviously gone flat from sitting open for too long, it was not the happiest night.

    oh well

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  • Larry said:

    Scratch Piedmont off Your List

    I’ve gone to Piedmont a handful of times each year since it opened and loved it. The ingredients were of the highest quality, the preparations skillful and the result was a fantastic meal.

    All of that is gone. I walked in last and noticed very few familiar faces on the staff, less in the kitchen. The menu has lost focus.
    It’s now a hodge-podge of “hot” ingredients (ancho chiles and quinoa) and techniques. As a result it’s difficult to put together a coherent meal with all the different flavors and approaches.

    The portions have become miserly. The oh-so tired “squeeze bottle” presentation has shown up.

    I was served a portion of pork loin that consisted mainly of fat and connective tissue. I would never have served it to a guest in my home.
    I don’t really mind that they’ve dumbed down the wine list, but the wines in the various categories don’t make a lot of sense.

    More important, they don’t taste very good; at least the 3 we sampled. How hard can it be to go down to Craig and Seth’s find some great $15-$20 bottles and double the price?

    Piedmont also doesn’t take Amex anymore, so be prepared if you are on a business dinner.

    It would have been better if they changed the name to signal a break with the past; I wouldn’t have had such high hopes dashed.

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    L replies on November 12th, 2010 at 5:04 pm:

    “It would have been better if they changed the name to signal a break with the past; I wouldn’t have had such high hopes dashed..”

    Could have not said it better myself!!!
    My friend and I went in the other day for the first time since about 6 months ago and got our old brunch standby Eggs Piedmont. First off we got the meal and noticed that the two eggs were cramped on a small piece of bread. It USED to come on two big pieces of bread and two eggs. Generous portions but not this time… and we noticed the price went up a dollar. The hollandaise sauce was comparable but man it was a disappointment to get less and pay more. I did go to Vin Rouge this weekend and got a big, better brunch for less. Guess where I’ll be going from now on…

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