The Pigalle brand is one that Joburgers have come to love, cherish and trust over the years. It was started by passionate individuals who have instilled that same drive in their staff. From kitchen to front desk, visitors are treated with respect golden-rimmed by excellent service. Any past and present patron of this classy establishment can tell you that Pigalle has set the bar quite high when it comes to upmarket dining. This can be seen in the Dom Perignon and Veuve Clicquot champagnes that dress the bar fridges or the wine racks and walk-ins that house bottles of vino brought in from Spain, France, New Zealand and the Cape... but before I race off on a poetic tangent, let's digress and take a closer look at two of my favourite Pigalle branches.
Nestled in a comfortable corner at the end of Sandton City's illustrious Diamond Walk, Pigalle Sandton is a popular lunch and dinner rendezvous for politicians, surgeons, and business men and women alike. The decor and interior design is reminiscent of a romantic movie scene where they guy pulls out a ring and proposes to the girl of his dreams. The use of dark wood, marble and borderline Baroque furniture is brought full circle by gold framed oil paintings that flank the restaurant's interior. The dining hall is lit by art deco inspired lamps and chandeliers that amplify themes of grandeur.
Executive Chef Olaff Meintjes is the driving force behind the kitchen and plays a big part in Pigalle's success as one of the top specialists in shellfish based cuisine in South Africa. Chef Olaff was mentored by Bertus Basson of Overture, the rustic vineyard restaurant in Stellenbosch. This is subtly evident in Chef Olaff's use of local produce and play on authentic South African staples such as 28-day wet aged beef.
The Al La Carte menu sings songs of the sea garnished with attention to detail. For starters I suggest you try Chef Olaff's brainchild: crumbed and fried calamari tubes stuffed with prawn cream cheese. This is a revolutionary dish that holds an amalgamation of chewiness and creaminess in every bite. For mains, it's always good to try a restaurant's signature dish, and at Pigalle venturing into their crayfish section earns two thumbs up no matter the choice.
With that said, I highly recommend the baragoul style line fish served with seasonal vegetables, which is well portioned and powerful in taste yet tamed by a velvety carrot and white wine sauce. Other tunes on the menu include Pigalle's fan favourite prawn platters and lobster (with an option to be served thermidor style) and langoustines served with in-house created sauces.
For desert, patrons are in for a treat times ten. Items such as cheese and biscuits and crème brulee go well with the ports and wines on offer, and entries like lemon tart, vanilla bean ice cream and traditional malva pudding are suitable eats for the great coffee served at Pigalle. Again, there is no wrong choice when it comes to the desert menu - everything comes recommended.
Details: UO9, Michelangelo Towers, Maude St, Sandton, Johannesburg, 2196 | http://pigallerestaurants.co.za/sandton/ |
Pigalle Melrose Arch
Though the food may be the same across the board, the patrons differ. The brand's Melrose Arch counterpart caters to a younger, hip and vibrant audience that takes advantage of the nightlife offered by such an astonishing precinct. The decor is more relaxed and laid-back though sticking to the signature chic that Pigalle is known for.
From dedicated whisky tasting evenings to a beautiful wooden cart filled to the brim with cognacs and ports older than most of the restaurant's customers, there is something unique about this space. The entrance is decorated with a a big and beautiful glass chandelier that lights up to resemble the African sun.
Pigalle Melrose Arch also has a private dining area which can seat 35+ guests. This space is ideal for private parties and celebrations, and offers seating on the balcony which overlooks the piazza below. The walls are covered in original prints of sought-after artists which adds to the overall mood of the room. It also features a flat screen TV ideal for business lunches and presentations.
All in all, both Pigalle Sandton and Melrose Arch are restaurants that come well recommended, with the key difference between the two being mood. If you would like an intimate dinner with a loved one or family, then book a table at the Sandton brunch; if you want to sit back and have a drink with friends, then give Melrose Arch a try. Either way, you are in for an all-round sensory experience. Besides, isn't that what dining out is all about?
Details: Shop HL48 Level 05/Orange (High Level Street) Melrose Arch, Corlett Dr, Melrose, Johannesburg, 2076 | http://pigallerestaurants.co.za/melrose-arch/
By Shawn Greyling