I don’t really want to like Pigalle, but I do. Pigalle is big (about 300 seats I think) and it feels a bit wedding. I think that has a lot to do with the jazz band which plays every night and the white curtain with silver detail behind the band. The thing that I hate the most about Pigalle is that you can’t order tap water. Considering the impact of tap water on the environment, this is unacceptable (read more about this problem here). The other thing I don’t like about Pigalle is that you can’t swap your starch for veggies, in fact, I don’t think they allow any changes to the dishes. On top of this, I’ve had a really bad service experience there and several friends have reported similar experiences. Finally, the other thing I don’t like about Pigalle is the constant upselling, I feel like I can’t trust a thing the waiter says because he’s just trying to pad the bill.
So you can see why I want to hate Pigalle, but as I said, I like it. Here’s why:
I like the look. When you walk into Pigalle, you feel like you’re walking into a posh place. While you can dress casually when going to Pigalle, without attracting undue attention, I like to dress up a bit when eating there. As you walk toward the grand entrance, the tone is set. The doors slide open and you’re presented with an enormous restaurant, if you liked walking on the red carpet to the entrance, you’ll be excited to see that the whole restaurant floor is carpeted in plush red carpet. The walls are adorned with a several Jack Vetriano paintings, juxtaposed with an Andy Warhol piece in the one corner. Juxtaposition is a theme of the restaurant, with the plush carpet, and fine furnishings contrasted against industrial airconditioning vents and nouveau chandeliers above. It’s a venue that obviously cost a lot and some time was spent in making it into one of Cape Town’s plushest restaurants. I appreciate that.
I like the food. The menu has a Portuguese bent and specialises in seafood. Every time I have eaten here the food has either been good, or good enough, never bad. On our last visit, there were a few of us so we tried a large number of dishes. For starters we had the seafood soup (R59) which was bursting with flavour, the trinchado (R59) which was excellent. It could have had more sauce but the peri peri sauce provided for the table was an excellent alternative. Someone also had the garlic roll (R10) which is decadent, and very big. For mains we had a sole with prawns (R140), a linefish with lemon butter (R108) which got rave reviews, a baked linefish (R108) which was good but not as good as the linefish. Someone ordered the baby chicken peri peri (R95) and they were happy with it. The roasted duck (R130) was complimented, and the ostrich fillet (R115) was also well above par. For dessert we passed around a creme brulee (R40) which was not bad. On previous occasions I’ve had tried the seafood platters, and they are great.
I like the vibe. Despite being a big restaurant, Pigalle is generally more than half full. Add to that the live jazz every night, you’re pretty much guaranteed a good vibe whichever night you decide to go. There aren’t many places which offer the opportunity to dance after dinner, so it’s fun for something a little different.
I like the service. Once you understand they are trying to upsell you all the time, you just work around that because apart from that the service is generally excellent. What really makes the service a cut above in Cape Town is that when something goes wrong they fix it and they fix it properly. I went with friends a while back and our order didn’t arrive for two ours. It turns out they had lost the order. When we called the manager, apologised profusely, investigated and informed us of what had happened. He made sure our meals arrived within 10 minutes and he comped the whole meal. On top of that he gave us a complimentary bottle of the wine we were drinking. That’s how you handle a situation like that and other restaurants should take note, because 6 very unhappy people were placated and still eat there.
There’s plenty of secure parking (which costs R20) right by the entrance. They have a private dining room for functions and it’s a non smoking restaurant with a smoking lounge for those who need it. Pigalle also sports a lovely bar.
So there you have it, the reasons why I like Pigalle even though I shouldn’t.
57a Somerset Road, Green Point