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Josh Radigan

Pesce, Dupont Circle, in the old Montsouris Space - Chef-Owner Andrew LaPorta Purchases Restaurant from Founder Regine Palladin on Jan 1, 2017

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When you work in the business day in and day out, often we lose sight of simple pleasures in eating out. The wife and I, she being 7 months pregnant and I, use to working on Saturday nights, were thrilled to have a saturday night to go out and eat. Thanks DP!
So we decided to visit Regine Palladin over at Pesce, my wifes former employer. Simple decor done well, small room that does get tight, but hey, as long as everyone takes a shower before, I don't mind.
The best way to describe what Pesce is all about is....food from the sea. No turf in this restaurant.
Cut to the chase on the review, here we go.
Wife started with the Smoked Trout Salad. Good. Trout wasn't overpowering in taste, thus allowing the pears to add some sweetenss to the greens. Minus Gorgonzola dressing, a no-no while pregnant, and she was very satisfied with the App. She then ordered whole roasted flounder with maple-glazed root veggies. Again, simple dish, great flavors, and not deep fried as many do when serving whole fish.
I started with Squash Soup. Well done, huge bowl, maybe a bit too big actually, all in all, great flavors. Not overly earthy, just the right amount of sweetness and spice for balance. Then I had the brandade. I love Brandade. Since my days working for Mr Buben I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Brandade done well. This dish was spot on. Just the right amount of Garlic and Salt Cod as not to overpower with a fishy taste. Lastly, Sea Scallops with a Mushroom Risotto. Good. Extremly rich,maybe that is why I had to take half home with me.
All in all, a great meal that hopefully will not be the last time out before TBD arrives. If you get the chance to visit, give Regine a hug for continuing to produce simple dishes with overdoing.

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Soft shell crabs -- just a few weeks left in the season. Pesce has a wonderful appetizer. On one side of the oval plate is a perfectly cooked, good-sized softshell, it's breading almost ephemeral. On the other side is a baby spinach salad, with a few ornange slices and thin shavings of parmesan. One bite of crab and your tongue becomes enveloped in it's rich, moist flavor. One bite of the lighly dressed salad and your palate is refreshed, ready to return to the crab, and so on ... I sometimes succeed in self-discipline, telling myself to not order the softshell every time I go, to explore other items on the app list, and I've never been disappointed in anything else I've had. But Tom Meyer has a real winner in this soft shell prep. I've enjoyed it at least 3 times this summer.

My main last night was no sleeper. Butter fish cooked so that it was still moist and barely opaque in the middle, served over a "crab hash" of roasted carrots with some flakes of crab meat mixed in, complemented by a mushroom jus. This dish combined the refreshing lightness of the butter fish, the caramelized sweetness of the roasted veg, and the earthiness of the mushroom jus. Excellent!

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Most likely going to be dining here tonight. Other than Don's suggestions in the Lettres de Mon Moulin, anyone else been lately that offer up some guidance?

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Most likely going to be dining here tonight. Other than Don's suggestions in the Lettres de Mon Moulin, anyone else been lately that offer up some guidance?
As Waitman noted, the menu changes too often to really provide a suggestion. However, if the octopus salad is on there, get it. When I had it awhile ago, it was thinly sliced tentacles with root vegetables. Definitely on the (very short) list of great octopus dishes I've had.

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Most likely going to be dining here tonight. Other than Don's suggestions in the Lettres de Mon Moulin, anyone else been lately that offer up some guidance?

The new chef started end of September/early October, so the menu has been changing gradually, though within the bounds of the restaurant's long-standing traditions.

When last I was there, a month ago, I had skate wing as my main, which was execellent. This is a dish that has appeared on the menu off-and-on over the years with minor variations in saucing and accompanying veggies. What was new this time was a fois gras raviolo in place of the usual mashed potatos or celery root puree. That raviolo was stunningly good.

Whole roasted fish is always a safe bet, and they will offer to fillet it for you when they bring it to the table (if they don't, just ask).

I've never hit a clunker here: raw oysters, tuna tartare, fried calamari, salads, any of the fish preparations have been consistantly good-to-excellent. Never tried the pastas or risottos, so can't vouch for them.

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I didn't have a great meal at Pesce earlier this month. The meal started out well enough, with a very fresh arugula salad and sardines for my husband. We waited an unusually long time between courses, although we didn't mind the leisurely pace until we finally received our mains; they were lukewarm (which may explain the wait). My other gripe was that my mushroom ravioli dish was $26, and came with two raviolis and 4 pieces of lobster. I didn't think this was a good value. (I could understand getting two raviolis at that price point had the raviolis been filled with lobster instead of mushroom.) As our dishes were being cleared, we told the server that our mains were not served hot. We were then given comped sorbet. (I hate complaining because I don't want them to think I raised an issue just to get something for free.) I want to like neighborhood restaurants like Pesce (and had fond memories of our last trip 8 years ago), but for my next seafood fix, I think we'll go back to Hank's.

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While we ahve not eaten at Pesce for a long while, I would go back there if looking for seafood in the neighborhood. I have good memories of several meals and the last time we were looking for dinner in DC we went there and the wait was too long so we went to Hanks. They are completely different to my mind, Hanks is good basic seafood simply prepared. Glorified and good beachfood. Pesce is more upscale yet still simple. This thread make me promise to myself to go back soon. My schedule may preclude that, but we will try.

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So is there another new chef here, or is the 'new' chef here basically the same one that started just about a year ago? I was last there about 2.5 years ago and it was decent, but not great.

Just curious.

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So is there another new chef here, or is the 'new' chef here basically the same one that started just about a year ago? I was last there about 2.5 years ago and it was decent, but not great.

Just curious.

The Chef is still Bernard Marchive (with a French pronunciation of the name), who replaced Tom Meyer about a year ago.

Cheers,

Rocks.

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I dont think the "new" chef has been there for a year but almost and I haven't been there since the switch. Pesce is a restaurant that I always want to go back to but always loses to someone else, the eternal second place loser.

The Chef is still Bernard Marchive (with a French pronunciation of the name), who replaced Tom Meyer about a year ago.

Cheers,

Rocks.

How's the food these days

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It's wonderful everytime we go, no matter the season! Last Saturday my wife had butternut squash ravioli with scallops and lobster in a very tasty sauce, and I had roasted monkfish with soldier beans cassoulet. I didn't know what to expect with soldier beans cassoulet, but it was not soupy as I suspected. It was moist and flavorful. Too many places undercook beans but not that night.

This is a place we keep meaning to visit more often. We have been eating here for years, but not often enough. I just get a wonderful feeling from the place. This is our second meal in the past year and the new chef is as good as the ones who have come before.

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Apparently Bernard Marchive has left. Had dinner here last week and noticed that all of Marchive's dishes were gone (e.g., the dumplings filled with shrimp, crab and pork). I heard the waiter mention that there is a different chef in the kitchen, someone who had worked there before, but I didn't catch all the details. Thankfully, the food was very good, as usual.

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Apparently Bernard Marchive has left. Had dinner here last week and noticed that all of Marchive's dishes were gone (e.g., the dumplings filled with shrimp, crab and pork). I heard the waiter mention that there is a different chef in the kitchen, someone who had worked there before, but I didn't catch all the details. Thankfully, the food was very good, as usual.

A Wednesday dinner saw an owner-type woman ?Regine, a completely new waitstaff, and acknowledgements of a new chef (without disclosing his/her identity). The room filled quickly after 6PM and service was OK. We had sardines and mussels for appetizers: the sardines were underdone, but nicely salty; and the 'chorizo' broth for the mussels was lukewarm and chorizo-free, for which the owner-type woman apologized. An Caesar salad with white sardines and a made-up pasta bolognese topped with 2 scallops followed. Desert/coffee were unremarkable. With a bottle of sauvignon blanc, two of us paid $128 with tip. We've been going to Pesce twice a year or more since 2003 - I think the new kitchen needs to find its pace.

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We had a good dinner here last Saturday, with 2 minor caveats.

Veteran waitstaff was on hand, with one new busboy who was clearly learning the ropes (no problem with that). The new chef is doing good work. We had an arugula salad and soft-shell crab as starters. The salad was good, lightly dressed, with bits of ham scattered through it. The crab was excellent: light tempura batter, plump, sweet and moist. May be the best soft-shell I've ever had. It's accompanying fennel salad was just OK.

For mains we had salmon and Spanish mackerel fillets, both prepared well. Sorry, I don't recall details of the mild sauces that accompanied the fish, but they were nice additions. And the skin on the mackerel was crisped beautifully. Wish this species didn't have mercury contamination problems, because it is delicious when prepared correctly. And I'm tired of seeing branzino everywhere.

The caveats were pacing and temperature. Apps came quickly, but mains took longer than expected (maybe 20 minutes after the apps, though I didn't check my watch). Not a big problem, since we were happy to linger. On this very warm night, their AC was having trouble keeping up, so the room was probably 5 degrees higher than it should have been, but I imagine they have that fixed by now.

Over all, a good experience with the food and service making the negatives insignificant. Hope to return soon and often to see how the kitchen evolves.

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Apps came quickly, but mains took longer than expected (maybe 20 minutes after the apps...)

Maybe I'm just being hyper-sensitive, but 20 minutes from app to main sounds pretty reasonable to me...

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I was there Monday night and shared the sardines, arugula salad, roasted monkfish and whole grilled bronzino. I agree the sardines could have used a few more minutes on the grill but they still enjoyable. The monkfish was perfectly roasted and the atmosphere was very relaxed. I'm looking forward to going back, and definitely want to try the softshell now.

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QUOTE(dwt @ Jun 11 2008, 03:14 PM) *

Apps came quickly, but mains took longer than expected (maybe 20 minutes after the apps...)

As a general rule entrees are pretty much planned to go out about 20 mins after apps.

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Apps came quickly, but mains took longer than expected (maybe 20 minutes after the apps, though I didn't check my watch). Not a big problem, since we were happy to linger.
Maybe I'm just being hyper-sensitive, but 20 minutes from app to main sounds pretty reasonable to me...
As a general rule entrees are pretty much planned to go out about 20 mins after apps.

Not to make a mountain out of a molehill, but my impression from dwt's post is that the mains arrived 20 minutes after the apps were finished, not 20 minutes after the apps were served.

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Don is correct. But let's not belabor the point. I am always treated well at Pesce and only remarked on the pacing because an earlier poster (Pancho) had done so and my impression is that timing is not on par with the kitchen as it was constituted under the 2 previous chefs. But it's still early in the game for the current chef so he deserves a pass. And in fairness, we were there on Saturday at the height of the rush, with every table full and folks waiting at the bar. Even if the pacing doesn't improve, I'll return for the food, atmosphere, and personable front-of-the-house staff.

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The quality of seafood here is very good!

Last night my wife's appetizer was a bruschetta with crab meat and arugula and some sort of lightly creamy dressing. The bread had a nice crunch and flavor to it, and the crab was fresh. Her entree was monkfish roasted with endive, bacon, and garlic. She said it was too good to share! Never mind, I felt the same way about my dishes! For appetizer I had oysters on the half shell. Didn't catch where they were from but they were deliciously briny and cool! Entree was roasted pompano with fingerling potatos and oyster mushrooms in some sort of reduced sauce. Excellent! At some parts I peeled off the skin but at other parts I ate it because it looked toasted and crunchy!

We arrived at 6:15 and were among the first people there. Snagged a nice table by a window. By 7:00 the place was full.

The mango sorbet and pistachio ice cream were from Moorenko's. If it's still in Silver Spring we have to check it out!

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Question: Is it sheer lunacy to take a 15 month old to Pesce on a Friday or Saturday night or should we hire a babysitter? We've been invited out by family from out-of-town and it's their favorite local place.

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Question: Is it sheer lunacy to take a 15 month old to Pesce on a Friday or Saturday night or should we hire a babysitter? We've been invited out by family from out-of-town and it's their favorite local place.

It's not lunacy, but I'd think about Urbana before Pesce - OR - call and speak with Regine to see if she can prepare in advance. She's a mom who has dined well in her day - hell, her charming daughter Verveine is now the floor manager, so between the two of them, I suspect you'll be working with a friendly and sympathetic crew. And come to think of it, I vaguely recall high chairs across from the bar on the way to the restrooms, although my recollection is uncertain. Call!

Cheers,

Rocks.

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