Saturday, 5 July 2008

Pigeon Hole

Had a late b'fast/early lunch by myself at Pigeon Hole this morning. I'm with Rita - it's great. A small chalk board menu, nothing particularly breakfasty but all yummy looking non the less. I am on a gryuere kick at the moment after having a lovely croque monsiuer at Jean Pascal New Town on Thursday (but that's a totally different blog entry). So the twice baked gryuere souffle caught my eye immediately. As did the really delicious looking rubarb crostini on wire racks by the cofffee machine. I gave in to gluttony and ordered one of those as well with a lovely dollop of rich heavy cream.
The souffle was gorgeous. Light, slightly eggy, with a great cheesey taste with crunch bits on top. Served in a lovely ramiken on a wooden board with green leaves and grated gruyere on the side. I ate it with a spoon and it really was delicious. As for the hot chocolate and crostini, YUM YUM and more YUM. The crostini was saucer sized, warmed with a lovely dollop of what I am fairly sure was elgars cream in the middle of it. Stewed rhubarb in the middle with currents. Perfectly sweet but not over sugared the pastry was still crisp underneath (a pet hate of mine - soggy pastry) and it was suitably rustic. The hot chocolate didn't need extra sugar - only the 2nd place in hobart where I have found this.
The spoons/tongs and saucers are very obviously from Luke and Katrina ex Pecora, but the feel is totally Jay from 373 - relaxed and confident - which is what, in retrospect was missing from my last visit to 373. The crowd was varied, from families, to couples, to singles and friends meeting up for coffee and a chat. There are obviously already regulars, and at 11:30 I think all of the bread was already sold. My only real gripe is that it is not obvious when you walk in if there are any large tables free as they are all down a narrowish corridor towards the back.
The variety of cakes and nibbles is small but varied, I spied 2 different cakes with rhubarbs and a very decedent looking chocolate muffin. There was also a few other varieties of muffin and some savoury crostinis.
Talking to Katrina when I was paying (they accept EFTPOS) she was saying they don't really do traditional breakfasts, but will do toast and honey on request. They don't have a full compliment of condiments apparently. Two drinks, a souffle and a crostini set me back about 23 dollars, which considering I was hungry when I arrived and left plesantly full was good value for money.
In conclusion, I will definately be back, and dragging friends along for the adventure.
PS please excuse the spelling in this post, my brain is on strike due to emotional turmoil.


Rita said...

I'm getting a bit frustrated in my attempts to return to PH for food! Twice recently have made arrangements to meet friends for lunch, they've suggested PH, then we remember they're closed on Mondays! Bugger!
Sounds like you're a convert as well!

Anonymous said...

Yes, the Pigeon Hole is a great little place, and has two more 'converts' to add to the list. We had eagerly awaited the chance to visit and yesterday lunch was it. Like any natural pigeon hole I found it slightly tricky to spot since the signage is inconspicuous (below window level to the left of the door), but it really IS where the address suggests(and parking is easy).

The smell as we entered was wonderful. The kitchen is centrally located and the large side opening allows the delicious aromas to permeate freely and greet you as soon as you step inside the door.

We each chose a different soup from the two on offer, and were served within minutes. The base stock of the chicken consomme was something I have not tasted for years. It took me back those years to French cooking classes and I recalled lurks such as simmering eggshells to clarify such stock. Perhaps there are other ways and means nowadays. The creamy leek and rosemary soup I had was beautifully presented with a floating gruyere-topped crouton and just a few tiny droplets of perhaps an oil scattered over the creaminess adding to the artistry. The taste was just as good as it looked.

It was quite a toss-up to choose between the 3 panini to have next.
However we settled for the chorizo sausage, olive mixture and I think soused onions, for one (lightly spicy), and the baked eggplant, ricotta and rocket for the other(gentle flavour, no, not bland). The bread they bake is so fresh, and beautifully crispy on the outside.

These two courses found me very replete. However my companion pressured me into contemplating which of the sweet delicacies (pastries, cakes and chocolates)I could possibly squeeze in. I was given 10 minutes to make my mind up (or find a space in my stomach!).

What happened next I realized, that evening, may have been coincidence or else some of the best customer service possible. When we first ordered I checked with Kelly re. gluten-free bread. She hesitated, murmured quietly with Jay, the chef, through in the kitchen and then replied to me that no, the bread they bake is not gluten free. Since I am not a coeliac it was not vital, but just gets a bit closer to what is best for me to eat. And I really loved my treat of the panino.

What does this have to do with choosing that final delicacy? Well I had chosen to ask for a quince tart, since my companion had volunteered to help me eat it. Before I could ask Kelly, Jay walked out of the kitchen brandishing a tray of scallop- shaped (madeleine tray)little cakes he had just taken from the oven (gee, did they smell good, and not quite as rich as the other options). As he passed our table he gently lowered the tray a little and said ever so quietly: "they are flour-less" before continuing with them to the front counter. I obviously took up on this (one must reward this provision) and immediately ordered one for each of us."Are they based on almond meal?" I asked him as he passed back. "Yes, with tangello and cardamon". They would only have taken about 10 minutes in the oven I guessed, and very little mixing time. We had been there at least 45 minutes by then. Yes, it may have just been coincidentally good timing, but Kelly did not include them in her run down of the options, and Jay poked them under my nose so very deliberately, and it was certainly consistent with the overall flawless customer service delivered in an understated (or is it sophisticated?)way that we experienced there. Thank you, Jay, whether it was deliberate or not.

I did have one problem with the cafe, however, an architectural one. We were seated at one of the small tables about midway down the side. I sat facing towards the street and hence the light, and my companion faced the back. The effect of this was that I spent the whole meal feeling as if I was trying to share a meal and communicate with an informant whose identity had to remain anonymous. I could only see the silhouette of his head. I could not even tell if his eyes were open! He was all but completely black. The black side wall next to us probably did not help. There is a standard lamp giving soft light for tables at the rear of the cafe, so perhaps a small lamp placed on one of the side buffets facing towards the front would provide, softly, the light necessary to fix this problem.

In summary though it seems a great place for a light meal with, I thought, exquisite flavours. I have already recommended it to friends.