Piedmont – Don’t Ruin Your Cheese!

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.

Published in: on May 18, 2008 at 12:21 pm  Comments (11)  


  1. 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…

  2. 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.

  3. 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! 🙂

  4. 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.

  5. 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

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

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

  10. 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.”

  11. 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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