Sunday, October 26, 2008

A spring roll debacle at Pierre Loti

On a cool Sunday evening, I met the girls for drinks near Union Square. We tried to get into Bar Jamon, but the line was too long, and we were pressed for time. So we ended up across the street at a cute little wine bar called Pierre Loti.

The place definitely gets points for atmosphere. It was dark and sexy, with wine bottles lining the walls and aggressive music playing. But all that wonderful atmosphere was ruined immediately as the waiter came over and carded us. Yep. All four of us-- and the chief instigator of this drinks meeting, SL, didn't have her ID on her (because she doesn't have a driver's license and doesn't like to carry around her passport all the time. And--oh yeah-- you NEVER GET CARDED IN NYC). We determined it was probably due to the bar's proximity to NYU, but still. They lost 3/4 of our alcohol sales right there.

But we were hungry, and we were seated (albeit in the direct path of a blasting air conditioner... in October) so we pressed on and ordered some food from the somewhat confused and limited menu. At first I landed on the beet and goat cheese salad, but then when I saw the Thai Spring Rolls and confirmed that they weren't fried, I went with those. I figured they'd be a little different, and plus they were $2 cheaper than the salad. Every little bit helps, you know.

Both SL and SY also ordered the spring rolls, and about fifteen minutes later, two plates arrived. Not three. Whoops. When I asked where my order was, the waiter said we had ordered two. Nope, sorry, three. When we finally convinced him, he said he'd go back and put in a third order. Now, having seen the order of spring rolls, depicted below, I figured getting out a third order would take about 3 minutes max. Ten minutes later, SL and SY were long finished with theirs before my order even emerged at the pass-- and there were a few more minutes of me watching it sit there while the waiter chatted with someone else (during which time I contemplated just walking over there and picking it up myself) before it finally arrived at the table.

How was it? It was disappointing, even after all that. Cold and sticky rice paper came stuffed with sprouts, lettuce, avocado, cucumber, and tofu, and the little cylinders surrounded an anemic squirt of sauce sprinkled with whole peanuts. The whole thing was just bizarre-- the rolls lacked both flavor and texture; the peanuts had no place on the plate and were too large to include gracefully in any bite. The only taste on the plate was the sauce, and there wasn't enough of it to make the dish palatable. Oh yeah, and this cost $10. Sweet.

That's $1.66 per bite

I think I actually walked out of there hungrier than when I went in. While it was great to catch up with the girls, let's just say the venue didn't make the night. I'll give Pierre Loti one Offset Spatula, because at least as of yet nobody has died as a direct result of the experience. But as we walked out, the fact that Pure Food and Wine and Casa Mono sat mocking us right across the street underscored how unpleasant Pierre Loti was. Please--just don't go there.

Pierre Loti Wine Bar
53 Irving Place


Gramercygirl NYC said...

Hi Janine,

I normally agree with your blogs and enjoy reading them, but I think you were way off on your review here. I live around the corner and adore this place. The wine list is amazing and I've eaten some great meals here - you should have had some more originality than ordering 3 of the same dish!

It's not really fair that you are reviewing a winebar and didn't even have wine there (yes, I understand you are bitter about the carding thing, but you should consider it a compliment if you get carded these days). I would suggest going back and giving it another try - this time bring your I.D. and an open mind.

Janine said...

Hi gramercygirl,

Thanks for commenting. I'm glad to hear Pierre Loti is not usually that bad-- but unfortunately I call 'em as I see 'em! What made the experience so bad was mainly the service, which was just really terrible overall, and the perceived value-- everything was really overpriced. While I'm sure the wine is good (for the record, I did have my ID but just didn't feel like drinking that evening), all four of us left there unhappy, so in my mind that's a one-spatula place!

I'm hoping we hit them on an off-night... and by all means, if you've enjoyed your experience there, keep on going!