Mustard-glazed rotisserie chicken has been a Café Pinot staple ever since the Library-adjacent Patina Restaurant Group restaurant opened in 1995. The chicken is still available, and now chef Kevin Meehan is cooking a different slow-roasted special each weekday. Good timing. The restaurant’s stellar patio was enough to keep Café Pinot in business during the dark days of downtown dining. Now the neighborhood is sprouting competitors like Drago Centro and Chaya Downtown, so Café Pinot has been forced to step up their game. With Chef Meehan in the kitchen, Café Pinot can hold its own.
Café Pinot invited us to lunch to sample the rotisserie meats, but they also included the Duo of the Sea (normally $14), a “chef-inspired seasonal preparation of the finest seafood.” The first half of our starter involved bay scallop ceviche decorated with colorful greens. Too often, bay scallops could double as pencil erasers. Chef Meehan’s version was silky, but under-seasoned.
Citrus squid salad was the duo’s better half, featuring tender calamari, herbaceous oil and a smattering of chives.
Time to get to the main event: delicious roasted animals. Chef Meehan’s rabbit with honey-sage glaze was excellent, and an architectural masterpiece to boot. The bunny’s fan-like rib roast teetered on the bronzed chicken breast. Rounding out the plate: al dente carrots, minerally kale and two organ meats (pictured at bottom left) – the chewy heart and the silky liver. The other (other) white meat was juicy throughout, even in the breast.
Squab was nearly as good. The cultured pigeon was nice and gamy, with crisp, caramelized skin that masked a melting layer of fat. The accompaniments: market-fresh asparagus, sugar snap peas and fennel, all on pomme puree.
Cafe Pinot’s oven-roasted fun isn’t limited to rabbit and squab. On other weekdays, you’ll find leg of lamb, Prime rib and whole sea bass with fennel.
Chef Meehan makes desserts in-house. His cobbler was stellar, featuring massive cross-sections of sweet white peach and a judicious amount of crumbled dough that didn’t overshadow the fruit.
Fromage blanc cheesecake was soft and rich, with a moist Graham cracker base. It came with sweet blackberries and strawberries, and a scoop of blueberry cabernet sorbet. All of those elements added to the plate, but there was no need for the chalky chunks of meringue.
Our final taste of Cafe Pinot was a solid cookie plate, including chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal cookies studded with golden raisins and dense but devastating chocolate-peanut cookies.
My view of Cafe Pinot has definitely changed. Chef Meehan has instilled the restaurant with new life and progressive options. Cafe Pinot is once again relevant for food lovers and not just for ladies (and businesspeople) who lunch.
November 15, 2011 at 6:12 PM
Pinot is great, was there yesterday. Great photos, loved the site. bookmarked 🙂
November 15, 2011 at 6:19 PM
Thanks, Erica. What did you order during your meal at Cafe Pinot? I understand they now have a different chef than the last time I was there. Glad to hear it’s still good.
July 14, 2009 at 11:03 AM
oh and the duo of seafood was a duo of tartares last friday – they looked much better than the ones we got.
July 14, 2009 at 10:59 AM
per my revisit to Cafe Pinot, my only qualm is that they overuse chopped chives as a garnish. The peach cobbler was delicious as usual and the arctic char that we had was quite good.
July 12, 2009 at 11:08 PM
Rather interesting. Has few times re-read for this purpose to remember. Thanks for interesting article. Waiting for trackback