Thursday, May 28, 2009

the pol goes french

So last night Mrs. The Pol and I celebrated our three year anniversary. If anyone knows me then you'll understand that that alone should earn my wife the congressional medal of honor.

In this spirit I wanted to take her to a nice dinner. I chose Le Parigo downtown as we haven't eaten there and the menu looked wunderbar. We set a reservation for 7 and I had my hopes on it all day. When we got there we were seated immediately, which was mostly due to the fact that there was NO ONE ELSE THERE.

Begin griping:

I am a foodie, I love to eat, I love good food, I am willing to shell out my hard earned money for well crafted unique dishes, but I also like the trimming that come along with dining. I need to not feel like I'm groping in the dark and relying on faith to make sure I'm not wasting my money. All that to say more people need to go to Le Parigo.

We each had a drink and and appetizer. Their wine list though not extensive is rock solid, and the food turned out to be first rate. Mrs. The Pol had a salad, which came out in a wonderful cake looking design, which I'm not really sure how they did it and it was great. I had something a bit more exotic, Pork Belly with Brussel Sprouts. Never having had Pork Belly I was excited. I was not disappointed. The flavors were delicious and sensual bringing out the depth of the food.

But then we left.

We didn't feel comfortable being all alone, which is sad I know, but it's just how it goes.

So please, on your next special occasion or spur of the moment indulgence go to Le Parigo. We need food quality of this order in Knoxville. The price point is high, up to $35 for an entree, but their lunch menu starts at $6 and just may be one of the best values in town.

(End Rant)

30 comments:

Robert said...

This is an issue in Knoxville (and one that twentysomethings alone cannot fix). Knoxville's got wealth, but if no one supports our fine dining, guess what? It wont make it.

While I'm almost certain no one over 40 and of means is reading any of this, something's got to be done. Maybe for our blog audience the lunch route, is the most tangible way to go.

Le sigh ...

B said...

this is an interesting post, most likely for me because I'm a server which means i depend on people coming into the restaurant where i work.

that being said, i made $18 the past 2 nights working at LaCosta. we've been dead. I know people really like the food, I hear it 99% of the time when I'm working. And you can eat rather cheaply there, especially during happy hour.

It's a good question? Where are all the patrons? Is it b/c of summer vacation? can we still blame it on the recession? i know i haven't been to le perigo because i have no right indulging in something like that given my income. if anyone wants to take me there, i wouldn't be opposed. (a-hem...robert)

it's a proven fact that if the sky is suspecting of rain, people flee from Market Square. a lot of times i feel like maybe knoxville is too small of a place to support so many fine establishments. did i just make this up or is it legit?

Someone should write a thesis on this subject- downtown dining and the inconsistency of their patrons. i'd read it.

Also on the subject, check out this week's metropulse. they talk about le perigo.

em said...

My girlfriends and I have been talking and talking and talking about going there for happy hour, but we have done none of the doing. Shame on us. We can just never find a day when we are available at the same time. My dirty secret is that I am not a huge fan of traditional French fare. I like brasserie style French, but Le Perigo's seemed even more traditional than that. But, P, your pork belly sounds delish. I must go there soon.

Hey, B, does La Costa still do 1/2 priced burritos and tacos during happy hour? I love sitting on their patio on a lovely afternoon. I am an occasional bartender, too, so I feel your pain on the tips lately. Slow time in Knoxville, apparently.

Nice post, Pol! I would like to see the pictures of you in the beret. Now don't be shy: I know they exist.

B said...

why, yes. we have 1/2 price sweet potato burritos, fish tacos, and spinach and queso dip until 6 o'clock.

Kat said...

I think part of the blame can still be laid on the recession. The rest possibly just location? For dinner out people tend to stay close to home. And people with money to eat at an establishment like you described are mostly older, with families. I'm guessing there aren't many folks in that category living downtown. Try to eat out on a Friday or Saturday night out west. You are going to have a long wait.

Jess said...

So I live in Bearden, am 30 and thankfully have the means to eat out. here is my opinion on going out to eat downtown. Bottom line for me: It takes more effort. You park, you walk, you get -fill in the blank here -(caught in a storm, mugged, whatever), eat and then repeat the process backwards and have to drive home.
Don't get me wrong. I enjoy the time spent down there. It's the effort factor for me.

I also don't go to Turkey Creek. That might as well be Chattanooga.

em said...

I agree with Jess. Hell, I LIVE downtown, and I hate dealing with parking here. But I also think that some of the blame is that last night was a Wednesday. B says La Costa was dead. Cafe 4 was also dead. When I walked by the Brewery, it looked dead. Wednesday is not the biggest night for eating out in general, but especially for pricier places. I bet (and I'm just hoping here) that they have a bigger crowd later in the evenings on Thurs-Sat nights. I am also interested in trying them for lunch. Perhaps I will walk up there today.

ck said...

I don't know, Pol- if I had been in that situation with Mrs. CK, I think I'd have liked it. I'd have pretended that I'd rented the whole place out just for us.

Lord Von Lord said...

I've love to visit Le Parigo sometime. Unfortunately, I can't convince anyone to go with me. Most of the callous powerdrinking rubes I call friends all think of French cuisine as entirely snail-based. Feh.

Lo said...

le parigo is a fantastic meal. mrs. lo and i celebrated our 1 month anniversary there. that was back when it was in bearden. but if i had to go there now, i'd take a bus on one of the three bus lines that stops by our house and leave my car in the garage. seriously folks, public transport is the future. get with it!

B said...

so i guess i need a mr. b in order to go to le parigo...

le sigh...

max. said...

does that mean me?

B said...

touche. you can take me to le parigo anytime, mr. b.

ha.

Wax Sophocletus said...

I'm with Kat on this one. Le Parigo's former setting was ideal by no means, with inconvenient parking and a spot in that part of Bearden that seems to shut down at 6:30. But the new spot is much worse. Jack Neeley pointed out in a Secret History a year or so ago how poorly routed is Knoxville's pedestrian traffic. There's negligible signage, and apart from Gay Street and Market Squre, very few street-level businesses. La Costa does well by building a brand, and being in a (typically) high-traffic area, but one rarely has an opportunity to notice Le Parigo whilst walking by and think "Hey, let's stop in there some night." And if one can't people-watch, why dine al fresco? Le Parigo's few outdoor tables look out on an abandoned Central Parking lot. Plus, the (delicious!) duck is like $148. Great food, awful planning. If you're moving to a spot like that, you need to pre-build a dedicated customer base, market the heck out yourself, and offer unique, sublime product. It's not their fault nobody walks around downtown, but it is their fault for not taking that into account by knowing what kind of restaurant they are. Sorry to bogart the comments, but I love good food and I hate it when downtown doesn't work as it should.

athomp said...

I've lived in West Knox, North East Knox and Downtown Knox since I've lived here. My take on the issue is that of convenience. I'm not so lazy (I drive from downtown to Chez Guevera, PF Chang, et cetera, 2 or 3 times a week), but I realize that your average joe blow consumer doesn't want to unload all the kids in a Central Parking (who are rude and corrupt imo) garage when Knoxville has 1200+ restaurants to choose from. Most of them our out West.

No one understands this better than I, as my restaurant has gone through it's fair share of busy periods and slow periods. I market the hell out of it using the only means I can afford, trade advertising. There's a tradeoff when doing this type of advertising though. My restaurant survives off the merits of our late night crowd Thursday-Saturday, yet our food and executive chef have won a bevy of awards by local food critics and metro pulse readers.

I've eaten at Le Pariga once and thought it was pretty good (pricey for Knoxville though). I agree that the location stinks and I hope they survive as the more restaurants down here the better for other businesses.

ps I used to go eat brunch with lots of folks at La Costa last summer every Sunday. I just burned myself out on it I guess.

Wax Sophocletus said...

athomp, out of curiosity, how long after you guys opened did you start to get your regular crowd? Granted, your place is a different experience than Le Parigo, but I remember Lisa Smith of Big Fatty's said in an interview lately that it's just a matter of keeping your doors open long enough to establish a presence. Could it be that Le Parigo just needs to ride it out long enough to become a destination in its own right, downtown foot traffic be darned?

The Modern Gal said...

Can anyone tell me why Le Parigo relocated downtown from Bearden? Was it space? I think it happened during my absence from Knoxville, so I don't remember.

CK, when are we getting ads on this website? We could use the revenue to have a Wigshop gathering at Le Parigo.

The Pol said...

no the ad revenue goes towards paying for my deviant habit... purchasing jewell encrusted slap bracelets.

ck said...

I think our potential ad revenue might buy us a Wigshop gathering at Krystal.

B said...

that was funny. i'll do a post on that.

Laura Jane said...

I've had a few friends work at Le Parigo, and they pulled me in one night for half-price apps. Pork belly -- DEELISH! I know they had quite a patron base out in West Knox, and I'm not sure how they captured that downtown.

Why don't you do a feature story on the owner? Or at least talk to him about the biz plan.

(of course, this sprouts from a meager, former Knoxvillian. Damn I miss that place.)

Joe Ossenmacher-Bedford said...

.While I'm almost certain no one over 40 and of means is reading any of this, something's got to be done.Ahem, I resemble that remark. I'm so clueless, I had no idea I was the only old fart who read this blog. Am I?

Tere said...

No Joe, you aren't the only one. I too am an old fart and love this blog. I also drive downtown from out west to eat at various restaurants around Market Square, Gay St, and in the Old City. When Le Parigo was in Bearden, we always meant to check it out but never seemed to make it there. I had no idea it had moved so I will make an effort to haul my old butt downtown and check it out now.

B said...

welcome, old farts!

sincerely,

the young and ignorantly passionate

athomp said...

"athomp, out of curiosity, how long after you guys opened did you start to get your regular crowd? "

We opened in 2005 with no happy hour and a tiny selection of tapas style food. We benefited, however, from the first owner's great networking skills. He knew a lot of "powerful" and "influential" Knoxvillians through his friendship with a certain downtown developer and architect.

So we had some extra help, but that wouldn't have been enough to keep us going if we didn't have something to offer that most places around us don't.

That's not to say, though, that a certain amount of versatility with image is a bad thing. It's why Barley's and Downtown Grill & Brewery do so well. They are for the "everyman", whereas places like Le Pariga or my place suffer from being "typecasted" into a certain bracket.

Yet, as I said before, we benefit greatly by ridiculously great location and extremely busy neighbor. Le Parigo has neither of those benefits.

Andy said...

I am neither over 40, or saddled with those "means" you speak about, but i have been meaning to stop by Le Parigo for lunch for a while now. After all...the 10 dollar half roasted chicken sounds like a great deal.

Kat said...

Joe: I'm 37.

David said...

I want to try the 1/2 apps/desserts one night. Do most after 10pm order these alone, or would I be looked down upon by ordering only apps and drinks?

Joe Ossenmacher-Bedford said...

Any place that looks down on paying customers does not deserve your business. Order with pride. :-)

em said...

Hi David, Joe O. is right, but actually after 10pm Le Perigo ONLY serves apps and desserts. The full menu is not even available, so you have nothing to worry about.

I went for 1/2 priced happy hour wine with some girlfriends on Friday, so stay tuned for a follow-up post!