Chez Piggy (Kingston) – The problem with expectations…

Prior to our Montreal eating fest, Jules and I decided to try Chez Piggy. It was raved about by my Godfather in Calgary and on Chowhound, many people list it as a “must-go” though there are some conflicting reviews.

The first thing that struck me was the wood-lodge feel it had. Lots of wood on the walls and hunting paraphernalia. I didn’t really like it but River Cafe in Calgary had a similar feel and the food there was divine. I tried to have an open mind.

I was disappointed with our server. She was not dressed well, did not appear excited about the food, had trouble remembering the specials, and certainly didn’t describe the food very well. She wasn’t mean, she just wasn’t particularly enthused about her work. The black apron she had on didn’t help. I felt like we were at Morrison’s… not Chez Piggy.

Let’s talk food. We had the table d’ hote for $36 which included an appy, a main, and a dessert. This was the Gravlax (spelling?) which was smoked salmon, bread, and a dijon mustard sauce. It came with quite a bit of salmon but unfortunately, it was generally quite sinewy. The croutons were pretty tough too. It is sad when the cucumber was the best part of this dish.

This was awful. The second course in my table d’ hote was this leg of lamb. I guess I should’ve known something was off when I ordered it and the waiter didn’t ask how I wanted it. I specified medium rare and she sort of shrugged it off. Hmmmm. It was luke warm with lots of connective tissue. The flavour was disappointing but Julia thought it was quite tender. It really needed the mint sauce it was supplied with on the left. The vegetables were damn oily but were pretty tasty. The best part of this dish was the squash gratin which was buttery, soft, smooth, and delicious.

This was the pancetta wrapped berkshire pork tenderloin (maple peach glaze, thyme roasted new potatoes and sugar snap peas) for $27. Pretty expensive but really really tasty. The pork was tender and juicy, the pancetta was crisp and salty, and there was a fair amount of meat. The potatoes were a bit flavourless and the peas were pretty oily but overall, I liked this dish.

The final course in my table d’hote was this maple and pumpkin pie from Pan Chancho’s from which Chez Piggy gets its pastries and breads. Absolutely amazing. The crust was salty and crispy. The center was smooth and cold. The pumpkin and maple flavours were balanced. This was the best part of my meal. Sadly… I could skip the rest of Chez Piggy and go straight to Pan Chancho’s for this.

Overall… the problem I had with Chez Piggy were based upon my high expectations. Based upon its reputation and the prices on the menu, I expected a more upscale dining experience. The server was dreadful and I was reminded of a diner. My smoked salmon appy and my leg of lamb were both incredibly disappointing and not well thought through. However… Jules’ pork tenderloin was really quite tasty.

I don’t think I will return to Chez Piggy… but I will be heading to Pan Chancho’s soon to pick up some more of that maple and pumpkin pie.

Chez Piggy, 68R Princess St., Kingston, ON, 613-549-7673, www.chezpiggy.com

Chez Piggy Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

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~ by Russ on October 15, 2008.

9 Responses to “Chez Piggy (Kingston) – The problem with expectations…”

  1. I have had equally shoddy “service” from Chez Piggy in the last year.

    On one occasion, our waitress seemed far more interested in the larger, louder table next to ours. It took her a full twenty minutes to bring us any bread (she only noticed her failure to bring us any when she delivered out entrees — twenty minutes after ordering), we had to flag someone down to bring us some water (again, she had neglected to do this). Then our entrees arrived at very different times (fifteen minutes separated the first delivery from the last, if you can believe it!)

    On another occasion, they completely ignored a request for a specific table, and when asked about this, blatantly lied to us about whose fault it was (they blamed someone who wasn’t there that night, when an easy glance at the reservation book clearly showed the note about the specific table request). Instead of a quiet rectangular table, we were shoved around one of their round tables in the corner. This happens to be right next to the only place where they can accommodate a large party, and of course, as luck would have it, there was such a group that night, further cornering us in, and surrounding us with a racquet! Service was also quite mediocre this night, full of forgetfulness, inattentiveness, and slowness of service.

    On both of these occasions, we commented to the “manager”, who on each occasion seemed as powerless (or at least wholly unwilling) to make amends as they were disinterested in my situation.

    I have found the food to be quite good, on the whole, but the service (if you can even bring yourself to call it that) seems to be completely lacking. And as you point out, the prices are not so insignificant as to let you overlook this major shortcoming.

    • Thanks for the comment Rob. Sorry to hear about the bad service. I was so dismayed by my one experience that I honestly haven’t gone back. It is such a strange place: mid to high prices, cabin-like atmosphere, and waiter/waitresses that wear stained white aprons that look like they belong just as easily at Morrison’s.

      Have you tried Aqua Terra? I find it consistent, fresh, tasty, though not always too innovative. The view and the service is wonderful. I have a review on it here.

  2. I couldn’t agree more about the take-it-or-leave-it service at Piggy. And the food is nothing to rave about, for the price. Definitely a laurel-resting exercise. Such a shame in an establishment that was genuinely superior not too long ago.

    • Hey Mike,

      It is sad to see a place with such a good reputation be ruined by service. Canada-wide, when I tell people that I live in Kingston, they ask if I’ve been to Chez Piggy because they loved it when they were there years ago. If only they knew that Chez Piggy is now letting many customers down.

      I’ve got to try it again. I have to believe that they want to be better.

      Thanks for the comment.

  3. I was hired at Chez Piggy as a server last summer despite not having any experience (I ended up getting a job more in-line with my field of study). That may explain how their service is relatively shoddy.

  4. I have never been to Chez Piggy and left happy.

    I’m surprised it’s still in business but that seems to be how things go in Kingston.

  5. Since Zal Yanovsky died in 2002 – Chez Piggy has gone to hell. Although I think his daughter runs it, it is nowhere near the experience it used to be. If you hear of someone raging about how great ‘the Pig’ is (I used too – not anymore), ask them from which decade they were last there. As it is now – I would rather eat at Morrison’s.

    • I agree with your comments here Steve. I wouldn’t go back to Chez Piggy even if I had a gift certificate there. The weird diner experience with expensive prices doesn’t cut it for me.

  6. Sorry to hear of the shoddy service and food quality. I have been going there for years and it is rare that there are any issues with service or food. Perhaps it is because we have it down to a fine science.

    Sit downstairs (always) or patio. If you get stuck with a bad server that is luck of the draw and obviously it will impact your experience. Order soups, gambas, spring rolls, oysters and salads (always consistently good). I rarely order specials or the table d’hôte because we have had issues in the past. Classics like steak frites, club sandwich, seafood chowder and the pastas are usually good. They have recently changed their menu. Also they make a great martini. Not as good as Casa depending on who is working, but pretty good.

    You shouldn’t have to be wary of trying new things in a restaurant however if you stick to these tips you will most likely have a better experience.

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