What Chris Pandel Eats at The Bristol: Pigeon Tartine

By Sarah Freeman  |  November 15, 2013
Credit: Sarah Freeman

Food envy is a common affliction that happens to the best of us. A hot plate of something delicious comes out of the kitchen, fills the dining room with smells that make heads turn... and is not placed at your table. Suddenly, what you ordered doesn't look as great as it originally did. To ensure food envy doesn't happen to you, we went straight to the experts - the chefs - and asked them which dish on their current menu they would order if they were regular diners.

Chef Chris Pandel wants you to eat pigeon at The Bristol. Much like sweetbreads and oxtail, diners might give the item a double take when reading it on the menu. But served in a simple tartine, this classic French dish is perfect for fall.

It starts with a base of crusty country bread that's slathered with mushroom duxelle - a savory paste made with mushrooms, onions, shallots and herbs sautéed in butter. Lightly roasted pigeon breast, with a texture and slightly gamey taste similar to duck or squab, is placed on the open-faced sandwich. The dish is served with a lightly dressed frisee salad that is topped with braised pigeon leg and finished with jus. Pandel appreciates the simplicity of this dish and its ability to make a less common piece of poultry approachable.

“The charred bread reminds me of my grandma's burnt toast, for better or worse,” Pandel said. “The mushroom duxelle has a very nice tinge of liver flavor running through it, which works incredibly well with the roasted pigeon breast and braised leg. We use sherry vinegar to dress the greens with a little raw shallot for some brightness and we also spike the sauce with a touch of sherry. The dish is certainly a knife and fork version of a sandwich, as we finish the entire dish with the roasted pigeon jus which sops into the charred niche, making everything meltingly tender.”

Odd meats aside, Pandel says the balance of acidity and bitterness from the frisee, combined with the richness of the mushroom and pigeon, makes for an interesting plate without too much complexity.

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