Thursday, March 31, 2011
1641 Clifton Rd. NE, Atlanta, GA www.legiverny.com
Last night Sabrina, my Grandmother and I had dinner at Le Giverny, a French restaurant that has been around for over 15 years. I mistakenly told a friend that it was located in Decatur - which is because it used to be years ago, before it moved to the Emory Inn near the CDC.
And the fact that it's now part of the Inn is what should have made me stay away from Le Giverny. If there's anything I should know by now with all my experiences dining out, it's that people should avoid restaurants attached to hotels of any type. They are almost universally overpriced and famous for serving below average food. (One notable exception: I have seen a few Ruth's Chris steakhouses attached to hotels, although they are usually stand-alones, and always excellent.) My experience at Le Giverny did nothing to dispel this negative impression.
My grandmother had the blue crab and caramelized onion cake appetizer ($10) with capers and brown butter. She liked it, but thought it came with far too many sliced red onions (which, upon inspection, didn't really appear caramelized). She also ordered the iceberg and blue cheese salad ($7), which is exactly what you'd expect - a large wedge of iceberg (my least favorite lettuce) topped with runny blue cheese (why runny? why not big fat chunks?), crumbled bacon and more red onions. I'm not sure why a person would even bother ordering this, but whatever.
My sister ordered the truite grenobloise, fresh mountain trout, toasted cracked almonds, capers and hazelnut butter ($19). Sabrina said it best - it's basically a trout picatta, lacking sufficient flavor. More butter might help. I tried it, and neither of us could taste even a hint of hazelnut. Since that was the selling point with my sister, this dish doesn't rate highly.
I had the risotto aux fruits de mer ($24) - aka seafood risotto. The shrimp was good, although I can never understand why cooks don't remove the tails from shrimp before mixing them into a dish. The mussels were fine, as was the salmon. Supposedly this dish also included scallops. Really? You could have fooled me. If they were present, they must have been chopped into oblivion. This dish included mushrooms (about 3 total), and tomatoes, which were practically tasteless. I ate the whole thing, because I was starving, but finished very dissatisfied. This dish is far, far overpriced for the quality and serving size.
Finally we all had dessert (all desserts, $7). Grandmother and Sabrina each ordered creme brulee, which was good. I attempted to order the Georgia pecan tart with vanilla ice cream, but they were out of it, so I switched to the chocolate ganache pie. This was unfortunate. The ganache itself was OK, but the crust was absolutely filled with cinnamon, enough, as my dad says, to choke a mule. Why, oh why, did the chef do this? I'm not a fan of cinnamon and chocolate combined, the "Mexican chocolate" experience. Maybe a hint of cinnamon would have been alright, but this was like someone dropped a spice container into the pie dough and just went with it.
Service was fine. And the herb butter that came with the bread (which was too hard) was good.
A rule of thumb for this restaurant: All the food looks better on the website than it does it does in reality, and it looks better on your plate than it will taste in your mouth. I actually recall liking this place very much back in the late nineties when I was a teenager, but that was so long ago - I weighed 97 pounds at that point and couldn't have been less interested in food with the exception of chocolate. Has the quality of the cuisine at Le Giverny declined since then, or am I just a more discerning eater? Probably both, but I'm not going to waste any more time contemplating it.
Verdict: Very disappointing.