REVIEW: Hungry Pigeon, Philadelphia PA
STYLE: American, Farm to Table
DECOR: 5/5 - Cute and homey, if your home happens to be an interior design inspiration board.
VIBE: 4/5 - Dinnertime here had a great energy.
FOOD: 3/5 - It was good, but so is some of the food I cook. Nothing that I felt I couldn't make at home just as well, and for much less.
SERVICE: 4/5 - Friendly, if not a little clingy.
PRICE: $$$ - About $50 person, including one drink each, and we left hungry.
FINAL WORD: Not worth it. Cool vibe, but the food does not warrant the price by a long shot. Fresh comfort food at couture prices.
If you go by Instagram points alone, Hungry Pigeon in Philadelphia's Queen Village is killing the game. Seriously, their social media is an inspiration. The pastries that are frequently featured on Instagram are objects of art, and the savory dishes they post are beautiful, as well. The place itself is Pinterest worthy, a melange of wood and greenery, with the requisite amount of bird-themes decor including a collection of books and cages in the back by the communal table. I had high hopes.
Hungry Pigeon has been on my "Try" list for months now, so I was excited when I got to pick the restaurant for my group of three a few weeks ago. I called to make a last-minute reservation on a Friday night, which they were graciously able to accommodate. (The person who took the reservation on the phone didn't mention that we'd be at the communal table, which was absolutely fine and pleasant in itself, but I would have thought that would be worth a heads up.)
Once we arrived, the table service was similarly great - accommodating, nice and bubbly. Perhaps a bit presumptuous at times - the server made sure to point out that the menu items were priced very low to encourage sharing but also trying lots of small plates. $9 for one peach or one ear of corn or, for around $18, a single layer of couscous topped with a fistful of small clams, is not something I'd call "priced low," and it was a bit odd to assume a guest's financial status. But, no harm no foul. I could afford to eat there, and so I did. I can't say I enjoyed it all that much, nor did I think it was worth the price.
Indeed, the prices were on par with some of the city's top restaurants, such as Zahav, Wm. Mulherins or Osteria. However, unlike those restaurants, I can't say that many of the menu items warranted the prices. Many of them were, as the server promised, small portions and what's worse, they were small portions of a pretty easily replicated or obtainable food. For example, the aforementioned single peach, cut in half and grilled, then drizzled with honey and goat cheese was listed for $9. Equally as baffling, and also $9, was one cob of corn, cut into three segments and slathered with "lobster butter" (is that butter with lobster seasoning? Or butter that has dripped off of a cooking lobster? Photos on social media didn't show any actual lobster). Last I checked, a peach is about $1.00 and a cob of corn is something like $0.60. It is truly crazy to demand prices that high for something as un-creative as corn with butter.
I understand that, in the case of the peach, perhaps the goat cheese is expensive. For the pasta dish (which again, it was basically large couscous or small orzo - it should have been represented better on the menu) I am sure the clams were ethically sourced and hand-harvested. Still, if you're going to have a price point at that level, make it something worth paying a high price for because you can only get it at Hungry Pigeon, or Hungry Pigeon makes it better than anyone else.
This review is not a "this place is too expensive, I sure must not understand how much work goes into a restaurant" review (I do, I'm in the industry) this is a "this is too expensive for this level of food." It's basically simple, fresh comfort food at couture prices, and that doesn't really inspire me to go back, unfortunately.
Oh, and by the way, $50 each later, my boyfriend got a fast-food burger as soon as we left.
If you must go, head there for brunch (it's somehow less painful getting ripped off when you're hungover and the brioches are #adorbs) or get a drink at the gorgeous full bar before heading somewhere else to eat.