I still get teary-eyed every time I walk into Clay Pigeon Food and Drink (2731 White Settlement Rd.), Chef Marcus Paslay’s outstanding scratch kitchen a few blocks north of the Mc7th development. I visited the building’s previous tenant, Lambert’s Steak, Seafood & Whiskey, so often I was on a first-name basis with Bruce, the taxidermied cow head in the dining room. But Bruce has moved on to greener pastures, and I’m moving on too.
I frequented Lambert’s at happy hour and dinner; it just never occurred to me to go there during the full light of day. Paslay and company recently opened their doors for lunch five days a week, something that many of the seven restaurants that occupied that space before them tried and gave up on.
With the success of fine dining joints like Bite City Grill (2600 W. 7th St.) and AF&B (2869 Crockett St.) not far away, maybe the Pigeon management figures the time is right for the lunch crowd to make the leap down the worst-named street in town for something a little fancier than the slow-cooked cows and pigs of the always-busy (and way cheaper) Angelo’s BBQ (2533 White Settlement Rd.).
A friend and I stopped by the Pigeon on a recent chilly day and were greeted by a warm fire near the entrance –– a leftover from Lambert’s that I’m glad was kept. The brightly lit dining room, with its austere ranch moderne décor, was half-full, with a few customers at the bar.
The menu is short but filled with interesting-sounding dishes, such as a pancetta-and-pear flatbread as well as bone marrow, mussels, and pork schnitzel. The entrées range from $12 to $23.
Our polite, efficient server sold my guest on the parsnip soup special ($7). There was a touch of cream added to the pureed root vegetable and a slightly sweet ingredient that I couldn’t quite place. (Sugar or nutmeg was my best guess.) The soup could have used more seasoning, but it was warming and delicious. My lunch started with the aforementioned bone marrow ($4), with nicely grilled sourdough and a bright, zesty fennel-and-parsley salad. The marrow was beautifully rich and spread on the bread like a buttery pâté.
I’d read somewhere that Paslay thinks his burger ($15) is one of the best in town. After trying it, I must agree. Served with pickled red onions, bibb lettuce, and cheddar cheese, the sandwich was so juicy I had to knife-and-fork it. The beef was cooked a perfect medium and well seasoned. The turkey in the turkey melt ($12) got a little lost among its accompanying ingredients. Still, the fresh tomato, avocado, arugula, and a creamy gruyere cheese were all flavorful.
Before visiting, I had wondered whether the Pigeon’s brain trust was just stubbornly ignoring history or convinced that the area foodie scene has grown enough to support a pricey lunch spot on a decidedly blue-collar stretch of road. Or maybe they’re working on catching customers from the Volvo dealership and luxury-car mechanics in the area.
I still don’t know their reasoning, but regardless, I’ll be back for that burger — I may never own a Porsche, but I don’t mind paying a little extra for luxury.
Bruce would understand.
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