It’s easy for a restaurant to dazzle with bells and whistles and gimmicks, but it’s much more challenging to create an eating experience that feels soulful, where the environment is comfortable and easygoing, the aesthetic genuine and the food consistently delicious and nourishing.
Chefs Scott Schroeder and Pat O’Malley achieve this rare trifecta in their all-day bistro in Queen Village.
Part of what makes Hungry Pigeon so appealing is its sheer versatility. Depending on when diners visit, they’ll find a cozy breakfast kitchen, a serious coffee bar, a sunny lunch spot, a happy hour hangout or the staging ground for a romantic dinner.
The food and drinks are always serious and the service is confident, but the atmosphere is decidedly unpretentious.
Across the board, Hungry Pigeon serves sophisticated but approachable comfort food sourced from area producers. Co-owner and pastry chef Pat O’Malley’s baking program heavily influences the changing menu. At the morning meals — breakfast on weekdays and brunch on weekends — that might include a lauded breakfast sandwich on housemade English muffin, banana bread sticky buns and traditional biscuits and gravy.
Lunchtime evolves into classic sandwiches, salads, and vegan falafel, plus wine by the glass. Hungry Pigeon even has the neighborhoods’ parent residents in mind with an After School menu, replete with wine and cheese for parents and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the little ones.
By dinner, the cooking gets more ambitious, with a seasonal family-style menu of small and large shareable plates.
Schroeder’s savory bites tend to be eclectic but rustic, borrowing from an array of international traditions and flavors — grilled baby sweet potatoes with olive chimichurri sauce, potato rösti with salmon roe and crème fraîche, a killer coq au vin with bacon and potato puree.
The $45 tasting menu is an ideal way to experience the Hungry Pigeon vision at a good value, while the Family Dinner offers an extra-homey option for parties of two to 14 people for $50, with a $25 wine pairing option.
The meal finishes with a cheese plate or an O’Malley dessert like $100 chocolate cake or daily changing ice cream.
The bar stays focused on a well-curated and at times idiosyncratic list that includes serious beers and cocktails like the El Diablo with tequila, crème de cassis and homemade ginger beer.
Four wines on tap and box wines complement a list of choices by the glass or bottle.
Nestled into Fabric Row, Hungry Pigeon occupies a corner storefront distinguished by a blue mural and a bird sign hanging in front.
The clean design, centered around a palette of cool blues and warm wood, welcomes diners on entry while the potted plants, hardwood flooring, natural light and exposed brick encourages them to linger.
The bar, lined with almost as many cookbooks as bottles, does double duty for wine and coffee service, depending on the hour. During the day, service is via this counter, while at night and on weekends, the restaurant operates with full table service.
Smaller tables fill the front room, while in the back, a communal table seats larger groups of 10 to 14 guests, and those partaking in the Family Dinner.
Hungry Pigeon is an excellent choice for family dinners.
— Photo Neal Santos
In a city of neighborhood storefront restaurants, Hungry Pigeon stands out for its cosmopolitan vision and consistently high quality in everything from a plate of escargot to a grilled cheese sandwich.
The passion project of two dedicated and savvy chefs, it manages to do many things at once, and all with personality, warmth and whimsy.
There’s no dress code, no insider-y scene, no special instructions for ordering — just a straightforward concept that delivers what it promises and ensures that diners are comfortable and satisfied. It’s the sort of eatery that begs multiple repeat visits, if only to experience all it has to offer.
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