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No. 41



THE IDEA OF a vegetable-forward and partly full-on vegetarian menu is no longer quite so shocking as it was when chef-owner Justin Leboe first broke the news of his radical plan for this place to Cowtowners a few years back.

Which you can chalk up to the changing times. But more than that, it comes down to the addictive nature of Leboe’s cooking when he turns his hand to even the most pedestrian of vegetables. Take, for example, his slab of butter-braised, charcoal-charred cabbage doused in shavings of mimolette, an umami-bomb so compelling that it is still on the menu today. But Pigeonhole’s appeal is far broader than what it does with vegetables. Like its sister restaurant, Model Milk, this place is, for starters, emphatically groovy, from decor to vibe. The basic bones of its design—as well as tabletops and an eye-catching chandelier—are holdovers from the long-standing previous tenant, called Victoria. The white marble used to make the beautiful bar up front was reclaimed from another site.
Settling in there for a pre-dinner cocktail is highly advisable—especially if you have a taste for updated renditions of classics long past (say, the local take on the 1960s Milan-sourced Negroni Sbagliato, sensibly updated here with the prosecco swapped out for lambrusco). Or head straight for the wine list, rich with natural wines. Thereafter, should you stray from the vegetarian path, be advised that Leboe’s kitchen cooks local duck unusually well, first dry-aging it for at least a couple of weeks, then roasting it on the crown and then slicing it into perfect succulent pink strips. They are served with excellent house-made tacos (Pigeonhole just started grinding local heirloom corn into masa) and plated with bright lychee salsa, pickled squash and field mushrooms cooked down into a mole-like umami lacquer. It’s a new Pigeonhole classic.

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