And maybe we could include posts by people who've eaten in the restaurants of Top Chef judges as well (We recently ate at Eric Ripert's Le Bernadin, which we tried because of Top Chef, and which was truly a perfect meal, and we love Craft).
Keckler I hope that adding a thread is okay. I've never done it before.
Anyway, I'm fired up to do it because my husband and I ate at Perilla last night! Here is my brief overview.
Perilla is near our apartment in New York City (Yay!), so we walked there. Jones Street, where it's located, is a quiet one block long mostly residential street, which is bookeneded by the much busier Bleecker and West Fourth streets. It was a nice night, and we held hands on our way there -- our excitement rising as we neared the restaurant.
When we arrived the place was pretty packed (especially considering that this was only the third day they'd "officially" been open). There were three or four empty tables, one of which went to a couple who had walked up behind us without a reservation. I think most people had reservations.
Because this was Perilla's opening week, there was a small card tacked to the menus which said that for their first week they were giving ten percent off the bills, since they were still getting things together. They said that they would appreciate feedback at the end of the meal about how they were doing. I thought that this was really cool. Humility and the willingness to improve buy a lot of grace with me. Although they honestly didn't need it. Things seemed to be running quite smoothly as far as we could tell.
The decor: The restaurant, as you've seen in photos linked to Harold's thread is long and thin. With a very long cool bar. The decor is modern: White walls, with dark brown trim. There are three round, kind of groovy looking banquettes with orange seat backs. The tables themselves are all made of striped brown and black wood. They do not use table clothes so you see the wood --which blends nicely with all the orange and brown. Over the round banquettes are hanging lamps with shades like the kind you'd find on endtable lamps. The overall effect is a clean modern look but at the same time hip and funky.
Dishes, silver and glasswear are all large and modern.
The staff: The staff were very nice. I was wondering if they'd be all downtown hipster-y, with attitude, but they weren't like that at all.The hostesses were really friendly as was our server. And they obviously tried very hard to make our experience a special one. Our water was refilled constantly. Seriously, we'd take two sips and there'd be someone at our table refilling it again.
Harold came out from the kitchen briefly a couple of times while we were there -- to check out what was going on and to say hello to people he knew. He was friendly and approachable, but couldn't stay out very long because he had a lot of cooking to do.
The customers: When we were there, there was an interesting mix of people, mostly dressed in nice casual clothing. There were a couple of tables of young attractive women, who'd all started nudging each other whenever Harold would enter the room. (amusingly, he seemed totally oblivious to it). There were some straight couples and some gay couples - ranging in age from their mid-twenties to their mid-fifties. There were a couple of bigger groups of people, a woman by herself who seemed to be writing a restaurant review. (Which made us think "hey maybe when we go to restaurants we should pretend we're writing a review!"). I think there was also a table or two of tourists. There were a lot of people at the bar as well.
The vibe was very fun and friendly, we ended up talking to the people at the two tables next to us and noticed that other tables were mingling as well. One of the men at the table next to us even offered to let us sample what he had ordered. We were very tempted, but I felt too guilty to take away some of his yummy food!
Which brings us to...the food!
Yum! I don't have a menu so I can't give you full descriptions, but this is what I remember:
The meal started with some tasty simple bread and a dish for dipping what may have been the best olive oil I have ever tasted. I actually want to find out the brand.
Then for appetizers I had the yam gnocchi with spicy duck meatballs and a small quail egg (which judging from the photos in Time Out yesterday, seems like it may be a signature dish for the restaurant). My husband had a salad with cheese and pear. Both dishes were really flavorful. (I think the gnocchi trumped the salad though). Our neighbors had a Peekytoe crab salad which I was lusting over, and the raw hamatchi tuna with avocado, which they raved about.
For main dishes, I had the chicken with Japanese sausage with mushrooms and some kind of green vegetable., which was truly heavenly. I was literally scraping the sauce off my plate when I'd finished. My husband had the fiddlehead fern ravioli with shaved truffles. It was scrumptious. (hey you could put truffles on pretty much anything and I'd be happy). This course was a tie. Both dishes were really amazing.
We ordered two sides, although we really didn't need that much food, just because they sounded good. Husband had a risotto, I had spaghetti squash with nuts in it. (Risotto trumped squash).
The dessert menu, which had the name of the pastry chef on it (because hey, as we remember from the show, Harold is not a dessert guy), had a lot of very unusual dishes on it. I had a sticky coconut cake (sort of a pyramid shaped soft macaroon )which came with a small portion of watermelon salad and some Perilla flavored ice cream. I'm a coconut lover, so I was really into it. Mr. PMS Babe (ha, I've never said that before!) had donuts with sorbet. (sorry I can't remember the specific flavors involved. But the donuts didn't look donutty, they were small squares instead.) I thought the coconut dish won this round. But my husband doesn't like coconut so he wouldn't try it.
At the end of the meal, our server brought us two homemade marshmallows with bits of dried fruit in them. With the bill, was a little comment form to fill out, so they would know what their patrons felt was working and not working about the restaurant.
Overall, I'd say the decor and vibe was casual friendly hip, and the food was on a par with what you'd get in some of New York's top "foodie" restaurants. The prices were not cheap, but definitely a lot more reasonable than at most of the restaurants whose food I'd compare Harold's to.
Overall, it was a really great experience. And we're definitely excited to have Perilla in our neighborhood! (if we can get future reservations, my diet is so friggin' screwed...)
Edited to ask: Er,... how do I change the title of this thread? I put the apostrophe in the wrong place. (It should be "Chefs'" not "Chef's"). Thanks!
Edited by PMS Babe, May 10, 2007 @ 9:20 AM.