Friday, August 29, 2008

Perilla

On Wednesday I was in New York to attend the Shear Genius Finale Viewing party with the lovely Laura K of Blogging Reality Television (Blogging Project Runway). A very Bravo sort of day, we went to dinner with designer Malan Breton and model Amanda Fields (both of PR). And where should we go but Top Chef season one winner Harold Dieterle's restaurant Perilla?

While Laura and I waited at the bar for our dining companions to arrive, we sampled a Village Mojito, made with silver rum, fresh watermelon, cucumber and mint. It was summery and refreshing, tasting mostly of cucumber, and dangerously easy to drink. We stopped at one each because we knew there'd be plenty of opportunity to drink later at the party (not that we would, mind you....)

Once they arrived, we got to sit in one of the curved booths in the back of the restaurant. After a bit of chattering, we ordered.

Malan and I both chose to start with the "Crispy Rock Shrimp Salad mizuna, piquillo peppers, red onion & spicy mushroom soy vinaigrette." I enjoyed the contrast of the crisp shrimp and the soft mizuna. The dressing was subtle and there was just enough of it to moisten things. The piquillo was a nice addition but I wished there was a little more. We were all so busy chatting, I forgot to ask Malan what he thought of the salad.

Laura K got the "Heirloom Tomato & Lomo Salad toasted pine nuts, red mustard greens, feta cheese & brown butter balsamic" Lomo is a dry-cured Spanish ham, like Serrano, but better. Laura was kind enough to give me a piece to try, and I found it to be seriously delicious.

Amanda had the Edamame Falafel with lemon-tahini sauce and she had already dug in before I got out the camera, so no photo of that one. Basically it was a fairly large serving (6 pieces?) of greenish orbs. She said they were delicious.

Laura chose the Seared Diver Sea Scallops plum kimchi, radish sprouts & chilled corn sauce as her entree, which was something I was also eyeballing. As we ordered appetizers as entrees, the portions were too small for me to go sticking my fork into everything to try, so I can't tell you what this tasted like. The scallops appeared to be perfectly cooked, however, and Laura had no complaints.

Malan chose an actual entree, the Summer Truffle & Sheep's Milk Ricotta Ravioli lobster mushrooms, snap peas & truffle butter which looked and smelled beautiful. Again, I didn't partake. We were so busy chatting, I kinda forgot to ask for a nibble.

Here's Amanda delicately salting her Faro Risotto artichoke confit, parmesan & chili-grape salad. We had a bit of discussion about what risotto was as we perused the menu, and I hadn't noticed at all that this particular one was made from faro, a grain popular in Italy. So that wasn't rice you ate, Amanda. Sorry for telling you otherwise. :)

Here's my entree, the Crispy Berkshire Pork Belly pea tendrils, trumpets & banyuls-vanilla gastrique appetizer. I *did* get to taste this one, of course. The pork belly was perfect - meltingly tender with a thin crispy layer on top, and remarkably un-fatty. The trumpet mushrooms were appealing earthy nuggets dotting the greens and the vanilla in the gastrique was not at all distracting. Of course, having eaten nothing since a yogurt at 7 AM, my palate was registering mostly the sensation of eating really good food and not paying much attention to the subtleties of the dishes.

Judging from the table full of clean plates, I'd say we all thoroughly enjoyed the meal. The bread was really good too.

Laura K's mantra is "it can't hurt to ask" and she did ask our waiter if we could meet Harold. So after we finished our meal, he ushered us into the kitchen where we found Chef Dieterle. I pointed out that we were having a Bravo evening, what with Laura from BPR, myself from BSG, and Harold from Top Chef. Not to mention Malan and Amanda.

I even got my picture taken with him. Laura told him I was a food blogger, at which point he turned to me and said, "please go easy." Ha! Of course - Harold was my favorite cheftestant that season and I pegged him to win from the beginning. I knew I would enjoy his food. This was Laura's second visit to the restaurant so she obviously enjoyed it as well.

I'll definitely go back. :)

Perilla
9 Jones St
New York, NY 10014
(212) 929-6868

Perilla on Urbanspoon
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