Thursday, February 12, 2009
Perry Street - Proof Why Jean-Georges is King
Perry Street - 176 Perry Street, New York NY 10014
1 Train to Christopher Street/Sheridan Square
My co-worker and friend, Jackie and I dined at the beautiful Jean-Georges Perry Street last week. We relished in a celebratory lunch in honor of Foodista's re-design. To summarize the experience in one word - magical! Perry Street is most definitely a restaurant that I'd love to return to for future happy occasions.
Overlooking the Hudson River, Perry Street is as far West in the Village as you could go. Located on the ground floor of an upscale apartment building, it carries an aura of elegance and "newness." Opening the heavy front door, I got a weird larger-than-life, sterile feeling--but fortunately that changed when we fully walked in and got situated.
While I wouldn't call Perry Street's dining room cozy, it wasn't cold either. Decorated in warm neutral tones such as ivory and sand, it showcased modern furniture and funky accessories such as a geometric-print carpet and large, round overhead lamps. Even though the dining area was large and spread out, each table had a touch privacy--whether by being sectioned off with a wooden partition or by a rounded booth in the corner of the room. Needless to say, we felt comfortable and happy to be there.
Perry Street participates in a Jean-Georges winter promotion, which includes a $24 lunch and a $35 dinner prix-fixe for 2 small plates and dessert. Good deal - eh? The small plates aren't small at all--they're quite generous and the quality of the food is exquisite.
Cream of Tomato Soup - Look at the first picture above - that's my soup! Isn't it beautiful? I was so impressed when I saw this, as the presentation was impeccable. I stared, mesmerized at a nearly empty bowl to watch it fill up, as our waiter poured in the rich rust colored broth. The sourdough toast, resting at the edge of my bowl was covered from dough to crust in shavings of white cheddar cheese. The cheese was so plentiful that it spilled over the edge of the bread and into my soup--it looked like I was eating a cheesy waterfall. Even though the broth was thick, it was a great dish to start with, as it was about 20 degrees outside. And it was especially tasty when I tore into the sourdough and dipped it into the broth--the cheese and the tomato formed a perfect marriage.
House Mozzarella - Jackie chose a lighter appetizer and like my soup, it was presented beautifully. The mozzarella had the top cut off--it was hollowed out and stuffed with eggplant and various greens. The ponzu sauce, a citrus based Japanese-style dressing gave it nice acid, while the delicate wedges of blood oranges on the side added a hint of sweetness.
Smoked Bacon Fried Eggs - This was my second "small plate" and I was so glad that I chose it. I read about Jean-Georges' expertise in cooking eggs and I couldn't wait to try Perry Street's version of the fried egg. When it arrived, it looked like a colorful field of flowers - the perfectly round roasted red peppers, the miniature spears of white asparagus and the potently green dill not only made this dish a happy one, they added nature's best flavors.
The egg itself was perfectly cooked--not too runny yet still tender. I loved the smoky bits of bacon that were nestled inside the egg, as well as the crunchy pieces of sourdough bread that added nice texture.
Slowly Cooked Salmon - Jackie chose the salmon for her second course and she too was enjoying it even more than her starter. I had the pleasure of tasting it, and while I'm not a devout salmon lover, this one was superb. The fish itself had great consistency and was far from overcooked. It came dressed with luxurious truffle vinaigrette and a side of steamed maitake mushrooms. I've never had this type of mushroom before and it was delicious - very tender, light and not slimy. I also read that it has medicinal purposes so overall, this dish was actually good for you.
Desserts - This is the only area where I was slightly disappointed. There were two desserts on the menu and we ordered one of each - the flourless chocolate cake and the carrot-mousse cake. The chocolate cake was definitely good but not one of the best ones I've tried. It was slightly burned around the edges, which was disappointing. The one redeeming factor about it was the fresh vanilla-bean ice cream that was served on the side - yum!
The carrot cake was a flop but I convinced myself to eat all of it. I simply did not enjoy the dense cake on the bottom or the artificial-tasting carrot mousse in the middle. There was a gelatinous top layer that I didn't care for either - it reminded me of those Passover jelly ring desserts, which I detest. All in all, I'd skip this dessert next time and would stick with something simpler.
Service and Cost:
The service was impressive and you could tell that you were in the hands of real professionals. Our waiters were courteous yet approachable--and serious about their jobs. They really had the food presentation shtick down--it seemed like they were performing a beautifully choreographed dance rather than just serving food. It was fun to observe and we had absolutely no complaints.
Lunch cost $24 per person for a three-course meal, which is a steal for this high-end establishment. If you'd be going off the regular menu for dinner per se, you'd pay $10-$29 for apps, $18-$36 for entrees and $8-$10 for desserts - still not that bad.