Guest post: Mr. Beth’s dinner with Harold

If you want to see more restaurant reviews from Mr. Beth’s travels, just leave a comment!

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My trip to Perilla was an experience, partly of my own making, on my first trip to New York City. GPS got me to the restaurant, but then I had to park. After winding around several streets, I found a garage and started walking in the general direction I was sure the restaurant was (Jones street in Greenwich Village is about a one block affair, so, in my defense, if you miss it you can really miss it). I walked about 45 minutes to an hour looking for the place (after having found it in the car), and I can show you on any of the map websites where I parked vs. Perilla location and you will wonder to the grave how I missed it by so much. (I parked 2.5 blocks away, and turned west walking from the garage instead of east. I was correct in my vague notion that I was somewhat south of the restaurant — .5 block.)

By the time I did get there (thanks to my GPS homebase unit accessible by cellphone while I was on the move), it was 6 p.m. and just past opening time. I had my choice of a table or bar, and I took table. I was placed at table 37, across from kitchen and restrooms. A perfect spot, and I sat directly across from the kitchen door (well, partially closed curtain). I was able to watch the waitstaff go in and out, and the occasional line chef pop a head out.

If I forget about it later, let me just say now the service was excellent. Absolutely no complaints. And now, the food.

Perilla was into its Summer menu, though the specials (something with a capon or small game bird??) were touted as being tested in advance of Fall menu coming out. I’m not much for chicken I haven’t cooked, and was too intrigued by the menu itself. I had decided an appetizer and entrée would do better than entrée with side dish, though the creamed corn sounded wonderful.

For an appetizer, I was stuck between the Beef Carpaccio ($10) with arugula, preserved lemon & caperberry vinaigrette or the Spicy Duck Meatballs ($12) with okinawa yam gnocchi, water spinach, quail egg. I asked the server for a recommendation, and she suggested the carpaccio was a bit lighter than the duck, since I was leaning toward steak or ravioli. I took her word. The carpaccio was delicious, thinly sliced raw beef wrapped around the cheese and greens and the sauce hit the taste buds almost like a heavy mustard and was wonderful. I could’ve left then sated. Not full, but sated.

Oh, I forgot to mention I decided to have a glass of the local (Brooklyn) Sixpoint Righteous Rye Ale ($7). I am a beer drinker (not Bud, Heineken and Coors, but real beer), and hadn’t had a rye ale before. It was tasty, not too heady, and bitter in all the right ways to go with the beef. It was a natural to order a second to come out with the steak I ordered.

You know the outcome, but I was torn between the Grilled Angus Strip Steak ($31) served over escarole and crumbled bacon with sweet onion-horseradish sauce, the Roasted Duckling ($25) with mustard greens, corn pudding & huckleberries, and the Summer Truffle Ravioli ($24) with sheep’s milk ricotta, forest mushrooms & peas. I ordered the steak medium rare, and it was a bit closer to medium, but not bad at all. Everything came together with an earthy, savory flavor that blended well with the meat and rye ale.

Sorry — I was too full to do any dessert justice, and the meal was so good I felt a little guilty when I ate again the next day.

BUT, the perfect ending for the meal came when the executive chef himself, Harold of Bravo’s “Top Chef” season 1 fame, came out of the kitchen and stood next to my table to look out over his diners. (He was obviously looking for someone, as when he popped out a few minutes later, he went to sit down with a couple to talk). Decorum prevented me from jumping up and saying anything about how much my wife and I rooted for him during the show, followed his career since, etc. etc. etc. Maybe I should have said something to him quietly, but frankly I think I was quite stunned to see him standing there looking just the same as on the show — white shirt, white pants, apron, pencil on the ear and three-days stubble.

Just when I was thinking to myself that I really liked the meal, but “Yeah, right, like Harold was back there cooking my steak tonight,” it turned out he very well may have.

And that’s good enough for me.

Now to get some wine tips in person from Steven.

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Published in: on September 25, 2007 at 7:52 am  Comments (4)  

4 Comments

  1. Here’s a comment for Mr. Beth, because this was a very thorough and well-written post, and I don’t want anybody feeling unappreciated!!
    The review made my mouth water, and I’m not half the ‘foodie’ that MY husband is (he has our girls watching the Food Network at home; when my younger daughter was about 5, she told him that he should have a cooking show too, like Chef “Emerald” did!).
    I wish I ever got to NYC — never been there except a fly-through. Now, midwestern Cities, occasionally California & Florida, restaurant reviews from there would really be well-received and useful for me, a fellow Wisconsinite who occasionally travels on business! (Sometimes with the foodie guy!)
    : )
    Cathy

  2. This review made me think of the book, Garlic and Saphires, by Ruth Reichl. She’s the Ed in Chief for Gormet Magazine and used to be the NY Times food critic. I’m so glad you didn’t have foi gras (probably spelled that wrong) It’s so evil how they create it. Have you ever been to Il Ritrovo or Stephanos in Sheboygan? It’s stupendous

  3. Really happy for you Harold! You truly deserved to win your resteraunt, I know you will be putting 100% of you talent into making EVERY dining experience delicious!
    GO GO GO HAROLD!!
    Cheers from Western Australia

  4. When we were there in August, we were not so reserved and did tell him how much we liked the show and got him to show the kitchen to our girls. He was quite lovely about it though I think he was a bit overwhelmed by the depth of our fandom!

    The food was great and I hope to go back soon.


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