Perilla Perilla, an herb that is a member of the mint family, and the name Harold Dieterle chose for his restaurant, is a welcomed addition to the NYC restaurant scene. While winning the first season of Top Chef guaranteed tons of press and a stream of people lining up to try Perilla, I believe that Perilla has staying power because Harold truly has talent.

I’m going to justify my opinion by adding that my friend and mentor, Carol Gelles, who dined with me and Lon, has been to Perilla twice before and loves it. She had dishes in mind that we had to try, the first being, the Spicy Duck Meatballs. They were rich, peppery, and delicious. To top it off, I loved the accompaniments (which was pretty much true with every dish), a raw quail egg and mint cavatelli. We also had a well-balanced Heirloom Red Lady Apple Salad with Maytag Blue Cheese, and a Sweetbreads Thai Salad, a special that our charming waiter described so well, Lon was enticed. Carol and I, both not big fans of sweetbreads, were so impressed. Delicious! The green papaya salad underneath went perfectly with the wonderful texture of each fried piece coated in rice flour.

By now, I was already won over and just excited to try more. Carol ordered the Pancetta Wrapped Pork Tenderloin which was cooked the way most restaurants served pork tenderloin – medium. I prefer medium rare, but I was so impressed with the presentation. I don’t know if you can tell from the picture how round each piece was, but wow, were those perfect circles.

I was more interested in the appetizers so I ordered the Sardines as my entree. I also figured we ordered three appetizers, two sides, and would probably try dessert. I like that they plated the sardines in a larger dish so that it would look like an entree. We agreed that there was nothing exciting about the sardines, but the beets, salad, and sauces were fantastic.

I think Lon’s Jerk Style Black Grouper was my favorite dish. I’m not crazy about most white-fleshed fish, but this grouper had the best texture ever! I was also going nuts over the purple yams, plantains, and black bean puree. The whole dish just came together for me and I am definitely having this dish again. Lon was a bit upset that it didn’t taste like “Jerk” and I agree, it needs a different name, but nothing else should change.

The side of Broccoli Rabe with Oyster Sauce and Orange Confit was very good.

Carol insisted we order (and we’re glad she did) a side of Faro Risotto. I insist that you order it too. Harold calls it Risotto which does sound better, but when I ate it, I thought of mac & cheese, just way more elegant. It is absolutely delicious!! Another dish, I’ll have to eat again.

Before ordering desserts, Carol warned us that the desserts she had tried so far, weren’t great. It was a while ago and the dessert menu looked a bit different so we took a leap of faith and tried freshly fried doughnuts (I order these any chance I can get), the Blood Orange Cheesecake, and Frozen Chocolate Mousse. We licked the plates clean, with the exception of some fruit on the cheesecake plate that weirded me out because it had some sesame oil on it. We raved and raved amongst ourselves until Carol pulled over a waitress and asked if the Pastry Chef had changed. Indeed! There has been some bad press about the dessert here so I want to let everyone know:
THE PASTRY CHEF HAS CHANGED and now desserts are a must!

I was very happy with my meal, which Lon and I discussed all the way home. It cost less than we expected, about $60 per person with tax and a generous tip. The portions were large and execution serves as a lesson. Perilla really uses some great ingredients and a great variety of ingredients. The menu is exciting and every dish feels as if Harold had a hand in it, which he probably did, since we found him in the kitchen. Bravo Harold!

posted by jessica at 09:53 PM Filed under Favorites, Fusion or Mixed, Restaurants. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.