Yerba Buena, the well regarded Latino restaurant in the East Village, has a new baby brother across town. I assume it is just a coincidence that its predecessor in this space, Matador Bistro Latino, was a very similar restaurant.
The nominal chef at Yerba Buena Perry, Julian Medina, now has three restaurants (counting Toloache in West Midtown), and one worries whether they all have his full attention. We enjoyed our meal here, but there were some missteps.
The price range of Medina’s restaurants may soon reach nosebleed levels. In the East Village, the entrées max out at $27. At Perry Street, four dishes top this amount (several of them steaks, including the obligatory ribeye). Appetizers, however, are about the same at either place ($9–14). Once the average main course is above $25, you’re not talking about cheap eats.
A Tuna Ceviche ($13; above left) with sweet onion and pickled watermelon was too tart. Arepas ($13; above right) were like Latin American sliders, stuffed here with coffee glazed pork belly and cabbage slaw. The coffee taste didn’t come through for me, but they were none the worse for it.
Lechon ($24; above left), or roast suckling pig, packed a strong comfort-food punch. Ropa Vieja de Pato ($26; above right), or duck leg and confit, was nicely done, but the duck egg on top was overdone. We assume the idea was to puncture the yoke and let it run through the shredded duck confit, but the poor yolk had been cooked through.
The carefully prepared cocktails deserve all of the acclaim they’ve received. I especially liked the Turnpike (rye, applejack, and lemon). Another was served with a single large block of ice nearly the size of a Rubik’s cube.
Although the restaurant was mostly empty when we arrived, the hostess seated us at practically the worst table, right next to a serving station. A manager noticed the error, and moved us to a banquette. After that, the service was just fine. The room has been spiffed up a bit, but the atmosphere is decidedly casual.
I wouldn’t send you out of your way to visit Yerba Buena Perry, but if you’re in the area it has terrific cocktails and mostly enjoyable nueva Latina cuisine.
Yerba Buena Perry (1 Perry Street at Greenwich Avenue, West Village)