After two previous visits to Perry St., I had mixed feelings. It’s certainly a very good restaurant, but is it a great one? My mom was in town, and she hadn’t been to any of Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s restaurants, so I thought it was time to give Perry St. another try.
We had a 6:00 p.m. reservation on President’s Day, and it was totally empty; even a couple of hours later, it was only a bit over half full.
The menu at Perry St. remains short and focused, and it changes frequently. There are just nine appetizers ($10–29) and eight entrees ($24–45). The wide price range means that you can get out of Perry St. fairly cheaply; but if you want to spend a bundle, you can. (The most-expensive appetizer is poached eggs with caviar; the most expensive entree is poached lobster.)
The amuse bouche was a sunchoke soup with a black truffle (above, right).
Mixed Green Salad, Toasty Goat Cheese, Kumquat Vinaigrette (left);
Toasted Barley Risotto, Parmesan, Dried Sour Cherries and Pecans (right)
My mom loved the Mixed Green Salad with toasty goat cheese ($13), which came sculpted in a tall cylinder. I found Toasted Barley Risotto ($13) dominated by the taste of tomatoes, and couldn’t really perceive the dried sour cherries that the menu promised.
Sweet & Sour Glazed Short Ribs, Spaghetti Squash and Crunch Cheddar (left);
Spicy Laquered Halibut, Grilled Broccolini, Clementine (right)
My mom also had the better of the main courses. Sweet & Sour Short Ribs ($28) were wonderful, as was the accompanying side of spaghetti squash topped with cheddar. But I found the Spicy Laquered Halibut ($28) over-seasoned, with the taste of the fish literally lost in the sauce.
The petits fours (photo, right) were excellent, although I’m afraid I didn’t catch the explanation.
The bread service remains a definite weakness. Over the course of three visits, this was the first time that bread rolls arrived slightly warm, but they were still hard enough to be lethal weapons in the wrong hands. After I’d used my knife to spread the butter, a server removed the used bread plate but left the knife behind for me to re-use on my appetizer.
The wine list is brief and underwhelming. If I were being really picky, I would point out that we ordered a burgundy, and they served it in bordeaux glasses. I am not suggesting that this actually matters to me, but it does show Perry St.’s definite casual side. And in a restaurant that is so pleasant and comfortable, serving food that is as ambitious as this, can’t they do better than brown paper placemats?
Frank Bruni awarded three stars to Perry St. in September 2005, although his endorsement came with more caveats than he normally allows in a three-star review, calling it “undeniably flawed and surprisingly inconsistent.” Several of Bruni’s complaints — the sub-par bread service, the paper placemats — remain unremedied, presumably because Mr. Vongerichten, is getting exactly what he wants.
But what that is, is a two-star restaurant.
Perry St (176 Perry Street at West Street, Far West Village)