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What to eat at Perilla?

Going to Perilla for dinner tonight, and was hoping to get some help deciding what to order. From previous reviews it seems that the beef carpaccio and meatballs/gnocchi might be the way to go for apps, and fiddlehead ravioli for entree -- but any and all suggestions are much appreciated. Thanks!

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  1. Definitely save room for dessert

    1. If they have the softshell crabs, get them. They're excellent.

      Nosher

      Oh, and if you order the wrong thing, you won't have to save room for dessert--you'll be hungry enough for it.

      NYCnosh* http://nycnosh.com

      1 Reply
      1. re: Nosher

        What's to avoid?

      2. I'm a fan of the crab salad (kind of like a crab cake) and the meatballs with gnocchi for app's and the Langoustines and chicken with sausage for mains. Husband LOVES the ravioli, and the risotto side.

        The 9 Jones cocktail is addictive.

        What did you end up having?

        7 Replies
        1. re: BW212

          Well, I had just spent a solid 15 minutes writing out a long review of our fantastic meal last night -- only to have my computer restart. Alas -- my review is lost somewhere is cvberspace. I will try to make this one a bit briefer. We loved our meal at Perilla. Everything was perfect, from the long narrow understated room, to the service, to the wine, and most importantly -- the food. We had four courses: duck meatballs with yam gnocchi to start, followed by a midcourse of the fiddlehead fern ravioli with morels and truffle oil, followed by both the duck entree and langoustine entree and two desserts -- the coconut cake and the donuts. By far -- the fern ravioli was our favorite of the evening. Definitely a must! In order, we then enjoyed the duck meatballs (perfectly spiced albeit not "spicy" as the menu so-describes), the duck entree (a hefty portion of perfectly cooked duck breast with just the right amount of fat and skin, foie gras morsels and rendered/fried duck fat), and then the langoustines. While we enjoyed the langoustines (they literally melted in our mouths and were accompanied by a delicious thai curry flavored crispy rice and eggplant), they seemed out of place when compared with the rest of the meal. It was like: one of these things is not like the other. Every other dish had delicate and complex flavors, local ingredients, and the stamp of the chef. And then there was the langoustines -- really tasty, but it was nearly impossible to have a bite of the duck and then a bite of the langoustines because they just didnt go together in any harmonious way. I want to stress that they were VERY good, just not quite right in the course of our meal. For dessert: I LOVED the coconut cake with basil icecream and some kind of spicy honey drizzle with watermelon. The flavor combinations were so unexpected and out of the box, and worked SO well together that I would go back just for the dessert (and maybe the ravioli too, if I was already there). Kudos to the chef for his pastry chef find!

          All in all, our meal at Perilla was one of our favorites of 2007, if not our favorite. Highly recommended.

          P.S. -- thanks Nosher for your review on your blog (it led us to the Italian Rose, which we loved)!

          1. re: kiworan79

            < duck meatballs with yam gnocchi to start, > Harold made those in the Team 1 vs Team 2 challenge, and Tom said he was "underwhelmed." I thought they looked and sounded delicious, so I'm glad to hear you say you really liked them.

            I'm looking forward to getting to Perilla sometime this summer.

            1. re: ChefJune

              Kiworan-

              thanks for the detailed review. It's totally making me want to go back to Perilla soon. I'll have to try that duck.

              ChefJune-
              I don't think that the duck meatball dish Harold made on TV was the same one I had at Perilla (which is great). For the one on TV they mentioned had mint, the one on the Perilla menu did not. (unless they've changed it since I've been there). Sounds like the TV version might be a modification.

              1. re: BW212

                I forgot to mention -- there were a number of changes to the menu last night. The meatballs did have mint -- so they may, in fact, be the same ones from the competition. I was definitely not underwhelmed -- although the description "spicy" is a bit misleading. They are spice-filled, but not "spicy", per se.

                Also -- I believe the Skate dish has changed in the last week. The old Skate dish was served with watermelon, and the new one is a different preparation altogether (with pastrami). We overheard our server suggesting it to the table next to us -- saying that it was a great improvement over the prior preparation, but we did not order it. If anyone goes and orders the Skate, I would love to hear about it!

                1. re: kiworan79

                  Kiworan79,

                  I went back to Perilla with friends the other night and had that skate dish you mentioned. (your description got me curious!) Oh man it's so awesome ~ but very unusual. A very large piece of skate served with bits of warm pastrami on top and a cabbage cole slaw type dish under it. I wasn't sure if would work, but it sounded so intriguing that I thought "what the heck, I'll try it." Yum!. It was really delicious. I don't know when we'll be back there next, but I'd definitely try it again. They also had some new vegetarian pastry pie dish on the menu. (Husband is a veggie, so I'm more aware of these things). He loved it.

                  1. re: BW212

                    BW212,

                    Thank you so much for the update! I can't wait to go back and order the Skate now...

            2. re: kiworan79

              Kiworan,

              My pleasure. That rosé is really lovely--I am glad you agree!

              Nosher

              NYCnosh* http://nycnosh.com

          2. I went to Perilla for dinner last night. It was my second time in...the first being when they had only been open about a week and were still working out the kinks.

            We had a great dinner last time, but acknowledged a few issues with the desserts and the Octopus appetizer.

            Last night they showed us that they had worked out the kinks. Everything we ate was awesome - definitely in the top 5 dinners we've had in the last 12 months or so. Started with the crab salad which I loved (but eerily similar to the peeky toe crab salad at The Harrison), along with Market Green salad for others at the table. We all remarked how interesting the use of Nuts in every dish was. Others also ordered the Hamachi which was spectacular (although I didn't try personally). Dinner was the Black Cod which just flaked out so well and was perfectly prepared, served with spaghetti squash with roasted almonds. Addition of fresh almonds (not roasted) on the top of the Cod was a nice touch. Date had the Langoustines which I agree with the above reviewer...melted in your mouth, fabulous, but were a departure from the style - a little more beany. But, really great and would order again.

            Had 4 desserts...cheese plate (good, but a cheese plate), strawberries (excellent), fennel donuts (a favorite of one other at the table but not mine), and chocolate cake (solid and I loved it, but not all that different from other flourless choco cakes out there).

            It was one of those dinners where every single bite of everything you ate was awesome. And we walked out full, but not "too full". Get here before the reviewers do. Big fan.

            1 Reply
            1. re: randymac88

              i literally just got back from dinner there. i sat alone at the bar and the food was awesome. the only hitch was the dessert. i had the coconut cake with watermelon and basil salad and perilla sorbet. the flavors just really didn't seem to have any harmony. my app (pork belly) was really nice and had great flavors and textures. the duck was really good too, with little chunks of foie and some sort of cracklins sprinkled throughout the dish. the service was eh... i sat at the bar and felt like i wasn't part of some club that everyone else was. also, i didn't like my glass of wine (gamay, totally insipid), and when the bartender asked if i liked it, i shrugged and said "eh..." i left about half of it, but nothing was said/done. i know that i probably could have said something, but didn't want to be a complainer... overall though, food was really great, and i probably will be back

            2. so tell me.. is perilla a decent place to get a drink after i have dinner. i want to meet a date for a drink. shall i stay here after i eat?

              1. went last night. the jones 9 cocktail was refreshing and not too sweet. had the peekytoe crab salad appetizer. i liked it-fresh chunks of crab and very light, but s.o. did not- thought it was under-seasoned. I had the duck which was delicious and he had the lamb, again...delicious. the entrees were very well prepared and flavors all balanced. The best part though was the side order of creamed corn...it was sweet & savory and creamy & crunchy (fresh corn kernels) all at the same time. and it really complemented everything on the table. Plus, the fresh herbs in the cream corn made it taste soo good. had the donuts and cheesecake for dessert. i loved the donuts, unexpected flavors. and the cheesecake was good, but not my fave. can't wait to go back. OH and we had a Harold sighting, he popped out of the kitchen to talk to a table and then ran back into the kitchen.

                1. My friend and I ate at Perilla for the first time last night. While the food was very good, sometimes great, I think Bruni of the Times nailed it on the head when he said it "is essentially a exceptionally class neighborhood place." Having never seen Top Chef, I wonder if a lot of the rave reviews aren't at least somewhat distorted by affection for the show. Nevertheless, it's a lot closer to two stars than it was to one star for me.

                  - Spicy Duck Meatballs w/ okinawa yam gnocchi, water spinach, quail egg. B+
                  Nice crust, good density, and the quail egg gave the whole dish a nice texture. But the duck could have been substituted with any other ground meat and the difference would not have been noticeable. The gnocchi seemed like it was there to give it an exoticness in name only; it didn't add much to the dish.

                  - Yellowtail w/ cucumber salad, tomato water, cilantro, yuzu. A-
                  Very fresh and flavorful hamachi, with melt in your mouth fattiness. The garnishes were excellent. Well executed dish. Eerily familiar to the hamachi starter at Harrison a while ago. The small size of the dish relative to the meatballs was a little bothersome.

                  - Roasted Duckling w/ mustard greens, corn pudding, huckleberries. A
                  The duck was cooked to medium perfectly. One of the best duck dishes I've had in awhile. The skin was perfectly crisp, and the flavor was true and told you exactly what it was: duck. The corn pudding was an interesting twist in presentation, but was much runnier than what one would expect from "pudding." It's more of a sauce than anything else. The mustard greens were a little too salty, given the richness of the duck, but perfectly fine. I think the huckleberries were there for show than anything else.

                  - Grilled hangar steak with sunchoked creamed spinach, red shallot purée. A
                  The prime cut was cooked again cooked perfectly to medium rare. Probably the best piece of hangar steak I've had both for flavor and texture. One small complaint: Maybe it's just me, but I expected the steak to be served whole, not pre-sliced. For presentation sake, I suppose it makes sense but I think most diners ordering steak at a restaurant would expect for them to serve it whole.

                  - Faro risotto w/ artichoke confit, parmesan, chili-grape salad. B
                  A very rich dish where parmesan was definitely the main flavoring ingredient rather than the confit. Bruni loved this dish, but I thought it had way too much parmesan and was a bit too salty and somewhat runny. The little slices of grapes were an excellent touch and the sweet and sour cut through the creaminess. A good sized portion for a side though.

                  - Fennel and Lemon Donuts w/ raspberry sorbet (?), caramel, chocolate sauce. B+
                  A very creative dessert. The donuts were filled with lemon cream. A good contrast of textures from the outside in. But the sorbet did nothing for me. It was too tart, and rather than complement the donuts, it made them taste a little too sweet. Maybe it's just my personal preference, but I would have much preferred something richer to balance out the lemon cream of the donuts, i.e. caramel or coffee ice cream.

                  Overall, it was a very good dining experience. The service was fine, the décor was plain but homey and pleasant enough with the fresh white flowers and the wooden table. A little too dark, but not a big complaint. The bar was pretty and well-spaced. There was even a Harold sighting by my companion. On the other hand, the cocktail and wine list needs some work. I had a Perilla 75, a cute variation of the classic French 75 of gin, lemon, and champagne. The Perilla 75 was made with gin, prosecco, grapefruit, and a tiny sprinkling of the namesake herb. It was not bad, though I'm not sure if there was even a faint aroma of the herb, but nevertheless completely undistinctive.

                  With regards to the wine, while there was a good selection by the glass, perhaps 5 whites/rosés, 5 reds, and a couple of sparklers, I didn't see any that was a particularly good fit for the mains that we ordered. I'm not sure if a whole lot of effort was put into matching the wines by the glass to the menu. I wound up with a Copain (L'hiver) syrah from Medocino that was below average to ordinary at best. On the other hand, I believe nearly all bottles on the list were less than $100, and at least half were less than $60, a very good thing in NY these days.

                  But there were also a quite a few errors on the wine list, which was on the back of the cocktails/drinks/wines by glass list. The list comes in the form of a large card, maybe the half the width of a 8.5x11 piece of paper, and just as long. The problem is fitting all the proper information of the wines into single lines. I understand the stylistic needs of a restaurant might override some other concerns, but they should not come at the cost of accuracy, especially when it comes to wine, which demands it.

                  I realize that I'm coming off sounding awfully nit-picky with my comments, but given the absolutely glowing reviews heaped on this place, certainly not undeserved when it comes to the food, I don't think the highest expectations are unwarranted, especially when one takes into the account of the cost of the meal, which came to $160 plus with two starters, two mains, one dessert, one cocktail, one beer, one glass of wine. Had we ordered a bottle of wine as I normally would, the bill would have easily been over $200. At that price, I didn't think it was the eye-opening culinary experience of awesomeness that others have described.

                  All that said, I was quite happy with my meal. All the food was well prepared and well thought out. I would gladly go back again and I would recommend it to my friends. And next time I'm going to say the hell with it and get me an autographe picture of Harold. I'm sure someone would enjoy it as a birthday gift.

                  And some photos as well.