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May 15, 2009 01:04 PM

Hearth or Perilla? August, Annisa or Other?

I plan on dining at two restaurants. Both somewhat upscale American New places, but both not quite as upscale as EMP, Corton, Veritas, etc.

I want one place to be more straight forward American New with safe, tasty flavors, and one that is a little bit more out there with more unique influences.

I have narrowed down my safe straight forward American to Hearth and Perilla. Ouest was close but it is out of the running.

Has anyone been to both? Which one did you prefer?

Restaurant 2:
August and Annisa both seem similar to Perilla but are just less straight forward. I know they are very very different, but which do you think is better?

I know there are more places like August and Annisa around the city, but I haven't found one that clicks. Places that are more haevily focused on a particular ethnic cuisine like Spice Market, Tabla, Aquavit, or Pylos are not in the running. I don't want anything that is excessively french like corton, too fancy like Veritas.

I came across graffiti food and wine bar, knife and fork restaurant, but they just didn't click.

So far, its come down to August and Annisa, and I haven't been able to choose.

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  1. Annisa is by far, the better choice. The food is innovative and the atmosphere is lovely. A very special (and romantic) place.

    1. i really like perilla. the vibe is really nice and the food is tops. the spicy duck meatballs and pork belly apps are heavenly. annisa is really great too. i don't think you can go wrong with either of those places.

      1. My husband and I ate at both Hearth and Perilla in the last couple of weeks. We enjoyed the food, the atmosphere, and the informal but attentive service at Perilla very much. The flavors were interesting (but not challenging) and we loved the wine recommendation as well.

        Hearth was good but not great, in my opinion. And considerably noisier, if that matters to you.

        1. Hearth really isn't straightforward New American. Rather, it's New American with an Italian bent. Just in case that matters to you.

          5 Replies
          1. re: RGR


            You are correct, Hearth does have a slight italian bent, which I think is a positive, but I still consider it mainly straightforward New American fare IMHO.

            Did you like Hearth?
            Have you been to Perilla? If so, how was it?

            1. re: jlrobe


              Yes, we have been to Hearth -- once. Overall, I thought the food was very good. However, we did have a temperature problem with our main courses (Mr. R. and I both ordered the same lamb preparation), so we had to send them back. Our server apologized both when she removed the plates and when she brought them back, and the manager came over and also apologized. As a result, we were gifted our desserts.

              We were seated at a deuce in the very large front room, which includes a good size bar area on the right side. I would describe the decor as "Early Warehouse." Rather plain but saved by just right lighting. All large parties, i.e., six or more, are seated in this room. There were many of those the night we were there, and I found the noise level to be quite high. We were told there is a back room where tables accommodate only two or four, so perhaps, it's quieter there.

              We have not been to Perilla.

            2. re: RGR

              I found Perilla to be much more romantic (the cushy booths, dim lighting, hip music) and interesting in terms of concept, especially because of the chef's usage of Asian flavors in combination with Western flavors. The food is good and service is good. If I had to offer criticism it might be that some dishes might get tiresome after a while. The portions are large, and some of the recipes can come off as one-note (the bacon wrapped hen we tried was very smoky, my canneloni had a ton of cream sauce). And, the single dessert we tried was not that impressive.

              Hearth is a little less interesting in these regards, but the people in the Hearth kitchen really know what they are doing -- everything I've had there has been excellent foodwise. The desserts are all excellent, and the beverage list is interesting, especially in terms of non-alcoholic beverages (artisanal root beers, house made sodas). The atmosphere is definitely more modern, less cushy, more warehouse, and the servers are all dressed casually, which I found a bit odd the first time I went. I think they are consistently good at executing, and a lot of standbys on menu (gnocchi, mushrooms, etc.) will remain standbys because they've become Hearth classics of a sort. However, Perilla is a much younger restaurant, and I think still refining.

              1. re: kathryn

                Been to Perilla & Hearth....preferred Perilla

                1. re: kathryn

                  Kathryn, drumwine, RGR, thanks for the info!

              2. id go to perilla over hearth any day...though hearth is okay as well...i just think of hearth as more of a winter place with heavier food...but thats me.

                im not a fan of august personally...i think its too expensive for the quality. ~$30 entrees and i had a tough piece of lamb and just felt like everything was low quality.

                annisa has been so disappointing recently that ive decided its no longer an option for me. its a beautiful space with great service but the food just is not there.

                perilla stands out as a comfortable, neighborhood-y place that happens to serve fantastic food and is still proper enough to be considered an upscale restaurant. blue ribbon bakery sort of falls in that category for me but the place is much more casual in my opinion...something i enjoy very much.

                4 Replies
                1. re: sam1

                  Yes, I was just talking about Perilla with a friend last night who also compared it to Blue Ribbon Bakery. The food there is really delicious and they seemed to have maintained the neighborhood vibe nicely.

                  The duck meatballs and edamame falafel are not to be missed!

                  1. re: sam1


                    Any replacements for Annisa or August? Fancy food but still sorta neighborhoody vs destination dining. American New but with a little more variation?

                    1. re: jlrobe

                      Two possibilities here. 10 Downing, which is similar to Perilla, or Cru, which used to be a "destination" but is more neighborhoody since they have lowered the prices and eliminated all the extras like amuses, palate cleansers and mignardises, while the food is still top-notch and the wine list is amazing. Don't be afraid to order from the low end of the wine list, there are some gems there.