“The Perilla plant is a relative of mint and basil but has a strong anise-like flavor. Primarily used in Asian cooking, Perilla is most commonly known as Shiso. Chef Harold Dieterle loves to sneak Perilla into his dishes when it is in season.”
It wasn’t until after my first dinner at Perilla, in New York City’s Greenwich Village, that I discovered the owner/chef was the season 1 winner of Top Chef. Easily the only show on television I truly love. I didn’t start watching until season 3 or 4 so I had no idea who Harold Dieterle was. After eating there I can appreciate why he won the inaugural title of Top Chef.
That dinner was over 2 years ago after seeing a friend perform at a café on the same block. Walking in at 10pm on a Saturday night without a reservation; we were lucky to find 2 empty seats at the bar. We had the most amazing meal and have been back countless times since. I guess you could say we’ve become “regulars.” The staff is very friendly, the atmosphere is inviting and most importantly the food is impeccable.
Menu items are Seasonal American revolving around the use of fresh and in season fishes, meats, vegetables and herbs. The food is complex and simple at the same time. It’s as if Perilla specializes in boutique farmhouse cooking. Some of my favorite dishes include the sauteed brussel sprouts with cranberries and pine nuts, the lobster tagliatelle, the fiddle head fern agnolotti with black truffles and pecorino, the black cod piled on mounds of sticky red rice, the golden snapper with white beans and tomato confit, the crispy skate wing, and what I consider to be the best side dish I’ve ever had; a gooey dish of farro risotto, thickened with parmesan and artichokes and topped with sliced red grapes. I would be remiss to not mention the lemon-fennel doughnuts, chocolate soufflé and sticky toffee pudding.
Food is a very important part of my life. And living in New York City is like being a kid at Christmas when you find pleasure in all the restaurants this city has to offer. You could easily have 3 meals a day at a different restaurant, 365 days a year, and still not hit every place in Manhattan. That being said, keeping up with what’s new, what’s closed, what’s good etc…could be a full-time job. There are certain times when my husband and I eat out (which is a couple times a week), where all we want is a place we can depend on for a great meal; a go-to spot. A go-to spot for us is a restaurant with fresh, seasonal, straightforward, and well prepared food, with at least a few fish selections, a comfortable bar to cozy up to, a volume level where we can hear each other speak and a great wine list. Perilla is exactly that.
If you live in NYC or you’re planning to visit, check out Perilla. You will not be disappointed. You can dress-up and celebrate a special occasion there or walk in wearing shorts and a t-shirt after a Yankees game as we did last night (which was ironically their 3-year anniversary).
Stay tuned for more…