I suppose you could call the chef at the helm of Perilla a “celebrity.” After all, Chef Harold Dieterle won the first season of Top Chef, which I guess makes him basic cable famous — which is akin to being the world record holder for power napping. It elicits comments like “yeah, that’s kinda cool, I guess” from folks with whom you share that info. But for those of us who live our lives by the Bravo schedule, and have followed that show in particular, it’s quite an accolade, and worth a night out just to see what the hubbub is about. It turns out hubbub is not really the right word when it comes to this place. It’s more of a pleasant tip of a glass and a wink from a neighbor. What the hell am I talking about? I’m talking about a restaurant that amounts to a rather tiny, low-key neighborhood joint that relishes simple, modern decor, pleasant service and not a lot of gimmickry to get its point across. It’s a what you see is what you get kind of place, with only a few booths filled with locals and some thirty-something women in middle-of-the-road outfits chatting tipsily over large glasses of white wine about men and their PR clients. In other words, just super Manhattan feeling. The menu, like the space itself, is pretty small and consists of some funky farm -sounding stuff and a few American-based gourmet things with oddball Japanese accouterment. I kept to the pretty basic stuff, including his signature spicy duck meatballs for my appetizer and a hanger steak with sunchoke creamed spinach, hen of the woods, red shallot puree and natural jus. Really, how could I not? And that thing was deeelicious. For desert I did the “Take Five” Sundae, with included dulce de leche, chocolate fudge, market pretzels, peanut praline and peanut butter ice cream. I find deserts are never as good in real life as they are on paper, which kind of applied here, but it certainly wasn’t too shabby. It just sounded so damn good, that anything short of orgasmic would have come up as disappointing. Granted, that would have been embarrassing for both Ms. Hipster and myself. Luckily we managed to get out of there without humiliating ourselves, but were certainly satiated, slightly inebriated and not at all cowed by our brush with celebrity. [MF]
9 Jones St.