After catching the majority of Top Chef Season three, I’ve slowly become a fan of the crazy reality show (they’re currently taping season 4 in Chicago). I watched a couple episodes from season one and season two, but it’s one of those shows you watch when they have marathons, you know? Anyway, Harold Dieterle won season one and used his prize money to open Perilla in May 2007, a stylish restaurant in the west village. I’ve walked by Perilla a bunch of times (on my way to John’s Pizzeria or Pearl Oyster Bar), but I didn’t notice the small restaurant lining Jones Street until recently.
Large booths, a couple of four-top tables, and a small bar make Perilla for a small get together or a first date. The interior decor is minimal and welcoming and is a great addition to the west village. The hostess seated us immediately (not many people go to Perilla for lunch, apparently, because the restaurant was almost empty). The menu has a couple of options of unpretentious items, but there were only three things that interested us: the duck burger, the cubano, and the french toast. We ended up choosing the first two:
The duck burger has a layer of perfectly melted cheese (don’t you hate it when there’s a layer of grease on top of the cheese?), pickles, tomato, and Boston lettuce that all sits perfectly on top of a big bits of spicy duck. YUM. I’m used to Peking duck and have been disappointed with other ways people prepare duck, but Harold’s burger definitely makes me rethink the way I eat duck.
I ordered Harold’s Cubano:
To tell you the truth, I wasn’t impressed with the pressed sandwich AT ALL. It tasted like something I could ordered at Zabar’s a while back. Also, once you try the Spotted Pig’s cubano, there’s no way to eat another sandwich without getting the feeling that it’s inadequate. I didn’t really enjoy the sandwich but the side salad that came with my order was nicely dressed. I can never get my greens to stay so fluffy after I dress them – they always end up wilty looking (it looks like I cooked them or something). How do restaurants do it?
Overall, the experience at Perilla was very nice and I’d go back for dinner in the future, but probably not again for brunch. It’s convenient to make a reservation through opentable.com, but you can always call to make a reservations as well (I like opentable because I’ve thisclose to getting something for free!!)
· January 9, 2008
In addition to the popular Grace faces that have recently been added to the site, today I happily announce the addition of PRICE SYMBOLS! Here are the details behind our newly minted coins:
– Cheap eats (Under $10 per person)
– Moderate Meals ($11 – $30 per person)
– Pricey Dining ($31 – $50 per person)
– Special Occasion ($51 – $70 per person)
– Dinner on the Client ($71+ per person)
Per person includes an entree and the cost of dessert (I usually dine with at least one other person and we share the plates). It doesn’t include drinks (beer/alcohol/soft drinks) or tax/tip. I hope the new price points are helpful for you when deciding where to eat!
Also, we’ve updated our Grace faces and I’m now adding half Grace faces:
I’m going to slowly change my previous posts (if they’re affected by the new Grace faces). To remind you of what the Grace faces mean, here’s a recap:
– Not so good – you probably shouldn’t go to this restaurant unless you want your stomach to hate you
– Eh, it’s okay, but not a restaurant I’d make a special trip for…I’d only return if I was in the area and I hadn’t eaten all day.
– Pretty good. A solid back up choice.
– Very good…worth a special trip or a good spot to take friends.
– Excellent – I’d definitely recommend this place to a friend.
– So bad I would never return and I’m scraping my tongue to get the bad taste out of my mouth.
– Grace’s Picks; places that I think are amazing and if you could only have one meal for the rest of your life, pick one from this list!
I hope you enjoy the changes and please let me know if there are any other things you’d like to see on gracenotesnyc!
Happy New Year! Let’s start 2008 off right with a tasty review of Taim’s Falafel’s. Taim is a tiny tiny restaurant in the west village that only seats 4 or 5 (you can eat there alone because all the seats face the window or the wall). The majority of the business is take out and delivery, but we opted to dine-in (we were the only ones there since it was the first big snowfall of the year and no one wanted to leave their apartment). Taim has a surprisingly large amount of offerings (how do they make everything in that small kitchen?!):
If you can read the menu, you can tell that it’s a lot more expensive than Mamoun’s or Chickpea, but everything is carefully prepared by the Israeli husband and wife team that own Taim. Chris and I decided to share the mixed platter (the best of all worlds since you can sample a bit of everything) and an order of fries. Our platter:
The mixed platter is a great deal because you can sample the three different types of falafels – green (traditional), red (with roasted red peppers), and harissa (with special Tunisian spices). Out of the three, I liked the harissa falafel’s the most, but the green and the red falafels were really good, too. The mixed platter also came with an assortment of sauces (the oil that was also brushed on the pitas, a cucumber sauce, and a honey/mustard-type dipping sauce). The hummus was also DELICIOUS (especially compared to Mamoun’s, where I occasionally think my tongue is burning off from the amount of salt they add to the hummus) and the tabbouleh salad is the perfect amount of parsley and Bulgur (the grain).
We weren’t sure if the falafel platter was going to fill both of us up, so we ordered a side of french fries with saffron aoili:
The fries were fresh out of the fryer (yay!) and the slightly sweet saffron aoili was a perfect complement to the salty fries. Chris REALLY liked the aoili…and wanted me to let my readers know that you should get an extra helping of aoili with the fries (that’s how good it is).
My favorite part of the dish was the tasty pita brushed with oil and wonderful toppings:
The pita was HOT, oily, and delicious. The bread was very fluffy (but still chewy) and the hot oil that was brushed onto the pita made it SO much better than the regular pita bread restaurants usually serve. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to return to Mamoun’s!!
Taim also offers a wide assortment of smoothies, teas, and coffees:
It’s a small shop, but it’s definitely worth the trip (and if they deliver to your area, you never even have to step out of your apartment!).
· December 31, 2007
Under: Grace's Picks
2007 has been a great year for gracenotesnyc.com. We ate our way around New York (and other places) and found some blog-worthy places. Also, the website got a facelift, we added Grace Face’s, and we’re still working on changes to make GNN even better. In my private life, I’ve happily been residing in New York for over a year now, my brother has joined me, and I feel as if I’m finally making a home for myself in this huge city. As a way to close the year, I’ve selected a few of my favorites for 2007 (starting with breakfast and ending with my overall favorite meal) – I hope you enjoy!
Favorite brunch spot of 2007:
It was a tough call, especially since there are so many great places in Manhattan. Initially, I was going to say Clinton St Baking Company, hands down, for their fluffy blueberry pancakes, cheesy grits, and fried green tomatoes, but then I thought, WAIT A MINUTE…Norma’s accepts RESERVATIONS! I won’t have to wait 2 hours to order pancakes!! Norma’s Waz-Za is probably the most amazing and indulgent waffle I’ve EVER eaten. If you’re in New York, you MUST stop by Norma’s (and make reservations through opentable!).
Favorite cheeseburger of 2007:
2006 was the year of Shake Shack – I would go there ALL the time (and I’d take the train to Union Square and WALK to Madison Square Park so I wouldn’t feel so bad about ordering a cheeseburger, a shake, AND ice cream). 2007, however, is about eating healthier (is that possible when you’re talking about a huge piece of meat with a melted piece of cheese on top?). Goodburger’s ingredients are fresh and their service is good – great for a burger joint!
Favorite sandwich of 2007:
I keep going back to The Spotted Pig for their amazing cubanos and side salads, even though I’m not a fan of their poor service (and questionable tong usage). The cubano has a great crusty bread, lots of pork (and its grease), and pickles that bring the dish together. If you’re there, order the gnudi, too!
Favorite date spot:
Il Mattone is a quiet Italian restaurant in Tribeca where the food never disappoints. They have the best artichoke appetizer in the city and it’s a cute spot for a little one-on-one time, especially because you can walk to the water after you stuff yourself with their great bread (it’s always fresh out of the oven!!) It’s more of a takeout place (I can tell they’re doing well because all of the delivery boys carry iPhones), but I like going to the restaurant and sitting in their small dining room because it’s very quiet and *almost* romantic.
Favorite meal under $10:
This category is pretty open ended since you can go to a lot of places for under $10, especially if you like street food. My favorite pick for 2007: Dogmatic. I love the bite the jalepeno cheddar adds to the baguette and sausage. Their ginger sodas are also made with real ginger, making it “healthier” than other sodas. My only gripe about Dogmatic – you never know when he’s going to be there, so you might be disappointed if you go on a day he’s unavailable.
It’s not difficult to choose my favorite sushi restaurant in New York because the only place I trust is Sushi Yasuda. Their fish is tasty and I always feel like I’m being transported to Tokyo whenever I walk into the midtown eatery.
2007 was definitely the year of frozen yogurt. I can’t pick a favorite (yet), but I enjoyed Pinkberry’s shaved ice (well, when they allowed you to substitute fruit with no extra charge), Red Mango’s green tea frozen yogurt, and all the other shops that have popped up all around Manhattan. I went on a frozen yogurt tour recently (which will be blogged about in the new year), but frozen yogurt is definitely on the top of my dessert list for 2007.
Favorite overall meal:
Pearl Oyster Bar is my favorite restaurant of 2007 and will probably be my favorite restaurant for years to come. POB never disappoints as my go-to place for out of town guests, Friday night dates, or just a special treat. Rebecca Charles and her team make POB seem like a warm and loving home with their simple but delicious dishes. I don’t think I’ll ever find a lobster roll as delicious as Pearl’s. Their clam chowder is also perfectly creamy and their apple pie is simple, but that’s exactly what you want in an apple pie, isn’t it? You really can’t go wrong when you’re at Pearl Oyster Bar.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading gracenotesnyc this year – I’ve enjoyed sharing my experiences with you and getting your recommendations as well! I’ll be back next year with a comprehensive review of New York’s frozen yogurt. Stay tuned, be safe and HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Winter has officially arrived in New York City. I want to go into hibernation mode and sleep in my comfy bed and never deal with New York snow! Don’t worry, I’m not going stay in my apartment and sleep all winter – I’m just going to find more savory soups to keep me warm and toasty! On a recent field trip for soup, Chris and I stopped by Ramen Setagaya, a small shop in the East Village to enjoy some of their hot soup.
Ramen is a big deal in New York; I mean, why do people pay $10 for stuff they can get in the supermarket for 0.95? I ordered the ramen with pork and Chris went with the special – a bowl of ramen with pork and a side order of gyoza, hoping it was worth the $10 we just forked over:
The broth had a distinct seafood taste and was salted perfectly and the ramen noodles tasted like they were dipped in hot water and finished cooking when placed in the broth. Perfect! I love ramen when it’s slightly cooked so you get a good bite to the noodle. Chris ordered the same soup and wasn’t impressed with the seafood flavor – he wanted something with a heartier broth. The pork was good, not great, and I think the ramen would’ve been better with some shrimp or prawns to echo the seafood broth.
For an extra $1.50, you can add gyoza to your order to make it a combo. Chris added the gyoza since I only wanted one or two. Chris’ gyoza:
The skin of gyoza is too thin for me and I prefer mandoo or the Chinese equivalent. Chris thought the gyoza at Ramen Setagaya were pretty well done and liked the meat filling (I think they just pan fried freezer section dumplings).
I’ll stop by Ramen Setagaya again if I’m ever in the neighborhood to warm up with a nice bowl of HOT ramen!