Chic, subdued Jean-Georges dining at its finest, Perry St. is a quietly sexy and modern space serving elegant, French-inspired fusion food with a noticeably Asian twist.
Perry St. is a lesson in coolness. Some restaurants seem to adopt coolness as a trope, combining of-the-moment culinary trends, an apathetic staff, and perhaps even some house music for the sake of a self-consciously cool affect. Perry St., however, with its wide glass windows, white furniture, and Vongerichten pedigree, knows just exactly how haute and excellent it really is. And that makes it the coolest restaurant at which you will you will ever eat. There is no pretending in a space like this, and as a result, the restaurant feels more earnest and genuine than expected. The ambiance is intensely intimate while still suggesting a youthful contemporary, and the food is so intensely flavorful, while still maintaining a lightness and clarity.
And every member of the staff could be a model. There’s that, too.
The Sweet Pea Soup appetizer with tumbleweed cheese and sourdough croutons is a bright, ethereal, foamy broth that may be the best version of the soup out there, though some of the appetizers fare a little less well. The House-Made Burrata, while itself exceedingly fresh and lovely, was overpowered by a sweet rhubarb jam and hidden bombs of wasabi that explode unknowingly on the palette, wiping out the diner’s sinuses for a few minutes.
The entrees are the dishes that better show off some of Jean-Georges and his son, Cedric Vongerichten’s truly nuanced conceptions of flavors. The Caramelized Beef Tenderloin with crispy and creamy potatoes and chanterelles was an elegant innovation on a classic, particularly with a spicy, thick green harissa sauce that represented the ultimate improvement upon a horseradish complement.
It may be that the flavors are so clear at Perry St. that the errors seem to emerge as powerfully and strikingly as the successes. The Roasted Crescent Duck with passion fruit glazed carrots, garbanzo beans, and red miso, while perfectly cooked, had slightly too much sweetness from the fruit and cinnamon flavor to fully appreciate the balance of the red miso. The Butter Poached Lobster, however, with its kaffir lime broth and potato ravioli, had a thrilling zing that framed the richness of the lobster and brought out the succulent subtleties of the dish.
There are still missteps, though, like when a waitress poured 4 glasses of wine each a different amount, leaving a friend with half of a lobster and a party-sized glass of red wine that she didn’t really want to go with it. There are unfortunate inconsistencies in the food as well, with some elements of each dish overpowering others with a sweetness or spice that can unfairly destabilize the delicate balance of a dish.
But maybe that’s what makes Perry St. even cooler. It’s not perfect. It’s an exceptionally good restaurant that doesn’t take itself more seriously than it should, and that is pretty cool.