Though I can count the number of TV celebrity chef restaurants I've visited on one finger (Babbo, and that was inspired by a New Yorker article, not Molto Mario), when wandering the West Village late last Friday, I happened by Perilla, the restaurant that sprang from Harold's Top Chef earnings. Recalling my flight-long crush on this dark-haired cutie, I decided to give his food a try.
These pictures are so dark and fuzzy, not sure it helps to post them, but on the left, duck meatballs, on the right, farro risotto.
At 10:30 PM, a seat at the bar was easy to find, though the restaurant was definitely still buzzing. The gracious hostess and bartenders made me feel at home, and I was soon savoring a humidity-cutting, heat-reducing Hitachino White Nest Ale as I perused the short menu. I settled on spicy duck meatballs with yam gnocchi and farro risotto to ease my late night hunger pains. I tried to pace myself with the fatty, smoky meatballs, enriched by an over-easy quail egg, but they disappeared quickly (the yam gnocchi faded under the glare of the decadent duck--I forgot they existed). The large portion of nutty, creamy farro, a side dish on the menu, lasted longer, but only because I was full. It was well accented with thinly-sliced sweet-tart purple grapes that helped cut the richness. Both dishes were $10 and more than satisfied for a late snack and could have comprised dinner. Main courses range from $20 for a sauteed skate wing to $29 for a grilled rack and breast of Colorado lamb.
Toward the end of my meal I headed to the ladies' room and was surprised to see Harold himself, noshing and canoodling with a lady friend in one of the restaurants booths. It was late, but on a Friday, in the first few months of a restaurant opening, shouldn't he still be barking orders in the back? Or, perhaps, as a TV star, diners want to see him, not taste food he's cooked? Regardless, the dishes I sampled were solid and his cozy restaurant's a pleasant spot for a single at the bar.
9 Jones Street (between West 4th and Bleecker Sts.)
New York, NY 10014