The Schoolhouse

34 Cannon Rd. Wilton, CT 06897 • (203) 529-7751 • schoolhouseatcannondale.com

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I love New York City. I love it times infinity. For providing a virtually limitless array of culinary experiences ranging from dives to the exquisite and every nationality or cultural niche you could possibly think of. But the one thing New York can’t do is be a quaint, refurbished schoolhouse like something pulled right out of the show, Little House on the Prairie.

But as unique and charming as the Schoolhouse is, it’s definitely not what I would call dressy, per the classification on Yelp. Unless you consider a fleece and chinos dapper. That said, the place is still a class act from the service to the seasonal menu, which not only rotates based on the harvest, but by party. And what I mean by that is that the menu itself actually has the name of your party printed right on it! Nice touch.

Starting class off with a lesson in awesomeness, the parsnip and apple soup was superb- well, initially it was served a touch tepid, so we asked them to heat it up, but after that, it was sheer perfection. As were the mussels with cauliflower. Such a simple twist on a classic dish that not only made it unique, but brilliant to taste, as the cauliflower served as a blank canvas to soak up the delicious broth.

The only slacker in first period was the salad with squash, goat cheese and pecans. It was bit over-dressed and comparatively, a bit underwhelming.

For the main event, we covered three different options on the menu with the branzini going to the head of the class. Best entrée of the three by far, served over a creamy celery root puree, along with roasted beets that made this dish an A++.

The NY Strip was cooked perfectly, served over mashed potatoes, with caramelized onions and broccolini, but having just had the transcendent beef tenderloin only days before at The Inn at Pound Ridge, I couldn’t help but find myself wanting more from the Schoolhouse strip. I also felt similarly about the duck, not that I had just eaten that at Pound Ridge too, but I did find myself craving more oomph, especially in light of such previous highs such as the soup, mussels and the fish.

Before class was dismissed, we stayed for extra credit, ordering the chocolate soufflé for dessert. And while very good, it is served with a completely unnecessary chocolate dipping sauce, because the soufflé itself is plenty ooey-gooey and chocolaty all by its lonesome. Also, I found the homemade vanilla ice cream served with it just okay.

All in, when you take into account the novel experience, culinary craft and the fact that even the misses were still pretty solid, it’s hard to give The Schoolhouse anything less than four knives, but to be fair, I am grading on a curve.

4 teeth

Perilla

9 Jones St. New York, NY 10014(212) 929-6868perillanyc.com

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Been trying to go here for a while now, not that it’s that hard to get into, which is a HUGE plus in NYC, but plans just kept falling through for various reasons. As a result, perhaps the hype grew a tad too great.

That said, Perilla really does have its sterling moments. After all, it is a Harold Dieterle (Top Chef) restaurant. Unfortunately, inconsistency is its cross to bare and with such steep misses, I find it hard to give this place anything above 3 knives.

Here’s why:

Service is okay. The hostess is virtually non-existent and the waitress adequate. As for decor, it’s nice, but nothing to speak of. Simple, but lacking in vibe or character. However, I’m not docking knives for either.

For the food, let’s start off with the aptly named starters, which got things off on the rightest foot possible. Everything was superb. The tortellini in that broth? Heaven. The scallop carpaccio? Incredibly flavorful and complex for something so thin. And the foie gras/squab terrine? Just awesome. Literally the best FG terrine I think I’ve ever had, and I’m not such a fan. I’m much more partial to the seared variety. But if the terrine always tasted like this, I’d be a changed man.

Sounding pretty damn good right about now, right? Well, the chef shoulda pulled a Costanza and said “I’m outta here!” Going out on top. But noooo… We just had to order main courses. Of the lot, only the monkfish was on par with the apps. Both the pork chop and the lamb-two-ways fell firmly in the mediocre camp, which is especially annoying when you drop 40 bucks a plate on a dish!!! I’m sorry, but if you are going to break the $4o stratosphere for an entree, you had better stick the landing. That alone is an offense punishable by one knife in my book.

As for the sides, both the brussel sprouts and the cauliflower were excellent. So, it would seem perhaps this place would be better suited to do small plates.

That said, dessert is most certainly something they are not suited for. Not one thing they served was worth the calories. The dark chocolate souffle, while a respectable good, paled in comparison to dozens of restaurant souffles before it. And the lemon cake, that was intended to be a refreshing tit for our chocolatey tat, proved to be dry and terrible. Even the little chocolate salted caramels that came with the check were dry and off balance. So, you guessed it- down goes Frazier (along with another knife).

All in all, I’m still glad I went, but I can’t say I’ll rush back unless someone else is paying.

3 teeth