Perry St.

176 Perry St. New York, NY 10014(212) 352-1900 • perrystrestaurant.com

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Jean, Jean, Jean… Is it possible that after SO many restaurants you are finally starting to spread yourself too thin? Not to take anything away from you, because quite frankly I think you’ve done the impossible. I can’t think of one other chef in the Tri-State who has as many truly great restaurants. So give yourself a pat on the back for Jean-Georges, Mercer Kitchen, ABC Kitchen, ABC Cocina and The Inn at Pound Ridge. But not even Babe Ruth batted a thousand, so I am sad to report that Perry St. might be Jean’s first brush with mortality.

Of course I am only speaking in terms of comparability, because Perry St. is still good by all normal human accounts. But no one ever accused me of being normal, and neither is Jean, so when you play the game at a higher level, the bad news is that you have to keep it up. And since Perry St. was listed on many a “Top Ten” list of 2015, the hype bar was set only that much higher.

The knives started falling early as we entered to one of Jean’s least impressive décor’s yet. Sure, it’s clean and contemporary, but it also feels a lot like a trendy hotel lobby and nowhere near as nice as his last three openings. But that’s not even why I’m docking the knives. It’s more because of the flow, or lack thereof. You see, the hostess, while stunning in appearance, is equally stunning-ly bad in seating parties with reservations in a semi-timely manner. As a result, the sliver of a bar area becomes so over-crowded and noisy that it takes away from any attempt at elegance for the surrounding tables, which is about 50% of the restaurant. Then there are the back corners of the dining room, both left and right, which are so secluded that no one would ever want to sit there, especially the one on the right, across from the bathrooms, which have their own issues as well. Now I’m not exactly sure what the hold up was, but let’s just say there’s a bit of a logjam at the ole WC, causing a line so long they actually have a sofa there in case your knees buckle from the wait.

Once seated at our table, however, things did take a turn for the better, thankfully. Our waiter was attentive and the food was good. Sadly not quite as spectacular as one might be led to believe from all the press and Yelpers, but definitely good.

Of the starters I would say Perry went two-for-two, the winners being the Spanish octopus with Romanesco sauce, pickled peppers and potatoes. It’s not quite an Ultimate, but it’s just about as close as it gets. The other winner is the shockingly delicious mushroom dish. In fact, they are so awesome that you owe it to yourselves to get an order in the middle to share.

Equally shocking, unfortunately, is that one of the misses is actually the seared foie gras. Nowhere near as transcendent as it should be for such a guilty pleasure. I mean c’mon, if you’re gonna torture a goose, at least make it worth the ride.

The other miss for me was the snapper sashimi. Not only did I find it to be very basic, the one touch of inventiveness made it feel as if you were chewing on bits of seashell and sand along with the fish.

The entrees rallied strong though with the lemongrass lobster. It’s excellent and worth every pretty penny. As is the duck. The beef tenderloin proved to be the weakest of the three, served with broccoli, broccoli pesto and chimichurri. The steak itself is cooked like a champ. Charred on the outside, moist and pink on the inside. But the flavors of the pesto and chimichurri just didn’t wow, which is especially surprising because the tenderloin is always one of the best dishes at The Inn at Pound Ridge, no matter what the preparation du jour, so I thought I was golden. But apparently I was just bronze.

Dessert also served up a mixed bag, the better of the two being the passion fruit soufflé with passion fruit sorbet. It’s done very well, but doubling down on the same flavor seems like a bit of a missed opportunity. Whereas the brown butter carrot cake was just okay. Nothing I would ever sing about. Not that I should ever be singing with my voice.

So, without a single Ultimate and an admittedly clunky experience I have a hard time giving Perry the thumbs up. But there are many strong dishes to be had, so I can’t exactly give it the Julius Caesar either. Which leaves us with…

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The Inn at Pound Ridge

258 Westchester Ave. Pound Ridge, NY10576 (914) 764-1400 • theinnatpoundridge.com

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Having been to a number of Jean Georges restaurants, I know they can be hit and miss. Fortunately my experiences have been more on the hit end of the spectrum, so my expectations were moderately high. And while many of the criticisms of this place thus far would be fair, I still have to say my expectations were met.

First, the décor. It is everything everyone says it to be. Just beautiful and warm and literally transporting, meaning you no longer feel like you are in Westchester, but rather in a remote cabin up in the mountains someplace, where the faint drones of work and screaming kids can no longer be heard. From the lighting to the beams to the wood-burning fireplace you just want to curl up and stay forever.

Which brings me to the first nit… You may very well feel like you’re there forever, because the service, as others have pointed out, is slow. So not the place to come for a quick bite.

But now for the main event, the food. First, the Russian River Pinot Noir by Mara is incredible. Went so well with everything we had. Fish. Meat. Spicy. Sweet. So props on the wine list.

For appetizers, we had the ricotta with mashed cranberries as our “bread” which was dangerously good. Dangerous, because you have to summon a good deal of self control not to fill up on it.

After that, the wife had the Hamachi with dusted pecans. The fish was incredibly fresh and the layer of pecan was a nice touch. That said, it needed a little something else to bring it to that next level. More acidity perhaps? But certainly not bad.

And last- and least, I had the angel hair pasta app with Brussels sprouts and pesto. Sounds much better than it is. I would skip it. It’s not bad. But just not worthy of its surroundings.

As for the entrees, here’s where The Inn shined. Both the Hake and the Tenderloin rocked. But in all fairness, the Tenderloin is simply on an entirely different level. A strong recommend from our server, for which I am eternally grateful. If you like heat and meat, you must get this. The scotch bonnet sauce is so divine I had to ask for more of it to sop up the rest of the buttered spinach.

But then our server led us astray on dessert. Should’ve gone with my gut on the apple streusel, but nooooo, I had to listen to her and get the lack-luster almond cake.

Regardless, I will most certainly be back. And the beauty of the place is that during the week it’s much easier to get in. Plus, you can always just sit in the equally stunning bar area and just grab the burger (which looked very good) and a beer. Oh, and of course I’d get the streusel.

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