Excellent Prix Fixe Lunch Deal at Vongerichten's Perry St
When Jean-Georges Vongerichten opened Perry St in 2005, it was his eighth dining establishment in New York. His intention was to return to his professional roots by opening an uncomplicated and unpretentious neighborhood bistro, as his original triumph Jo Jo had been. Perry St was located in the West Village in one of three newly built Richard Meier glass towers on the West Side Highway facing the Hudson River, a dramatic location but an isolated one. What's more, the chef lived upstairs, so the place would feel almost like his own commissary, and one suspected the august French figure of sneaking downstairs from his upstairs aerie for a bite of cheese or a small Alsatian sausage in the middle of the night.
In the intervening seven years the place has evolved and developed a following, but also remains something of a sleeper, popular among tourists and neighborhood types, but also useful for quiet power dinners where the participants pull up in their limos, which sit idling in the parking spots along the highway late into the evening. It's also a popular rendezvous for illicit lovers who hope not to be spotted. The long, well-windowed room is upholstered in off-white, and small vases of purple flowers sit on every table. There's an almost-Japanese austerity about the place.
While often jammed in the evening, the bistro is half-empty at lunch, and that may have motivated the spectacular $32 lunch special, which I recently checked out with a pair of friends visiting from North Carolina. Though Vongerichten is listed as the executive chef, his son Cedric Vongerichten is the chef-de-cuisine (CDC).
The meal began with an amuse, is this case a pile of grilled shishito peppers dotted with sesame seeds in a Nike swoosh of what tasted like soy-flavored hummus. Very nice.