Coco Chanel famously said that the opposite of luxury is not poverty, but rather vulgarity. She might have deemed Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s restaurant Perry Street the very summit of luxuriousness.
The fumed oak tables, amuse-l’oeil patterned carpeting, comforting white leather banquettes, graciously cantilevered lamps and black resin bar with matching leather stools are artfully poised within the U-shaped space, all custom-conceived by Thomas Juul-Hansen, an erstwhile associate of the Pritzger Prize-winning architect Richard Meier, who designed the glass tower above the restaurant. A sheer mesh over the floor-to-ceiling windows softens incoming sunlight without in the least impeding views of the shimmering Hudson River.
Brunch is offered Saturdays and Sundays from 11:30 to 3:30. The $26 prix fixe includes two plates plus a dessert; each additional plate is priced at $13. Typically, the customers, whether illustrious personages or not, speak in civil tones.
Perry Street’s chef de cuisine these days is Jean-Georges’s son Cedric Vongerichten, every bit as talented, passionate and refined as his father. Each dish served is an exquisite poem on a plate. If you must start your brunch with a traditional breakfast item, order the fluffy buttermilk pancakes with mixed fresh berries and maple syrup. You really should listen to me, though, and instead begin with the peekytoe crab toast with miso mustard and shiso. Or don’t listen to me, and ask for the crispy poached eggs with caviar and vodka crème ($17 supplement). Ironically, in the 19th century, the Hudson was chockablock with sturgeon – bartenders in New York City actually set out bowls of free caviar, in hopes its saltiness would encourage people to order more drinks.
The foam batter used on Perry Street’s spiced organic fried chicken is renowned throughout the cosmopolitan food world. This delectable chicken is served with yogurt mashed potato and a honey lemon pulp vinaigrette. If you want truly to pamper yourself, the black truffle crusted cod with celeriac with butter and lemon is a winner. (You may order this dish with truffle shavings for a $10 supplement). The cod, texturally consistent from side to side and within, is a perfect vehicle for the earthy fragrance of the truffles.
The menu is not chiseled onto a stone tablet, but the Vongerichtens do not perform random experiments on diners. Any recently added dishes will have been elevated to a highpoint of gustatory expression before being placed on the menu. Representative desserts include apple confit with orange zest, served with green apple sorbet and sableuse cake, and white chocolate with meringue, served with yuzu sorbet and basil.
Everything about Perry Street — including the feel of the food in your mouth — is comfortable, which is as it should be, for, as Coco Chanel said “Luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury.”
Brunch at Perry Street – $26/$75
Saturdays and Sundays from 11:30 to 3:30