Le Périgord Restaurant

Archives: March 2013

Promenade Magazine

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The Restaurant Interview: Georges Briguet

by Christopher Carpenter

Open since 1964, Le Périgord has been host to movie stars across the ages from Liz Taylor and Richard Burton, to Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Visiting members of the UN, faithful regulars, and French food enthusiasts have kept Georges busy for nearly 50 years.

“How’s the beef bourguignon?” It was lunchtime on a Wednesday at Le Périgord and a half-empty glass of white wine was sitting next to a very full glass of red wine, above a white china bowl of meaty brown stew; its aroma wafting up in nearly visible tendrils. Owner Georges Briguet continued: “If you want to make this bourguignon, first you go to a butcher and ask him for a cut to make a beef stew. He’ll give you the shoulder, the chuck of the shoulder.” He went on to give cooking instructions, which included braising the beef, adding turnips, carrots, celery, potato, onions, 2-3 glasses of red wine, and a little salt before a low and slow period in the oven of about 2-3 hours. “The beef is the key…If it’s the right cut, it will do all the work for you.” He had barely finished this oration when a large constituency of Uruguayan diplomats stopped in, presumably taking a break from the nearby United Nations HQ, for lunch. Georges greeted them formally, made his rounds throughout the dining room, and sat back down to chat a bit longer about his restaurant, Le Périgord, one of the oldest and best French restaurants in New York City.

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The Skinny Pig

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Fancy French Fare at Le Perigord

By , February 19, 2013

perigord scallops 2

You know when you’re young and you walk into an expensive home, preferably owned by an adult, and immediately feel like you don’t belong there? That’s kind of how I felt at Le Perigord; the restaurant looks very exclusive from the outside – white curtains in the windows prevent from seeing inside, and once you’re actually inside you are transported back to 1964, when the establishment was first built. The old New York feel, the UES crowd, the waiters in tuxes – all very old school to me. The best part about Le Perigord though, in my humble opinion, is the service. We were greeted warmly at the door, taken to our cozy corner table (perfect spot for people watching) and offered a glass of wine or champagne while we browsed the menu. So far so good (and when was the last time someone offered you champagne upon arrival?) The menu at Le Perigord doesn’t have prices on it – that’s how you know you’re in for it. But hey, go big or go home, right? And so, we did.

Smooth and rich

I can’t avoid lobster bisque when I see it on a menu – I just can’t. And anytime I go to a French restaurant I feel it’s necessary to order everything that sounds rich and decadent (read: butter, cheese, puff pastry), so naturally we got the vegetable tart, the scallops with vegetable risotto, and the smoked salmon and corn muffin with sour cream. The lobster bisque was very tasty, but different than what I’m used to; there were no chunks of lobster in it, and the broth was a light brown as opposed to the pinkish hue I usually see. It was salty and rich – if I had to finish the whole thing I might have swelled up like a puffer fish and fallen asleep.

delectable vegetables

The vegetable tart was probably the most deceiving dish; for something that was basically butter and cheese in a flaky crust with some julienned vegetables running through it, it was light and delicious. I could eat a vegetable tart like that every day – I wouldn’t, due to my arteries, but it would be nice if I could.

beautiful and delicious scallops

When life hands you rice, make risotto. I know that’s not the real saying, but it should be. There is nothing wrong with risotto. NOTHING. Ok? It’s just one of the most delicious starches out there and I don’t much care for anyone who disagrees. The scallops with vegetable risotto were light, perfectly cooked, and the risotto was oh-so-creamy. There was a drizzle of deep green olive oil at the bottom that added a richness to the dish…just wonderful.

A+ for presentation, but too salty…

Unfortunately our last appetizer left a bit of a salty taste in our mouths. Ok, a very salty taste. I love salt, but the house-smoked salmon with corn muffin, sour cream and salmon caviar was too much. They sprinkle the dish with onions and capers when it arrives at your table (nice touch), so I had really high hopes for it, but the corn muffin was dry, and like I said, the salmon was just way too salty. Continue reading “The Skinny Pig” »

Eater – New York

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This is the latest edition of Who Goes There? a regular feature in which Lost City’s Brooks of Sheffield cracks the doors on mysteriously enduring Gotham restaurants—unsung, curious neighborhood mainstays with the dusty, forgotten, determined look—to learn secrets of longevity and find out, who goes there.

Something about the padded, sequestered interior of Le Périgord, the French haute cuisine holdout on east-east-east 52nd Street, turns people into librarians. Nobody at a typical lunch shift at this nearly 50-year-old restaurant talked much above a whisper. And yet the air—which smelled vaguely of your grandmother’s living room—is so still (no music inside, no traffic outside) you could clearly hear conversations a few tables away.

“You go to this restaurant to feel like a human being,” said a man to his friend. I pegged the speaker being in his late 50s, but later realized that he was a well-preserved septuagenarian. No one in the room, waiter or patron, was under 40. When a pair a twentysomethings came in later, they were so befuddled by the unfamiliar scene of relaxed gentility that they seated themselves, thinking that was OK. The maître d’ soon resituated them.

Le Périgord is still owned by Georges Briguet, who bought the place from the original owner two years after the restaurant opened. Without too much mental effort, one can guess the sort of celebrity that came here once upon a time. Truman Capote, Henry Kissinger, Jackie Kennedy, etc. Plus, a regular salting of nearby UN officials. And, of course, your run-of-the-mill, blue-suited moneybags who thinks Kissinger wasn’t so bad, and Capote was mean to write that stuff about Babe Paley in Answered Prayers.

My relatively talkative neighbor was certainly a regular—so regular that he asked whether a favored lamb dish that wasn’t on the menu was available. It was. “Well, why don’t you put it on the damn menu then?” he muttered as the waiter walked away. (Just because the customers look polished doesn’t mean they are. My friend dropped an F bomb every other sentence, and talked with great relish about past trysts.) “I have some friends coming into town and they asked for restaurant recommendations,” he told his more docile friend. “I thought of sending them here, but thought they might think it too dull. So I told them to go to Le Grenouille.”

[Bess Adler]

I took my neighbor’s tip and ordered the wonderful Le Buffet Froid—a delicious selection of chilled asparagus, celery, cheese, pâté, cornichons, shrimp, tomato and other tidbits. Almost a meal in itself, it was sublimely satisfying. I followed that with Sole Meunière, grilled with a mustard sauce. Hey, if I’m in a place like this, I’m going to order a dish like that. It was worth the $45 just to watch the waiter expertly bone the fish tableside. Where does that happen anymore in Manhattan? Plus, the fillet was delectable; the veggies perfectly steamed. There was a dessert trolley—of course there was!—but I passed. The espresso was expert.

My neighbor had moved on to the topic of money. Actually, he seldom left it. Most conversations at Le Périgord are about money or old times. The two men reminisced about sitting on stoops in Brooklyn back in the days when they had no scratch. Recently, the guy’s house was reappraised at a value of $4 million. He seemed to be in the art game. “25 years ago, I could have told anybody I knew how to get rich. You buy a Hopper etching for $500. Today, it would be worth $150,000.” He laughed. “Why didn’t I do that, and make myself rich?”

His friend paused briefly over his pâté. “But, you did,” he replied.

Brooks of Sheffield

[Bess Adler]