Le Périgord Restaurant

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Le Périgord Review – Experience and Appreciate French Classics.

BY CS HSIA, ON JUNE 17TH, 2013

Today’s dining is as trendy as fashion. The hottest restaurant will only remain so if it continues to innovate. Sure, there are classics like Peter Luger’s or Old Homestead that can stand the taste of time, something that appeals to our fundamental pleasures not unlike Chanel’s timeless jacket. But for the majority of restaurants not involved with grilling slabs of meat, it’s innovation or obscurity.

Le Perigord at the Upper East Side.

Le Perigord at the Upper East Side.

I’ve had friends who complained to me that a meal at Le Cirque or Gotham Bar and Grill felt like a time warp to the 90′s, imagine then my astonishment when I stepped into Le Perigord. This place feels as if it hasn’t changed since the 60′s.

Turns out it wasn’t just a feeling – some of the staff have been working here since the day the restaurant opened. The decor, though recently renovated, still feels decidedly old fashioned by modern standards. You enter into a space with no host or maitre d’, and stare aimlessly at a cold salad bar until you’re greeted by a manager. Then there are the patrons of this establishment, most of them are well into their retirements.

Classic decor and style.

Classic decor and style.

The reason I wrote the previous paragraph is to prepare you for the initial shock. You will feel it, as I did. We are all spoiled and expect restaurants to look and feel a certain way, that any deviation gives a sense of baseless disappointment. Once you overcome the prejudice, then you’ll enjoy the true beauty of Le Perigord.

The staff are not swift footed, but provides service that are the culmination of decades of experience. The occasional joke or hyperbole statement helps lighten the atmosphere. The owner Georges Briguet came by our table to tell us our waiter Armando, who’s been at Le Perigord since day one, “doesn’t do lunch service because he has to go dancing each night with the ladies”, brought smiles all around the table.

The menu doesn’t follow today’s simplistic trends, a full description is given, not just the type of protein. In the kitchen is Joel Benjamin who worked years at the revered house of French cooking: Lutece.

Chef Benjamin.

Chef Benjamin.

Scallops with vegetable rizzotto started the meal with conviction. The presentation scores an immediate vote for classical French cuisine, and the taste matched the appearance in every way.

Scallops risotto.

Scallops risotto.

What gets more classic French than Escargots? Bathed in hazelnut butter with wild mushrooms, it was tasty and satisfying (a word you don’t associate with escargots often).

An ample serving of escargots.

An ample serving of escargots.

At the staff’s insistence, we also sampled the mussel soup. “The most glorious soup in Manhattan” said Georges as the soup is served. The mussel flavor is harmoniously blended into a lightly creamy broth, with a mild bit of acidity at the end of each spoonful. I completely agree, this is glorious.

The Most Glorious Soup in Manhattan.

The Most Glorious Soup in Manhattan.

As we were anticipating the entree, Georges reappeared and interrupted the quietness: “Did you guys order the chicken? Angelina’s chicken?” Turns out each time Brad and Angelina are in town, they visit Le Perigord, sit in the corner booth, and order the chicken carved table side. We looked at the corner booth, no Bradgelina tonight, but sure enough the guests at the table are also having chicken.

Turbot with Comté crust and Champagne sauce was beautifully executed. With the thin comté cheese crust, the turbot was still perfectly pan fried. Le Perigord might be more well known for their Dover Sole, but the turbot was a solid dish, and the favorite of Mr. Briguet.

Turbot in Champagne broth.

Turbot in Champagne broth.

Lobster in coriander broth showcased both the flavor and also unique texture of the Canadian lobster. While the world’s trying to poach lobster softer, the chef choose Canadian lobster over their stateside cousins for the darker color and sinew texture. The light coriander broth and vegetables provided a light accompaniment in flavor, without trying too hard to stand out.

Delicious Canadian lobster in coriander.

Delicious Canadian lobster in coriander.

In case you haven’t seen it by now, there’s a roaming dessert cart. If you can resist that temptation, the fluffy berry souffle is incredible.

Finish off with a steaming souffle.

Finish off with a steaming souffle.

Great service, exceptional French classics, not to mention the most glorious soup in Manhattan and Bradgelina’s chicken. A classic combination that should be experienced and appreciated.

CS

Rating: ★★★★☆
What does this rating mean?

Le Périgord
405 E 52nd St
New York, NY 10022
(212) 755-6244
http://www.leperigord.com/