Le Perigord – Visit this time-honored gem for an evening that is très magnifique!
Filled with the spirit of the holidays, we whisked ourselves away to Le Périgord, situated in a comfortable, quiet nook just northwest of Beekman Place. There, we encountered a warm welcome from the gracious maître of the manor and an arsenal of waiters sporting starched white jackets with napkins draped over their regimented forearms. Plump roses in full bloom quietly graced the tables as we were seated at our banquette. What a way to come in from the cold! From there we watched longtime patrons from the neighborhood sweep in, mostly women of a certain age bathed in black sable, and the host greet every one of them with a firm handshake and an air of recognition.
I toyed with a Grey Goose martini and my fella relaxed into a full-bodied red Gigondas while we slathered butter on civilized slices of brioche, anticipating the cuisine of longstanding chef Joel Benjamin, whose impressive résumé includes time at legendary restaurants Lutèce and La Côte Basque.
However, my ears soon pricked up like a rabid pinscher and my mood swiftly changed at the piercing death rattle of a confused, brittle fussbudget who apparently was contemplating strychnine over selections from the prix-fixe menu. We moved tables straightaway (which is something I never do), far across the room, as assisted by our equally aggrieved server. It hardly mattered anyway as we ended up dining with a better view of the moneyed complacency in attendance; what Tom Wolfe coined, in part, as “social x-rays.”
Frogs’ legs were game little leapers accompanied by a perfectly delicate risotto flavored with aromatics. Roasted lobster claws topped the hefty, buttery-soft lobster tail with pale strands of enoki mushrooms. It was surrounded by a medley of sautéed zucchini, carrots and yellow squash in a coriander lobster broth—which bordered more on a subtle bisque.
Sizeable seared quail was stuffed with minced wild forest mushrooms, which helped keep the bird moist, and black truffle sauce served to suit our fancy. Softened, shaved celeriac was a keen and serviceable side. We considered the Dover sole that we saw rolled out in hammered copper chafing dishes to tables nearby, but opted instead for something that went more along the ways of winter: we summoned the hearty, beating breast of the hunter and ordered medium rare, mildly musky venison cloaked in venison jus with a soupçon of black truffles. Melted cranberries in sugar, wilted red cabbage and peppery Brussels sprouts that were just fork-tender were ideal accompaniments.
I doubt anyone loves the idea of a dessert trolley more than I do, and on this mode of transportation we found at least a few treats that we had to try. Armed with wicked, generous pours of Armagnac (which we sipped on, in a slow revel) we picked from said trolley an offering of oeufs à la neige, the meringue confection, with an apparently Pollack-inspired spray of caramel lightly spattered on top of it. More meringue followed with the lemon tart and a fun layer of toasted marshmallows. Pear tart tartine arrived with a vanilla butter crust and an amiable resolution that, after lingering for more than three hours, we should probably go home.
Short Order: An elegant, classic French restaurant in a secluded spot on the Upper East Side.
Peter’s Picks: mushroom-stuffed fat quail with black truffle sauce; buttery roasted lobster tail.
We moved to another table because of the decrepit, shrieking woman with dietary restrictions that was seated at a banquette all too near to us.
Prices: $65 Prix Fixe; Alcohol: wine, full bar.
Join us January 14 through February 8 for NYC Restaurant Week and enjoy our special Restaurant Week menu. Whether you’re a seasoned Le Périgord patron or want to try our classic French cuisine for the first time, Restaurant Week is a great time to drop in and savor something new.
Le Périgord’s fine appetizer display has lost none of its zip. A splendid plateful holds tangy terrines, various fish and shellfish and small salads—almost a meal.
The new kitchen team is as consistent as a Swiss watch, deft in meats as in seafood, and quickly developing a new dessert identity with…Le Périgord’s familiar and friendly trolley of tarts, mousses and floating islands.
The new season of “Mad Men” inspired me to visit a classic New York specimen in the form of a fabulous French dinner at Le Périgord. Mad Men is a juicy entrée into the lifestyles (wining and dining very much included) of the select men and women working at a first-rate New York advertising agency in the sixties. It’s not the plot so much that interests me, but the elegant environment in which it takes place, sorely missing in this all-too casual era.
Located at 405 East 52nd Street, Le Périgord is a gem of a restaurant that has stood the test of time. The formal French service and the beautiful, bold, fresh-cut roses that grace each table charms me with every visit. Le Périgord attracts a blend of locals, diplomats and politicians alike (as it is located a few blocks from the UN).
Fresh roses on every table. Le Périgord is one of the few restaurants where the customers aren’t busy texting and depositing their buzzing blackberries on the dinner table.
Richard Nixon used to dine here quite often and a published photo of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton under the restaurant’s awning in 1964 put Le Périgord on the map. When Georges Briguet bought the restaurant, he made sure not to change its name.
I ordered off the restaurant week menu which includes three courses for $35.00. It’s available until Labor Day and it’s an excellent value.
The cuisine is classic French so all dishes are served with rich, velvety sauces. To start I had the vegetable tart perched in a butter sauce. The tart, which was akin to quiche, was filled with a mosaic of vegetables and robust in flavor. They also have a cold salad bar with celery root remoulade and a selection of seafood, which you can just as easily make a full meal out of. The menu includes such favorites as asparagus with vinaigrette, Dover Sole and roasted duck.
For dessert I devoured the Grand Marnier soufflé. It was like breathing in a lightly scented orange cumulonimbus cloud. A great dining experience can simply evoke a certain time or feeling. That’s Le Périgord.
Read the entire review at NewYorkSocialDiary.com
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