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“Monday Night Beer Dinners at Perilla”
I don't get out much anymore. Life with a 7-month old is consumed by a perpetual shortage of time and energy. However, when I do go out, it better be good. An evening featuring a stroll through the West Village, good food, beer, and adult conversation is preferred. Perilla, on Jones Street, offers all of the above. Conveniently, they are also offering a 5-course tasting menu with beer pairings, available on Monday nights in June, July and August. The dinners showcase a new craft brewery and menu each month, all for $60 per person. Let the date nights begin.
Full disclosure, I am biased when it comes to Harold Dieterle’s firstborn NYC restaurant. It has long been a standby on my list of eateries and with a changing seasonal menu, my husband and I return time and again whenever we emerge from the far recesses of babyland.
Combining Perilla's inventive dishes with beer seemed perfectly natural to us (particularly because we often pre-game at nearby Blind Tiger, as any mature adult should). We immediately pinky-sweared to attend one tasting each month. Yet, after indulging in the June menu, designed to pair with selections from Evil Twin Brewery, I may have to break that promise. Weekly dinners anyone?
The meal started with an amuse bouche of cucumber, banana, and grapefruit confit flecked with peppery grains of paradise. Light, sweet and as refreshing as a full night's sleep, it was a quirky little palate cleanser to begin the meal.
The first Evil Twin brew to grace the table was a bright, bitter Mad Dog Pale Ale, rusted amber in color and bursting with citrus notes. While it worked with the cucumber, it was born to compliment the turkey scrapple, the culinary equivalent of a wake up call alerting you to the fun meal ahead.
Scrapple doesn't exactly conjure up images of fine dining, but this was elegant beer food at its best—salty for all the right reasons with bite from the mustard caviar and a delicate quail egg on top. If this dish were on a brunch menu, there would be lines out the door to try it.
Next up, pork. Perfectly cooked with a tinge of pink in the middle, it was served on a bed of pine nuts sautéed with scallions and natural jus (a combination I will no doubt attempt to recreate at home). The plums coated in crispy quinoa and pine nut purée further elevated the dish to compliment the Ron and the Beast Ryan, a saison with banana and bubblegum notes. Yes, bubblegum. It was as strange as it sounds, but somehow worked to give the pork a gamier quality that helped accentuate its local upbringing.
The precursor to dessert was a small bite of ice cream that blurred the lines between sweet and savory in more ways than one. Mild in taste, the sunchoke gelato brought silkiness to the crunchy toffee. While a textural oddity, the prosciutto gelee added a pop of salt. A bit of crispy bacon topped it all off, because we all know that no beer dinner would be complete without bacon in a dessert.
The actual dessert course was the only one that fell a little short, although chocolate lovers might disagree. The chocolate caramel tart was well suited, but far too rich for the Imperial Biscotti Break Baltic porter, which is a meal unto itself. The malt ice cream mixed with the coffee praline, however, is a brilliant combination that should be sold by the gallon. Together with the porter's powerful punch of coffee, chocolate, and almond, it acted like a deconstructed, alcoholic root beer float, and the perfect end to a playful, beer-centric meal.
With the $60 per person price tag, all this seemed like a dream. Until the clock struck 8, and it was time to go home and pay the sitter (or in our case, Grandma).
Monday Night Beer Dinners at Perilla will run June thru August with a new menu and brewery each month. Next up for Mondays in July: a 5-course menu paired with a selection of Brian Strumke's Stillwater Artisanal Ales. The menu includes seared scallops, brisket, basil sorbet and more. August brewery/menu is yet to be announced. For details, visit www.perillanyc.com.
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