Restaurant Raves: Prune & Perilla

I know this blog has primarily been an accumulation of my own recipes (or adaptations of others), but the reason I haven’t written in months is that I really haven’t made anything that I felt was worth writing about. Not only have the past couple months been quite busy – lots of birthdays, graduation, holiday weekends – but I get lazy when it comes to cooking in the summer months. Not to mention it just gets too damn hot in my apartment to turn on the stove. So today I’m going to switch it up a bit and share some quick highlights from two excellent meals I had out in the city!

First up, Gabrielle Hamilton’s Prune.  My foodie book club just finished Hamilton’s memoir Blood, Bones & Butter, so it only made sense to have our discussion at her restaurant. The tiny East Village spot is charming and girly: a bright pink awning matches the pink menus. The menu also sways to the feminine, which was unexpected given Hamilton’s bold and ballsy persona portrayed in her book. Our group started with sardines with triscuits & mustard, garrotxa cheese with buttered brown bread & salted red onion, and a shaved celery salad with warm blue cheese toast. I’ve never been one for sardines, but I even gobbled those down. For my entree, I had a whole grilled branzino with lots of lemon and fresh dill – perfectly flaky and light. For dessert we shared mascarpone ice cream with salted caramel croutons and rhubarb bread pudding. The mascarpone ice cream was a huge hit with the group.  The entire meal was delicious. All of the dishes were so simple, yet so flavorful.

photo credit: Justcook NYC

Next is Perilla. One of Top Chef  Harold Dieterle‘s restaurants (his other being Kin Shop, which I also recommend), Perilla was the perfect setting for the birthday dinner of a close friend. The ambiance and price point  are more on par with a special occasion or nice date, rather than a casual book club gathering like at Prune. Because the menu was a little pricey for us newly 24-year-olds, we stuck to wine and entrees. I tried the special: halibut with turnips and israeli couscous cooked in a lobster sauce. The birthday girl had hanger steak, which looked delicious, and she even let me try some of her “hen of the woods” mushrooms. We all scraped our plates clean, but the leaner portions left plenty of room for dessert. For that, we headed to one of my favorite gems – Buvette – but I’ll have to dedicate a full post to that another day.

photo credit: The Daily Dish

Prune: 54 East 1st Street (between 1st & 2nd avenue), accepts lunch & dinner reservations, brunch first come first serve

Perilla: 9 Jones Street (off of West 4th), accepts reservations

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