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« Brooklyn Diner | Main | Happy Passover to my fellow Heebs! »
Wednesday
Mar312010

Dinner at Yerba Buena Perry

  • Cuisine: Latin-fusion
  • Atmosphere: dark and sexy, modern art-deco, small yet breathable
  • Attire: smart-casual, trendy
  • Ideal for: 1x1/small groups, young and vibrant scene, cocktail expert, date night, great/knowledgeable service
  • Price: moderate/most entrees under $30
  • Phone: 212-620-0808
  • Reservations: via phone or www.opentable.com
  • Website: www.yerbabuenanyc.com
  • Location: 1 Perry Street (at Greenwich Avenue )

*All of my photos from this meal can be viewed on Flickr

Situated on the corner of Perry Street and Greenwich Avenue (in Manhattan's charming West Village neighborhood) stands Yerba Buena Perry, the second location of Julian Medina's popular restaurant.  Sophie and I arrived within moments of our 7:30pm reservation and could not help but notice that, despite it being a rainy Monday evening, the dining room was almost completely furnished with patrons. 

In addition to YBP's nightly dinner and cocktail menus, we were also handed a listing of what was being offered for the prix-fixe Seder.  *I bring this point up because I still, to this day, get tickled when non-kosher/Jewish restaurants acknowledge our holidays.  Trust me, this is NOT a common practice in my home state of Texas!

Yerba Buena Perry: table settingAfter perusing the menu, Sophie and I ultimately decided that we would share a handful of plates.  For appetizers, we chose the Guacamole and the Tacos de Pescado (fish tacos).  The Lechon (suckling pig) and a side order of choclo (Peruvian corn) would serve as our entree.    

Yerba Buena Perry: le menuBecause the dining room was so dimly lit, I didn't realize until after I uploaded my photos just how brown our guacamole was!  Aside from the crispy tortilla chips, which proved to be the appetizer's saving grace, I found the warmer-than-God-intended-it avocado dip to be too salty, due largely in part to the overuse of queso fresco.    

Yerba Buena Perry: guacamole Due to the rank taste of the guacamole, I was seriously beginning to question YBP's popularity and every person/food critic that sang its praises.  Luckily, the Tacos de Pescado (fish tacos) would prove me wrong.  Served atop a warm, griddled 3"x3" corn tortilla was a rectangular hunk (approximately 1" in width and 2" in length) of delicately batter-fried tilapia (fish) finished with a colorful mound of sliced cabbage and chopped mango.  Finally, a sweet and spicy chipotle dressing bound and united the ingredients together.  Texturally, the dainty tilapia paired magically with the crunchy cabbage slaw.  The nectarous mango was an unexpected, yet very welcome, addition to an otherwise savory dish.    

Yerba Buena Perry: Tacos de PescadoWithin moments of finishing our appetizers, Sophie and I were presented with our Lechon (suckling pig) entree and side of choclo (Peruvian corn).  While she helped herself to the pork, I enthusiastically served myself two heaping spoonfuls of choclo.  I wondered whether this unique corn would be as delicious as it was in Peru; hell, even Sushi Samba came awfully close with their version!  After each of our plates had helpings of both dishes, Sophie and I took our first bites.  As I heard our neighbors discussing the brisket "matzah" tacos (on the prix-fixe Seder menu), I felt a little guilty.  There I was, the rebel-Jew, not only digging in to pork - as if that wasn't bad enough on Passover - but feasting on suckling pig (a.k.a. a baby pig that is killed between 2-6 weeks of life), for God's sake.  Ooo, did I feel dirty!  What's worse, my guilt reached a new high when I realized that what I was eating wasn't even worth my mental anguish, taste-wise!

The lechon was shredded and served atop a flavorful yuca puree and drizzled with a habanero-tomato salsa (that was suffering from a serious lack of any sort of kick/spice).  I may not be an expert when it comes to pork, but I found the sacrificial meat very gristly: some bites yielded moist flesh, while others were quite dry.  The choclo (Peruvian corn), though not able to hold a candle to versions served in its namesake country OR at Sushi Samba, was passable at best.

Yerba Buena Perry: Lechon (suckling pig) Yerba Buena Perry: choclo (Peruvian corn)In the essence of sharing, Sophie and I split the Dulce de Leche Sundae for dessert.  Two scoops of dulce-de-leche (caramel) ice cream were topped with: candied pecans, sliced bananas, gooey caramel sauce, and homemade whipped cream.  Despite our waiter's high praises, I found the dessert merely OK.  There was something missing; perhaps the bananas should have been caramelized?  

Yerba Buena Perry: Dulce de Leche SundaeIn conclusion, my experience at YBP was just mediocre, in terms of the food.  That being said, the restaurant's staff excelled in customer service, knowledge of menu items, genuine care/courtesy, and overall pace.  In my opinion, those characteristics, alone, warrant a return visit. 

Until next time...

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