By way of a very public community board meeting, word is out that Top Chef, Season One winner Harold Dieterle has finally made some real progress on opening his long-anticipated restaurant, Perilla. The location of the restaurant will be 9 Jones Street, formerly Inside, where he's got a signed lease and the provisional blessing from the community board to get a liquor license (hat tip to Ken Friedman of the Spotted Pig for speaking on Dieterle's behalf at last week's CB2 meeting). It's been a while since we heard from the Top Chef, and, frankly, we missed the guy, so today was as good a day as any to sit down with him for a coffee.
Perilla, HD tells us, is named for the Japanese shiso leaf but will be a mostly modern, casual American restaurant. Design is underway and will be handled by Studio Go and Geegory Okshetyn; the menu, though a work in progress, is beginning to take shape with items like a hamachi with cucumber, avocado, tomato water and yuzu caviar and the okinowa yam dumplings with purple sweet potatoes and spice duck meatballs; Alicia Nosenzo, formerly director of operations for the Bradley/Abrams empire, is the new enterprise's managing partner.
So the kid has got it all figured out, it seems. What in the hell, then, has been the hold-up in these many months since Top Chef ended? Well, he had to make sure the Kenmore Kitchen was properly installed for his sister (true). He didn't spend the $100K on bling -- it went into the restaurant, along with cash from 13 other investors. So what then? Apparently, it's pretty damn hard to find a restaurant space in NY. He bid on and didn't get 50 Carmine; the Setacci owners weren't interested in selling their space on Hudson to him; Empire Szechuan on Greenwich Ave fell through; 54 Carmine (Shopsin's) "didn't feel right." Then, finally, West Village Benevolent Restaurateurs Association President Joey Campanero got a tip about the 9 Jones space and gave his former sous chef a call (Joey also got Mike Price installed at Shopsin's).
And that gets us to this here waiting game. Harold says the place will be open by "late Spring, early Summer," which probably means June. Frank Bruni, be cool; you'll have your chance to pen the first Top Chef restaurant review soon enough.