West Village's Perry St. restaurant remains a gem

Chef Cedric Vongerichten, Jean-Georges' son, in front of

Chef Cedric Vongerichten, Jean-Georges' son, in front of Perry St., which reopened in February after undergoing renovations post-Sandy. (April 15, 2013) (Credit: Bloomberg News)

Jean-Georges Vongerichten's Perry St., the gem of a restaurant destroyed by Sandy, is back.

As long as you get a good table and order the right dishes, this West Village spot is as satisfying as ever. And it's as aggravating as ever when you don't.

The night Sandy struck, Perry St.'s kitchen was flooded with five feet of water. The bill: $420,000 for the renovation, $352,000 to relocate staff and $1.12 million in lost revenue.

Down-home dish

Since reopening in late February, however, Perry St. is again serving some of the city's best fried chicken. The meat is flavorful, the skin is crisp and it comes with a scotch bonnet sauce spicy enough to pass muster on Flatbush Avenue.

It's not a dish you might expect in a high-priced Richard Meier apartment building overlooking the Hudson River.

With white chairs, white walls and white banquettes, the dining room is among New York's most beautiful. Then, a host seats you on a backless chair in the lounge, even though you have a reservation. This is where you'll eat, in front of an exposed-filament bulb hanging at eye-level. Really?

Wine crimes

Amid such inconveniences, your $38 butter-poached lobster, affordable by city standards, is pure Jean-Georges: French technique fused with an Asian sensibility in the form of clean kaffir lime and lemongrass. Lesson learned. When eating a full meal, avoid the lounge and the bar, where you have to wave for service like a Grand Prix flag man. And while wines are lovely, wine service is not. Order any wine, and it's poured out of sight, without bottle presentation and sometimes after your food has arrived.

Damp dumplings

Not that a steely Alsatian riesling would do much to salvage a pile of soggy crab dumplings. Fried calamari, leaden and damp, clump like glue. The cooking by Cedric Vongerichten, Jean-Georges' son, is hit or miss.

Crispy-skinned bass with maitake mushrooms and basil broth wouldn't be out of place at Dad's three-Michelin-starred flagship. Perry St., imperfect as ever, is still pretty good. Mostly, usually.

PERRY ST. Dinner daily, lunch weekdays, weekend brunch, 176 Perry St., Manhattan

INFO All dishes $38 or under, tasting menu $78; 212-352-1900, perrystrestaurant.com

Also

If you can't get a table at Perry St., there's no shortage of Jean-Georges restaurants in the city these days. Here's the short list:

JEAN-GEORGES Vongerichten's flagship in the Trump Hotel Central Park, recipient of three Michelin stars. 1 Central Park West, 212-299-3900, jean-georgesrestaurant.com

NOUGATINE The casual sibling, also in the Trump Hotel, but no sloppy second. 1 Central Park West, 212-299-3900, jean-georgesrestaurant.com

JOJO The first NYC restaurant, in an elegant Upper East Side brownstone, with a contemporary French menu. 160 E. 64th St., 212-223-5656, jojorestaurantnyc.com

THE MERCER KITCHEN Market-driven dining downstairs in SoHo's Mercer Hotel. 99 Prince St., 212-966-5454, themercerkitchen.com

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