Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Pomegranates for Persephone
Being the big Classics nerd that I am, I have been anticipating the Achilles Project for a while. It consists of a high-end boutique (Achilles) and a lounge and restaurant (Persephone) in one large space. It's an interesting mix, but honestly, it's a little hard to tell that it's a store. At night, when the boutique section is closed and the racks are moved to form little glassed-in, hanging exhibits (you really just need to see it for it to make sense), the space is all about the food and drink. The lounge area is very white and bright, a nice change from many bars, while the dining room in the back is darker in light and decor color. The change delineates the two rooms, even though they consist of one large space.
I didn't have a full meal, only tried tastes of a bunch of different things, but based on what I tasted, I'll be back soon. Everything is fresh, and the flavors pack a real punch. Michael Leviton, from Lumiere, heads up the kitchen, and he brings much of the same local, organic, sustainable product mentalities that abound in the Lumiere kitchen to Persephone.
The highlights for me were the crispy gulf shrimp with shishito peppers and lime-scented fleur de sel ($8) and the Lucki 7 Farms pork ribs ($9). The shrimp, still in their ultra-thin shells, were fried in a very light coating. They were salty and crispy and a perfect little snack or start to a meal. The ribs were incredibly tender, to the point that they were literally falling off the bone. The spicy hoisin sauce is a bit messy, but hey, they're ribs - at least you don't need a bib to eat these.
The grilled serrano ham & manchego cheese sandwich ($9) was tasty but no knock out as an appetizer. If this is on the lunch menu (they open for lunch in a few weeks), however, it would be a great mid-day meal. The braised veal shoulder ($39, from the "extra large" section of the menu, meant for sharing) was even more tender than the ribs. Served with polenta, tomatoes, and kalamata olives, it would be a hearty and warming meal to share.
Drinks, too, were delicious and out of the ordinary. I laughed outloud at the "Obligatory $15 Chowhound-Predicted Pomegranate Martini" ($9) because I remembered reading that exact Chowhoud post a week earlier. I much prefered the Desperate Housewife ($12, with Nigori sake, blueberry syrup, Gray Goose bodka, cranberry, ginger and lemon) and the Petal Punch ($12, with Milagro silver tequila, peach and pomegranate liquor, lemon zest and chamomile tea). Other drinks made me squee in my nerd-dom with names like "Spiced Pyrus," "Achilles' Heel," and "Spartan Sling."
I'm definitely looking forward to the chance for a full meal at Persephone - if what I tasted is indicative of what comes out of the kitchen, I'm sure they're going to be quite busy. I better make a reservation now.