Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Per Diem


Downtown | Upscale



     Stepping into Per Diem is like stepping into the Great Gatsby. A giant glass-framed chandelier at the restaurant's entrance provides immediate shelter from the hustle and bustle of the Financial District. 
     Vanessa, the expert sommelier and Assistant to GM Chris Parks, leads us to the bar where we are met with this neat contraption: 


Pimm's Cup
Pimm’s No. 1, Tanqueray Gin, Cucumber, Fever Tree Bitter Lemon

     There is a distinct 20th century, downtown-yet-upscale vibe to the restaurant. As we are lead to our dining table upstairs, we are accompanied by low romantic lights and deliberate, sophisticated decorations. We were ready for a feast.

To Begin

Crispy Pork Belly
Cauliflower Mousse, Green Peppercorn Puree, Fried Egg,
Truffle Oil

     Now that's what I call an appetizer! The Crispy Pork Belly plate truly wowed me. The vivid fushia and bright yellow yolk of the fried egg are a mouthwatering backdrop to the juicy pork belly, center. The pork belly itself was tender and full of flavor, without being greasy. Perfect balance. Paired with the fried egg cauliflower mousse, truffle oil, and green peppercorn puree, it becomes quite the hearty and balanced dish. 

Oysters on the Half Shell

     Full disclosure: I am a sucker for all things seafood. These oysters tasted like they were drawn up from the foggy bay just moments before they were placed on our platter. Paired with the olive oil and herbs, they were a refreshing hor d'oeuvre before my hearty Italian meal.

Poutine
Fries, Local Cheese Curds, Oxtail Gravy

     The Poutine Fries were very popular in our party. We referred to them as the gourmet "animal-style" fries, which is among the highest of compliments, let me assure you.

Entrees

Bucatini
Schmitz Ranch Pork Ragu all’Arrabbiata, Shaved
Pecorino, Crispy Basil Leaf 

     My entree of choice was Per Diem's signature dish, the Bucatini - with Schmitz Ranch pork ragu all’arrabbiata, shaved pecorino, and crispy basil leaf. As I began to twirl my first nest of pasta, I recognized how and why this was the signature dish of a largely Italian restaurant. Taking my first bite, my suspicions were confirmed: this dish was no joke. We're talking robust flavor, hearty pasta and pork ragu, and ending with the comfort that all good Italian dishes do. Talk about comfort food! The light and crisp basil leafs were an amazing offset to the filling pasta. I brought my appetite to dinner, and left very satisfied.

Tagliatelle
Little Neck Clams, Arugula Pesto, Garlic, Chili

     For a lighter dish, there is the Tagliatelle and Little Neck Clams, with arugula pesto, garlic, and chili. I adore the healthy green color of the pesto on this seafood dish.

Short Rib
Braised Short Rib, Barley, Consume, Mushroom Capelleti,
Cultured Thyme Butter

     Carnivores will be pleased with the Braised Short Ribs, made complete with a healthy serving of barley, consume, mushroom capelleti, and cultured thyme butter

Cioppino
Sustainable Gulf Shrimp, Dungeness Crab, PEI Mussels, 
Calamari in Tomato Saffron Broth with Crostone

     Nick ordered the Cioppino, which was a delectable seafood stew containing sustainable gulf shrimp, dungeness crab, PEI mussels, calamari in tomato saffron broth with crostone. This one is great for a filling dish for those with a sea(food)tooth.

Mary's Chicken
Roasted with Zuckerman Farms Fngerling Potatoes, Zuckerman
Farms Asparagus, Chicken Jus

      We finish off with a classic dish, of Mary's Chicken, roasted with Zuckerman Farms fingerling potatoes and asparagus, and chicken jus. There really is a dish for everyone here. 

Overall Experience



     I think it's safe to say that Per Diem provides a delightful dining experience on all levels. 
     Romantic, sophisticated vibes, reminiscent of the Great Gatsby era, settle you into the fine dining experience. This atmosphere compliments your meal whether you are on a date, with a group, or a businessman at the bar after work.
     Food itself at Per Diem is divine. From light seafood dishes to hearty Pork Belly and Bucatini, anyone can find something on the menu to fall for. Not only in taste, but in gorgeous, premeditated presentation as well. This goes very far with me. 
     Another thing that I really appreciate, coming from a food service job for years as an SF barista, is great service - another calculated amenity you can look forward to here. Vanessa, the sommelier I mentioned previously, is a true vituoso of her craft. She  checked on our table numerous times and even brought our party a bottle of champagne when she heard we were celebrating an anniversary! Our waitress was also extremely knowledgeable of the menu as well as super friendly. 
     With great food comes great responsibility. Per Diem steps up to the challenge, delivering prompt, friendly and skilled service, exquisite cuisine, and a comfortable yet refined setting to top it all off. I cannot recommend it enough.



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4 comments:

  1. Wow...Great write up!! I'd love to come to dinner with you the next time you go to Per Diem! :) All the dishes look and sound amazing...Some of my favs: poutine (had this for the first time in Cincinnati, yum), the pork belly and I'm a sucker for bucatini with ~any~ ragu. I can't wait for dessert!

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    1. Thanks Ellen! I'm a fan of your blog :) I could see Cincinnati having some great poutine. I will def let you know the next time I eat at Per Diem - and this time leave room for dessert!!

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  2. you've done it again chelsea! beautiful work!

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