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Perdix last night--awesome service (long)

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Perdix last night--awesome service (long)

Sarah W-R | Jun 12, 2005 08:40 PM

Went to Perdix last night with spouse and another couple. Food was great but the service was STELLAR.

We had a reservation for 6:30 (we called on Friday for Saturday rez and got choice of 6:30 or 9:30). Although my husband was still parking the car, the three of us were shown straight to the table, the nicest one then available, back in the sort of sunroom area in the back. It was appreciably cooler than the main restaurant, which was great on a sticky-hot night, and I was pleased by the fact that we got a desirable table despite all of us being, and looking like, 30-year-old graduate students.

The bottle of NZ Sauvignon (at the bottom of the price range at $36) that we wanted was unavailable, but our server very knowledgeably and diplomatically steered us toward another bottle that turned out to be delicious as well as economical.

My husband and I had the salad with lemon vinaigrette and the softshell crabs to start. Salad was a big bowl of just greens, great mix of soft- and sharp-flavored leaves, with a perfect amount of tangy dressing. Softshell crabs were DIVINE, absolutely melting in the mouth. Came with kernels of pickled corn (good) and "ham dumplings" (okay); the latter were more like dense fritters or hush-puppies, with a doughy and slightly gummy interior, not enough flavor.

As mains, my husband had the trout, two fat, golden-fried fillets with a shockingly generous garnish of plump curls of lobster meat. The melon salsa was fine but was just kind of sweet and mild; I wonder if it was intended to be a more piquant counterpoint to the rich fish. My entree was the halibut, a moist block of creamy white fish on a puddle of pesto-like "minted fava puree." The puree was amazing, summer in a lushly herbal mouthful, both rich and refreshing. But the stars of the plate, and of the whole meal for me, were the fried baby artichokes. Whole artichoke heads the size of golf balls had been dipped in a very light batter and deep-fried. The outer leaves had frizzled and curled away from the head, and I detached them one by one. Crisp, salty, savory, fantastic, like tiny potato chips gone to heaven.

As dessert, the whole table split a single "classic creme brulee," which was fine (and HUGE, must have been a 10-oz ramekin), but not memorable--almost too unctuous, like eating melted Haagen-Dazs instead of custard. The custard was also still a bit warm; maybe it would have firmed up and become more silky, less gooey, if it had chilled longer.

After dinner was when the service, which had been eagle-eyed, discreet, and generous before, went above and beyond in its hospitality. The four of us had not seen each other in a while, and we had a LOT to talk about. Our meal was fairly leisurely, but over dessert, and after dessert, and after getting and signing the check, we REALLY lingered. We were still there, yapping away, at 10, over three hours after we sat down, and nobody bothered us.

I used to be a hostess at a similarly upscale restaurant in Cambridge, where one of my tasks was to gently but firmly turn tables if parties were done but still taking up real estate. When we took reservations, we counted on 90 minutes per party, unless it was a group of 6 or more. Certainly, if a group was sitting at a table for an hour after the check was paid, we would have removed everything from the table and stopped refilling their waters long since. I didn't like kicking people out, but that's just economics; more covers means staying in business. I don't know if any shuffling was required in the Perdix reservations book to accommodate our relaxing into the night (it was kind of a quiet night, the Saturday night of Pride weekend, so lots of people were out partying instead of going to fancy restaurants), but our waiter didn't come over and ask pointedly if we needed anything else, and the bus person kept topping up our waters, as we sat and sat. As we were leaving, I, realizing what time it was, was so embarassed that I couldn't bear to look at the waiter or the host. But the host followed us out onto the sidewalk to call "Thanks! Have a good night!"--with apparent sincerity.

I'm amazed and humbled by Perdix' total commitment to the idea that diners are guests and that an evening out should be an experience of total relaxation and being discreetly taken care of.

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