No matter our restaurant of choice, my boyfriend and trusty brunch companion is always reliable in his menu selections. Whereas I'm a fan of breakfast foods as late as 3:00 p.m., he's a solid burger guy. Serious Eaters know the infinite variations on the burger quite well, but at many restaurants, the burger simply an afterthought meant to appease less adventurous eaters. Not so at Perilla. In fact, the burger at this West Village restaurant, home of Top Chef Season 1 winner Harold Dieterle, is one of the menu's must-try dishes.
Dieterle has a real penchant for duck, and his spicy duck burger reflects that obsession. Much as he does with his signature dinner entrée of duck meatballs, the chef grinds the meat, then seasons it with a blend of scallions, thai chilis, and sriracha, resulting in a mild but well-pronounced heat that lingers pleasantly on the patale. The unconventional choice of meat works quite well, too—the extra fat content keeps the thick burger juicy but not leaky, with a nice char on the outside. And just as important as the patty, of course, is the bun, a homemade brioche that holds its contents without falling apart.
Perilla's brunch is wonderful in part because it's a great representation of the restaurant at dinner, and at half the cost. It's for that reason that nobody should leave without sharing an order of Dieterle's homemade doughnuts, which are the best restaurant doughnuts I've had to date. For brunch, they're served alongside a honey-apple compote that's perfect for fall.