We gave you a glimpse of strapping Australian celebrity chef Peter Evans yesterday when we revealed he’s shopping for a casual restaurant space in New York. But what’s really kept him busy in New York is eating. Evans was open to any and all suggestions during his visit — all he wanted was to take his sous-chefs to Per Se. See what else he consumed in this week’s New York Diet.
Friday, January 16
I hopped off the plane. I did a radio interview with James Cury from Epicurious and he suggested I go to Public. I went there and got a seat at the bar and I ordered the fried oysters with shiso leaf, which were delicious; foie gras on French toast; some barbecued scallops; and I also had some quinoa cakes with some white anchovies on top, which I think were the standout of the whole meal. It was all too much for one person to eat, so I became friendly with some people on either side of me and I shared that with other patrons at the bar. That was washed down with a chili-and-guava margarita. One of the chefs in there is from Australia. We would probably call [the cuisine] Modern Australian, or contemporary food, which means no rules.
Saturday, January 17
I don’t eat breakfast. At home I do, but over here I save myself for lunch and dinner. Saturday I don’t think I ate lunch because I was out till 4:30 in the morning. I think I slept through lunch, especially after the plane ride.
My two chefs arrived that day, so we went to Double Crown. The chef there, Chris Rendell, he’s an Australian chef that has worked in New York. He basically did a tasting for us; we left it up to him to decide. He fed us everything. The duck steamed buns with mint were probably the highlight for me. Then we had the pint of prawns — crispy fried shrimp heads — with Mary Rose sauce — gorgeous. We had a laksa soup with green-tea noodles. Next we had some seared yellowtail with lotus root and black-bean dressing. Fantastic. They had really good cutlery and plates and chopsticks — everything was presented really well. We had a chicken-and-coconut salad. Miso-glazed bone marrow. We had some tandoori foie gras with raisin toasts. And then we had a grouper-and-prawn hot-and-sour soup, and a braised short rib with parsnip. We had a couple of beers and a few of the dark-rum mojitos, and then we went to Madam Geneva and went home; we were exhausted.
Sunday, January 18
The next day we slept in again, and I wanted a hot dog from Times Square. We ate that at four o’clock and then we went to Per Se at seven.
Seventeen courses at Per Se. That was special, yeah. Fennel-and-bottarga soup to start; oysters and pearls; one of his signature dishes, butter-poached shrimp with something; truffle custard in the egg shell, an amazing piece of work. We had pressed rabbit — I don’t want to do it injustice by saying the wrong terminology, but like a terrine, really, with mustard. The next dish was roasted foie gras — he did a whole loaf of foie gras for us and cut it into five portions with baked kumquats, I think. Then a foie-gras sherbet with tarragon, then john dory with trumpet mushrooms, then they brought out a truffle larger than my fist and we had a chestnut ravioli with shaved black truffle over the top. We’re talking lots and lots of black truffle. Then we had Bresse chicken — the best chicken you can get in the world — with leek. An amazing veal dish, veal sweetbread, veal loin, and veal saddle, and one other part, served with Hen of the Woods mushrooms, spectacular. Then we had a cheese course, and on the plate there were ten cheeses. I said, “don’t do dessert.” We all said we’d rather have cheese. Then we finished with some chocolate dessert with grapefruit, or blood orange. I won’t even dare try to describe what it was. I don’t eat desserts, but it was amazing.
Monday, January 19
The next day I went to Fatty Crab for lunch. We had pork-belly tea sandwiches, green mango with chili salt, caramelized pork belly with watermelon. I had one of their sliders, which was pork again, magic. Then we had their famous chili crab, Dungeness crab. We also had a coconut soup with bass and noodles. I was a little bit hung-over, so I only had one beer, a Tiger beer.
For dinner: room service. I needed a break: A vegetable quesadilla.
Tuesday, January 20
The next day was lunch at Sushi Yasuda, and I had an amazing miso soup with little mushrooms in it. It was a dark miso; it was fantastic, so good. Then I just asked the sushi chef for whatever he thought. We had Tasmanian ocean trout, which was fantastic to eat something from home. We had about 30 different types of sushi. It was the best sushi I’ve had anywhere outside of Tokyo. Sydney and Melbourne are very similar to New York, only smaller, so we have very good restaurants. We’re just a tenth, or a hundredth of the size. All the restaurants we’ve eaten at, we nearly have an equivalent, except for Per Se. Our [sushi] equivalent would be Tetsuya, who’s in the top ten in the world himself. He’s Japanese-French cuisine.
The next night we went to Boqueria in Soho and we had pan con tomate, jamón on bread, wild-mushroom croquettes, pork-belly croquettes, salted cod, and bacon-wrapped dates on skewers. I forget what we had next.
Then we went to Otto, and we had nine of the starters, the antipasti, and we shared a few pizzas. We shared the vongole, the Romano with the anchovy on top, the fennel and bottarga, prosciutto, and we also shared a bucatini Amatriciana. There were five of us, and then we went to PDT for a drink afterward. I had one drink only, a Paddington Bear flavored with marmalade, which was extremely good. This was Inauguration Day, a pretty wild day.
Wednesday, January 21
I worked Wednesday. I cooked dinner for 350 people at the Waldorf, a benefit dinner for G’Day USA. That’s what I’m here for, and scouting around.