Five Things: Persimmon, Bristol

Monday, May 03, 2010


GoLocalProv's culinarian had dinner at the East Bay's hottest restaurant. Here are the five things he wants you to know. 

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Attention to detail: Every decision made by chef-owner Champe Speidel is clearly deliberate.  From the manicured dining room, daily menu and attentive staff, to the use of Carnaroli rice (instead of Arborio) for its firm texture in the risotto, these details tell me that Persimmon wants me to have an idyllic experience, leaving nothing to chance.

Pleasant Surprises: Start me off with an amuse-bouche any time. When it is an impeccably designed native apple and celery root soup brought to table just moments after I sit down, even better. Surprise me again by serving a warm lamb rillette. Forget tradition, I’m now convinced this typically cold spread was meant to be served warm.  Especially the way Chef Champe executes: he dips the rounded rillette in a mustard-and-bread-crumb mixture before pan frying, then serves it alongside a slow-roasted saddle cut of lamb.

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All About the Food: One great dish after another.  A risotto of fresh Maine shrimp and native butternut squash with Parmigianno-Reggiano had extraordinary depth of flavor and contrasting textures.  A dexterously prepared duck confit combined perfectly crispy/salty skin with a reduction sauce made from duck stock and infused with fresh rosemary just before service. (This resourcefully designed sauce takes two days to make and will have your taste buds thanking you for just as long.)

Go Green… or Go Home: Great food…  great, but you can still be eco-friendly too.  Persimmon’s use of local, seasonal food supported by an oil-recycling program through Newport Biodiesel tells me that they are passionate about nurturing the environment as well as their patrons.

Wine list: As a cocktail lover, I wanted a cocktail list to indulge in.  No luck, although bartender John Libonati’s Blood Orange Caipirinha demands imbibing!  Meanwhile: what Persimmon lacks in cocktail listings, it more than makes up for with its skillfully selected wine offerings. 

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Would I go back?  I already booked my return visit, with an eye on Chef Champe's $65, 6-course tasting menu.

Hit "Save": Persimmon, 31 State St, Bristol, 254-7474, Open Tues-Sat January-June, Tues-Sun July-December (closed Mondays all year). Dinner served starting at 5 pm, reservations accepted and walk-ins always welcome.


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