At least, I had an incredible experience in 2012. Perhaps some things have been off lately? Could be, but I do know my dinner was impeccable and for that, they deserve all the credit.
Nestled on the 4th floor of the shops at Columbus Circle is this NYC gem. Nah, screw gem, this is a huge obnoxious rare diamond! I went for lunch on a Friday. The outside seating area was all empty and the grand dining area with a view was completely full. It is a great idea to go during the day because the view is to die for. We were lucky to score a window seat although the view is really seen anywhere you sit. Right away I noticed something was missing and this nagged me the entire time. NO MUSIC. It is SO eerily quiet to the point that it's almost uncomfortable. There is a SSHH factor there. It makes you speak in very hushed tones and that's hard for the 2 Cubans at our table (me being one of them!). All kidding aside, it was just too quiet. A little jazz would have been appropriate and thoroughly enjoyable. Service was perfect and seamless at all times.
The lunch kicked off with their Gruyere balls and their salmon tartare (which I recognize from my visit to French Laundry a couple of years ago). Exactly the same and just as delicious as the first time! We then had the citrus hamachi which was just amazing. So fresh and perfectly seasoned. In between we indulged in several of their Parker House rolls. Those are decadent and to die for.
I had the bacon wrapped scallops as my main course which was tasty (but could have been hotter) and our friends had the lamb and veal. All were excellent. Even though it was lunch time, everyone still dressed nice and elegantly including jackets and ties for the men.
Just when we were half joking that this meal was quite fast compared to that at Eleven Madison (and all their surprise tasty supplements) they started serving us dessert sweets and treats from all angles. Hi. Have we met? I have a huge sweet tooth. Truffles, chocolates, macaroons, donuts...sigh. Simply delightful. It was a wild Keller tribute to Willy Wonka done oh so well. The cappuccino and the smooth foam is just as photographed and even better in person. There has to be some magic going on to get it that perfect. Needless to say, we were swooned.
Their corkage fee is pretty steep at $ 90.00 ($35.00 at Eleven Madison) and just like my gripe with Le Bernadin, the wine list is outrageously priced. To splurge on a meal is one thing. To splurge on a wine that is $150.00 at the wine shop and $ 400.00 here is absurd. But I digress, back to my happy dessert place.
I really loved this restaurant and our experience here.
I went to Per Se about 2 years ago. It was my first time to go to Michelin 3-star restaurants in New York, so I was so excited. Of course, I knew expensive but it was an investment for me because I could know how the highest level of restaurants were. We spent about 4 hours for lunch because there were a lot of dishes. Unfortunately, I wasn't impressed the dishes so much. The only memorable dish was "oysters and pearls". The atmosphere and service were amazing. We could see the kitchen after eating. They looks well-trained.
It's difficult to go again because of the high price, but I want to go again someday.
I'm not really one for fancy french food - I'd much prefer a food truck or a sloppy BBQ place! However, even as someone who thought they wouldn't really enjoy this place, I absolutely adored it. The decor is absolutely beautiful with a minimalist look that carries throughout the entire place, even to the plating of the food. Everyone that works here is very nice, and the portions are generous without being garish.
NYC Foodie Girl's Top Foodie Picks --that's a hard topic! I'm asked a lot, "So, you write a blog about food - what's your number one place?" "Where should I go for the best NY pizza?" "Where can I have a romantic dinner?"
This happens often, so I thought I'd share some of my favorite spots in a series of posts, focusing on Manhattan, since this is where I primarily dine and know best.
This is my first post regarding Luxury Romantic Dining options - my top 3 picks. Your comments and feedback are welcome!
These are in no particular order, but here it goes:
Luxury Romantic Dining - NYCFG Picks the Top 3 for Manhattan - New York City:
Per Se - 10 Columbus Circle (Time Warner Center complex at Columbus Circle)
This restaurant makes you feel like you're a millionaire. Its white table cloths and service leaves you wanting for nothing and trust me, nothing is overlooked here. When you dine at this establishment, you won't feel like there are others in the room - you have very attentive service and the view is almost as delicious as the cuisine! Truly a special occasion restaurant.
Be sure to break out the Louboutins and wear all the accoutrements for a luxury evening out. And FYI: This is not for the weak wallet!
Read more Luxury Romantic Dining - NYCFG Picks the Top 3 for Manhattan - New York City: http://www.nycfoodiegirl.com/2014/07/nycfgs-foodie-picks-top-3-luxury.html
Per Se 10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019 (212) 823-9335
Chef: Thomas Keller
Neighborhood: Upper West Side
Famous Dishes: Pear & Oyster
Occassion: I was here for lunch on Sunday
What I had: 5 course $205 ( service included )
Michelin: Three stars
PEARLS ” “Sabayon” of Pearl Tapioca with Island Creek Oysters and Sterling White Sturgeon Caviar
SLOW POACHED HUDSON VALLEY MOULARD DUCK FOIE GRAS
Oat ”Crisp,” Bing Cherries, Hakurei Turnips Sicilian Pistachios and Frisée Lettuce
Served with Toasted Brioche
Some of salts are more than 130 years old. Assorted sea salts for above dish
for SLOW POACHED HUDSON VALLEY MOULARD DUCK FOIE GRAS
“BAVAROIS” OF HAWAIIAN HEARTS OF PEACH PALM Cope’s Corn “Tuile,” Garden State Peaches, Hass Avocado and Red Veined Arugula
GEORGES BANK SEA SCALLOP
Matsutake Mushrooms Squash Blossoms Coin Onions Crispy Young Ginger and Bonito ”Consomme”
”PAVE DE SAINT – PIERRE”
Heirloom Tomatoes, Caramelized Fennel, Picholine Olives and ”Billi Bi”
”COQ AU VIN”
Chanterelle Mushrooms Melted King Richard Leeks Sweet Carrots and Red Wine Vinegar Sauce
”COQ AU VIN”
Chanterelle Mushrooms Melted King Richard Leeks Sweet Carrots and Red Wine Vinegar Sauce
Black Mission Fig with Thomcord Grape Gelée, Fennel Pollen Génoise, and Tellicherry Pepper Pastry Cream
VON TRAPP BROTHERS’ “OMA ”
Banana – Walnut ”Madeleine, ” Celery Branch and Maple – Banyuls Gastrique
Ah, Per Se, the culinary temple for gastronomes. The quintessential 4-Star restaurant. Many people, including Sam Sifton, former restaurant critic of the NY Times, call Per Se the best restaurant in New York City. Well, I was lucky enough to snag one of their 16 tables, three Sundays ago, and see for myself. Is Per Se the best restaurant in NYC? That is all subjective. Is Per Se amazing? Sure. Is it magical? Absolutely.
Per Se is one of the most amazing dining experiences you will ever have. But, it comes at a price. $295, including tip and tax. The setting is truly inspired, all tables overlooking Columbus Circle and Central Park. It's stunning. Beautiful. The food is exquisite, complex, 4-star all the way. The service is impeccable.
We started with two amuses; a small puffed pastry filled with gruyere and a cone of salmon tartar and créme fraiche. Both of these babies were bites of pure joy. The salmon tartar cone, a gourmet version of bagels and lox. Ingenious and loveable.
Next up came Per Se's most famous dish; "Oysters and Pearls". "Sabayon" of Pearl Tapioca with Island Creek Oysters and Sterling White Sturgeon of Caviar. I could see why it is their most famous dish. It was one of the best dishes I had ever eaten. Mind-blowing. Did I have a culinary orgasm? Multiple.
Ruby Beet Tart, Sunchoke "Bavarois", Toasted Hazelnuts, Belgian Endive, and Navel Orange Coulis, was very nice. A unique way to serve salad
Potato Crusted Mediterranean Lubina, with Pickled Onion Petals, Fork Crushed New Crop Potatoes, Hen Egg Emulsion and Whole Grain Mustard, was perfectly delicious. Great flavor and texture combined. My dining companion had her orgasm with this dish.
Butter Poached Nova Scotia Lobster, with Sugar Pie Pumpkin Purée, Honey Poached Cranberries, Caramelized Gingerbread, and Brown Butter, was fabulous. A truly sexy dish. That gingerbread took this dish to another level. Unfathomable greatness.
Maine Matsutake Mushroom Porridge; Cracked Koshihikari Rice, Braised Makombu, Sour Apple, Cilantro, and Bonito Emulsion, was out of this world. A mushroom dish like no other. Magic in a bowl.
Four Story Hill Farms's Guinea Hen, with Glazed Parsnip, Chestnut Mousseline, and "Sauce Périgourdine", was tasty, juicy, and splendid.
Snake River Farms' "Calotte De Boeuf", with "Plat de Cotes", Turnips, Sweet Carrots, Watercress, and "Créme de Moelle", was beef heaven. Tender, elegant, wonderful.
Slow Roasted Elysian Fields Farm's Lamb Neck, with Pearl Barley, Glazed Salsify, Sultanas, and Parsley Purée, was a complexity of deliciousness. A medley of lamb wonderment.
Next came the cheese course. Meadow Creek Dairy's "Grayson", with Cauliflower Gratin, Black Winter Truffle, and Applewood Smoked Bacon Vinaigrette. I loved this! Playful and superb. Fantastic!
Desserts at Per Se are playful, unique, mind-blowing, and truly awesome!
Coconut Sorbet, with Marinated Pineapple, Young Coconut Water, and Pineapple Chips, was a gourmet Piña Colada. Ingenious and amazing.
"Purple Cow", Grape Soda, Vanilla "Génoise", Carmelized Fillo Chips, and Grape Sherbet, was grapedy grape greatness!
"S'mores", Dark Chocolate Torte, Vanilla Marhsmallow, Candied Peanuts, and Caramel Ice Cream, another winner. Can I have s'more please?
After dessert is more dessert. The best chocolates I had ever had are served in a fancy box at Per Se. Each one filled with different and original flavors. I would have eaten every single one of them if I hadn't had over 10 courses beforehand. "Wow" was all I could think.
Maybe some donuts would make you happy? Sure.
Or some truffles and macarons? Lay it on me.
Phew. That was a lot of food. So, is all this food the Best in NYC? Who knows. It depends really what you are into. I will tell you that if money is no object to you, then go for it. It will be one of the most magical dining experiences you will ever have. But, if you ask me, would I ever crave Per Se? No. This is a very pricey, special occasion restaurant. I crave New Malaysia Restaurant in Chinatown, or Pam Real Thai, in Hell's Kitchen.
It has been an incredible year. 1 year ago on June 15, I married the incredible Mr. Nom Nom with an incredible wedding in Maine, and then went on an incredible honeymoon that even made it into a magazine. On our honeymoon, we went to The French Laundry, where we had an incredible, memorable meal (though slightly below expectation). It was still great enough, and epic enough, that we decided that for our first anniversary, there was only restaurant we could go… Per Se.
Per Se is described as the “urban interpretation of The French Laundry” on their site, and is helmed by the same chef, Thomas Keller. Keller opened Per Se in 2004, about 10 years after The French Laundry, and it has long been on our grubbit-list.
We decided to save up and cap anniversary gifts at $20 to have a meal at the place that everyone said was the most famous in NYC.
So yesterday at noon, we sat down on the 4th floor of the Time Warner Center, looked out over Columbus Circle (and Columbus himself) and got ready to dine.
The room is very reminiscent of The French Laundry with some similar touches, but it still a restaurant unto itself with very high ceilings and a bit more modern touches.
Our waitress was nice enough to capture a shot of us at our table.
And the restaurant, as perfect as French Laundry, even printed special menus wishing us a Happy 1st Anniversary.
The format is similar, with a “Tasting of Vegetables” on one side…
And the “Chef’s Tasting Menu” on the other side. The 9 course full menu is $310, and this lunch menu has some additional options of a 7 course for $245 or a 5 course for $205. We had been saving our pennies so we went for it and did the full menu. There are also some supplements you can opt into, but we chose to stick to the regular menu. (For a fun infographic, check how how much you CAN spend at Per Se in case it’s not ridiculous enough…)
Rather than go with a wine pairing, which would have broken the already decimated bank, we went for starter cocktails and then had a few glasses of wine throughout the meal. These were possibly the most expensive cocktails I’ve ever had ($25 a pop) but they were flipping fantastic.
Mike had the Charlie Hustle which was Basil Hayden Bourbon, Aperol & Vanilla-Infused Carpano Sweet Vermouth. It was perfectly balanced with all the right amounts of everything to create a manly, but not mannish, drink.
And I had the Long Weekend, which was made with Plantation “20th Anniversary” Rum & Strawberries. It exploded with delicious strawberry flavor. It reminded me of a fresh strawberry popsicle from childhood.
We began with an amuse bouche of miniature cheese stuffed puffs. These were similar, if not the same as at French Laundry. But they were much more memorable. The cheese was so creamy and it really popped.
The salmon coronette was exactly was I remembered it from French Laundry.
A mouthful of salty, crunchy, fishy deliciousness. Great balance of all textures and flavors.
And then this spoon hit the table…
… and I could feel my heart filling with anticipation as I knew what was coming next.
The oysters and pearls. (Menu description: “Sabayon” of Pearl Tapioca with Island Creek Oysters and Sterling White Sturgeon Caviar).
This masterpiece bowl of awesome heaven defies all explanation. How this can be so fulfilling and so flavorful and so exciting blows my mind. Right now I am actually saddened by the fact that I do not know if I will ever be at either of these two restaurants ever again to have this dish again. There are few dishes that sing like this sings. It is obvious why this is so famous.
But as quickly as it began, it was over.
But a parker house roll with two house butters were there to try their damnedest to fill the void.
The first butter was salted and very similar (if not the same) as the French Laundry version. The second butter was unsalted but it was an insanely buttery tasting butter. Both very good and fun to taste the dichotomy of both versions.
The next dish was the Salad of French Laundry Garden Radishes (menu description: Hawaiian hearts of peach palm, hass avocado, bing cherries, and green almonds). This dish was so beautiful and so fresh.
I do not love radishes, but this could have made me love them. The sauces were so smooth and so flavorful, without taking away from the delicate tastes of the radishes.
Breads were offered throughout the evening, and we enjoyed sampling each of them. My favorite of the great batch was the pretzel. This is what pretzels should taste like. Why people make imitations that taste anything less than this is a crime against pretzels.
Our next dish was “Confit” of Dover Sole (menu description: Sweet carrots, morel mushroom “tempura,” wild asparagus and melted green garlic). The sauce was a great foil for the fish, which was slightly sweet.
I really enjoyed the mushroom “tempura” which added a hearty and earthy quality to the dish.
Next up was the Jade Tiger Abalone (menu description: Grilled corn shoots, Hakurei turnips, Surinam Cherries, and Piedmont hazelnuts). I have never had abalone to my recollection, but this sea snail didn’t tickle me as much as I was hoping. It was good, but I just would much rather a scallop.
That said, this was executed incredibly well, with a bit of crisp sear on the top and a lovely, earthy sauce.
Our next dish went into the meat world and was a Degustation of Four Story Hill Farm’s Suckling Pig (menu description: Marinated tomatoes, Lamborn pea tendrils, haricot verts, and “Sauce Gribiche”).
I cannot remember the details of how each was prepared, but all bites were packed with flavor and had all the right balances or acids, greens, sauces, and earthiness. And the tomatoes on the plate were somehow the sweetest tomatoes I’ve ever had. I have been sorely disappointed by pretty much every tomato I’ve had in recent years, but these were incredible.
Our last meat was Elysian Field Farm’s “Carré D’Agneau” (menu description: “Petit Salé,” English peas, romaine lettuce, spring onions, and “Paloise Gastrique”)
The plate was beautifully arranged and the peas, onions, and sauce were so bright and so spring. With the lamb I was wondering if flowers were going to start sprouting from our table.
The char and the salt on the meat brought out all the flavors.
This was the most tenderly flavored lamb I’ve ever tasted. It was distinctly lamby without being at all gamey.
As a segue into dessert, the cheese course was Consider Bardwell Farm’s “Pawlet” (menu description: Black truffle shortbread, granny smith apples, celery branch and Belgian endive).
This cheese was so good that I actually looked up the farm and where to get it (Murray’s Cheese!)
The short bread was so perfectly textured and the cheese with the apple… gosh… it was just so good.
Onto the desserts!
This is where the menu gets low on the details. It just says “Assortment of Desserts” with the description of Fruit, Ice Cream, Chocolate, and Candies. So apologies on the lack of details in my memory.
This was a rhubarb and strawberry something or other with some short bread pieces. It was fresh and creamy and lovingly balanced with textures and flavors with a hint of tart.
Then we had an almond ice cream with hazelnut and pistachio. Again… a simply perfect balance of texture and flavor. Refreshing and nutty.
Last “dessert on a plate” (great description from the waitress that made me laugh) as their take on an “After Eight.” I love mint and chocolate, and especially After Eights, so I really enjoyed this rich, but balanced dessert. Mike, who doesn’t like chocolate with mint at all, even gobbled it all up.
We then received a very sweet anniversary special treat. This stunning piece of art was entirely edible.
And it was as delicately delicious as it was delicately beautiful. What a treat!
But the gifts just kept on coming.
Next up was a box of homemade candies. He described each one and then made us choose. I chose a bourbon pecan milk chocolate while Mike went with an “Arnold Palmer” (ice team and lemonade) white chocolate. (I was very upset to not try the burnt honey one, especially after re-reading my French Laundry review and realizing that their burnt honey ice cream one of my favorite parts of the meal). But they were both really fantastic. I was really impressed at how much the Arnold Palmer tasted like tea and lemon.
We then received a “tower” that we assumed was to end the meal.
Lovely truffles on the bottom (one of the flavors was with beer)
Tender macarons in the middle (I think one was Earl Grey flavored)
And then caramels and nougat on top.
But oh no… we were not done…
Similar to how we ended our meal at French Laundry, we ended with fresh, warm donut holes and a “cappuccino semifredo” which looked like cappuccino but was made from a mousse with foam on top.
Served with fresh cherries.
We were so stuffed so I was thrilled when our waitress said she could pack up the rest of the tower to go (we had it for dinner!)
Then we were given a take-home of shortbread chocolate sandwiches. It is now the day after and I just had one. Sheesh. Bang. Zoom. How are cookies that good? The filling is soft and like a chocolate cloud with perfectly soft yet firm short bread. Awesome. A great flashback to every great flavor from yesterday.
What a meal! This was very reminiscent of our meal at French Laundry but it was actually just a little bit better. Each dish was similar in format and composition, with a similar order of the full meal (including the farm salad followed by a fish followed by a seafood followed by a pork followed by a lamb dish), but each component of Per Se sang just a little bit better. It felt more in tune. Maybe this is the final nail in the coffin about my preference for the East Coast over the West Coast, but I’m curious how others who have had the incredibly pleasure of eating at both would compare the two.
Overall, our meal was just so phenomenal. As perfect as French Laundry and just a hair more delicious.
Worth it? Absolutely not if you have any practicality in your body whatsoever. But I do not when it comes to food. Especially celebratory food. I don’t have fancy cars or fancy clothes. I don’t go to concerts or fly in first class. I eat like this. And I love it.
Total Nom Points: 9 out of 10 (really more like a 9.2 to give it a bit of an edge over our meal at The French Laundry)
Another visit to my favorite restaurant in New York City! gals #NoLeftovers gastronogram infatuation foodandwine nytfood eater_ny
Wine Pairing 1: Mot & Chandon, Dom Prignon, pernay 2004.
Complimentary Course: NOVA SCOTIA LOBSTER "CHOWDER"- Yukon gold potato "blini" & applewood smoked bacon gals #NoLeftovers gastronogram infatuation foodandwine nytfood eater_ny
Wine Pairing 2: Domaine Bernard Defaix, "Vaillons," Chablis Premier Cru, Burgundy France 2013
OYSTERS & PEARLS- "Sabayon" of Pearl Tapioca with Island Creek Oysters & California Sterling White Sturgeon Caviar gals #NoLeftovers gastronogram infatuation foodandwine nytfood eater_ny
Complimentary Course: PACIFIC ABALONE- "Falafel," Garbanzo Beans, Hearts of Romaine Lettuce & Mint Yogurt gals #NoLeftovers gastronogram infatuation foodandwine nytfood eater_ny
Wine Pairing 3: Gonzales Byass, Palo Cortado, VORS, "Apostles," Jerez MV
Complimentary Course: FRENCH LAUNDRY HEN EGG CUSTARD- "Ragot" of Black Winter Truffles gals #NoLeftovers gastronogram infatuation foodandwine nytfood eater_ny niloumotamed kkrader
Wonderful Bread Selection along with Per Se's Vermont Animal Farm Butter exclusive to Per Se & French Laundry (only 10 cows in total) and Assorted Salts from around the world- baguette, sourdough, multigrain, pretzel gals #NoLeftovers gastronogram infatuation foodandwine nytfood eater_ny
Wine Pairing 4: Kirlyudvar, "Cuve Ilona," Tokaji, Hungary 2008
SAUTED HUDSON VALLEY MOULARD DUCK FOIE GRAS- Celery Root Cream, Wilted Arrowleaf Spinach, Medjool Dates, Toasted Hazelnuts & "Jus de Canard" gals #NoLeftovers gastronogram infatuation foodandwine nytfood eater_ny
Wine Pairing 5: Franz Hirtzberger, Riesling, Smaragd, "Singerriedel," Spitz, Wachau Austria 2013
ATLANTIC MONKFISH "EN PICATTA"- Caramelized Artichoke Pure, Spring Garlic & Picholine Olive Tapenade gals #NoLeftovers gastronogram infatuation foodandwine nytfood eater_ny
After a deeply enjoyable lunch at Per Se recently, I started thinking about what it means to be a four-star restaurant.
Most of us can’t afford a Rolls Royce, a Jaguar, or a Maserati. Yet, most of us respect those cars. They captivate us. If offered a free ride in a Rolls, wouldn’t we all jump at the chance?
Not so with four-star restaurants. There’s a large sub-culture that finds these bastions of luxury actively worse — who wouldn’t care to visit them, even if they were free, and who certainly don’t find the stratospheric sticker prices remotely worthwhile.
Luxury restaurants coddle you. Some diners are stubbornly resistant to coddling. It’s not just that they’re willing to pay less, in exchange for the same food with worse service. They actually prefer it that way. Frank Bruni captured the ethos of the new generation in his first review of Momofuku Ssäm Bar:
Ssam Bar answers the desires of a generation of savvy, adventurous diners with little appetite for starchy rituals and stratospheric prices.
They want great food, but they want it to feel more accessible, less effete.
These comments captured the false dichotomy. If you don’t join them, you’re un-savvy and effete. Good service is a “starchy ritual,” a religious ceremony repeated endlessly for no logical purpose.
Type “tyranny of tasting menus” into google: dozens of stories return: “Nibbled to Death,” as Pete Wells put it. A Vanity Fair story featured caricatures of several scowling chefs, including Per Se’s Thomas Keller. The piece, “Tyranny—It’s What’s For Dinner,” referred to “totalitarian style” and “unconditional surrender.” (See Eater National’s useful summary of such articles.)
Keller has the perfect rejoinder to these complaints:
[The] argument was that diners don’t have a choice when they come to French Laundry, but….you make the choice when you make the reservation.
Tasting-menu-only restaurants are more common than they used to be, but still a tiny minority. If you don’t like the format, then don’t go. A lot of the complainers are critics, whose job makes them go. Once it’s a job, I guess it ain’t fun any more.
The tasting menu requres a different mind-set than an à la carte meal: it’s no longer just part of an evening; it’s the whole evening — a substantial commitment of time and money — part nourishment, part show. At Per Se, that show takes at least three hours.
At dinner, Per Se serves two different nine-course menus, which are $295, including service. Lunch (served three days a week) offers an out. You can still order nine courses at the same price as dinner, but you can also have seven ($235) or five ($195). Or, dine in the salon, where the menu is à la carte. None of these options is cheap, but they’re not tyrannical.
For tyranny, consider the Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare, which recently over-took Per Se with the city’s second most expensive entry price. It offers no options at all, doesn’t serve lunch, and doesn’t put its menu or winelist online. The entire cost of the meal is charged to your credit card in advance, there are no online reservations, it’s practically impossible to reach anyone on the phone, and the chef doesn’t allow photos or even note-taking.
When Sam Sifton demoted Masa from four stars to three, he wrote, “extraordinary food alone does not an extraordinary restaurant make.” Based on a meal last November, I’d still give it four stars, if the stars were mine to give.
But in principle he has a point: for that much money, you expect more than just cooking. And it made me wonder: might Per Se still be the city’s best restaurant, on the strength of the service, despite not serving its best food? I’ve been to Per Se four times, and there’ve always been duds. Nothing horrible, but always a few dishes well below “extraordinary”.
There were duds this time too.
Then again, there were seventeen plates served, counting amuses and petits fours, on what is nominally a nine-course menu. Most were excellent, and a few sublime. And that was without any of the “gifts from the chef” that this kitchen can turn out for its VIPs. It was the standard offering.
A visit to Per Se was a long-planned promise to my son, on a special occasion. Per Se reprints its menus daily; always has. Ours said: “CONGRATULATIONS ROBERT ON YOUR GRADUATION.” It’s one of those extra things, granted a small thing, that very few restaurants do. (Click the image at the top of this post for a readable copy of the menu.)
The wine list, now on an iPad, is 197 pages. My son is 18, so the staff paired non-alcoholic beverages with the meal, served in wine glasses, appropriate to the wine we would have had if we were drinking (sauternes, pinot noir, etc.). They came up with two sodas made in-house, a non-alcoholic Gewurztraminer served with the foie gras, and a bottled cranberry–lime soda, which the server put on ice to keep it cold, as if it were champagne. They charged us for none of it; nor for the coffee.
Photos follow, with my light comments. Gruyère cheese gougeres that started the meal are pictured above; and also, for no particular reason, two glasses of soda.
We started with two fixtures of the Per Se menu: the salmon cornets with crème fraîche (above left); and the “Oysters and Pearls” (above right), with pearl tapioca, oysters, and white sturgeon caviar. Every meal here begins with these dishes, unless you order the vegetable tasting menu.
Per Se never runs out of ways to serve foie gras ($40 supplement; above left). This wasn’t as good as I’ve had in the past; nothing wrong, but it was a bit lame for the price. It comes with a warm brioche (upper left of the photo). It took my son a few moments to get around to his, so the server just appeared out of nowhere, took the first brioche away, and replaced it with another one, fresh out of the oven. It comes with six kinds of salt (above right), just because they can.
A house-made grapefruit, lavender, and edelflower juice came along for the next couple of courses. And about now, the carbs: lighter-than-air Parkerhouse rolls, two kinds of butter, and then four more kinds of bread. (Pete Wells, in his anti-tasting-menu article, said he hates it when the bread doesn’t come at the beginning. He may have been referring to Per Se.)
The spicyness of Atlantic swordfish (above left) with squid ink capellini, English peas, and red pepper confit, grew on me with each bite. The fish could have been moister.
Chargrilled Nova Scotia lobster mitts (above right) with green asparagus, Moroccan olive, and a “Salsa Verde,” had a spicy kick, as though it were Indian. Lobster has sometimes been a dud here. This was the best of the three times I’ve had it.
About now, the server came out with another house-made soda for the meat courses, resembling cherry coke, seved in Bordeaux glasses.
The leg of Four Story Hill Farm’s poularde (above left) was chicken of the gods, with an egg white purée and poulard jus applied table side. It’s the best concentrated poultry flavor I’ve had in a while.
Braised lamb neck (above right) was disappointing. It was a technically correct but soulless preparation, and wasn’t warm enough. For $295, they ought to serve one of those insanely aged (like, 90-day) cuts of beef that Blanca is so well known for, not an off-cut that needs braising to be edible.
My son and I disagreed about the Vermont cheese tart (above left) with cherries, Belgian endive, green almonds, and a celery root purée. I thought it was a terrific twist on the usual cheese course; he didn’t care for the dish.
We also disagreed on the spiced plum soda (above right) with plum custard and ginger beer granité, which I liked but he found too tart. Not withstanding that, the dessert program here has taken an enormous step forward since our last visit. The quality and variety were about the best I have seen at any New York restaurant.
There was a “chocolate martini” (above left), with two shots of espresso and heavy cream. Then came the main dessert, a “Malted Banana” parfait (above center) with molten chocolate cake and a chocolate sphere with Macallan 12 filling. The raspberry “financier” (above right) was basically an ice cream sandwich made with an elderflower cordial.
The server brought a box of the most remarkable chocolates I have ever seen (above left), with flavors like Madras curry and gin & tonic.
Then came warm donuts (above left), cappuccino semi-fredo (above right), and another selection of petits fours (below left), with a box of cookies to take home (below right).
This was my fourth visit to Per Se, and the third I’ve written about (see here, here). I don’t quite get why there are always 2–3 weak courses in a nine-course menu. Even allowing for that, there aren’t many restaurants in New York that can put out a meal like this, in such a lovely room, and with such impeccable service.
It isn’t for everyone, but it’s just the thing for me.
Per Se (10 Columbus Circle, Time-Warner Center, Fourth Floor)
Food: Luxurious American cuisine with high-end French influence and technique
Service: As elegant as you’ll find in New York
Ambiance: A quiet, spacious room, overlooking Central Park
Per Se is a Michelin acclaimed restaurant that serves French food. They are located in Manhattan in Hell's Kitchen on Columbus Circle. This restaurant has a four and a half star rating with many reviews in the four and five star range.
Many reviewers really enjoy the food that is served at this particular restaurant. In particular they really like the oysters and pearls among other dishes that are served at this restaurant. Many reviewers say the food is priced well and the portions are very good for the prices.
As for the ambience of this particular restaurant, many reviewers say that it is intimate with an average noise level. Reviewers say this restaurant is a good place to bring groups but not a great place for children. Many reviewers comment that it can get quite congested during the dinner hours.
Many reviewers say that the staff at this restaurant is very friendly and kind. They also comment that the staff will greet you at the doors and will give suggestions when asked what they should order. This restaurant takes reservation and accepts multiple forms of payment.