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Per Se


rich
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I must have been dining at the identical time that BGL was last night at Per Se. I hate to start with the negatives, because it was certainly one of my top 5 overall dining experiences, but I was pretty dissapointed when I arrived at 5:30 to find a completely empty dining room. Having made my original reservation on the first day Per Se accepted them, way back when, for 8:00, to be given only 5:45 as an option for my reschedule to me is less than ideal. However I'm well aware of the constraints, and understand that some early covers are an invetible aspect of a 16 seat restaurant with 4 hour meals. Perhaps dining at this hour would be more palatable in the winter when the days are shorter, although I still can't see getting used to it.

On to the many good points:

-I particularly enjoyed the Oysters and Pearls, the Rabbit Rillete, and the Beef with wild asparagus and marrow. To me these dishes can be compared favorably with anything out there.

-I loved the compose cheese plate, in our case a sheep's milk cheese from France, near the border of Spain (Basque region). The cheese was served with carrot strings, cilantro buds, honey, and one other item that looked like capers and was fantastic.

-My dining companion was a little more controlling regarding the wine than I would have preferred, but we ended up doing very well with the house cocktails, then chilled vodka (and sake for one diner) with the oysters and pearls, then a Meursalt, a Syrah, and cordials (I loved my Calvados). The Syrah took us from rabbit, through beef, into cheese, and worked very well across the three courses.

-Since I only enjoy decadent desserts in place of decadent meals, the dessert service was perfect for me. Not too large or too sweet or too involved, with a fruit course (pot a creme) and a sorbet course in addition to the chocolate course (probably the weakest course of the three). My Mother, or perhaps another "dessert is a major highlight of the meal" type person would likely have been disappointed.

-The service was perfect on all accounts. I would have liked to have been offered the sommelier earlier in the decision process but perhaps our main server sensed that the one diner was intent on choosing the wines.

All told, we paid $1,000 for a table of three, with mid to low priced wines (relative to their list). Wouldn't it be great to be Bill Gates...

I would be interested in a thread comparing Per Se to Jean Georges. At this point I think it would be difficult to make the argument that Per Se is significantly better from a purely food quality perspective, but to me the feeling of "we are all in this together to create and consume" comes through much clearer at Per Se.

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and cordials (I loved my Calvados)

Not to go too far off topic, but I've always thought of cordials as sweet liquers and distinctly apart from unflavored brandies or unsweetened distillates such as cognac, armagnac, calvados, poire williams, etc.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Was it really necessary to correct his/her use of the term cordials? For what it is worth, the diner made the distinction between cordials and Calvados, did they not?

"...then a Meursalt, a Syrah, and cordials (I loved my Calvados)...."

Anyway, great review -- thanks for posting it!

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Whether or not it was necessary, I felt he was cordial about it.

Sorry, I couldn't help myself.

Back to the topic.

Love,

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Sounds like somebody is going to start requiring credit card numbers with reservations soon!

I'm getting the impression that the restaurant is reserving the "prime time seats" for "big deal" people who are off vacationing this time of year. I don't mind the credit card stuff - but I think real diners (as opposed to imaginary celebs) ought to insist on eating at a reasonable time when they make reservations. Robyn

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-Since I only enjoy decadent desserts in place of decadent meals, the dessert service was perfect for me.  Not too large or too sweet or too involved, with a fruit course (pot a creme) and a sorbet course in addition to the chocolate course (probably the weakest course of the three).  My Mother, or perhaps another "dessert is a major highlight of the meal" type person would likely have been disappointed.

Were these the dessert offerings on the tasting menu?

Were there any amuse dessert courses - or anything like a dessert trolley?

I must admit that no matter what or where I eat - I always leave ample room for dessert - because it's my favorite course :smile: .

Was there anything terrific about the desserts (I once had a fabulous sorbet course at Le Cirque 2000 where all the sorbets were shaped like the fruits they were based on - but that was a big exception to my rule that sorbet is usually a bore)?

With pastry chefs being all the rage these days - a weakness in the dessert courses is - in my opinion - a noticeable weakness in a world class restaurant. Robyn

Edited by robyn (log)
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I will tell you that I was really surprised at how many empty tables there were.

We had a 5:45 reservation, only 3 other tables were occupied. When we left, at almost 10 they had only seated 3 more tables and there was hardly anyone waiting in the salon.

This was probably an aberration. Per Se must receive calls almost every day asking if they have any cancellations. I know they hold a few tables for VIPs, but this many? I don't think so!

Although Per Se evidently doesn't require a credit card guarantee, I believe they require you to call back two days in advance to confirm. It seems unlikely that so many people would confirm, and then not show up, especially given how difficult it is to get a reservation there in the first place.

Incidentally, does anyone know what it takes to score one of the VIP tables? Not that I have the slightest chance of doing so, but I'm wondering how it works. Do you call and say you're Derek Jeter of the Yankees, then there's a quick sidebar to decide if Jeter's an important enough celebrity, and based on that he either gets the table or he doesn't? I know there must be more science to it than that, or else they'd get a lot of people pretending to be VIPs.

Edited by oakapple (log)
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Ahh, cordials. Despite my post, I actually agree with Bux about the appropriate use of the term cordial. The truth was nobody in our party had a proper 'cordial' - one armagnac, one calvados, and one dessert wine.

Regarding the idea that dessert at Per Se is a let down, I would have to say in a general sense that is was. For me, what was served was perfect for my level of fullness and my typical interest in dessert after a long meal in general. But for a dessert lover I'm certain it would have fallen short. It seemed to me that the fanfare that was present during the first courses diminished when we got to dessert. Perhaps the servers could tell that our interest had waned ever so slightly and were feeding off that, perhaps it was the fact that the dining room was finally full at 9:00 and they needed more hands elsewhere.

For our chef's tasting the first dessert course was a sorbet with a type of cookie, a fruit coulis poured tableside, and then crystalized basil leaf. This was my favorite. Then a course with too quenelles of, painting with a very wide brush, chocolate and vanilla frozen somethings. Actually the chocolate scoop was more of that malted chocolate flavor that is popular now and the white scoop may have been white chocolate but it was mild, and more of a semifredo. Finally we were served a pot a creme with a fruit bottom, cherries I believe. I liked this a lot as well. And then a large petit fours course, and then cookies to take with us.

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Ahh, cordials. Despite my post, I actually agree with Bux about the appropriate use of the term cordial. The truth was nobody in our party had a proper 'cordial' - one armagnac, one calvados, and one dessert wine.

I can be a stickler for that sort of pendantry. I suppose I'm all too aware that eGullet has a reputation to uphold and that after almost three years of work on the site, I don't like the idea that someone will come away from the site with misinformation.

Opinions are something else and it's always reasuring when members post their opinions with the well grounded knowledge that no matter how objective we try to be, our immediate appreciation of food and restaurants is bound to be fairly personal. I have a fair sweet tooth and am disappointed when the dessert menu is not up to the quality of the savory dishes. On the other hand, after a long tasting menu, I can find too much dessert, just too much. It sounds as if I would have agreed with Azula10 on the size and complexity of dessert.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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I'm still a bit mystified how the dessert course is being rated so low at Per Se.

They certainly have looked great, although I realize looks only go so far.

Everyone who has posted about their meals at Per Se I would assume have a pretty refined palate.

If you care to, could you post either what you think is missing in the dessert course or who is doing the best work where you dine?

I'm not trying to split this off into a tangent but I think the subject could bear to be addressed.

You have a very high profile (hopefully) four star restaurant still in it's opening days that almost flat out has received low points for it's dessert portion of the menu here.

That's troubling.

2317/5000

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Per se just called my office to confirm my reservation at 930 on july 2nd.. I told them that i had it in my calander on july 4th at 930.. The reservationist kate, was more then nice and was able to switch my reservation to july 4th at 9.. So basically there is an open reservation july 2nd at 930 i would think.. just wanted people to know.

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. . . In addition to going to Madison Park for the BABBP, I also did a very New York thing and braved the "crowds" to eat at Per Se . . .

Just for the record, how was PER SE? Judging from the volume of comments on the New York thread, it has been a blockbuster even by New York standards. Is it hype or haute?

Edited by slkinsey (log)

100% right 50% of the time.

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Just for the record, how was PER SE? Judging from the volume of comments on the New York thread,i t has been a blockbuster even by New York standards. Is it hype or haute?

Both hype and haute. Perfect location, impeccable, friendly and attentive service, and perfectly executed food.

We had the 9 course Chef's tasting menu and if I were to note any minor, in my view, imperfection or two, I'd have to accuse myself of quibbling.

I did not, however, find any noteworthy difference between my dinner at Per Se and the dinner I had at the French Laundry almost 7 years ago. I suppose the adage, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" holds true for Keller. That was a bit disappointing though not for the folks who were with us, and with Keller for the first time.

The biggest problem I had was that there was no option for wine pairings with the tasting menus. On the other hand, the Sommalier was very helpful in guiding a selection of half bottles from a fairly extensive list. As there were four of us this worked out pretty well, although a bit pricey.

At $300.00 a head we probably could have done a month long BBQ tour of the South''s finest, but thats grist for a different mill. :wub:

Jay

You are what you eat.

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The biggest problem I had was that there was no option for wine pairings with the tasting menus. On the other hand, the Sommalier was very helpful in guiding a selection of half bottles from a fairly extensive list. As there were four of us this worked out pretty well, although a bit pricey.

Did they give a reason why there were no wine pairings? Most people have been able to get pairings for $75-100 per person with teh nine-course menu.

Bill Russell

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The biggest problem I had was that there was no option for wine pairings with the tasting menus. On the other hand, the Sommalier was very helpful in guiding a selection of half bottles from a fairly extensive list. As there were four of us this worked out pretty well, although a bit pricey.

per se dosen't have a set pairing for the restaurant, they do individual pairing for each table.

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I know Per Se doesn't support eGullet, but I'd like to let the staff know that I'll be dining there this evening. Thanks in advance. :biggrin:

enjoy, cant wait for the review. i go on saturday.

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I know Per Se doesn't support eGullet, but I'd like to let the staff know that I'll be dining there this evening. Thanks in advance. :biggrin:

They probably know already. Your name is on the reservation chart. That's where they look to see who's coming to dinner. :raz:

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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That's where they look to see who's coming to dinner. :raz:

Does that mean Sydney Portier is eating there tonight? :unsure:

Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

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Just for the record, that "we don't support eGullet" statement was supposedly (and it has not been adequately verified) made by the General Manager of French Laundry and said to someone over voicemail -- so I would take that statement and its possible meaning (which can be interpreted in a number of ways) with a grain of salt. It was not made by any of the people at Per Se. I have been in contact with the folks with Per Se as well as Keller's PR infrastructure for some time and they have been professional and extremely friendly and accomodating towards us, and we have been communicating on many matters, including working on getting Keller for a eG Q&A.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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