Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Per Se


rich
 Share

Recommended Posts

  • 2 weeks later...

After admiring Per Se from a distance for the last two years, I finally had dinner there on Wednesday evening with two colleagues and a vendor, who was paying. Your choices at Per Se are simple: the seven-course tasting menu, the nine-course chef's tasting menu, or the vegetable tasting—all at $210 (service compris). The seven-course tasting offers a couple of options, the nine-course tasting just one option (foie gras or salad), the vegetable tasting none at all. So, while these menus do change frequently, on any given evening the kitchen's life is a lot more predictable than at other luxury restaurants.

I was not surprised that all of us selected the chef's tasting menu with the foie gras option ($30 supplement). The printed menu offered a foie gras terrine, but our server told us that we could substitute seared foie gras if we preferred, which two of us did. After our host selected bottled water and a red wine, we were done making decisions, and it was time for the parade of food.

At Per Se, people walk in every day asking to see a copy of the menu. At some point, the management obviously got tired of this, so they erected a stand outside of the main entrance, where copies of the three menus are there for the taking. Nowadays, curiosity-seekers need not enter Per Se's hallowed doors just to get a copy of the menu. I had meant to take an extra copy as I left, as a memento of the evening. When I got home, I realized I'd taken a copy of the vegetable tasting menu instead. (That's how tired I was.) So unfortunately, I don't have a complete record of everything we had.

As it has been from the day Per Se opened, the amuse bouche was the salmon cone, and the first course was "oysters and pearls" (pearl tapioca with oysters and caviar). It's no surprise that Per Se keeps serving these dishes, as they are superb. Meanwhile, we were offered a choice of house-made breads, along with two butters that come from a farm with only five cows that sells only to Per Se and the French Laundry.

Although foie gras is a standard second course at Per Se, it has been offered in a variety of preparations. As I mentioned above, I chose the seared foie gras, which came in a large portion that melted in the mouth. Greater perfection could not be imagined.

Third was a fish course that was very good, but I have forgotten what it was. Then came the cuit sous vide that some people have found underwhelming. I had no such complaints with the preparation, but it was awkward to cut into pieces with the fish knives we were given. Serrated knives would have been the way to go.

Next came duck breast, which I found mildly uninteresting for a restaurant of this calibre. Calotte de boeuf grillée (basically a slice of ribeye steak) was beautifully done.

The cheese and dessert courses were excellent, although I have forgotten the details. We concluded with the house-made mignardises, of which I could have had many more. We were sent home with a cellophane bag of cookies. (The coffee cake that Compass leaves you with is better.)

At Alain Ducasse, which I also visited recently, I had two courses that were absolutely transcendent, and which I will remember for a long time to come: the blue foot chicken and the "baba" rum dessert. Only one dish at Per Se reached this level — the "oysters and pearls," which was gone in about sixty seconds (it was only a taste). If Per Se deserves four stars, it is for sustained excellence over the course of such a long menu, rather than for a particular extraordinary dish.

The service was, of course, at the highest level—seamless, polished, and expert. Some people find the Adam Tihany-designed space a little chilly, but its warm elegance grew on me. The view across Columbus Circle and Central Park's southwest corner is wonderful at night.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

After admiring Per Se from a distance for the last two years, I finally had dinner there on Wednesday evening with two colleagues and a vendor, who was paying.

How is it possible for someone to have an opinion and write so many

posts on Per Se without eating there.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

How is it possible for someone to have an opinion and write so many

posts on Per Se without eating there.

About as possible for people to have an opinion on just about any subject without having foreknowledge of that subject.

I would act accordingly [or not], grain of salt in hand. :wink:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Also Keyah Grande....

I stumbled across a blog authored by the chef(s) there awhile back. It looked like they were doing some pretty interesting stuff. But yeah, that was the first I'd heard of Animal Farm selling butter to anyone but Keller.

Nothing to see here.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

After admiring Per Se from a distance for the last two years, I finally had dinner there on Wednesday evening with two colleagues and a vendor, who was paying.

How is it possible for someone to have an opinion and write so many posts on Per Se without eating there.

When a restaurant receives as much praise as Per Se, it makes my list of "places I'd like to try." When I referred to "admiring...from a distance," that was all I meant.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

After admiring Per Se from a distance for the last two years, I finally had dinner there on Wednesday evening with two colleagues and a vendor, who was paying.

How is it possible for someone to have an opinion and write so many

posts on Per Se without eating there.

This is a fair question. I would say that while oakapple has posted quite a few times on this topic, I just reviewed the posts that I could find via a search of the topic for his user name and not once did I see any comment offerering an opinion on the quality of the food prior to the one above. All the previous comments I could find were either questions about the restaurant or its policies or comments on specific policies with potential repercussions beyond that of the restaurant such as the service charge and Per Se's pricing policies. Actually, Oakapple has been a model poster within this topic (and beyond).

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I stumbled across a blog authored by the chef(s) there awhile back. It looked like they were doing some pretty interesting stuff. But yeah, that was the first I'd heard of Animal Farm selling butter to anyone but Keller.

Alex Talbot and Aki are super talented and driven, I have been able to talk to them about food and observe them in NYC. people to watch out for.

Not to get off topic but I doubt there is a stated policy to sell only to Keller.

I am assuming the only reason the butter isnt in more widespread use is ..

1. There just isnt a lot of it.

2. It's very expensive and most restaurants just dont find it to be that neccessary especially since there is lots of excellent butters like L'escure out there.

Some part of why restaurants do these things is the "cache" and PR aspect. I am not disputing that its an excellent product but when you have artisanal bread with farm butter and your choice of 8 salts, at some point something gets lost in translation as far as what is responsible for the cumulative pleasure in your mouth. Certainly an interesting question for me to ponder.

My meal at Per Se was amazing,there was only one thing I didnt like but the butter was incredible.

Edited by Vadouvan (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The seven-course tasting offers a couple of options, the nine-course tasting just one option (foie gras or salad), the vegetable tasting none at all.

I was not surprised that all of us selected the chef's tasting menu with the foie gras option ($30 supplement). The printed menu offered a foie gras terrine, but our server told us that we could substitute seared foie gras if we preferred, which two of us did.

We were interested in picking and choosing dishes from both menus, but our server very politely steered us away from that direction.

"The chef's tasting menu is very special," he said, so we ended up getting 2 nine-course tasting menus - I got the foie gras terrine, but my wife substituted a duck breast dish from the 7 course menu instead of the salad. Dee-lish!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

bigorre.

lovely picture - thanks. i have an upcoming reservation... it will be my first. was it worth it? could you please report on the meal that preceeded the chocolates? p.m. if you'd rather not share on the forum, althought i'll bet there are others who are interested.

thanks!

u.e.

[edited to add: service notes would be appreciated as well]

Edited by ulterior epicure (log)

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Was at Per Se last week it was incredible....here is a picture of the chocolate tray!

gallery_13615_2403_21087.jpg

jesus christ! It looks like there are 2 of each. Is that really for two people or do you get to pick?

thanks for sharing.

www.adrianvasquez.net

Link to comment
Share on other sites

jesus christ!  It looks like there are 2 of each.  Is that really for two people or do you get to pick?

They bring around the tray, and you choose as much as you want. Obviously, two normal people would not eat that whole tray. There are indeed 2 of each, but many of the tables have 4 or more diners, and I suspect some of the sweets are more popular than others.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I happily ate at Per Se along with Philadining and Percyn yesterday for lunch.  Thanks for posting the photos.  The price we paid per person was undeniably stratospheric for the meal I had.  It is my personal opinion that PS does not deserve to command the prices we paid.  Granted, I had the holiday menu ($325) and we shared 2.5 bottles among the 4 of us which added a couple of clams.  If one were a teetotaler, however, I still think that is super pricey.  I am always willing to pay for great food but at ..soooome point.... y' know..........  Kudos to Percyn for asking for oysters and pearls all around and enormous thanks for inviting me and my wife.  It was very gracious of you and my criticism is in no way an attempt at biting the hand that feeds me.

As always, the delight in my meal was the people I was with and the atmosphere in addition to the food.  The service for us was impeccable and cordial.

I have a question since I am posting here.  I was planning to score a table next fall at FL when there for my 10th anniversary.  Thinking twice now.  Is the experience there similar or is it unfair to link to two?  Having lived in the bay area, there is certainly no shortage of great food in the area.

Evan

It's reviews like this... and they've not been uncommon from people whom I personally have known to been to both TFL and Per Se... that seriously make me re-think my reservation at Per Se in a few weeks... and a possible reservation at TFL later this spring...

Is it really worth it? I know it's relative... but realistically, I'm thinking to myself, for the same price of one meal, I could have two top-of-the-line experiences at other 3-star restaurants... namely WD-50, which I have been DYING to visit.

u.e.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The problem is that, with almost anything, incremental value becomes low at the very top end. Same with cars, stereo equipment, clothing, just about anything. The top products tend to be genuinely better than the nearest lower-priced competitors -- but not "so much" better that the difference would seem "worth it" to anyone to whom the amount of the price differential was significant.

So what I think is that if the money is really a strain (or if you view it that way), then maybe it almost can't be worth it to pay Per Se/ADNY/Masa prices. Because they won't be that much better than the nearest lower-priced competitors. And they don't claim to be.

Edited by Sneakeater (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

So what I think is that if the money is really a strain (or if you view it that way), then maybe it almost can't be worth it to pay Per Se/ADNY/Masa prices.  Because they won't be that much better than the nearest lower-priced competitors.  And they don't claim to be.

Well put, Sneakeater. Thanks for the honesty. I felt that way about a lot of the restaurants in Europe - Read: Parisian upcharge... crikey!!!

Seriously re-considering my reservation..., rather having reservations about my reservation? Er, something like that...

u.e.

Edited by ulterior epicure (log)

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

OTOH, one might also say that if you went to all the trouble to snag those reservations, you might as well bite your lip and go with them.

i agree. while there are obvious commonalities between the two restaurants, they'll provide different experiences. assuming that you'll probably go to either only a handful of times in you life, it think it's also interesting to hit them within a few months of each other, as u.e plans on doing and as i did, so the experience of the last is fresh in your mind. unless, of course, you don't want the previous experience fresh in your mind, then i'd say wait a few years. :smile:

would i take the money back and give back the experience of either or both? no. i have no reservations about eating at both.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For those of you who have been fortunate enough to make it to both restaurants within close (time) proximity... is there an overlap of dishes? Since I plan to visit both within 2 months of each other, should I make any special requests - or need I inform the restaurant before visiting.

I know, from upthread, that a few have requested the Oysters and Pearls at Per Se - which I would request if it's not going to be served at TFL... or, I don't see a reason to do the "Cornets" twice... etc...

u.e.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I know, from upthread, that a few have requested the Oysters and Pearls at Per Se - which I would request if it's not going to be served at TFL... or, I don't see a reason to do the "Cornets" twice... etc...

The Cornets are a classic! It's the only way to start a meal at either restaurant....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I know, from upthread, that a few have requested the Oysters and Pearls at Per Se - which I would request if it's not going to be served at TFL... or, I don't see a reason to do the "Cornets" twice... etc...

The Cornets are a classic! It's the only way to start a meal at either restaurant....

Oh, sorry, how "green" of me... sorry... :unsure: *Sheepishly*

I guess I'll be having the cornets twice... at least there'll be a control in the comparison. :laugh:

u.e.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I know, from upthread, that a few have requested the Oysters and Pearls at Per Se - which I would request if it's not going to be served at TFL... or, I don't see a reason to do the "Cornets" twice... etc...

The Cornets are a classic! It's the only way to start a meal at either restaurant....

Oh, sorry, how "green" of me... sorry... :unsure: *Sheepishly*

I guess I'll be having the cornets twice... at least there'll be a control in the comparison. :laugh:

u.e.

you won't really have a choice regarding the cornets. they'll just bring them to you. why say "no"?

the pearls and oysters are likely on the menu at each place every day since it's basically a signature dish (and not seasonal).

there are overlaps, but i think most dishes change day-to-day within each restaurant. certainly there are differences over a few weeks or months in some dishes. just do it and don't over think it. that's my approach, and it seems to work.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

you won't really have a choice regarding the cornets.  they'll just bring them to you.  why say "no"?

well then, i guess there's nothing left to do except sit back and relax.... :smile:

u.e.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yeah, the cornets just come, they are indeed a great way to start a meal, and it's really just a bite, so I wouldn't stress about not wanting to repeat a dish, just eat them and enjoy them...

As noted back a few pages, the Oysters and Pearls did not appear on any of the menus the day that our party was at Per Se, but when we asked, they basically said that if they had the ingredients, they'd make them. I suppose at any given location on any given day, they might not have good oysters, or not enough, or there's been some sort of worldwide tapioca embargo or whatever. But if there's some famous dish they make that's not on the menu, and you wanted to try it, it's always worth asking.

And as to the "worth-it" factor of either of the restaurants, let alone both in a short time, it's just too multifaceted and personal of an equation for any of us to offer advice about. I'm still going back and forth about my meal at Per Se. The food I had was excellent, but not so much better, in fact maybe not any better than meals I've had at less than half the cost. But the entire experience made it worthwhile to me. The whole package: the setting, the service, the pacing, the wine pairings, the tour of the kitchen, etc made it one of the most fond memories I have about a meal. On a purely academic level, it was incredibly valuable just to get a better sense of how a top-end place can work: what happens when you do have the finest of ingredients, plenty of talented cooks in the kitchen, plenty of gracious service staff on the floor, plenty of space between tables, plenty of glass overlooking the plenty of NY?

So, I'm very happy to have gone, and I'd like to get to the French Laundry one of these days too. That said, I'm not incredibly eager to return to Per Se, even though my meal was excellent. At my income level, it is unquestionably NOT worth it to to me to dine there with any regularity. But I found it totally worthwhile to do it once. Maybe again in a few years.

How this translates to your sense of value, only you can say. I hope my impressions can be helpful in some way. If I were you, I'd go to one or the other for sure. Both? maybe...

"Philadelphia’s premier soup dumpling blogger" - Foobooz

philadining.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...