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Per Se


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If I am looking to get a reservation on July 1, what day and time do I need to start speed-dialing?

May 1 - start speed dialing a few minutes before 10am.

Edited by rich (log)

Rich Schulhoff

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

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Going through Open Table, there are a LOT of 10pm spots for four-tops available all through the month of May. It's suprising, because last time I tried getting a reservation online (roughly a year ago) there was nothing--at all.

Nothing to see here.

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Has anyone else tried to enter through the faux blue double doors? :blush:

I pushed and I pulled... and even stepped back and stared at the door puzzled. :huh: I had just seen a party disappear into the restaurant - but the "grove" of faux trees obscured my view so I didn't quite notice where they actually entered the restaurant...

When the blue doors wouldn't open, I stepped over to my left to look through to the window, hoping to catch someone's attention inside. Just as I was about to lean up into the window - it opened - I nearly fell over and into the restaurant into the arms of the hostess!! :hmmm::laugh::hmmm:

I'm sure you all are not as clumsy as I in making an entrance - but just in case any of you are as clueless as I was... :wink:

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

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Has anyone else tried to enter through the faux blue double doors?  :blush:

I pushed and I pulled... and even stepped back and stared at the door puzzled.    :huh:  I had just seen a party disappear into the restaurant - but the "grove" of faux trees obscured my view so I didn't quite notice where they actually entered the restaurant...

u.e.

they got me on the way out. i'm sitting there trying to spin those big round handle things to no avail. it was horrible. glad it was on the way out and not on the way in. stupid doors.

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I've heard that if you actually succeed in opening the blue door, your dinner is free.

Wait a minute, I opened the door myself (very serious here) and recieved nothing. They owe me - I'm calling tomorrow - I understand there are a lot of open tables in the next month or so - should have no problem with my comp.

Rich Schulhoff

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

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Seriously - is this door thing something new? When I went (the second day they were ever open - and that's before the fire), I just opened the door myself and walked inside.

Rich Schulhoff

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

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they got me on the way out.  i'm sitting there trying to spin those big round handle things to no avail. it was horrible.  glad it was on the way out and not on the way in.  stupid doors.

What doors...? they're not doors.... :hmmm:

I've heard that if you actually succeed in opening the blue door, your dinner is free.

LOL! If that were the case, you'd have people battering down those stubborn blue props!

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

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they got me on the way out.  i'm sitting there trying to spin those big round handle things to no avail. it was horrible.  glad it was on the way out and not on the way in.  stupid doors.

What doors...? they're not doors.... :hmmm:

stupid submarine handle things.

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they got me on the way out.  i'm sitting there trying to spin those big round handle things to no avail. it was horrible.  glad it was on the way out and not on the way in.  stupid doors.

What doors...? they're not doors.... :hmmm:

stupid submarine handle things.

More like the steering wheels on the kiddie "toon cars" in Toontown Disneyland... and just as effective! :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

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks for everyone's patience, I've finally posted my review of Per Se on my blog with accompanying pictures on flickr.

Below is basically my cut-and-paste from the "food" section of my review.

Keller teases the diner’s appetite with his signature “Salmon cornet.” (I only later realized that none of his signature gougieres were served). A special miniature cone-holder presented napkin-wrapped buttery tuiles filled with whipped crème fraiche and topped with a round of silky salmon tartare. To say that the salmon was silky is an understatement - the fish had been chopped just-short-of-minced and seemed to melt away in the same way that o-toro, fatty tuna, does without chewing. Cool and silky, the sweet-savory fish meat was braced by the tang of crème fraiche, which, together, served as the perfect luxurious foil to the crispy herby tuile cone.

First course featured a very Cauliflower panna cotta that glistened with an Island Creek Oyster glaze. The creamy custard was crowned with a generous quenelle of Russian Sevruga caviar. The pairing and flavor was extraordinarily well balanced. Here, the analogy to “fighting fire with fire” would be fighting decadence with decadence. By themselves, the panna cotta and the caviar would have been too cloyingly rich. However, together, the two worked brilliantly - the bitter briny eggs cut through the thickness of the custard.

The second course on the 9-course Chef’s Tasting offered the first of two supplements to the menu. The non-supplement option featured a Salad of Hearts of Hawaiian Peach Palm - a delicate arrangement of ivory-coloured palm hearts made almost Japanese-like by colourful dots of pink and red from radishes and ruby grapefruit; flecks of green chives and tiny leaflets of dark radish sprouts. For a $30 surcharge, diners could enjoy foie gras prepared either au torchon (cold) or grilled. None in my party opted for the foie gras.

While my companions busied themselves with a delicate, aesthetically Japanese-like, Salad of hearts of peach palm, I enjoyed the second course from the 7-course menu, Ris de Veau. Two medallions of perfectly pan-fried sweetbreads came with two nuggets of unfortunately undercooked Violet artichokes. I was unclear as to the sauce underneath the sweetbreads - the menu description included oven-roasted tomatoes, Niçoise olive “petals” and cipollini shoots. The one sauce that did stand out was a wonderfully flavorful and savory Vidalia onion soubise - slightly sweet and wonderfully ‘onion-y.’

Next, a sizeable sautéed filet of Red Sea Bream came resting on a curling bed of thinly shaved fennel salad. To my surprise, instead of pouring a broth or sauce over the filet, our server bejeweled the fish with a rainbow of fruity gems - a salsa of diced blood orange and golden nugget tangerine sections with piquillo peppers and herbs.

I don’t usually like my fish served cool, but I didn’t mind the soothing, very Spring-like effect of this most refreshing course dish.

Another staple on the Per Se menu is shellfish. As preferred season for lobster-eating has passed, our menu featured a trio of plump Scottish langoustines poached in sweet butter. These three lads were excruciatingly taught with freshness and bursting with sweetness. I wanted to savor every bite and so I didn’t eat them as quickly as I should have. Sadly, by the time I got to the last one, the lonely prawn had cooled and gone a tad bit tough; still excellent, but not perfect.

Not to be outdone, ivory sections of Holland white asparagus and earthy black trumpets vied for the spotlight by playing very compelling supporting roles. Strung throughout, they tied garnished the langoustines in a buttery emulsion of trompe de la mort. This was the highlight of the meal.

If our voyage on the Titanic of restaurants had a near-miss, it was with the “Cervelas de Lyon" - a house-made pork sausage. Keller steered way off course with this little torpedo. Where to begin? The designers of the Titanic should have consulted Keller when fashioning the hull of the cruise liner!

The casing was so tough that I couldn’t breach the leathery hull with my knife. None of us could. The wieners slipped and slid around in our bowls, rebuffing our deliberate jabs and desperate slashes to get at the promising-looking pink meat studded with pistachio bits and a prominently displaying a shaving of black truffle just beneath the invincible rubbery wrapper.

When a proper meat knife was provided upon request, and I successfully sawed through the wiener shield, I was terribly disappointed to find that all of my labour had gone to freeing a dry pork and nut combination. The consistency verged on crumbly. Boo! Although the meat itself had a nice smoky-hammy flavor, the truffle could hardly be tasted. So too, the pistachios disappeared in both taste and consistency - hidden by the smokiness and blended in with the dry mealy meat.

Thankfully, Keller managed to mitigate the damage of the wiener disaster with the “melted” Savoy cabbage. The bed of finely shredded cabbage sat in an exquisitely pungent and earthy Perigourdine sauce - a thick veal demi-glace with black truffle. This silky combination, wonderfully countered by quarters of petite still-snappy Tokyo radishes helped to moisten the sausage meat.

Plates cleared, thankfully, Keller found his way back on course and steamed full-throttle ahead with a very redeeming Elysian Fields Farm lamb rib chop. The medium-sized chop had been cooked a succulent medium-rare. Although there was a little more fat than I would have liked, the meat was very tender and excellently prepared - still succulently red in the center. A bevy of heirloom carrot balls luxuriated in a mint-spiked lamb jus with split favas and piquantly sweet pickled cloves of garlic. Splendid!

Fruity frozen treats help transition the diners’ palates to the dessert course. A sweet-tart round of Passion Fruit Sorbet nestled on a bed of snow-like white chocolate granite and dark sugared crystals of Niçoise olives. The tropical presentation was completed with three garnet-coloured cubes of Hibiscus gelee and a table-side pour of passion fruit consommé - a thick fruity syrup that helped bind the granite and

Equally refreshing was a “Vitre Glacee” served in an impossibly balanced V-shaped bowl on a stack of three dishes. True to its description, a glassy opaque “pane” of verjus ice, frozen at an angle, hides a tri-layer of verjus foam, tender Sicilian pistachio and apricot jam. Like the passion fruit offering, the glacee featured the same textural elements - icy, crunchy, and syrupy - in a delightfully light combination.

Dessert was an adult riff on a childhood campfire favorite - S’mores. All the usual suspects were present. But, they rallied with renewed gusto in a beautifully landscaped wonderland of bitter-sweetness.

A coy quenelle of Valrhona dark chocolate ganache enrobed in a snappy couverture of the same dark chocolate perched on a moist “mud” dark chocolate brownie bank, framed by twin pirouetting chocolate ribbons. Lapping this costa cacao rica were luxurious pools of white and milk chocolate marshmallowy “fluff” on one side and on the other, a thick dark chocolate fudge syrup.

When our girl Valrhona, who by the way was cutely freckled with cacao powder, tired of her ooey gooey bathing grounds, the diner could transfer her silken body to dry off in the nearby sandy-duned island of “Graham’s crack crunch” (could it be a reference to Graham Elliot Bowles at the Avenues in Chicago who is also serving an “Indoor S’mores” on his dessert menu?) - a generous mound of gingerbread-spiced grape nuts-like granules. When bored, she could play with a forlorn beach ball of a toasted marshmallow of in one corner.

The best combination, I found was to lather a forkful of our coy damsel with the marshmallow fluff and then, with a good measure of the brownie earth in tow, roll her around in Graham’s crunch. *giggles* (For absolute indulgence, drag the lathered Valhrona through the fudge syrup on the way to the crunchy island.) I selfishly hoarded the beach ball fun to myself and happily bounced it through the fudge syrup and re-bounded it off the crunchy island into my mouth.

If anything, Per Se is not is stingy. Diners are showered with a surfeit of sweets that trail long after the last bit of dessert is enjoyed. After-dinner drinks (coffee and most teas are included in the price) are enjoyed with a selection of chocolate bon bons presented on a silver tray and a festive silver “staircase” of caramels, nougats and truffles.

And, just as you think you've cleared the last gate, a neatly bundled package of home-made Macarons are presented with the bill.

“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

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I have dined now at Per Se three times. The first two times I thought my meals stunning. Tonight's meal, however, was very average, even disappointing. Several courses on the chef's menu were not memorable at all. One, a kampachi, was unevenly cooked.

The waiter asked me my opinion of the meal twice. Both times I had to say that I was underwhelmed. He clearly wasn't prepared for my response--although he offered to get me something else. I didn't feel comfortable (or hungry enough) to agree to that arrangement.

I should mention that several courses were, in fact, excellent, especially the duck, cheese, and two desert courses. (I will note that this is my second experience where I thought the duck should be served with a sharper knife--the dull blade they offer is hard to cut with).

I was both startled and embarassed when the check arrived without my asking for it. I don't remember that happening to me before at Per Se or other restaurants of its caliber.

Edited by ckkgourmet (log)
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I have just learned that Per Se has a policy of check presentation different from that of many restaurants. Apparently the customer should never need to ask for anything during his time at Per Se. The manager of Per Se, who informed me of the policy, indicated that this has caused some confusion and consternation in the past. I wonder, therefore, whether the policy, which is officially discussed as a thoughtful courtesy, does not offend more than it appeals to customers. I, for one, was startled.

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It does seem a bit odd that a restaurant of that caliber doesnt realise that bringing a check before it is asked for universally means "it is time for you to go".

The customer should never need to ask for water or bread or a menu.

Extending that logic to the dinner check strikes me as counter-productive despite the best intentions.

Thankfully, Keller managed to mitigate ..........ect, ect..

Ulterior Epicure seem to be under the impression that TK is responsible for and aware of every detail of the menu. From a pal who works there, the chefs and sous chefs meet often to decide menu changes based on what they have on hand and what they can get. I think going to these types of restaurants especially in the USA and being under the impression that the owner /celeb chef is composing all the food is pure romance. Doesnt mean the food is any worse off but me personally, if I want to buy a Picasso and pay Picasso prices, I have to insist Picasso painted it not someone else putting Picasso's signature on it.

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Ulterior Epicure seem to be under the impression that TK is responsible for and aware of every detail of the menu. From a pal who works there, the chefs and sous chefs meet often to decide menu changes based on what they have on hand and what they can get. I think going to these types of restaurants especially in the USA and being under the impression that the owner /celeb chef is composing all the food is pure romance. Doesnt mean the food is any worse off but me personally, if I want to buy a Picasso and pay Picasso prices, I have to insist Picasso painted it not someone else putting Picasso's signature on it.

Thank you. I often wonder why people have such a hard time grasping this idea.

Nothing to see here.

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But celebrity chefs aren't supposed to cook, they're supposed to delegate. The CE's job is to make TV appearances, write cookbooks and/or tell-all books, endorse a new line of cookware, do voice checks for their syndicated radio show, travel around the world to write columns for food mags, do test screening (which includes makeup and wardrobe) for their TV show, do fittings for their new clothes line, supervise the manufacture of their own bobble head dolls, make appearances at opening nights for theater, movies, award ceremonies (possibly throw a party at those) and sporting events and curse out people on ebay posts.

With all that on their plate, there's no time to cook. And why would you want them to cook? Most haven't done so in years except on TV and at media events. I know a CE who walked into a professional kitchen and became severly disoriented. It took about ten minutes to revive him - he had no idea where he was.

Rich Schulhoff

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

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Ulterior Epicure seem to be under the impression that TK is responsible for and aware of every detail of the menu. From a pal who works there, the chefs and sous chefs meet often to decide menu changes based on what they have on hand and what they can get. I think going to these types of restaurants especially in the USA and being under the impression that the owner /celeb chef is composing all the food is pure romance. Doesnt mean the food is any worse off but me personally, if I want to buy a Picasso and pay Picasso prices, I have to insist Picasso painted it not someone else putting Picasso's signature on it.

Thank you. I often wonder why people have such a hard time grasping this idea.

LOL! :laugh: To be sure, I have NO delusions as to what the Executive Chef does and doesn't do... I may be a hopeless romantic, I'm not completely clueless. I suppose I should refrain from referring to the boss as a proxy for chefs de cuisine.

With all that on their plate, there's no time to cook. And why would you want them to cook? Most haven't done so in years except on TV and at media events. I know a CE who walked into a professional kitchen and became severly disoriented. It took about ten minutes to revive him - he had no idea where he was.

That's really sad... :sad:

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

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There are three other things they do and I would be remiss in not including them, I apologize to those affected CE chefs for leaving these out in my first post.

They also must set aside several hours a day for autograph signings and "hangin" with groupies, do TV and radio commercials endorsing everything from ED remedies to sanitary pads to toothpaste and fly around the world to open other restaurants some of which have $12 million Italian marble floors directly imported from the hills overlooking Bayonne, New Jersey.

Rich Schulhoff

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

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If the implication is that Thomas Keller doesn't spend a lot of time in his restaurants' kitchens, directly involved in the food preparation, that couldn't be farther from the truth. He is by all accounts one of the hardest-working chefs anywhere, pulling long shifts and working in a very hands-on manner. At the end of a shift, he can often be found scrubbing the cooktops and floors. It's true that he has two fine-dining restaurants on opposite coasts, however each of those restaurants is widely considered to be among the best (or, by many, the best) in North America. This hardly seems an insult-worthy achievement. It simply demonstrates that he's not only a brilliant cook but also a brilliant chef-executive.

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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If the implication is that Thomas Keller doesn't spend a lot of time in his restaurants' kitchens, directly involved in the food preparation, that couldn't be farther from the truth. He is by all accounts one of the hardest-working chefs anywhere, pulling long shifts and working in a very hands-on manner. At the end of a shift, he can often be found scrubbing the cooktops and floors. It's true that he has two fine-dining restaurants on opposite coasts, however each of those restaurants is widely considered to be among the best  (or, by many, the best) in North America. This hardly seems an insult-worthy achievement. It simply demonstrates that he's not only a brilliant cook but also a brilliant chef-executive.

Thanks Fat Guy for this very reassuring information! I too have heard that Keller leads by example.

Actually, I've personally seen JG Vongerichten, Daniel Boulud and Eric Ripert in the kitchens at their respective restaurants. I don't think it's a foregone conclusion that Exec. Chefs are completely AWOL... thank goodness. But, if it is the case, I'm rarely surprised... I'm always very pleasantly surprised to find the chef in the kitchen (funny, where else would we expect them to be?).

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

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Why should anybody care where the executive chef is? In most any restaurant that serves any sizable number of customers, the executive chef didn't cook anything you're eating anyway. We should care about the quality of the food on our plates, not distractions like whether or not the chef was in the kitchen. If the chef does his job right, the food will be the same whether he's there or not. If you're able to tell, by eating the food, that the chef isn't in the kitchen, that just means the chef has failed.

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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[snip] We should care about the quality of the food on our plates, not distractions like whether or not the chef was in the kitchen. If the chef does his job right, the food will be the same whether he's there or not. If you're able to tell, by eating the food, that the chef isn't in the kitchen, that just means the chef has failed.

Well said, and I completely agree. When I dined at FL, Keller was in the kitchen -- exquisite. Dinner at Per Se with Chef Benno cooking was equally exquisite.

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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