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Per Se


rich
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People in this country should spend 4 hours over dinner more often. If you consider prep and clean up I rarely can do it in less than 3.

4 hours at FL and Per Se goes by really fast. Come to think of it, my trips to FL have been only around 3 hours, am I doing something wrong??? :wink:

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adrober, I'm curious - did you feel anything you would define as New York atmosphere at Per Se compared to Trotter's? I'm wondering if it's all just fine dining, or did you find something subtle that made it fine dining NYC rather than fine dining Chicago?

Would Per Se have worked for you in Chicago?

Per Se was much warmer than Trotter's. Right away, at the hostess stand, there were smiles and a sense of camaraderie. The vibe was: "Isn't it great that we're all here right now?" At Trotter's the vibe was: "You are the in the presence of greatness, please act accordingly." The cities had very little to do with it.

The Amateur Gourmet

www.amateurgourmet.com

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So why try to "review" it? How about "enjoying" it?

You can't be expected to be a good reviewer without the experience. And you won't want to accumulate the necessary experiences unless you enjoy yourself.

I'm not sure that my mindset really affected my enjoyment.

This thread makes me think of the movie "Defending Your Life" (perhaps the greatest foodie film ever?) in that the residents of Judgment City who use 80% of their brains (as opposed to humans 3%) eat foul looking food that humans find disgusting. The joke is that their intelligence makes the food delicious.

I kind of feel that way about Per Se. I'm Albert Brooks. You guys are Rip Torn. If you say it's great, I'll take your word, but I'm sticking to pasta with Meryl Streep.

The Amateur Gourmet

www.amateurgourmet.com

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I'm in Chicago and am tired about hearing about how great Charlie Trotter's is. I think there are much better choices for upscale dining (TRU, Ambria, Les Nomades, Trio, etc.). I, too, have gotten that bow-to-our-greatness feeling from the staff and from Mr. Trotter himself. I don't like that there are no substitutions for menu items that one doesn't care for; that's OK when I've liked everything on that night's menu, but not OK when Charlie's in the mood to serve lamb's tongue or sea barnacles.

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adrober, I'm curious - did you feel anything you would define as New York atmosphere at Per Se compared to Trotter's? I'm wondering if it's all just fine dining, or did you find something subtle that made it fine dining NYC rather than fine dining Chicago?

Would Per Se have worked for you in Chicago?

Per Se was much warmer than Trotter's. Right away, at the hostess stand, there were smiles and a sense of camaraderie. The vibe was: "Isn't it great that we're all here right now?" At Trotter's the vibe was: "You are the in the presence of greatness, please act accordingly." The cities had very little to do with it.

Was just wondering how you and your parents got the reservations. Since there was no phone line open, how was the reservation made?

Rich Schulhoff

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

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I noticed recently on the FL website, that Raynaud and Keller have also begun offering the Point line at Bergdorf Goodman in NYC. I assume this was to coincide with the opening of Per Se.

The line is beautiful, but extremely expensive. The "oyster and pears" type bowl was around $65 each!

I still wish the line was being sold through a store with a more national presence. And I don't think I've been to Bergdorf Goodman in decades. These days - when I go to New and want to see what's new in housewares - the first store I like to hit is Moss.

Raynaud/Limoges is always expensive. Except when it gets remaindered (we have a factory outlet store here in St. Augustine FL where you can get some very good deals on high end housewares from time to time). Robyn

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If they're like just about every other high-demand restaurant, the prime-time tables are blocked out for VIPs and are never even offered to the general public. Try getting an 8pm table at Daniel on a Friday night. Those tables are just never put into general circulation.

If that's the case (and I can't say whether or not it's true based on personal experience) - then it's not a restaurant worth going to in my opinion. I'm not going to drop $500+ - and eat at 5 or 10 - no matter what. I value myself - and my money - more than that.

For what it's worth - when I booked our dining reservations in London for the end of this month - I didn't run into anything of the sort. About the "worst" I ran into was a restaurant which said more or less that if I had a 7:30 seating - there would be a second seating - and I'd have to clear out in 2 hours or less. But for an 8:00 seating or later - there was nothing to worry about. Obviously no big deal.

I will tell you an interesting story about "VIPS". My husband and I took his parents to the Greenbriar quite a few years ago to celebrate his father's retirement. I booked a tennis lesson for a particular afternoon. I received a call that morning from an assistant tennis pro. He said that my lesson was canceled - because Alexander Haig (who was a VIP at that political point in time) wanted to play tennis that afternoon - and he wanted the courts on both sides of him (including the one where I was supposed to take my lesson) empty. I mentioned the cancellation to the concierge when we went to lunch. And - after lunch - I got a call from the manager reinstating my tennis lesson. He told me that the Greenbriar was a world class resort - and - at a world class resort - all guests were treated with the same degree of excellent service. I had a good tennis lesson - and Alexander Haig - since he didn't get the preferential treatment he wanted - didn't show up.

The simple moral of this story is that if a place is truly world class - and the Greenbriar was - it treats *all* its customers with grace and dignity. It doesn't have 2 or 3 classes of service. One for the VIPS - another for the "hoi polloi" (keeping in mind that the "hoi polloi" may be some unknown business person from Denver who's worth $50 million - or simply someone local who's scrimped and saved to afford the experience that's being offered).

Is the kind of treatment you're talking about very common in New York - expected? If so - it doesn't speak well of the high end restaurants there in my opinion. Robyn

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I have to say that I feel like Robyn does on this one. To not circulate any tables at 8 o'clock except for "VIPs" seems objectionable to me. Is the degree of consideration for "ordinary" patrons in New York inversely proportional to the expense of the dining experience?

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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I have to say that I feel like Robyn does on this one. To not circulate any tables at 8 o'clock except for "VIPs" seems objectionable to me. Is the degree of consideration for "ordinary" patrons in New York inversely proportional to the expense of the dining experience?

Even through opentable.com, which does not represent all available tables in each restaurant on a given day, you can get an 8pm Friday or Saturday reservation at many excellent restaurants, among them Cafe Boulud, Aquavit, Danube, Oceana, Picholine, and Le Bernardin.

And is it really that terrible to start a 3-hour meal at 6pm?

JJ Goode

Co-author of Serious Barbecue, which is in stores now!

www.jjgoode.com

"For those of you following along, JJ is one of these hummingbird-metabolism types. He weighs something like eleven pounds but he can eat more than me and Jason put together..." -Fat Guy

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If they're like just about every other high-demand restaurant, the prime-time tables are blocked out for VIPs and are never even offered to the general public. Try getting an 8pm table at Daniel on a Friday night. Those tables are just never put into general circulation.

let's be clear: this is strictly supposition based on one person's interpretation of how he thinks things work. it may or may not resemble reality.

it does seem to me that in the case of the diner on this thread who had actually eaten at the restaurant, he didn't seem to have suffered any ill treatment because of his relative lack of celebrity.

i do know that restaurants like this will typically hold 3 or 4 tables for regulars--the folks who spend lots of money with them. that seems to me to be reasonable enough. and it does seem quite a leap to associate this with alexander haig getting someone else's reservation cancelled, no?

i also know that when i eat at the french laundry, i almost always get a 6 or a 6:30 reservation. that way i have plenty of time to enjoy the meal and be out by 12:30 or 1. a couple times a year, i like my boring fine dining and i like it to last a long time.

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i do know that restaurants like this will typically hold 3 or 4 tables for regulars--the folks who spend lots of money with them. that seems to me to be reasonable enough.

They can't have too many "regulars" yet, can they? :wink:

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

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They can't have too many "regulars" yet, can they? :wink:

let's just say per se is not an unknown quantity and that the manhattan foodies who will be eating there regularly are probably fairly well known. hell, they could probably book those tables just with french laundry regulars.

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If they're like just about every other high-demand restaurant, the prime-time tables are blocked out for VIPs and are never even offered to the general public. Try getting an 8pm table at Daniel on a Friday night. Those tables are just never put into general circulation.

let's be clear: this is strictly supposition based on one person's interpretation of how he thinks things work. it may or may not resemble reality.

Well, this "one person" seems to have a more-than-passing familiarity with the NYC dining scene, so I'd say his comment carries a bit of weight. :biggrin:

Maybe cities like New York and LA have achieved a critical mass (sorry) of people who demand to be treated "better" than the riffraff. I'm with Robyn on this one - perhaps a restaurant could treat very loyal repeat customers with a bit of deference, but kowtowing to the self-important is a recipe for resentment.

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And is it really that terrible to start a 3-hour meal at 6pm?

It's a little early for dinner, but I'd consider it under certain circumstances - like especially if you were paying. :raz::laugh:

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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If they're like just about every other high-demand restaurant, the prime-time tables are blocked out for VIPs and are never even offered to the general public. Try getting an 8pm table at Daniel on a Friday night. Those tables are just never put into general circulation.

let's be clear: this is strictly supposition based on one person's interpretation of how he thinks things work. it may or may not resemble reality.

I'm not sure what the fundamental difference is between my "supposition" and what you appear to believe is the truth:

i do know that restaurants like this will typically hold 3 or 4 tables for regulars--the folks who spend lots of money with them. that seems to me to be reasonable enough.

You know the old dialog attributed to Winston Churchill, where he asks the woman sitting next to him if she'll sleep with him for one million pounds. She says yes. Then, he asks her if she'll sleep with him for one pound. "What do you think I am, a prostitute?" she responds, offended. "Madam," Churchill replies, "we've already established what you are, now we're just haggling over the price."

Russ, whether it's 3 tables, 4 tables, every table between 7pm and 8:30pm (which, at Per Se, is probably in the neighborhood of 6 tables, given that there are only 16 tables in the whole restaurant and you can't re-seat the prime-time tables), or even the majority of tables, this is how restaurants work. Is there really any debate here except as to the actual number of tables being held back for VIPs?

On that point, I think you're undercounting. At an in-demand restaurant like Daniel, 3 or 4 VIP tables are held back right up until the day of service. But on the reservations book, a month or two out, far more tables than that are blocked out for VIPs.

Moreover, you surely know that the VIP concept extends to more than just "regulars--the folks who spend lots of money with them." It also typically includes fellow members of the chef community, selected journalists, some (but not all) celebrities, concierges, payback-favors for other restaurants who have given your regulars hard-to-get tables, etc. That's my supposition, at least.

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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You know the old dialog attributed to Winston Churchill, where he asks the woman sitting next to him if she'll sleep with him for one million pounds. She says yes. Then, he asks her if she'll sleep with him for one pound. "What do you think I am, a prostitute?" she responds, offended. "Madam," Churchill replies, "we've already established what you are, now we're just haggling over the price."

shurely shome mishtake--george bernard shaw

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So why try to "review" it?  How about "enjoying" it?

You can't be expected to be a good reviewer without the experience.  And you won't want to accumulate the necessary experiences unless you enjoy yourself.

I'm not sure that my mindset really affected my enjoyment.

This thread makes me think of the movie "Defending Your Life" (perhaps the greatest foodie film ever?) in that the residents of Judgment City who use 80% of their brains (as opposed to humans 3%) eat foul looking food that humans find disgusting. The joke is that their intelligence makes the food delicious.

I kind of feel that way about Per Se. I'm Albert Brooks. You guys are Rip Torn. If you say it's great, I'll take your word, but I'm sticking to pasta with Meryl Streep.

I wasn't saying that your ability to enjoy the food is limited by your experience. I was saying that your ability to write a professional-type review is limited by your experience. The same goes for nearly everyone on eGullet.

I guess my point is - why over-analyze things when the over-anyalysis might take away from the enjoyment?

Like I said in my earlier post, I went to TFL looking for perfection, didn't find it, but ended up enjoying myself once I realized perfection wasn't going to happen.

Bill Russell

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This thread makes me think of the movie "Defending Your Life" (perhaps the greatest foodie film ever?)

Someone needs to see Tampopo.

I want to go to Per Se, especially after seening the FL episode of A Cook's Tour.

"If it's me and your granny on bongos, then it's a Fall gig'' -- Mark E. Smith

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If they're like just about every other high-demand restaurant, the prime-time tables are blocked out for VIPs and are never even offered to the general public. Try getting an 8pm table at Daniel on a Friday night. Those tables are just never put into general circulation.

I'm no VIP, but I did manage to snag a 7:30 PM reservation on a Thursday night, so I think it's probably not accurate to say that none of the prime-time tables are offered to the public. Similarly, I've been able to secure a prime-time reservation (8:00-ish on a Saturday night) at the French Laundry, which Per Se seems to be modeling their reservations policy on.

Having said that, it's awfully tough. Getting to 1.5 turns per night means that there are twice as many "bad" time slots as "good" ones. Take four tables a night out of the "good" table circulation at Per se, and suddenly 80% of the options are not at prime time. Depending on your party size, there might only be one prime-time table a night, so the guy that sneaks in at 10:00:00.5 could steal it from you. Having some flexibility on party size can help you find a better time slot.

They can't have too many "regulars" yet, can they?

Presumably not at Per Se, but their reservation computer definitely knows everyone that's dined at the French Laundry. I imagine they would be willing to provide "regular" status to friends from the Napa restaurant, as well.

Edited by jordyn (log)
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I'm not sure that my mindset really affected my enjoyment. 

This thread makes me think of the movie "Defending Your Life" (perhaps the greatest foodie film ever?) in that the residents of Judgment City who use 80% of their brains (as opposed to humans 3%) eat foul looking food that humans find disgusting.  The joke is that their intelligence makes the food delicious.

I kind of feel that way about Per Se.  I'm Albert Brooks.  You guys are Rip Torn.  If you say it's great, I'll take your word, but I'm sticking to pasta with Meryl Streep.

I'll take the pies with Albert Brooks - as many as I can eat without gaining an ounce :smile:.

You know - it's possible that the food you ate - while technically perfect - just "didn't sing". My husband and I use that phrase to indicate that even though something is excellent in terms of preparation - it's not fall off your chair delicious - food that tastes so good you don't even want to share one little bite with your dining companions. For what it's worth - my husband and I have meals in high end restaurants that are like that more than we'd care to. Robyn

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And is it really that terrible to start a 3-hour meal at 6pm?

I'm not hungry at 6 - at all. Unless I skip lunch. The mileage of other people may vary. I think if we talk about this long enough - we'll get into discussing the merits of single seating restaurants (which is what I really want to see when I'm going to wind up with a huge bill at the end of the meal). Note that I think it's possible to turn many multi-seating restaurants into single seating restaurants by eating during the week - during off-season at a seasonal place - etc. And it's generally worth the effort to do so. Robyn

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...That's my supposition, at least.

Maybe you're wrong?

I don't know - but I've never had a problem making a reservation at a nice restaurant. Of course - I do have my rules. Usually no Friday or Saturday nights. No prime time high season in a place where the season is short. No attempts to get in the first couple of months at the hottest new restaurant openings. Etc. And - if necessary (usually isn't) - I'll use the concierge desk if I'm staying in a hotel where I think the concierge desk has some clout - I'll even call the concierge desk to make the reservation a month in advance.

And then there is of course the fall back rule. That if you can't get a reservation you want a month or two in advance - try being a walk-in the night you want to eat. That's obviously not a great option if you're talking about a restaurant in a small town in France (and you don't happen to live in that small town) - but it's a reasonable thing to try in New York (if the walk-in doesn't pan out - it's not like you're going to starve). Robyn

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