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Per Se

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Offal menu is back!

http://www.tkrg.org/upload/ps_menu.pdf

OFFAL TASTING MENU

November 16, 2009

___________________________________________________________

"TORCHON DE FOIE DE LOTTE"

Granny Smith Apple Gelée, Pickled Daikon Radish and Sorrel with Sterling White Sturgeon Caviar

OXTAIL AND BEEF TENDON TERRINE

Burgundy Truffles, Young Beets and Watercress with Preserved Horseradish-Crème Fraîche

"SHIRAKO TEMPURA"

Matsutake Mushrooms, English Cucumbers, Compressed Asian Pear and Tatsoi with Bonito

"SURF AND TURF"

Butter Poached Nova Scotia Lobster Mitts "Cervelle de Veau," New Crop Potatoes, Young Onions and Frisée with Béarnaise "Mousseline"

FOUR STORY HILL FARM'S "PORCHETTA"

Rapini, Sweet Peppers, Pine Nuts and Sultana "Mostarda" with "Jus de Porc à l'Oreille"

SLOW ROASTED ELYSIAN FIELDS FARM'S LAMB NECK

"Langue et Ris d’Agneau," Toasted Farro Tabouleh, Charred Eggplant Purée and Cumin-Scented Yogurt with Lamb Sauce

"FIORE SARDO"

Salumeria Biellese "Guanciale," Sunchokes, Rainbow Swiss Chard Ribs and Arugula with "Balsamico al Ginepro"

HUDSON VALLEY MOULARD DUCK FOIE GRAS "SHERBET"

French Prune "Pudding" and Sugar Pie Pumpkin with Pumpkin Seed Oil

MINCEMEAT PIE

Laurel Ice Cream

"MIGNARDISES"

PRIX FIXE 275.00

SERVICE INCLUDED

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shirako tempura sounds great

It was beautifully tempura'ed. I was surprised to find it was quite mild in flavor, have you had cod milt before? Having had no frame of reference I was preparing myself for something incredibly strong tasting. The tiny amounts of fresh shaved (scraped?) bonito to finish was a nice touch.

Word has it they will be doing this through the end of the year, with the menu changing every two weeks or so.

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shirako tempura sounds great

I was surprised to find it was quite mild in flavor, have you had cod milt before? Having had no frame of reference I was preparing myself for something incredibly strong tasting.

I have -- just once, in Tokyo. Loved it. Definitely mild in flavor, but I seem to remember a slight sweetness too. But I found the texture really interesting -- creamy, like a barely set custard or, say, soft tofu. In a way, it reminded me of the sensation of eating really good uni.

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Hi everyone,

I have reservations for dinner on 28th January.

If I want the "extended menu" who do I contact, and how far in advance do I have to tell the restaurant? Is $450 the "normal" price?

On the current restaurant menu pdf download (Dec 22), there are no "or" dish choices on the chef's tasting, is this normal?

If on the night the offal tasting is available, I will go for that (partner will go for normal tasting) - but is there an "extended offal menu"?

THANKS!!!


~ Sher * =]

. . . . .I HEART FOOD. . . . .

Sleep 'til you're hungry, eat 'til you're sleepy. - Anon

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Hi everyone,

I have reservations for dinner on 28th January.

If I want the "extended menu" who do I contact, and how far in advance do I have to tell the restaurant? Is $450 the "normal" price?

On the current restaurant menu pdf download (Dec 22), there are no "or" dish choices on the chef's tasting, is this normal?

If on the night the offal tasting is available, I will go for that (partner will go for normal tasting) - but is there an "extended offal menu"?

THANKS!!!

I'd check with them for the definitive answers (mine are just from cumulative experience), but:

Once you have a reservation, call them back and tell them you would like to do an extended menu with your visit, with more courses than the 9 usually offered. This might go a number of different ways - but most often someone will contact you back closer to the reservation to see exactly what you're after and tell you the price depending on what they get that time of year. Or they could just acknowledge your request and re-confirm once you are seated.

White truffles should be done by then, but black truffles might be around. $450 is the starting point, I paid $500 at TFL for example - varies based on what ingredients they bring in that day.

The offal menu "officially" ends December 30th as far as I know, but more often than not they have some form of offal kicking around in the back if you ask for it when talking with them.

Have fun!

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Is Pastry Chef Sebastian Rouxel still there?


2317/5000

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Is Pastry Chef Sebastian Rouxel still there?

He works downstairs now at Bouchon Bakery, heading up their pastry program.

Elwyin Boyles is the current Head Pastry Chef, his profile is on the Per Se website.

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Hi everyone,

I have reservations for dinner on 28th January.

If I want the "extended menu" who do I contact, and how far in advance do I have to tell the restaurant? Is $450 the "normal" price?

On the current restaurant menu pdf download (Dec 22), there are no "or" dish choices on the chef's tasting, is this normal?

If on the night the offal tasting is available, I will go for that (partner will go for normal tasting) - but is there an "extended offal menu"?

THANKS!!!

I'd check with them for the definitive answers (mine are just from cumulative experience), but:

Once you have a reservation, call them back and tell them you would like to do an extended menu with your visit, with more courses than the 9 usually offered. This might go a number of different ways - but most often someone will contact you back closer to the reservation to see exactly what you're after and tell you the price depending on what they get that time of year. Or they could just acknowledge your request and re-confirm once you are seated.

White truffles should be done by then, but black truffles might be around. $450 is the starting point, I paid $500 at TFL for example - varies based on what ingredients they bring in that day.

The offal menu "officially" ends December 30th as far as I know, but more often than not they have some form of offal kicking around in the back if you ask for it when talking with them.

Have fun!

Sickchangeup is correct on all accounts here except one - the offal menu unfortunately ended on 12/23/09. Whether they can or cannot do the extended tasting is determined closer (closer than the 2 months wait between reservation and meal, at least) to the actual date and depends on the table you're at (1 turn or 2 turns per night.) If you call early enough they can and will make it work. In general they take some requests - I, for instance, don't eat beef flesh (steak - its a texture thing) and would prefer an offal heavy menu - they said they can easily do that.

I did a $450 extended tasting at TFL (http://uhockey.blogspot.com/2009/02/french-laundry-yountville-ca.html) and will be doing the same at Per Se this evening - I shall report back. I'll be dining at Daniel, Ko, and Picholine on this trip so it should be excellent.

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I'll apologize in advance for the length - pictures are on my website and for personal (nonprofessional or affiliated) use only - but here is a longwinded review of the extended tasting for 12/30/09 at Per Se.

http://uhockey.blogspot.com/2008/12/per-se-new-york-ny.html

…in traditional fashion I had planned far in advance – having always wanted to experience the madness of New York City at New Years I booked my plane tickets in late September and had arranged to stay with my friends in Queens. With that planning out of the way the only questions that remained were whether or not I could get the necessary reservations – a 30 minute wait on the phone on October 30th said yes – reservations for one at S. Pelligrino’s best restaurant in North America on December 30th, a mere 10 months after my visit to the former best restaurant in North America on February 17th – both Thomas Keller institutions, both highly anticipated. Having experienced a sublime extended tasting at TFL and having been on call Christmas Day (with only 2 days off since Black Friday) I decided to make Per Se equally special and celebrate my holidays by once again requesting an extended tasting. Although the combination of downed website and ever-busy phone lines made the tasting more difficult to achieve than that at TFL, a call from one of the restaurant managers assured it could and would be done when I confirmed my reservation on 12/27.

Arriving at the Time Warner Center around 5:00pm I browsed the shops for a while before making my way up the escalators to the 4th floor – while I know some complain that Per Se is located in a “mall” I personally did not find it to be problematic in the least. While I certainly appreciate TFL’s laid back country feel, I unfortunately went on a day when it was raining and with stores closing up as early as 4:30pm there is absolutely nothing to do in Yountville on a rainy day. Arriving at the famous non-functional blue door (and humorously watching a couple attempt to open the door by turning the nob) there were already four other couples waiting in the faux-garden as the restaurant and not yet opened. Stopping shortly to snap a few pictures the bilateral sliding glass doors quickly opened and two young ladies emerged to welcome us, collect our bags and coats, and even to take pictures of a few of us in front of the doors.

Bags checked each party was led through the Salon up to the floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Central Park and into the dining room – the setting at Per Se, once you get past it being in the mall, is breath-taking. Seated at a rounded booth on the second floor of the restaurant with a full view of every table in the room and the vastness of Central Park I was next greeted by a female server and my captain, Christopher. Sparkling or Still – always Still – and soon after a glass of champagne – just like The Laundry. Acknowledging that the Chef was prepared to make a special menu sans-beef/veal flesh I was next asked if I’d like to see the “normal” menu in case there was anything that caught my eye – assenting to this request I browsed the menu and stated that if acceptable I’d very much like the egg dish from the tasting of vegetables and the foie gras from the chef’s tasting to be incorporated into my meal. “Not a problem” was the response and I then settled in for what would be 315 minutes of near perfection.

In order to not belabor the discussion of service at Per Se I will note that Christopher was every bit as good as Reuben, my server at TFL and the standard by which all servers since have been judged. Gracious and pleasant, inquisitive and informative, interesting and interested – flawless – and when he learned that I was not a wine drinker but not opposed to wine he actually went out of his way to provide complimentary 1oz servings of various wines to both teach me about wine and to compliment the food. His ancillary staff was also quite good, but unlike at the Laundry I felt that bread service was slow (I actually had to ask for butter and bread after my 6th course while other tables received it immediately after the first) and my water glass actually reached empty twice – minor details for sure, but details none the less.

Kicking off the meal, exactly like the one in Yountville, were Keller’s signature amuses bouche – a pair of gougeres and a salmon coronet – both of which were every bit as excellent as those previous. A bit more conversation with Christopher and his staff followed – talk of the exhibits at MoMA I’d just visited, plans for New Years, dining recommendations for both New York and elsewhere (Marea and Manresa being the two most discussed, along with Alinea and TFL,) and more flowed more like a conversation between friends than a conversation between server and guest.

Arriving shortly after the expected amuses was my first proper dish of the evening, at first glance and smell 4-5 caramelized Brussels Sprout leaves in a small bowl. Finished tableside by Chris the bowl was next filled with a thick soup and topped with a creamy mousse to form what was named Pumpkin Veloute – Brussels Sprout Leaves and “Quatre Epices” Mousse. Thick in its own right the soup was the very essence of pumpkin and stirring in the mousse – a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and coriander – formed what can only be described as warm pumpkin pie interestingly sweetened only by the crispy caramelized Brussels sprouts.

Following the soup, again like my meal at The Laundry, was the mother of pearl spoon and Oysters and Pearls – Sabayon of Pearl Tapioca with Island Creek Oysters and Sterling White Sturgeon Caviar. Enough has been said of this single dish to write a book and it once again wowed with the oysters actually tasting even sweeter on this occasion than the last. While not quite as amazing as Savoy’s Colours of Caviar, this dish still amazes me given my overall lack of enthusiasm for both caviar and oysters when served solo.

Following the Oysters appeared a pair of chopsticks and the first of three light and unique seafood pairings served on a mirrored silver plate. Entitled Nantucket Bay Scallop – English Cucumber, Daikon Radish, Sake Gelee, this dish was the first “wow” of the night. Featuring plump and sweet scallops served nearly raw alongside a salad of crispy daikon and smooth English cucumber with a drizzle of intoxicatingly smooth sake reduction this dish demonstrated how beautifully fresh seafood and simple vegetables can taste when paired appropriately. Light, fresh, and a great introduction to the following dishes.

Next on the tasting, this time served in a large bowl, was Spanish Mackerel – Cauliflower Florettes, Meyer Lemon and Espelette Pepper “Aigre Doux.” Strong in flavor yet mild for a mackerel this dish was a crudo to the scallop’s sashimi – essentially cured in a sweet and spicy pepper vinegar/oil comination and topped with a millimeter thin slice of Meyer lemon. Accompanying the dish and adding some contrast were small cauliflower florettes, barely cooked, and poached in lemon.

Continuing the progression of seafood preparations (from raw to cured to cooked) was hot smoked Columbia River Sturgeon – Yukon Gold Potato Blini, Granny Smith Apple and Scallion Salad – the second “wow” moment of the evening. As Sturgeon is rivaled only by John Dory as my favorite fish this dish was met with high expectations the moment it was described and not only met but surpassed all of them. Smoky and well cooked yet melt-in-the-mouth tender the piece of sturgeon actually laid in between the two thin slices of “blini” while the borders of the dish were formed by the slices of crisp apple and the “cream” atop the Blini served forth the very essence of mild scallions and butter.

Hoping for another great seafood prep I was surprised – and delighted – when my next dish arrived. As requested, dish six of the evening was the Coddled Squire Hill Farms’ Ameraucana Hen Egg – Ragout of Black Winter Truffles, Hazelnuts and Pickled Red Cabbage with Hollandaise Mousseline and Brioche Melba. Complex in name and even more so in flavor there is really no way to describe the myriad layers of taste, texture, and aroma of this dish. Starting from top down the first item to note was the crispy brioche melba chip atop – a crunchy layer that shattered with pressure from the spoon releasing the perfume of fresh truffle. Taking a bite, first of the mousseline/egg-custard mix and then of the custard along with the cabbage and hazelnuts , the senses were awakened at all angles by sweet hollandaise, creamy egg yolk, sour cabbage, crunchy yet smooth hazelnuts – all with the overhanging essence of truffle, butter, and poached egg. An absolute must order my second or third favorite savory of the meal.

Wanting to soak up every last drop of the egg (I dunk my toast my egg-yolk and don’t care where I am, it is delicious) I next found myself requesting bread – I honestly think the ancillary servers forgot because Chris was taking such good care of my table. Arriving less than 2 minutes after my request were two Parker-House Rolls and a fleur de sel butter from the Loire Valley plus an unsalted cow butter from Straus Family Creamery in California – all three quite good but certainly not as fabulous as the pain au lait and the famous Animal Farm butter from The French Laundry. Additional bread options during the meal included a chewy and salty pretzel roll, a delectable and crisp chapeau sourdough, an epi-baguette akin to the table bread at Bouchon, and a strong Riesling Rye – my favorite of the group. Additionally, served with the cheese course, were slices of Lemon Poppyseed and Raisin Walnut.

Continuing the tasting and stemming from a conversation about my overall dislike of mustard, yet being impressed by the manner in which both Achatz and Kinch used it in iced preparations, Chris stated he’d talk to Chef Benno about somehow fitting mustard into the menu. Sure as promised, dish seven was comprised of Marcho Farm’s Ris de Veu with Violet Artichokes, Fennel Bulb, and Pickled Mustard Seed Emulsion. Delicate and perfectly pan seared the sweetbreads were amongst the best I’d ever tasted and when paired with the surprisingly sweet artichokes, pungent fennel bulb, and spicy mustard seed the overall gustatory sensation of the dish was actually quite akin to a hotdog – something I’d certainly not expected and evidence that when used appropriately there probably isn’t a food or spice that can’t be made to fit my palate.

Dish eight was another dish from the tasting of vegetables and one that had caught my eye when browsing the online menu in the weeks leading up to my meal. Entitled Greenmarket Carrot Pudding – Papadum, Poached Royal Blenheim Apricots and Parsley Shoots with Madras Curry Vinaigrette. Having never heard of papadum before I was informed by Chris that it was actually a type of Indian bread and that this dish was the chef’s take on Gajar Halva – a traditional Indian dish – and a cuisine with which I must say I’ve not had much experience. On first smell I was immediately struck by the scents of cinnamon, cumin, curry, and vinegar and on first bite I noted all of the above and more. A beautiful dish in both appearance and flavor the pudding itself actually reminded me of sweet potato pie with hints of apricot, wine, and carrot while the papadum lent a degree of crispiness and spice.

Dish nine – and finally a misstep. Imagine that situation where someone tries to do something extra special for you and it just doesn’t quite work – not that it is “bad,” but it just doesn’t live up to the hype – at Per Se that was “Quail in a Jar.” Presented in the bottle at table-side first and then taken to the kitchen for plating this dish featured Cavendish Farm’s White Quail stuffed with foie gras and allowed to steep in its own juices for greater than 6 months forming a jelly layer around the outside and a mélange of meaty flavors within. Served alongside petite lettuces and finished elaborately at tableside with 100 year old balsamic vinegar the dish was additionally presented with warm brioche (replaced as it began to cool) and a sampling of six salts. While good, the overall flavor of the dish was largely a fatty quail flavor as opposed to the Foie Gras and the congealed pate did not spread appropriately on the brioche, making it largely irrelevant. While I was certainly quite honored to receive a dish generally reserved for “VIPs” the overall effect of this dish was nowhere near as pleasing as the Foie Gras at The French Laundry and I was further annoyed when I watched a neighboring table ooh and ah about the menu Foie prep which I had requested – it looked quite similar to that which I experienced in Napa.

As much as I regret not having tasted the Foie Gras I had hoped for, the following dish was not only a return to everything I’d expected from Per Se, but one of the ten best dishes I ate in 2009. Entitled lengthily as “herb Roasted Fillet of Mediterranean John Dory wrapped in Marcho Farm’s Coeur de Veau, Hen of the Woods Mushroom, Salsify and Watercress Leaves, Sauce Beurre Rouge” the dish was exactly as complex as it sounds. Beginning with 2-3oz of clean and supple rosemary accented fish wrapped in 3 peppery slices of veal heart the proteins were quickly pan seared and placed delicately atop an admixture of cooked salsify and watercress plus crispy hen of the woods mushrooms and topped tableside with a savory reduction of clarified butter, pan drippings from the fish/heart, and red wine – to call this the best “surf n’ turf” ever would be an understatement – it was the best dish I’ve yet encountered at a Thomas Keller restaurant.

Following the Dory – more offal with seafood – this time in the form of Butter Poached Nova Scotia Lobster – “Crete de Coq,” Sunchokes, Garden Chervil. Having never tasted cock’s comb before I started first with a single bite – somewhat chewy with the consistency of well prepared baby octopus and a smoky flavor not unlike pork. Digging further into the dish I was next met by Keller’s standard butter poached lobster tail, this time a west-coast variety with more pronounced sweetness than the Maine tail from TFL, and the roots of garden chervil (much like a turnip in taste and texture) and sweet sunchokes. Much like the previous dish this plate paired a meaty earth-tone with a sweet seafood quite elegantly.

The following dish was a swift change of pace but at the same time a welcome break in the heavy offal dishes. Simply titled Hand Cut Tagliatelle with Black Italian Truffles this dish was exactly what you are supposed to do with a truffle – display them whole, slice them fresh, and pair them with something that highlights their taste, texture, and aroma. Smooth and silky pasta with a light butter sauce (no cheese this time, unlike the gnocchi at the Laundry) simply served as a backdrop to the generous serving of truffle – one of the more hearty and aromatic truffles I’ve had the opportunity to taste. Really – what else can you say about this dish – truffles, butter, and pasta – delicious.

Moving towards the savory finales, my next dish would have easily served as the “main” course at Daniel, Savoy, or Robuchon – but it was not. Titled All-day Braised Snake River Farms’ Kurobuta Pork Jowl – Buckwheat Crepe, Scallion Emincee, Tokyo Turnips, French Prune Puree with Tellicherry Pepper Jus – another delicious balance of sweet and savory, fatty and fibrous, pungent and refined. Tasting almost Hispanic – perhaps like an divine fajita – the pork itself literally melted in the mouth and mingled beautifully with the crisp yet delicate crepe stuffed with prune. Topped with shredded turnip and scallion greens with pan seared scallions flanking each side the dish was completed with a sweet pepper sauce somewhat similar in flavor to barbeque sauce.

The true main course, and on par with the egg ragout for 2nd/3rd favorite of the night, was Elysian Fields Farm’s Rouelle D’agnueau – “Langue et Ris d’Agneau,” Celeriac Gratin, Young Beets, Parsley Shoots, Celery Branch Ribbons, Borscht Sauce. Towards the upper left of the plate sat a 1-2oz piece of lamb shoulder and immediately next to it a cheesy concoction of celeriac that tasted much akin to au gratin potatoes, but sweeter. To the right of the plate a single lamb sweetbread – something I’d never tasted before but somewhat less sweet but more creamy and gamy than that of a cow, topped with another smaller piece of lamb. Finishing the dish, in thin ribbons, were pan-seared slices of velvety and smooth lamb’s tongue, crisp beets, and ribbons of crispy vegetables and an earthy beet jus.

At this point Chris stopped by to ask “how are you doing?” and questioned how much dessert I could handle. Explaining that I was actually doing quite well and that the pace was perfect Chris stated “that is what we aim for with these extended tastings – I’ll let the pastry team know you’re ready for their best.” Stepping away my butter and bread dish were taken and a new bread plate plus bread selections for the cheese course were presented. For the cheese, an elaborate presentation compared to the menu options - Epoisses with Fork Crushed Potatoes, Celery Branch Ribbons, and picked sunchokes – was served. Although I had heard of Epoisses I had never actually tasted it until this point and I have to say both the odor and the flavor were a shock to the system. Served warm, somewhat like an au gratin considering the potatoes - the orange/red hue blended nicely with the picked sunchokes while the crispy celery actually acted to tame the pungent, acidic, and heavily nuanced flavor. A fan of milder cheeses generally I have to say I’d not have ordered this cheese by my own choosing but was actually quite impressed with the dish overall, especially when spreading a bit on the raisin bread.

Moving next to the sweets, first a palate cleanser in the form of Mandarin Orange Sorbet with wild Peppercorn Sable, Orange Tuile with Nyons Extra Virgin Olive Oil Emulsion. Smooth and icy the sorbet itself tasted the very essence of Mandarin orange while the peppercorns and tuile provided a bit of contrast and the thickened Olive Oil beneath the sorbet provided a smooth and glassy finish.

Progressing with more citrus fruit flavors, the next dish arrived from one of the ancillary servers without much description aside from “grapefruit float.” Reviewing the menu later this dish was called Grapefruit Champagne Float – Ruby Red Grapefruit, Fleur de Sel Sable, Vanilla Ice Cream, Grapefruit Soda, Champagne Granite and although I remember liking it, the only memory I have of this dish was thinking it tasted mostly like a salted and citrusy frozen margarita.

Arriving shortly after my Grapefruit was finished Chris appeared with a smile stating “I’m sure you had it at the Laundry, but I can’t imagine a trip to Per Se without Coffee and Doughnuts.” Every bit as perfect as the version in Napa – a light and airy piping hot doughnut and hole served alongside a slowly melting and creamy semifreddo that (if possible) tasted even better than I remember. Also accompanying this dish was Per Se’s coffee service – a nutty blend with notes of fruit and chicory, more Bouchon than French Laundry.

Starting to feel full but not yet uncomfortable I stood up momentarily to browse the room, visit the restroom, and let things settle. Returning to my table I found a fresh napkin folded and a bit of commotion at the table next to me – 3 affluent gentlemen – one of whom was clearly a regular and apparently “allergic to the smell of coffee coming from my table,” were re-arranging seats. Overhearing his complaint (impossible, from a medical standpoint) I merely chuckled as his friends apologized profusely and offered to buy me a glass of “anything I’d like.” Thanking them I declined the offer and simply sat amazed at the audacity of some people – for what its worth I heard him note that the service at El Bulli is “no where near the quality of Per Se,” – he’d purportedly been there twice and to Per Se “Dozens” of times.

Following this short delay (thankful as I somehow found more stomach space) was my first “proper” dessert - Pear and Caramel – Madagascar Vanilla-Poached Bartlett Pear, Caramel Mousse, Pear Pate de Fruit, Glace au Beurre Noisette. A tasting in its own right this dish featured three different “pear forms” – a creamy pear biscuit topped with butter ice cream, a thin slice of poached pear rolled around a smooth caramel mousse, and a ball of poached pear with heavy accents of cinnamon and vanilla perched atop a macaron-esque pear cookie and topped with another thin slice of pear. Flanking the three forms were also three cubes of pear gelee. Featuring many pale colors this dish was very calming and smooth – and it would’ve been an excellent end to any meal…

Expecting the trail of mignardises to follow I was surprised when another fork and spoon were laid out after the pear was taken away – and even more surprised when the next dish arrived. Entitled “Mont Blanc” this dish was Per Se’s take on Tiramisu (my second favorite genre of dessert, behind only bread pudding.) Beautifully presented the dish featured a Chestnut Genoise, Swiss Meringue, Chocolate-Juniper Cremeux, Rum Parfait, and Marron Glace with Chocolate Ice Cream and honestly made all previous incarnations of tiramisu outside of Jean-Philippe pale in comparison. Crackling chocolate coating over light and airy cake and cremeux, deep and fragrant chocolate atop an airy meringue and a delicious gelatinous cream of chestnut puree – a flawless dessert only further enhanced by top notes of rum.

Still licking my lips and enjoying another cup of coffee after the Mont Blanc I was brought another small spoon and the first of the escort of mignardises – a creamy pot of sweet-milk panna-cotta served over huckleberry compote. Only 2-3 bites, perfect after such a meal.

Arriving next, directly borrowed from Napa, was the three tiered case of caramels, pistachio nougats, and truffles (dark, light, white) and the porcelain container of chocolate covered hazelnuts. An additional surprise was a small jar of miniature mints and cherry candies and the number of chocolates available at Per Se – nearly twice as many as The French Laundry. Selecting eight including White Cheesecake, Valhrona 77%, Peanut Butter, Maple Nut, Cherry Balsamic, Fleur De Sel, Caramel, and Olive Oil I was particularly impressed by the balsamic and fleur de sel – as good as any chocolatier I’ve yet encountered.

Finally giving up with a few truffles and plenty of candies and nuts left on the table I drank one last cup of coffee and chatted with Christopher for a bit about dining in and around NYC. On requesting a copy of the menu be mailed to me like they did at TFL Chris stated they could do one better and actually produced a copy of the menu that he had personally typed up that evening. In addition to the menu he delivered the night’s take home gift – four S’more “finger sandwiches” with the texture of a Kit-Kat and the flavors of Vanilla Marshmallow, Cinnamon Graham, and Dark Chocolate – and six more chocolates in a small wrapped box “for my friends.” I won’t lie – I ate them the following morning.

Finishing up my coffee and paying the bill I was offered a tour of the kitchen – ENORMOUS in comparison to the version in Yountville and featuring nearly twice as many chefs/stations to fill the space. Leaving around 10:30 (7:30pm in California) the televised display of The French Laundry was bustling whereas the view of Per Se when I ate out West was merely the cleaning crew. Unfortunately I was informed that Chef Benno had left around 9:00 to spend some time with family who was visiting from out of town and as such I didn’t get to meet him, but the rest of the kitchen crew were as welcoming and gracious as expected. Making my way through the kitchen Chris went out of his way to show me two Bahaus items made exclusively for Chef Keller – once again noting that he’d been paying plenty of attention to our conversation and the fact that I’d visited MoMA earlier in the day.

Visiting the lobby and collecting my coat and bag the host and hostess bid me farewell and I made my way out to the now-empty TWC and proceeded to walk back to Penn Station where I’d catch my ride to Queens. Thinking as I walked along about how fortunate I was to experience such a meal the inevitable comparison came to mind – which was better, The French Laundry or Per Se - a difficult decision to be sure. Similar, of course, I think that while I liked Chris better than Reuben, the overall service at The French Laundry is a bit more polished while the cuisine at Per Se is a bit more edgy – still rooted in the perfection built at The French Laundry but perhaps pushing the boundaries a little further. All things considering - from setting to food to service to mood – I think Per Se is exactly what Keller intended, a modern/city take on what he created in Napa and I would undoubtedly return to either in a heartbeat. With that said, if I could choose only one or the other for my “last meal” it would be The Laundry – there is just something about that setting, that farm, and that tiny little city that makes it one of a kind.

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Great report. It sounds like a terrific meal (and I would kill for that quail dish!)

haha - agreed on both counts! That's a pretty solid VIP dish, FG got hooked up with it during his visit that he documented earlier. It's a true old school classic.

And I've dined many times with Christopher, he's great.

On the bread thing, the reason other tables got it after their first course, and you only got it after you asked for it, is that they hold off on bringing the bread until you reach the salad/foie part of the menu - until you are done with the so called canapes. On the regular 9 course menu, salad/foie is the 2nd dish. On your VIP menu, it was the 9th from the looks of it, so if left to their own devices you would have got it then I'm guessing. FG made mention of this on his own report:

Now, up until this point, I had been harboring one nagging bit of resentment about the service at this lunch. Per Se is one of those restaurants where they wait to bring bread and butter until after the amuse. But an amuse had come and, still, no bread and butter.

Then I had a horrible realization: we were still eating amuses. Everything up until this point was just the kitchen warming up. We hadn't really started the meal.

It is a shame you missed out on the Animal Farm butter, Per Se serves it just the same as French Laundry, I just don't think the farm is large enough to ensure that neither restaurant ever runs out. It's also a shame you missed out of the beauty of the French Laundry on a sunny day, the biggest advantage TFL has over Per Se (in my eyes) is the ability to take a mid-lunch stroll through the garden.

The smoked sturgeon canape looks amazing, as does the heart wrapped John Dory. I know they did a "Heart and Sole" dish on one of the offal menus that combined Dover Sole & Heart, not sure if this was similar to that. I really like your menu, they incorporated offal in very well - I still recall the lambs tongue from a dish I had last month, it was delicious!

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Great report. It sounds like a terrific meal (and I would kill for that quail dish!)

Quail In A Jar is indeed wonderful but I do understand about the taste; maybe I was luckier with a more layered cut.

But then I only take one bit with a little brioche (whether this or the foie) and eat the rest "naked".

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Great report. It sounds like a terrific meal (and I would kill for that quail dish!)

haha - agreed on both counts! That's a pretty solid VIP dish, FG got hooked up with it during his visit that he documented earlier. It's a true old school classic.

And I've dined many times with Christopher, he's great.

On the bread thing, the reason other tables got it after their first course, and you only got it after you asked for it, is that they hold off on bringing the bread until you reach the salad/foie part of the menu - until you are done with the so called canapes. On the regular 9 course menu, salad/foie is the 2nd dish. On your VIP menu, it was the 9th from the looks of it, so if left to their own devices you would have got it then I'm guessing. FG made mention of this on his own report:

Now, up until this point, I had been harboring one nagging bit of resentment about the service at this lunch. Per Se is one of those restaurants where they wait to bring bread and butter until after the amuse. But an amuse had come and, still, no bread and butter.

Then I had a horrible realization: we were still eating amuses. Everything up until this point was just the kitchen warming up. We hadn't really started the meal.

It is a shame you missed out on the Animal Farm butter, Per Se serves it just the same as French Laundry, I just don't think the farm is large enough to ensure that neither restaurant ever runs out. It's also a shame you missed out of the beauty of the French Laundry on a sunny day, the biggest advantage TFL has over Per Se (in my eyes) is the ability to take a mid-lunch stroll through the garden.

The smoked sturgeon canape looks amazing, as does the heart wrapped John Dory. I know they did a "Heart and Sole" dish on one of the offal menus that combined Dover Sole & Heart, not sure if this was similar to that. I really like your menu, they incorporated offal in very well - I still recall the lambs tongue from a dish I had last month, it was delicious!

Thanks for the information - good information on the bread service.

Of all the cities I've been to I have to say New York is the best in terms of treating "gourmands" well - people who ask questions, get interested in the kitchen and their servers, etc - they seem to get extra special treatment even if they aren't anyone special. Perhaps it is because there are so many rich folks and expense accounts in NYC that some people take the food for granted, but it seems like people who treat the meal like an experience or a "privilage" get treated well - at Daniel the Chef sent out an extra dessert and a free round of the cheese cart while Picholine served a divine preparation of Wood Pigeon that wasn't on the standard menu for New Years. Honestly, I had a great trip and they only place that really didn't live up to the considerable hype was Ko.

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First, Per Se doesn't reopen until tomorrow. They stopped serving white truffles before Christmas. They may indeed have a black truffle course on the salon menu tomorrow; recently it has been a pasta dish with shaved black truffles. Per se usually has an updated menu on their website.

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I would also add (and this is particularly important for lunch I find) that non-alcoholic drinks are included at Per Se. So you can ask the house to do a non-alcoholic beverage pairing, finish with a cappuccino, and not pay a dime extra.

I don't post as much as I should to these boards, but thought I'd add a cautionary note to the thread. Although individual non-alcoholic beverages are included, non-alcoholic pairings are, in theory, priced at $45 a pop. I had seen this mentioned in an NYT article from 2004, but based on sickchangeup's post, I'd assumed this had since been rescinded. However, at the end of our (excellent) lunch today, an unexpected extra $90 was added to our bill. As you'd expect, the GM was gracious enough to remove the charge -- but this is good to know, especially since I had confirmed with the reservationist that non-alcoholic beverages are included when pre-requesting the pairing over the phone.

For those curious about what our beverage pairings entailed, I'm sad to say that while they were tasty, the drinks' overall lack of creativity was a disappointment. Sparkling French apple cider with the amuses, orange soda with foie gras, Navarro gewürztraminer juice with the fish, the pinot noir juice with the meats, and a very nicely-made iced mocha with dessert. The most (well, only) inspired drink accompanied the final main course (côte d'agneau/cauliflower agnolotti for the chef's/vegetable tasting menu respectively): jasmine-infused almond milk that did a wonderful job not just of pairing our individual dishes, but subtly tied them together.

As others have noted above, the kitchen is in good form. Service, it has to be said, did not ascend to the TFL's feats of telepathy, but the food yesterday was superior to my last visit there. The two highlights were lobster claws and lentils with shaved foie gras 'salami' (yes...); and garlic pain perdu with a fantastically meaty king trumpet mushroom.

Finally, it's worth adding that reservations appear startlingly easy to come by ATM. Both I and the deliriously-content (and VIP'd) solo diner at the next table nabbed OpenTable reservations earlier in the week. When I booked, there were no fewer than three times available to me.


"Sauce separates you from the money. Make a good sauce, you make the money."

-- James Willis

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I'm surprised that the non-alcoholic pairings weren't more pleasing. When I went once with a non-alcoholic drinking friend, the pairings were very interesting, including the most wonderful virgin mojito I've ever had. It was tasty without being oversweet and you really thought it was spiked.

Those two highlights sound heavenly. I think it's time for me to go back soon.

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My apologies! Truth be told, I had never asked for a formal non-alcohol pairing, but just rather asked for things here and there as I finished them, even taking suggestions, but clearly there is a difference. I do love the Pinor Noir juice though, JG has it on their menu as well.

Thanks for the link to the article as well, hadn't seen that one.

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I'm surprised that the non-alcoholic pairings weren't more pleasing. When I went once with a non-alcoholic drinking friend, the pairings were very interesting, including the most wonderful virgin mojito I've ever had. It was tasty without being oversweet and you really thought it was spiked.

Yes, after reading several enticing accounts of non-alcoholic pairings (yuzu-based spritzer, anise bloody mary...), I was rather surprised too. Did you request the pairing in advance as well, or were the drinks created ad hoc? Part of me actually suspects someone dropped the ball behind the scenes and my pairing request had not been noted in my reservation. I hasten to add this is utterly speculative and that I find this idea almost unimaginable, but our server did appear to have been unaware of my request when I mentioned it to him, and this would explain why nothing especially interesting was served to us until late in the meal.

My apologies! Truth be told, I had never asked for a formal non-alcohol pairing, but just rather asked for things here and there as I finished them, even taking suggestions, but clearly there is a difference. I do love the Pinor Noir juice though, JG has it on their menu as well.

No need for apologies at all. I have your post to thank for introducing me to the idea of a non-alcoholic pairing, and if every drink had evinced the same degree of inspiration either in their pairing or composition as that almond milk, $45 would have been well worth it.

Incidentally, we too love the Navarro juices and have ordered many cases directly from them. Funnily both the gewürztraminer and pinot noir juices at Per Se tasted distinctly more complex than any other time we have experienced them (including at Zuni where we first tried them). Not sure if it was an effect of drinking from generously proportioned wine glasses (we're not quite that fancy at home) or maybe the temperature at which they were served, but the former bore a woody, almost smoked redolence and the latter displayed a lovely, yes, pinot-like, tannic structure. Quite inexplicable.

Speaking of JG, I don't think I have seen others mentioning this, but while in most respects Per Se is outstanding, our dessert courses suffered in comparison with, say, Johnny Iuzzini's marvellous work. Don't want to dwell too much on the negative, but even taking into account the terrific mignardises and ambrosial crème brûlée, the sweet courses were the weakest section of the meal.

Last thing I must mention is that the cheese course was incredible. I'm a purist when it comes to cheeses and tend to favor them cut in large hunks from a cheese cart and minimally adorned. However, the Cashel Blue with Agen prune, Tellicherry pepper sablé, hazelnuts, and cab sauv reduction was the best "arranged" cheese course I've ever had. The meld and contrast of flavor and texture was so masterfully exquisite and delicious that it makes my mouth moisten just thinking about it now.


Edited by kayu (log)

"Sauce separates you from the money. Make a good sauce, you make the money."

-- James Willis

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For anyone who was involved recetnly in my "looking for a long, luxurious tasting menu" thread, you may recall that my wife's only request was that we not return to Per Se. After a wonderful meal at JG, she 1) noticed little things that made Per Se beyond extrodinary and 2) realized that she can ask (both before and during the meal) for changes and treatment that will make the meal everythig she wants it to be. I guess I never did my job of expressing my understadning...restaurants/chefs/servers at this level TRULY and sincerely WANT you to have that meal that you remember for a long time. They will (within certain limits of course) work with you to make sure that everything is as wonderful for you as it can be.

That said...I have been given the all clear to once again reserve a table at PerSe. Now to plan a night in NYC two months in advance, arrange babysitting, and actually be able to keep the reservation!!! I am already obsessing over the meal.

Anything new and wonderful (or otherwise) I should be aware of in the past 10 months?

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Yay! I'm going again in April.

The only thing I can say (probably again) is that if there are food problems/restrictions, it's better for the Chefs to know ahead so they can have solutions ready.

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Yay! I'm going again in April.

The only thing I can say (probably again) is that if there are food problems/restrictions, it's better for the Chefs to know ahead so they can have solutions ready.

If you have one of the "standard food allergies" (e.g., no shellfish, no nuts), it's safe to say they already have a repertoire of alternatives, and they do not need to know in advance of your visit. If you have a more unusual dietary restriction, then perhaps it would be a good idea to give early notice.

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True, Mark, that if it's a standard food allergy they do have things ready but wouldn't it be better that the kitchen knows ahead so that they can be ready?

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