We finally tried out the famed Thomas Keller’s Per Se restaurant located in the Time Warner center Saturday night. It was a very generous wedding gift from a close friend of ours and we were ecstatic to try. I was very surprised by the interior. For some reason, I expected the inside to look exactly like the building it was located in, sleek and modern. But rather, it’s quite romantic and cozy inside. There’s a fireplace, soaring views of Columbus Circle and lovely white tableclothed tables scattered about for couples and groups. The tables are nicely spaced apart for privacy and the dining room has a warm hush and light to it. It is quite lovely and incredibly elegant.
I did not take photos of every course we ate as I wanted to really immerse myself in the experience and not detract from it by taking photos of everything – so apologies. It doesn’t really matter anyways as Per Se’s menu changes daily and is seasonal – so what I ate that night might not be what you are offered should you dine at Per Se.
Here is a copy of the menu that night – February 18, 2012.
$295 gets you a 9 course chef’s tasting menu or the 9 course vegetarian menu. You have a choice in some of the courses (with an additional price supplement of course). Each dish is immaculately presented – all look like fine art and the textures and flavors work amazingly together. I won’t go through every course I had but I will tell you what my favorites were.
Oysters and pearls: it’s the one dish that seems to be constant on the Per Se menu and I can see why. It’s the cooked oyster belly nestled in a wonderful white sabayon of tapioca and topped with a generous heaping of black caviar. The sabayon and tapioca are just dreamy and the oysters are sweet - but the sharp salty bites of caviar really did me in for this dish. I loved the play on its name, the textures, the flavors……
The langoustine dish was another favorite. Three plump and succulent langoustines are presented on a plate with artichokes, fennel bulbs, olives and some kind of foamy white sauce. SO good.
Cookie monster got (for another $100 supplement LOL) the ris de veau with shaved black winter truffles. It was decadent. They literally present the box of black truffles table side, let you sniff it and then proceed to freshly shave copious amounts over the dish. It was phenom. Funny story. He kept referring to it as the “most tender veal he has ever had” and, after tasting it myself, I was like “I think it’s sweetbreads, hon….it definitely has the texture and taste of it.” The Hungry Korean knows her food. :) We confirmed with the waiter – it was indeed sweetbreads. Cookie Monster was in awe of this dish and it could easily have been his favorite of the night. We both remarked that it was a fortuitous thing that he thought it was veal or he probably would never have ordered it.
I got the Wagyu beef for another ($100 supplement) and it was good and fatty like one would expect and perfectly cooked a medium rare but the great cut of meat may have been lost on me as I was incredibly over the top full at that point. The reason I mention this plate is that it is served with deep fried bone marrow!!!! Good god? Is this a sin against nature or just sinfully delicious!
Including the amuse bouche that are also offered in between courses and the expensive bottle of wine we ordered, I was pretty stuffed at the end of the meal. They even give you a cheese course, a palate cleansing course and at the very end (after dessert course has been consumed) a sample of all the home made chocolates and french cookies you want. I almost felt guilty for all the things we ate and trust me I paid for it that night – I was uncomfortable and everything that was rich started to take a toll on me (I even got the foie gras with supplement). I don’t know if I can do these long drawn out decadent meals anymore? lol…I know, poor me :)
It has to be said the service is top notch and extremely friendly. Everything is also impeccably presented and served. I also noticed that for every course, a different server appeared to describe it. At the end of the meal, they even give you a parting gift of more chocolates and homemade caramels in a little Per Se bag.
Per Se is definitely a place to try at least once. Make it a very special occassion. The food is mindblowing and incredibly inventive. I do understand why all the hype and why it’s so difficult to get a reservation even years after it first opened its doors. I may never go back there again but I’m so very glad I was able to try it at least once in my lifetime. This is high end dining at its finest.
Per Se, 10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY