Per Se

22. October 2008 American, Midtown 0

4th floor of the Time Warner Center, 10 Columbus Circle at 60th Street
$900 for two, with drinks, with extra tip apart from the included service fee
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

As soon as our waiter brought out a footstool for my purse so that I didn’t have to put it down on the floor, I knew we were in for an experience. Small gestures like that from the staff make Per Se, and any of Thomas Keller’s restaurants, stand out. Everyone around us was older or part of a group that discussed important business, but we were treated like we belonged there. We never felt awkward–except when we tried to push those gorgeous blue doors open–nor rushed. Our waiters and servers weren’t snotty and our sommelier was helpful in suggesting wines to match our dishes without necessarily pushing for the bottles that were out of our budget.

I was treating the Dr. for his birthday and when I made the reservation exactly two months ago, they had asked me if there was an occasion. That night, they included a “Happy Birthday [Dr.]” right below the date on our menus. It was a simple gesture, but it made the celebrant very appreciative. When desserts were brought out, a lit candle was placed on his and they joked about singing a capella. (For a few seconds, I really thought they would.) Upon our leaving, another staff member was waiting for us at the door with our coats, our mignardises packed in a silver box and a folder with copies of our menu. After almost five hours of being treated like royalty, we stepped out of Per Se’s luxurious setting and back into the concrete jungle that is New York City. I’m grateful for those few hours.

My Tasting of Vegetables:

“Mousse de Topinambours” – Toasted Hazelnuts, Lingonberries and Garden Tarragon

“Dégustation de Petits Oignons” – Arugula and Smoked Onion Purée

Tempura of White Maitake Mushroom – Persian Cucumbers, Confit of Meyer Lemons and Mitsuba with Umeboshi Dressing

Slow Poached Squire Hill Farm’s Ameraucana Hen Egg – Brioche Croûton, “Lentilles du Puy”, Root Vegetable “Matignon” and Watercress Laves with “Beurre Rouge”

Belgian Endive “En Fuille de Pomme de Terre” – Shaved Burgundy Truffles, Red Endive and Red Ribbon Sorrel with Black Winter Truffle Coulis

“Salvatore Brooklyn Ricotta” Agnolotti – Flowering Quince, Caramelized Fall Squash and Pumpkin Seed Oil with Brown Butter Emulsion

“Roquefort Le Vieux Berger” – Tellicherry Pepper “Sablé”, Marinated Purple Top Turnips, Candied Walnuts and Garden Chervil with Medjool Date Vinaigrette

Pink Champagne Granité – Passion Fruit Pudding

Black Currant Cobbler – Butter “Croustillant”, Black Currant Compote and Diane St. Clair’s Buttermilk Sherbet

The Dr.’s Tasting Menu:

“Oysters and Pearls” – “Sabayon” of Pearl Tapioca with Island Creek Oysters and Sterling White Sturgeon Caviar

“Torchon” of Élevages Périgord Moulard Duck Foie Gras – Oatmeal Crumble, Oregon Huckleberries, Crosnes, Red Ribbon Sorrel and Blis Maple Gelée with Toasted Brioche

Crispy Skin Fillet of Red Snapper – “Ratatouille”, Globe Artichokes and Parsley Chips with Niçoise Vinaigrette

Pan Roasted Maine Sea Scallop – Garnet Yam Purée, Glazed Chestnuts and Arugula Leaves with Pomegranate Syrup

“Boudin Blanc Grillé” – Smoked Squire Hill Farm’s Ameraucana Hen Egg Emulsion, Haricots Verts and Frisée with Veal Sauce

Elysian Fields Farm’s “Selle D’agneau Rôtie Entière” – Matsutake Mushrooms, Fennel Bulb and Greenmarket Carrots with Lamb Jus

Di Bruno Brothers’ “Burrata” – “Croûton de Pain de Campagne”, Flageolet Beans and Petit Basil with Pickled Onions

“Banoffee” – Devil’s Food Cake, Chocolate “Marquise” and Malt Mousse with Banana-Crème Fraîche Sherbet

“Pomme-Beurre Noisette” – “Confiture” of Granny Smith Apple, “Financier” and Tahitian “Bavarois” with “Glace au Beurre Noisette”

Related post/s:
Thomas Keller’s Per Se photos on Flickr
The only experience that comes close to Per Se? The French Laundry
And oh, I have to say Alinea. Chef Grant Achatz is, of course, a Thomas Keller protégé