the ultimate dining experience at per se

if you ever wanted to splurge on a dining experience to celebrate a special occasion, Per Se is the place to go. from great food to pampering service to excellent view, it’s all thumbs up.

meaning “in and of itself”, Per Se is a restaurant owned by chef Thomas Keller. located on the fourth floor of the Time Warner Center, Per Se has a beautiful garden outside of the entrance to restaurant where you can sit and wait for the rest of your party.

as you enter the restaurant, you see the blue French doors which is modeled after Thomas Keller’s other restaurant, The French Laundry. you do not actually walk through the blue doors, instead you enter through the automated glass doors on either side.

the interior continues the beauty from outside with a warm lounge designed in silver, gold and brown tones. by the entry to the dining area, a quote encased in glass says: “one must read everything, observe everything, hear everything, see everything, in order to retain in the end just a little bit.

service is a large part of this restaurant’s experience and is included in the price of the tasting menu. each table has a head waiter who oversees your party’s meal. s/he leads 2-3 other waiters who serve your meal in synchronized rhythm and describe each dish as it is presented. they are attentive, have a sense of humor and are patient to allow time for photo opps.

now let’s talk about the food! there is a 5-course and a 9-course tasting menu. the course number is deceptive since there are many additions that aren’t counted as a course, including:
– a warm cheese puff with melted gruyère cheese inside
– the softest bun and an endless bread basket with choices of buckwheat, baguette, sourdough and pretzel bread. with the bread, there is a choice of butter: one salted and one unsalted
– tea and coffee with dessert
– mignardises (more on this later)

while the head waiter highly recommends the chef’s tasting menu, since we had a large party some of us ordered the chef’s tasting menu and others ordered the vegetarian tasting menu. this way, we could share and have a little bit of both tasting menus.

the chef menu starts with a pre-appetizer of salmon tartare in a thin cone – a perfect way to whet your appetite.

  • course 1: mediterranean sea bass “tartare” with violet artichokes, nicoise olives and basin;
  • course 2: charcoal grilled japanese iwashi with brooks cherries, caramlized cauliflower, lily bulb and white sesame puree;
  • course 3: “pave” of spanish turbot with burlotti beans, haricot verts and australian black winter truffle;
  • course 4: elysian fields farm’s cote d’agnea” with russet potato “gnocci,” “petit sale,” summer squash blossoms, cerignola olives and “beurre de montpellier”
  • course 5: chocolate cheesecake with “dulce de leche,” candied peanuts and rum ice cream

they were all pretty amazing. my favorite was the sea bass “tartare” with artichoke, both ingredients complementing each other perfectly. also the iwashi was grilled to perfection with the cherry as its surprisingly perfect mate.

as for the vegetarian tasting menu, it was equally enjoyable, starting with the pre-appetizer of puree artichoke in a thin cone.

  • course 1: “ajo blanco” with thompson grapes, green almonds, cilantro and “pimenton de la vera”
  • course 2: red wine braised heirloom onions with arrowleaf spinach, broccolini, cauliflower, meyer lemon and preserved horseradish
  • course 3: “artichaut farci a la nicoise” with san marzano tomato marmalade, parsley shoots and olive oil emulsion
  • course 4: cannellini bean “agnolotti” with grated “chevrotin,” pickled eggplant, green garlic, petite basil and “salsa verde”
  • course 5: “gateau marjolaine de fernand point” with “glace vanille-chocolat”

the red wine braised onions with the puree was wonderful, both in taste and presentation, and the the cannellini bean agnolotti tasted like it was freshly made. it was delicious. i also loved the cake with layers of vanilla and chocolate.

while the dessert is the fifth course and should be the end of the meal, next came the mignardises and at per se, it is multiple courses of sweets!

• sweet 1: ball of sorbet
• sweet 2: fried brioche balls
• sweet 3: choice of 24 different kinds of chocolates
• sweet 4: frozen cappuchino treat
• sweet 5: box of sweets with 3 levels
— level 1: fudge
— level 2: macarons
— level 3: truffles
• sweet 6: cocoa dusted chocolate-coated hazelnuts

even though i was pretty satiated after the last course, i couldn’t help but try each of the mignardises! my favorite was the fried brioche balls and the cocoa dusted chocolate-coated hazelnuts.

as if they knew that it would be hard to try all of the sweets after such a decadent meal and they don’t want you to miss out, they pack the sweets beautifully in nice boxes with ribbon that has the restaurant name on it.

as a parting gift, you get a candy bag with housemade candy including caramel, nougat, chocolate and candy cane, and  as you leave, they give you a copy of the day’s menu that has been personalized for your special occasion.

dining at per se is truly the ultimate dining experience.

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eat at Per Se in new york, ny

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