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Sunday, March 2, 2014

Per Se (New York)

Thomas Keller's Per Se is a world class restaurant in New York City, a happy replacement for Ms L and myself, who weren't able to spare the time to visit his other famed restaurant, French Laundry in the Napa Valley. My numerous attempts to secure a booking at Per Se was exhausting and disheartening to say the least. Waking up at 2am on consecutive nights and being greeted with a constant busy tone on the other side of the line was hard to accept. After a week of this nightly routine, I finally managed to get through, but with only one bar of battery left; I was sweating until finally I was taken off hold and our reservation details finalised. Hallelujah!! This made my visit to Per Se all the more sweeter.


The setting at Per Se is quiet, intimate with an air of class about it. We were seated on a cosy couch and handed the ipad wine list.


    

Starting off with the gougères which was a bite sized choux pastry filled with the distinct nutty and salty flavour from the Gruyère cheese.

Gruyère gougères

A pair of delicate sesame tuile cones filled with a smooth, creamy crème fraîche and finely diced salmon tartare. The combination of the different textures and flavours were heavenly.

Tiny sesame cones filled with crème fraîche and topped with salmon tartare

Seafood is a rarity for Ms L, however she ended up loving this dish and would eat oysters more often if they were all like this! The creamy "sabayon" was accentuated by the morsels of butter-poached oysters and briny pops of caviar, resulting in a silky mouthful. We were appropriately presented with a 'Mother of Pearl' spoon to eat this dish.


"Oysters & Pearls" - "sabayon" of pearl tapioca with Island Creek oysters & sterling white sturgeon caviar

The disc of duck foie gras was accompanied with thick slabs of buttery brioche and various salts. It was rich, luscious and decadent; a good match with the buttery brioche. Our waiter neglected to bring out the tray of various salts to enjoy with the foie gras until we were almost done, however it was still enjoyed without the salts regardless.

"Torchon" of elevages perigord moulard duck foie gras, flowering quince, "marmalade", braised Sicillian pine nuts, balsamic vinegar, "Pate de Fruits" and frisee leaves served with toasted brioche & salts

We were quite bewildered that we were offered a selection of breads at this point in our degustation nonetheless, the favourite of the bunch was the chewy salted pretzel bread that Ms L selected.

Bread with salted & unsalted butter

Sourdough bread & pretzel bread

Per Se continued to excited our taste buds in our next dish with rich flavours and different textures - the Sturgeon was delicate and flaky against the crunchy base.

Columbia River Sturgeon, English cucumbers, dill "spattle", pearl onions, toasted sunflower seeds & "sauce mornay"

The next was possibly my favourite course of the night; the lobster was exquisitely delicate with the sweetness of the lobster intensified by the process of poaching in butter. It was complemented well against the mild leeks and sharpness of the beet essence.

"Beets & Leeks" - butter poached Nova Scotia Lobster, melted king leeks, beet essence and "pommes maxim's"

The slow cooked pork belly was layers mixed between tender meat and wonderfully gelatinous fat. We found that the accompaniments cut through the richness of the pork belly.

Salmon Creek Farms' pork belly, mustard braised endive, confit of citrus, snipped chiobed & white miso glaze

I was hitting my limits by this course, however, persevered as the beef was beautifully marbled and pink. The full-bodied meat was exceptionally well cooked and I loved how the king trumpet mushrooms added to the meatiness of the dish.

Rib-eye of Snack River Farms' beef, glazed broccoli, king trumpet mushrooms, heirloom carrots & "sauce colbert"

Although the cheese course should have heralded the near end of our degustation, we were hugely mistaken as we still have plenty of courses to go through. A savoury and utterly creamy cheese that played well against the sweetness of the dates and earthiness of the truffles.

Jasper Hill Farms' "Moses Sleeper", yukon gold potato "parisienne," Hadley Orchards' medjool dates & black winter truffle

The mustard seed bread was the ideal canvas for the cheese course. Excuse the butter marks against the plate, I consumed a lot of butter that night.

Mustard seed bread for the cheese course

The pairing of the coconut and pineapple made for a tropical concoction; a refreshing dessert on our palates and tantalised our taste buds for our upcoming desserts.


Coconut sorbet, marinated pineapple, young coconut water and pineapple chips

A rich, decadent chocolate and caramel de-constructed cheesecake, although some components being on the heavy side, altogether encapsulated a caramel and chocolate cheesecake.

Chocolate-caramel "cheesecake", chocolate "marquise," caramel "mousseline," dulce de leche & frozen cream cheese

Ms L, on the other hand, went for the "Champagne Apples" which was light on the Champagne flavour and she really enjoyed the crumbly butter biscuits and herbed sorbet.

"Champagne Apples" - poached Hudson Valley golden apples, "sablé breton," Champagne "parfait" & bay leaf-juniper ice cream

We were offered tea or coffee; I opted for peppermint tea as it is perfect after a heavy meal, and after all those courses, it was exactly what I needed. Per Se, always ready to anticipate the diners' needs, offered a variety of white, raw and packeted sugars.

Peppermint Tea

To go with our teas, a whole tray of flavoured chocolates were presented to us. We were flabbergasted at the array and although the offer was incredibly tempting, we could only stomach a few chocolates each.


I fail to remember our choices exactly but I know dulce de leche and salted caramel chocolates were among our selections.

    Choice of Chocolates

And as if that wasn't enough already, a swivel tray of chocolate truffles, macarons and more chocolate were left on our table for our enjoyment - the whole tray was solely for us!! It was such a shame that we could barely get through a few of these treats but they were all of high quality and delectable.


Chocolate truffles

Macarons

Chocolates

As we finished our degustation, our waiter presented us with a small woven pouch with the words "Per Se" on the front - each containing little caramel treats, sugar candies and cookies to take home and enjoy later.


We enjoyed our meal at Per Se immensely, with service being almost perfect and the food was exquisite. It was a pricey affair coming in at just under $400 per person (inclusive of a service charge/tips of 18%) however, not an ounce of regret as it was an unforgettable experience dining at one of the best restaurants in New York City and the world.

Per Se
10 Columbus Cir Fl 4
New York, NY 10019
(212) 823-9335

Lunch: Fri to Sun 11:30am - 1:30pm
Dinner: Daily 5:30pm - 10pm

Per Se on Urbanspoon

6 thoughts:

  1. Great post! I can't believe how many simarlities there are between the dishes they do at Per Se and the ones at French Laundry, I thoguht they would be two totally different experiences, but your first three courses are exactly what we had at FL, and the chocolate box tray at the end is identical to what we were offered. (those early morning phone calls suck, but the wonderful experience makse up for it).

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    1. Thanks! I never realised when I read your post but there are definitely some similarities, especially with the look of some - your dessert palate cleanser looked a lot like mine but different elements. I wish I had the chance to visit French Laundry and Napa Valley like yourself but Per Se made it worth my while, at least!

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  2. Damn, there are some pretty impressive-looking dishes in this post! And I love the sound of pretzel bread - how very New York!

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    1. Yes, definitely a memorable meal, we felt very hoity toity there haha

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  3. Wow, I don't know if I can bring myself to fork out that kind of money - but it does sound like a fabulous dining experience!

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    1. The bill was hefty, especially when we saw the service charge was pretty much a very nice meal in Melbourne! We justified it since it's 'once in a lifetime'! Haha worth it

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Thanks for your comments!

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