Per Se: Review date June 21st
It’s an unusual way to start a review, but what’s left to say? This is indisputably one of the great restaurants, anywhere. If you’re lucky enough to secure a table, then go, forget the credit card limit and revel shamelessly in an experience that has very, very few peers.
Flying in the face of what you may have heard or read, which just goes to show how little faith to entrust in subjective and self-indulgent restaurant-review websites, the welcome, service and approach at Per Se is neither stuffy nor uptight. Our waiter, from Liverpool, was a great and genuine mixture of knowledge, charm and humor as he walked us through the menu options.
When you kick off with their iconic, breathtaking ‘oysters and pearls’, a Thomas Keller signature, then the bar has already been raised alongside most of the Manhattan skyline.
Island creek oysters, pearly tapioca and Osetra caviar, outrageously decadent and beautiful in equal measure. The apex of the culinary arts – and just the first of seven courses.
Somehow, Per Se maintains the standard, delivering time and again over the course of a three-hour lunch. The dishes wouldn’t look out of place on the walls of the Met or Guggenheim, such is the thought and touch and artistry involved. The ‘Butter-poached Nova Scotia lobster mitt’ was interstellar, an unspeakably good rendering of what is one of the world’s finest natural ingredients, especially when left as the star of a dish.
The lamb – oh my. It was sourced from the ‘Elysian Fields’ farm and tasted suitably heavenly alongside wild asparagus, beets, dates, pistachios and a ‘source Perigourdine’, the classic demi-glace made with black truffles.
Put me in Private Eye’s ‘pseuds corner’, but the rhubarb dessert was almost too beautiful to eat.
Add in the breads to make you weep, the cheese, the amuses-bouches, the views over a gloriously sunny Central Park and you can appreciate why Per Se is still indisputably at the top of its game.
As an aside, we managed to polish off every single petit four offered. The staff seemed a mixture of surprised, appalled and impressed. There must have been about sixteen each, from toffees to macaroons, chocolates to little patisseries, ending with the signature biscuit in the Per Se tin, one of the ultimate gourmand souvenirs. I managed to keep mine intact until I got back home to Hong Kong. Penelope’s didn’t last til 54th Street.
With a crisp, summery Sancerre and water, the bill was around $250 per person. Yes, it’s not cheap, but nor should it be. It represents the pinnacle of the culinary arts, the apex of hospitality. Bravo and thanks, Per Se. I cannot wait to return.
Per Se, 10 Columbus Cir #4, New York, NY 10019
Tel: +1 212-823-9335 http://www.thomaskeller.com/per-se