Gormandizer’s Delight – Per Se Restaurant
A design drawing of Per Se, taken from my seat that night!
On Sunday my boyfriend and I went to dinner at Per Se. I’m just writing this now, 60 hours later, as it has taken me this long to revive myself from the food coma that this place put me into. As a patron of many upscale NYC restaurants over the years and as no stranger to the tasting menu, I can unequivocally say that Per Se tops them all, by leaps and bounds. Seriously, it’s that good. This might just be the best restaurant in New York, not to mention one of the priciest. But yes, it’s worth every penny.
Where to start? Well, lucky for me, Per Se send you home with a copy of your menu, and excellent tool for the well-intentional blogger who plans to chronicle their meal but gets lost in the haze of duck liver and copious bottles of wine. I can’t tell you how many places I’ve been where I wanted so badly to recount every dish and every ingredient, but found myself completely sauced by the fourth course and unable to remember my name much less what I was eating.
For the foodies, here’s a blow by blow rundown of our insanely incredible meal. We opted for the Carnivore meals, but the vegetarian meal looked amazing as well. Follow the jump to see what they served for the 2nd course that nearly killed me–in a good way!
Little Treats Before the Meal:
A cold carrot soup, which tasted out of this world and tiny salmon tartar ice cream cones, with salmon on top, crème fraiche in the middle and a little edible cone. Delicious!
Oyster and Pearls:
“Sabayon” of Pearl Tapioca with Island Creek Oysters and Sterling White Sturgeon caviar. Holy crap! I’ve never been a caviar person, but this White Sturgeon, it definitely converted me.
Terrine of Hudson Valley Moulard Duck Foie Gras, marinated frog hollow farm’s peaches, peach jelly, cilantro shoots, “melba toast” and puffed Carolina rice. I’ve never, in my years of tastings, thought I was not going to be able to finish a course. I’ve also never been so full after just 2 courses–I was almost ready to throw in the towel! The foie gras was insanely rich, delicious, but it might have just sent me over the edge. By this point I know I’m eating the best meal of my life, but I’m just hoping I’ll make it all the way through!
Crispy Skin Fillet of Barramundi:
Caramelized cauliflower florettes, Holland eggplant, melted Belgian endive, toasted pine nuts and mint “aigre-doux” Excellent choice, putting this light fish dish after the richness of the dish before. The tastes and that texture of this dish was particularly alluring, the crispy fish skin with the tender vegetable and the mint–excellent flavors!
Sweet Butter Poached Nova Scotia Lobster Tail:
“Carnaroli Risotto Biologico, Yellow corn, Chanterelle mushrooms, fava beans and lobster coral mousseline. After much reflection, this was my favorite dish. The lobster was taken out of the tail and was sizable and dense, yet perfectly textured and buttered. The risotto had an amazing smoky taste as well…
Sauteed Breast of Cavendish Farm’s Quail:
Jambonnette en Crepinetter, soft poached quail egg, rainbow swiss chard, Yukon gold potatoes and whole grain mustard quail jus. I’m a huge fan of quail and this dish didn’t disappoint, offering plenty of boneless quail and the added bonus of the egg–it sounded strange but damn it tasted good!
Rib-eye of Nature Fred Veal “Roti a la Broche”
Gnocchi Parisienne, split English peas, glazed carrots radishes with sauce Perigourdine. I’ve never seen or tasted anything like this. Whenever I’ve had veal it’s been pounded thin to get rid of the ropey texture, but this piece was almost four inches thick and succulent. Strangely enough, this was my boyfriend’s favorite dish and he hates veal…go figure.
Salad of heirloom tomatoes, piccolo basil and picholine olives with Armando manni per mio figlio extra virgin olive oil 2005 and “Pain de Campagne Crouton”. Another amazing dish, perhaps my second favorite. The burrata cheese is almost like mozzarella in shape and texture, but much finer and creamier and with a bit of a kick like parmesan. They also served this dish with two home-made breads, a sour cherry bread and a cashew bread, both fantastic, though the cashew won out in my book.
Mango coulis, dragon fruit and shaved coconut. A nice, light palate cleansing break before the onslaught of dessert.
I opted for the chocolate dessert while the boyfriend chose the fruit. I gave him a taste of mine, but declined a taste of his as I was already forcing all this food down and feeling uncomfortably full.
Valrhona chocolate brownie, milk chocolate ganache, coffee cream, candied walnut crunch and per se coffee ice cream. They had me at coffee ice cream, one my favorites and I must say Per Se’s is the best I’ve ever had. The brownie and all the chocolate accompanying it was also delicious, though at this point I’m so full I’m just hoping I can finish it all.
The last bite gave me a tremendous sense of accomplishment–I had tamed the Per Se tasting menu beast! Little did I know the assortment of “Mignardises” that awaited us, chocolate truffles of every kind, caramel candies, pistachio nougats, etc. They just didn’t seem to want us to stop eating. The brought bags of pastry-like cookies over for us to take home, that’s how amazing this place is.
Would I recommend it? Absolutely. If you have the cash (a staggering $250 per person, not including drinks, but including tip) and a special occasion, you couldn’t ask for a better place. Will I go back? Probably not. For me, food this rich and decadent can only be enjoyed sparingly and the price is hard to justify. Next time I have that much money burning a hole in my pocket I’ll be popping across the hall to Masa instead. But damn, this was one hell of a meal!
Restaurant Magazine World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2007 [Per Se is #9, #1 in NYC]
Acme Digital [Photo Credit]