Monday 5 September 2016

Unrivalled Elegance at NYC's Per Se

The Shops at Columbus Circle
10 Columbus Cir, New York
+1 212-823-9335

Reservations required?  YES- Even on a Wednesday night, we had a tough time snagging a 9:30pm reservation.  So call 4 weeks ahead to the day to avoid disappointment.

Atmosphere: Per Se is located on the top floor of a swanky shopping plaza which also houses its sister shop, Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery. Restaurants in malls and hotels usually ring some alarm bells in my mind, but once I walked through the majestic blue doors at Per Se’s entrance, all my worries were put to rest.  A classy bar area acts as a corridor into the lavish dining room, split into two levels and decorated with the utmost elegance. Hubby and I were fortunate enough to be seated at a spacious table for two by the window, overlooking the lights of the New York streets below. Although the room was grand in its d├ęcor, its relatively small size allowed it to maintain a certain level of intimacy, which made for the perfect romantic setting.

Service:  Per Se has succeeded in striking the perfect balance between professional and personable.  When making our reservation, we had told them that this was our anniversary dinner, and throughout the night, every server who came to our table wished us well on our special day and even knew which year of anniversary it was.  When our menus arrived at our table, our names and a “happy anniversary” greeting was written at the top and we received a glass of champagne as a celebratory gesture.  Our main server was extremely personable and, despite a busy dinner service, took time to chat with us on several occasions.  Likewise, the sommelier was delightful and helped us choose an excellent bottle of wine to accompany our dinner.  Not a ounce of pretention to be found throughout the flawless service.

Food: There are two tasting menus to choose from- a Chef’s Tasting (Hubby’s Choice) and a Vegetable Tasting (my choice).  There is no better time to do a vegetable tasting menu then in the middle of summer when all the produce is at its best, and the team at Per Se showcased it perfectly.  Corn, peas, tomato, melon and much more, were used to make innovative, imaginative and playful dishes that screamed summer.  Hubby’s menu was similarly creative, with a nice mix of summer veg, fish and meat (supplements of truffle, wagyu and foie gras were available at extra cost).  We noted a few repeat dishes from our meal at the French Laundry last year (salmon cone, oyster and pearls, coffee and doughnuts) but I kind of enjoyed seeing Keller’s all time favorites appear again to provide some continuity between dining experiences.  A word of “warning”- save LOTS of room for dessert because it just keeps on coming and coming!

Here is a peak at our nine course anniversary feast: 

Amuse Bouche

Chef's Tasting Menu: 

Oyster and Pearls- "Sabayon" of pearl tapioca with island creek oysters and sterling white sturgeon caviar

"Terrine" of Hudson Valley Moulard Duck Foie Gras- rolled oat "tile", black fission figs, celery branch salad and greek yogurt served with toasted brioche

Sauteed Fillet of Meditarranean Lubina- bluefoot mushrooms, broccoli rabe and "beurre rouge"

Butter Poached Nova Scotia Lobster- roasted artichoke tapenade, garlic scapes and moroccan olive puree

Thomas Farm's Squab- Brentwood corn pudding, sicilian pistacios, ruby beets and "sauce perigourdine"

Saddle of Elysian Fields Farm's Lamb- slow roasted eggplant "lasagna", petite basil, "papered" and "j'eau d'agneau"

Meadow Creek Dairy's "Grayson"- Hobb's Shore's bacon, Frog Hollow Carm's apricots, english walnuts and belgian endive marmalade

Vegetable tasting menu:

Sweet Corn Sorbet- haricots verts, togarashi spiced cashews and hass avocado puree

Salad of Compressed Summer Melon- french breakfast radishes, lemon cucumbers, candied peanuts and pickled chilies

"Tartelette" of greenmarket squash- smoked eggplant ricotta, marinated tomatoes and garlic scape "tempura"

Tamari Glazed Trumpet Royale Mushroom- snow pea "emince", young ginger cream and shishito pepper "aioli"

Norwich Meadows Farm's Pole Beans- fingerling potatoes, melted holland leeks, "soubise" and "sauce goulash"


Mascarpone enriched sunchoke "agnolotti"- cocktail artichokes, parisian carrots, pearl onions and "barigole" emulsion

Nettle Meadow Farm's "Kunik"- slow roasted by beets and english walnut "linzer"

 Dessert (and more dessert!)

Overall verdict?

Our experience at Per Se exceeded my expectations all around, and surprisingly I enjoyed it even more than the French Laundry.   The romantic ambience made it the perfect setting for our anniversary dinner and our night was made extra special by the very hospitable service staff.  My summer vegetable tasting menu was sublime, and showed that simple vegetables can be transformed into a complete, phenomenal meal.  This is a dining experience not to be missed.

Per Se Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato