NYC
Posted June 15, 2022

Per Se is Thomas Keller’s acclaimed interpretation of the French Laundry restaurant in New York City and has 3 Michelin Stars. I don’t think it’s a replacement for the French Laundry, but it might be indicative of what to expect if we did ever go to Napa Valley to try it out. This restaurant is located in Columbus Circle at the top floor inside the mall. When we walked in, we were astounded by the huge ceiling and the vast feeling of space.

Ambiance

At the front of the restaurant there are these large blue doors. We weren’t sure where we were walking to, but a gentleman came out and confirmed that we were at Per Se. Once we checked in, they walked us through the lounge area which was pretty cool, yet strangely it was completely void of people. When we were led into the main dining room, they sat at us on a couple’s sofa where our view faced the south east end of Central Park. You could see the golden statue from where we sat. Due to the high windows, the view was simply very comfortable and very serene.

Unlike other high end restaurants, there was no background music playing which was interesting. I did at times wish there was some background music, but perhaps it’s expected to have a lot of conversations happening.

The service was fantastic for us despite the atmosphere having a semi-pretentious vibe. Whereas some parties enjoy constant attention from the wait staff, we appreciate the attention to our waters and just giving us the minimal attention. We noticed there were some couples that had not-so-great service as they were expecting more involvement, and unfortunately the wait staff clumsily fumbled a bit.

Price wise, it was $355 per person for the 9 course meal. We did not do the extended meal as we thought it would be way too much food.

Food

The Spicy Caipirinha ($25 - left) came with Novo Fogo “Barrel Aged” Cachaça, Mal Bien Mezcal, Pineapple Juice, Lime Juice, and Ginger Syrup. My partner did not like this that much because it had strong ginger sensations. I actually liked it because I like spicy drinks which include mezcal.

The Premier Cru Chablis ($30 - right) came from Domaine Roland Lavanteureux “Beauroy”, 2017. This chablis was a wonderful complement to this super warm day and to my meal.

This tuna tartare was a bite sized amuse bouche. There was nothing surprising about it, and it was pretty good.

Along with the tuna tartare bite, came this cracker with pimento cheese concoction. I forgot what exactly this had, but it tasted like cheesy ritz crackers with a pimento (some spicy) filling.

The first course was the classic Oysters and Pearls. This was a “sabayon” of pearl tapioca with Island Creek Oysters and Regiis Ova Caviar. The oysters were deliciously fresh. Paired with this swath of caviar was simply delicious. The caviar was plentiful. There were these little pearls of a rice type of texture also in the soup.

The second course had two items. The first item was the Salad of Norwich Meadows Farm Petite Beets (right). This was Hawaiian Hearts of Peach Palm, Harry’s Berries Strawberries, Hass Avocado, and Cucumber “Vierge”. I don’t think there was anything super special about this other than it being very refreshing and light.

The second item of the second course was the Bread and Butter which came with animal farm butter. The bread was super soft and fluffy. It was cool seeing it puff up like a flower. I think the middle was dyed to make it look like the center of a flower. The animal farm butter was super soft and delicious, unsurprisingly, and it had a perfect spread texture.

The third course was the Confit Fillet of Veta La Palma Lubina which came with Everything Bagel Crumble “Panade”, Forest Mushroom “a la Grecque”, and New Jersey Green Asparagus. Lubina is basically striped sea bass. The skin had this firm, crispy crust and there was some mushroom sauce on the bottom. The fish was pretty good, but I don’t remember anything super exciting about it.

The fourth course was the Peekytoe Crab “Raviolo” which was Niçoise Olives, Marcona Almonds, Greenmarket Basil, and Gold Bar Squash Emulsion. The ravioli was perfectly cooked al dente. The crab filling was super dense. The squash emulsion was an excellent complement to the crab ravioli. There was some basil and some hints of lemon zest. I thought this was very good with two minor criticisms. The crab itself, despite being dense and packed into the ravioli, did not taste super fresh. Maybe I was looking for some super extensive crab sweetness to come from the meat, but it tasted slightly off as if it wasn’t the freshest crab meat out there. Also, the hints of lemon zest and basil were inconsistent on every bite. It would’ve been nice if it was spread out evenly.

The fifth course was the Green Circle Amish Chicken which was Spring Pea “Succotash”, Cherry Tomatoes, and “Sauce Supreme”. Surprisingly, I thought this was pretty good. Sure it was a little boring, but the skin was perfectly crispy. The chicken meat was super tender and juicy. And the garnishes matched everything nicely. You can easily screw up chicken at any restaurant, and they executed it wonderfully. There was some unneeded tomato paste like texture with pea shoots. The tomato paste wasn’t as concentrated in flavors as you would expect, but it certainly drowns the chicken flavors if you try to pair it.

My partner ended up getting a second drink, the Per Se Tonic & Gin ($25) which came with Beefeater Gin, Quinine, and Lime Juice. My partner enjoyed this much more than the caipirinha. This was actually beautifully executed with strong lime flavors. It was tart in very great tasting ways.

The sixth course was the Prime Rib of Elysian Fields Farm Lamb which came with Cauliflower Florettes, Rainbow Carrots, Charred Shishito Peppers, and “Chimichurri” Jus. This little cut was very tender and delicious. My partner thought it was a little fattening, but if you can stomach the fat, it had wonderful flavors. The lamb itself was not gamey enough to bother me. I felt the meat itself was cooked perfectly medium rare. The little chimichurri jus on the side was a good complement to the lamb.

As a break before dessert for the seventh course, this was the Gougère which came with Aged “Comte” and Black Winter Truffles. My partner is not a fan of this because they dislike truffle flavors, but this was really good. It reminded me of a puffy crusty cheese ball with a wet cheese filling. There were strong truffle flavors all over. My only criticism was that this was not only super bold in flavors, but it was quite salty too.

The eighth course was a series of desserts all served at once.

This was the Chocolate vs Vanilla cake which came with Bitter Chocolate Mousse with Devil’s Food Cake, Madagascar Vanilla Bean “Custard”, and Candied Cocoa Nibs. This was simply sublime. There was a hole in the middle because they placed a birthday candle in it. Nonetheless, this was very good.

This was the Malted Brownie which came with Dark Chocolate “Marquise”, Brown Buttered Walnuts, and Lime Scented Banana. This had the perfect balance of sweetness.

The Sugar Baked K&J Orchards Yellow Peaches came with Macerated Raspberries, Almond “Nougatine”, and Madagascar Vanilla Bean ice cream. This was a nice alternative to chocolatey desserts. Everything had a tasty “pie” like feels to it due to the crusty sugar baked peaches and the vanilla bean ice cream.

This was a Cappuccino Mousse with milk foam on top. The mousse was very interesting texture wise. The servers said it was frozen, but when we dipped into it, it had a soft lathering texture that was part mousse and part airy foam. It was good.

At the far side in the back, there were 6 soft, warm, and chewy donuts.

They also gave us this medley of a Macaron, peanut(?) nougat, and chocolate truffles. The macaron tasted of some type of tea, which I don’t think it was green tea. The nougat was pretty good, and the cocoa powdered chocolate truffles were pretty good as well.

The final ninth course, if it events counts, is the “Mignardises”. This was basically a box of candied chocolates of various flavors. I thought we could pick any number of whatever we want, but the waiter said we can only pick two each. As the waiter read through each of the chocolates, some were too typical to pick, and others had a “not a good idea” ring to it. For example, the red chocolate second from the right was a “Manhattan” cocktail. I did not have any interest in tasting a Manhattan cocktail in a chocolate.

In the front left to right, I picked the Horchata and Yuzu Matcha. If you are in love with horchata as much as me, you will adore this. The horchata aftertaste has that perfect cinnamon, milk, and nutty taste to it. It was just so good. The yuzu matcha was also so very delicious too. The yuzu was very concentrated, so you get this very fresh hit of citrus freshness that was so perfect.

In the rear left to right, my partner picked the Toasted Pean and Banana. The toasted pecan tasted ok, but I did not find anything outstanding about it. The banana was both our least favorite of the 4. It was boring.

Surprisingly they gave me a birthday chocolate candy bar that I haven’t opened yet as well as a box of chocolate shortbread cookies that I ate for breakfast. This take home gift was a nice gesture that many high end restaurants had stopped doing. We also received a pair of signed menus from the chef as well.

Final Verdict

Per Se is a fantastic 3 Michelin Star French restaurant that serves very good high quality food. There wasn’t anything particularly memorable to me other than the Oysteres and Pearls and the chocolates. If it came down to a decision of NYC French fine dining, I would much prefer Le Bernardine. Regardless if you’re looking for a fine dining French restaurant, do consider Per Se. If this is a preview of French Laundry, then it’s making my appetite satiate a bit. I would pay money separately to buy these chocolates in stores.

Yelp Jabs

Throwback review~ I went to Per Se in 2016 - we dined in a private dining room for a friend’s birthday party. The food was not as impressive as I had expected of a 3-michelin star restaurant (6 years later, I mainly remember I was not quite impressed). This could possibly be due to the group / catering nature of our large group. The service was great as expected of a top tier restaurant.

This Elitist decided to post a 2016 review in 2022. Why bother? To maintain their Elitist status because they are not reviewing enough?

But My husband and I just dropped $1000, and had the tasting menu, and we’re leaving hungry - like - I need a big steak hungry. The portions were just laughable. Like a bite size bit of fish, chicken, etc. Paid $100 supplement for the wagyu beef, and it was definitely delicious, but just so teeny.

I think if you’re a person that can eat, these types of restaurants will definitely not fill you up. This Elitist somehow became an Elitist without having proper expectations for tasting menus.

Revisions

  1. Jun 15, 2022 - Initial revision.