Ah, Per Se, the culinary temple for gastronomes. The quintessential 4-Star restaurant. Many people, including Sam Sifton, former restaurant critic of the NY Times, call Per Se the best restaurant in New York City. Well, I was lucky enough to snag one of their 16 tables, three Sundays ago, and see for myself. Is Per Se the best restaurant in NYC? That is all subjective. Is Per Se amazing? Sure. Is it magical? Absolutely.
Per Se is one of the most amazing dining experiences you will ever have. But, it comes at a price. $295, including tip and tax. The setting is truly inspired, all tables overlooking Columbus Circle and Central Park. It's stunning. Beautiful. The food is exquisite, complex, 4-star all the way. The service is impeccable.
We started with two amuses; a small puffed pastry filled with gruyere and a cone of salmon tartar and créme fraiche. Both of these babies were bites of pure joy. The salmon tartar cone, a gourmet version of bagels and lox. Ingenious and loveable.
Next up came Per Se's most famous dish; "Oysters and Pearls". "Sabayon" of Pearl Tapioca with Island Creek Oysters and Sterling White Sturgeon of Caviar. I could see why it is their most famous dish. It was one of the best dishes I had ever eaten. Mind-blowing. Did I have a culinary orgasm? Multiple.
Ruby Beet Tart, Sunchoke "Bavarois", Toasted Hazelnuts, Belgian Endive, and Navel Orange Coulis, was very nice. A unique way to serve salad
Potato Crusted Mediterranean Lubina, with Pickled Onion Petals, Fork Crushed New Crop Potatoes, Hen Egg Emulsion and Whole Grain Mustard, was perfectly delicious. Great flavor and texture combined. My dining companion had her orgasm with this dish.
Butter Poached Nova Scotia Lobster, with Sugar Pie Pumpkin Purée, Honey Poached Cranberries, Caramelized Gingerbread, and Brown Butter, was fabulous. A truly sexy dish. That gingerbread took this dish to another level. Unfathomable greatness.
Maine Matsutake Mushroom Porridge; Cracked Koshihikari Rice, Braised Makombu, Sour Apple, Cilantro, and Bonito Emulsion, was out of this world. A mushroom dish like no other. Magic in a bowl.
Four Story Hill Farms's Guinea Hen, with Glazed Parsnip, Chestnut Mousseline, and "Sauce Périgourdine", was tasty, juicy, and splendid.
Snake River Farms' "Calotte De Boeuf", with "Plat de Cotes", Turnips, Sweet Carrots, Watercress, and "Créme de Moelle", was beef heaven. Tender, elegant, wonderful.
Slow Roasted Elysian Fields Farm's Lamb Neck, with Pearl Barley, Glazed Salsify, Sultanas, and Parsley Purée, was a complexity of deliciousness. A medley of lamb wonderment.
Next came the cheese course. Meadow Creek Dairy's "Grayson", with Cauliflower Gratin, Black Winter Truffle, and Applewood Smoked Bacon Vinaigrette. I loved this! Playful and superb. Fantastic!
Desserts at Per Se are playful, unique, mind-blowing, and truly awesome!
Coconut Sorbet, with Marinated Pineapple, Young Coconut Water, and Pineapple Chips, was a gourmet Piña Colada. Ingenious and amazing.
"Purple Cow", Grape Soda, Vanilla "Génoise", Carmelized Fillo Chips, and Grape Sherbet, was grapedy grape greatness!
"S'mores", Dark Chocolate Torte, Vanilla Marhsmallow, Candied Peanuts, and Caramel Ice Cream, another winner. Can I have s'more please?
After dessert is more dessert. The best chocolates I had ever had are served in a fancy box at Per Se. Each one filled with different and original flavors. I would have eaten every single one of them if I hadn't had over 10 courses beforehand. "Wow" was all I could think.
Maybe some donuts would make you happy? Sure.
Or some truffles and macarons? Lay it on me.
Phew. That was a lot of food. So, is all this food the Best in NYC? Who knows. It depends really what you are into. I will tell you that if money is no object to you, then go for it. It will be one of the most magical dining experiences you will ever have. But, if you ask me, would I ever crave Per Se? No. This is a very pricey, special occasion restaurant. I crave New Malaysia Restaurant in Chinatown, or Pam Real Thai, in Hell's Kitchen.
10 Columbus Circle (located on the 4th Floor of the Time Warner Center a 60th St.)
New York, NY 10019