For my birthday, earlier this month, my lovely SO planned a trip into the city for lunch at Per Se and karaoke [food + singing!].
I love Thomas Keller’s food, work, cookbooks and getting to Per Se has been 9 years in the making.
Without a question, 9 courses for me and 7 for Words.
I can skip through most of the lead-in here because everything was perfect. Staff, ambiance, seating, the FOOD. All of it was great. [and besides who really cares about that other stuff unless something weird happened, like a saw a dead cat or something because that’d be worth noting].
If you decide to dine here, make a res early. Like a month early. We made a reservation a month in advance and by the time we connected to a reservationist person the dinner slots were gone. However, if you are looking for an al la carte, the salon menu - and salon side, is often empty and you can walk right in.
Before our courses started, we had tiny gougeres filled with goat cheese and a little salmon ice cream cone filled with creme fraiche. We just wanted to eat these, all. day.
First course: oysters/pearls - sabayon of pearl tapioca with island creek oysters, sterling white sturgeon caviar
This was rich. Very rich and very delicious. So much caviar. So good. That’s all I can say.
I decided to try the supplemental for the next course…
Second course: Chilled English Pea Veloutee - yuzu scented apples, petite radishes, compressed stonecrop, mint and white sesame ‘tofu’
This was beautiful! We saw all the accroutrements before they poured in the green stuff and wow - so delicately assembled - just to be devoured ha. The soup was very bright, very clear in flavors. Served cold and super refreshing. Also, I asked the SO how it was “it’s soup - it’s good”. Ha!
Torchon of elevages perigord moulard duck foie gras - toasted oats, fennel bulb relish, preserved green strawberries, claytonia and greek yogurt [this came with this fun salt carousel - couldn’t tell you what types of salt was in here but really liked the black salt]
My brain basically exploded over this dish. So velvety and smooth and the flavor of the foie was again, so basic and wonderful. All of the side stuff was good and with each passing bite, a new plate of brioche came to the table. Outstanding. And fattening.
This is also the time that we received the butter [and fresh bread]. Two butters. Both were out of this word, especially the little quenelle one. Some special cows or something. I don’t even know.
Okay BREATH! I was getting food anxiety - thinking - ‘what have we gotten ourselves into’…
Third course: chatham bay cod confit a la minute - greenmarket carrots, green garlic bulbs, heirloom cauliflower, cilantro, mandarin butter
Fish isn’t really my jam, nor is it my SO’s, so this was just so-so for the both of us. It was good but in a lot of ways, it was very one note: just fish. Flavors might have been too delicate for a cod. Or I don’t know, maybe it was really good…for someone else [h8trade].
Fourth course: butter poached nova scotia lobster mitts - squid ink orecchiette, fava beans, picholine olives, wild cress blooms and spicy lobster broth
WOOOOOO. This would’ve been perfect sans olives [too odd]. The broth wasn’t particularly spicy but everything worked really well in this dish and it was a stand out.
Fifth course: buttermilk fried wolfe ranch’s quail - mascarpone enriched polenta, petite onions, pickled green tomatoes, corn mache and applewood smoked bacon jus
I think at this point my brain was overwhelmed and started to shut-down because it wanted a 1. nap 2. a break 3. a nap. This was sort of like a really fancy KFC chicken nub and then doused in some bacon sauce. Because it was a fancy place, I had to battle this with a knife and fork but this is a ‘pick this up with your hands and go wild’ type of dish. It would’ve been more enjoyable eating with your hands. Pfff, restaurants. Loved it!
Sixth course: Degustation of elysian fields farm’s suckling lamb - garbanzo beans, pickled jingle bell peppers, persian cucumber, market nasturtiums and bagna cauda
This was my least favorite course. The meat was too tender [boohoo, poor me]. I would’ve liked it to have more ‘bite’. The trail of veggies was different but nothing seemed to really make sense. Too disparate. There was a weird sausage rolled into the cuke - that was good. And the toothpick housed what I thought was a really wonderful falafel ball but overall, the dish lacked direction - in MyPOV.
Cheese course! Tomme de savoie - marinated artichokes, turnip mostarda, flowering mustard and chickweed
I like cheese a lot - a lot a lot - but I was almost at the point where I couldn’t really enjoy anymore food BUT I was able to let this sit for a bit at the table and finally took the plunge. TDS is always a good choice and the mustard and artichoke pairing was great. Again, I wanted to make a little cheese sandwich with my bread but I maintained the status quo - knife, fork.
Dessert 1: champagne mango sorbet - young cocunut cream, rambutan and coconut meringue
This was our palate cleanser or whatever you want to call it. The mango and coconut flavors were indeed refreshing and welcome departure [because everyone likes on-time departures] from the savory. Just good - nothing too crazy.
Dessert, again: toasted popcorn - salted caramel ganache, chocolate-almond crumble and toasted pain au lait ice cream
This was spectacular! The crunch! The chocolate! The other stuff I don’t even know! Very, very, very good.
Now we have several ‘mignardises’ - a whole box of chocolates, take as many as you want, a semifreddo, nougat things, hot donuts, ice cream sandwiches, more cookies, to-go cookies, cappuccinos, etc, etc.
It was all very delicious and it’s a birthday I’ll never forget. I leave you with the photos…
You’d have to really, really, really love veggies to get the veg course. Like really love them.