Following a disappointing $700 snack at Masa, we try to redeem ourselves by rounding out the three star list with a visit to Per Se. All indications from other diners pointed to an amazing experience so fingers crossed it lives up to the hype.
Day 2: Per Se is located, conveniently right next to Masa, in the Time Warner Building. There is a front waiting area, for guests waiting for the rest of their party. After entering the restaurant, you are brought through the ‘lounge’, a la carte area. Apparently this area is for walk-ins or no reservations on a first come first serve basis. There are about 5 tables here, and you can order the same chef’s tasting menu as well as a la carte items. So for those who don’t want to commit to a date in the main dining area, or want to go spontaneously, you may want to try out this option. The main dining room is two tiered separated by a short staircase, overlooking Central Park. My suggestion is to request a window table if you can if you don’t mind a little foot traffic but want an amazing view. There is no set wine pairing list, but according to the level two sommelier who was assigned to our table, the way the menu is designed is to be easily paired by a limited selection throughout the course. Splitting three people, we went with a progression of Champaigne, Reisling and Red wine.
The Menu is an eight course tasting menu with some courses having an option for substitutions.
1: Oysters and Pearls || Royal Kaluga Caviar
2: Salad of Roasted Belgian Endove || Slow Poached Hudson Valley Moulard Duck Foie Gras
3: Sauteed Fillet of Mediterranean Turnbot
4: Hokkaido Sea Scallop “Poelee”
5: Diamond H Ranch Quail || Hand Cut “Tagliatelle”
6: Saddle of Elysian Fields Farm’s Lamb || Charcoal Grilled Miyazaki Wagyu
7: Consider Bardwell Farm’s “Pawlet”
8: Assortment of Desserts
Pre-Course: Salmon Tartar: What a lovely starter. Not exactly sure what all was in it, but this little savory salmon tartar server in a little cone was on point.
First Course: Oysters and Pearls: First impressions: could there be any more plates? Not to take anything away from the actual dish, but three plates seemed a little bit excessive for presentation. The oysters and caviar were absolutely delicious, well balanced and a strong start to dinner.
2: Foie Gras: Foie Gras 6 ways. Served with an assortment of salts each with a different flavour profile, this dish really showcases the different ways of enjoying foie gras. Another note of this dish, it is served with a warm buttered brioche, and apparently it is heresy to eat foie gras with a cold brioche. Quite literally, every couple minutes, the waitstaff would come by and replace the brioche with a warm one, regardless of how much of it was eaten.
3: Turnbot: Nothing extremely stand-out about the fish. Solid dish, well executed.
4: Sea Scallop. Hands down the best scallop I’ve ever had. Perfect sear. Perfectly cooked all the way through, even with just sear on one side. Delectable sauce and well balanced accompaniments.
5: Quail: If there were one complaint about this dish, it would be the complexity of the dish. My belief when it comes to complex dishes with a lot of different elements is that on a plate, each element should be able to be eaten with any other part and have the same level of enjoyment. The problem with this dish was unless every element was eaten all together, the sauce seemed overly sweet. Everything together, and it was fine and well balanced. I just have a problem with being forced to eat a dish a certain way.
6: Wagyu: If I wasn’t willing to spend an extra $150 for the Wagyu beef at Masa, boy am I glad I spent the extra $100 for the Wagyu at Per Se. I guess that is the effect of having a base price at $325 rather than $595. The dollar amount for the extra doesn’t seem as overlooming. But boy, the difference between the beef and the lamb was like night and day. Best $100 spent this trip so far.
7: Pawlet: Eh, well thought out but not quite executed the way it should have been. Kind of a let down after the Wagyu.
8: Assorted Desserts: After getting knocked down by the previous dish, it was all made better with the dessert course. Only complaint here was that after this, I was stuffed to the brim. Just barely able to finish everything.
But wait, there’s more! Similar to 11 Madison Park’s ‘I dare you’ jar of granola, Per Se just plops down a tower of confectionaries as if they didn’t know you cant possibly fit anything else into your stomach. Luckily, we were able to get this packed to go.
Summary: Overall the few little dings throughout the course pushes my rating to a 9/10. Miles above the previous night at Per Se though. Total of about $600 with all the extra substitutions and wine, it was a much more enjoyable experience, but not quite on the same page as Chef’s Table and a hair short of EMP. Still I would put this on a try again list.
Fine: So with this visit, I’ve finally completed the 3 Michelin Star tour of NYC. Chef’s Table, Daniel*, Eleven Madison Park, Jean Georges, Le Bernardin, Masa, Per Se. As for what’s next? Likely a revisit to some of the lunch restaurants to see what dinner holds. Also, a revisit to Daniel to see if Daniel less one star is the same.