How about the fact I set my alarm clock to 2.00 am on a Sunday morning (when I was in Sydney) exactly 30 days before the reservation date? Does that sound too desperate? Or better yet totally determined? :)
And when I finally did get through (the line was engaged for 40 minutes) my booking was for 10 pm. Aargh! But there was no way I was not going to accept that time slot.
On the night we were due here, we arrived around 9.30 pm at the Time Warner centre. What a lovely building filled with up-market brands and some lovely Christmas lights. When we arrived at Per Se, I was sure we would have to wait for our table but they assured us our table was ready even though we were 1/2 hour early.
We were lucky enough to have a table next to the window and I could see Columbus Circle in the night lights.
The food experience started with a couple of amuse bouche.
Cheese gourgere - yummy cheese balls.
Salmon cornet - smoked salmon with cream cheese and dill served in a mini cone. Sorry, the image of this dish was so bad! :(
Then the Chef's tasting menu dishes were served.
"Oysters and Pearls" - Sabayon of pearl tapioca with Island Creek oysters and Sterling White sturgeon caviar.
Butter - salted and unsalted. There was a story for each of them which provides an interesting facet to the butter. Both were delicious in its own way and went well with the milk bun.
"Salad of Caramelised Artichokes" - Parmigiano Regiano, saffron pickled garlic, salsify root and Romaine lettuce.
"Sauteed Fillet of Chatham Bay Cod" - topped with a Pommes Maxim's, caramelised cauliflower tapenade, and clam chowder sauce.
"Maine Sea Scallop Poele" - grilled bluefoot mushrooms, turnips Parisienne, and Bearnaise reduction.
"Liberty Farm's Pekin Duck Roti A La Broche" - celery root puree, roasted chestnuts, brussel sprouts and sauce Perigourdine.
"Eleysian Fields Farm's Selle D'Agneau" - Hardley Orchard's Medjool dates, glazed carrots, wilted pea tendrils, and sauce Bordelaise.
"Bardwell Farm's Pawlet" - Panisse croutons, pickled eggplant, jingle bell peppers, arugula and romesco.
We then moved on to desserts.
"Creamsicle" - Satsuma mandarin soda, Madagascar vanilla custard, and double cream sherbet.
"Banana Split" - Banana Creme Fraiche ice cream, candied pecans and whipped maple syrup.
"Chocolate Marquise" - Chestnut creme diplomate with compressed persimmon and thyme scented honey.
More desserts came through which were not on the menu.
The very famous doughnuts (super soft and yum to the max)
You will note that I have not described in detail my view on every single dish. I decided to talk about the experience as a whole rather than each individual dish so as not to bore my readers! :)
The most memorable mains were the Pearl and Oysters for its interesting textures and flavours. There was cold versus warmth and tastings of salty tapioca and meaty oyster. A delightful dish.
The Selle D'Agneau was a superbly tender lamb which melted in my mouth.
The Scallop Poele was so huge. I have not seen such a large piece of scallop which was cooked with a crusty coating yet was deliciously succulent with a sweet meat. It reminded me a lot like the lobster meat. Superb!
And the desserts, well they were all very good but the 2 which stood out were the Creamsicle and the Banana Split. Super delicious! That's all I can say!
And on top of all this, a box of 24 types of chocolates hand made daily were displayed to us for selection. We could have had all of it but by then we were so full we only took a piece. Then out came a tiered set of trays; nougat, macarons and chocolate truffles. Groan...we were struggling by now.
You'd think that would be all. Nope! A small silver box embossed with the name Per Se was presented to us and I literally said 'no more'! Yes I did! And they assured us this was for us to take home. It was a box of shortbread cookies sandwiched with a beautiful chocolate spread. I had one for breakfast!
What an experience! The service was excellent, the quality of the food was excellent and there is only one way I can describe Thomas Keller's food. Understated (as in not theatrical), elegant, subtle; food that speaks for itself without being overtly she-bang but bursts with all the necessary flavours at the first bite. The dining experience was beyond superb and I left feeling utterly satisfied and not let down at all! One big tick of my bucket list! :)
Time Warner Centre
10 Columbus Circle (at 60th Street)
Manhattan, New York