Upon first entering the famed blue doors of Per Se, located inside the Time Warner Center overlooking Central Park, the dining room has the air of a wake, filled stiff collars and hushed tones. But no matter the attitude, the fact is that everyone in the dining room waited at least a month for this moment. At Per Se, you can only make a reservation one month in advance (maximum), and, if you procrastinate a day or two (say 28 or days or less before your desired date) you've likely missed your chance.
(Do take note that you cannot cancel a reservation within seven days without being charged $175 per seat reserved.) This is an experience that will last up to four hours, where you are served from five to nine courses (depending on the menu you select), with many surprises in between, including personalized menus with your name and event (if you're celebrating anything) on each.
Now, if you're still interested and not frightened away by the potential cost, then you're in for an amazing afternoon or evening of small plates with the most amazing tastes you'll ever come across. Do not be deterred by the portion sizes as you will most certainly leave full. It might even be best if you arrive on the borderline of famished, as it is a crime to leave anything behind.
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Is The Most Expensive French Restaurant in New York City Worth It?
Thomas Keller's famous "The French Laundry" in Yountville, CA is famous for its fine cuisine and elegant dining setting. So much so that Per Se, Keller's East Coast counterpart, drew the attention of several gourmets when it set up shop in New York City in 2004. I had to find out if it was worth the pricey buzz. A nine course vegetarian of Chef's tasting menu will set you back $295, which is actually a respectable figure for the sheer number and quality of courses you get. The views of Central Park are unforgettable, and the dining decor is elegant without being stuffy. The staff raise the bar when it comes to service and the food does not disappoint: from the fresh baked, crackly bread to the mini macarons served in "high tea" fashion at the end. While this is not your daily luncheon special, it's a great place to visit for a special occasion, or a meal to impress. Ph: 212 823 9335
Last night, I found myself looking out on Central Park from a table at Per Se, one of NYC's very best restaurants.
It was impressive from the start. Bag chairs appeared for the ladies’ purses. The tablecloths were heavy like curtains, the glassware unmistakably fine. Even a mother of pearl spoon was introduced for our first course, the infamous "oysters and pearls," because silver can make caviar taste tinny, of course.
Eight additional plates followed – not including the amuse bouches, palate cleansers and other surprises. Parkerhouse rolls were accompanied by two types of butter – the clear winner, a fleur de sel variety made by an expert named Diane St. Clair, owner of 10 choice cows in NJ. A foie gras course arrived with a selection of eight different salts – one which was 3 million years old. The butter poached Novia Scotia lobster was indescribable; the halibut resting on a buttery crab and corn puree, a close second. Perhaps the most ridiculous display of the night came in the form of a huge box of 40 different chocolates, each one skillfully described tableside by an articulate server.
My Cinderella evening came to an end as I descended the escalator into the Columbus Circle subway station to hop on the 1 train home. I took a seat and looked up to see a Mastercard ad directly in front of me that familiarly depicted a special-occasion restaurant scene and read, “Moments like these are priceless. Have more of them."
I smiled. My thoughts exactly.