Too much salt (again). That was the view of G, two courses in a row. In fact, he thought most of the courses at Per Se were a bit on the salty side. Of course, the courses were braised veal and a rabbit confit. Which to me, say flavorful. Or salty to him.
We’d been talking about going to Per Se for ages – but always looking for the right occasion. I guess the best occasion is no occasion. In other words, make any day an occasion to celebrate.
We were heading to the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, trying to find a place for dinner. This year, we had planned far enough ahead. I realized we were in time to book Per Se, which took reservations 60 days in advance. So I called on December 15, set my Outlook for 9 am in fact, and had to cut my colleagues short when they tried to talk to me about work.
Per Se starts taking reservations at 10, not 9. So I had to reset my Outlook alarm. Then I waited on hold. 20-25 minutes later, a very polite and pleasant woman answered. I told her I was interested in a reservation for Febraury 15. For how many? 2. We have a slot for 5:45. It was a statement. There was no continuation. Okay, then. 5:45 it was.
We walked into 10 Columbus Circle, which was an upscale mall – reminded me of 900 North Michigan Avenue in Chicago, in fact. There were jewelry stores and a Thomas Pink at the entrance. We went to the elevators and got off on the fourth floor. There were two other restaurants, and a wine bar (in the middle of a mall!), then an unmarked door at the end of the hall. Marked only with the Relais and Chateau symbol.
Inside, a discreet metal sign that read “Per Se.” We were at the right place. The hostess took our coats then showed us to our seats, whereupon the feast began. After the obligatory faux pas, of course – I ordered a prosecco to start but was told (very politely of course) that they carry a sparkling wine from Napa, three champagnes and a rose champagne. Well then.
Our sommelier, Justin, was terrific. He asked two questions and pegged our preferences exactly. He recommended a half bottle of Condrieu to start – one of our two ideas for a white. Then, he surprised us with a recommendation for the main course(s): a Grange des Peres, a cabernet sauvignon/syrah combination from the Rhone region. I guess G’s hesitation was just enough. Justin pointed out a heavier Rhone (syrah and mourvedre, which I found to be truly intriguing) and a lighter one (grenache and syrah). In the end, we went with Justin’s original call – very interesting and a wonderful match with the food, kept changing as the meal went on.
Nine courses and three hours later, we were sated, but not overly full. My favorite course, the oysters and pearls to start – oysters and cavier, in a wonderfully rich, buttery, creamy sauce.
The entire experience was wonderful. Great food (albeit a tad salty, according to G) and very friendly, attentive service. The tables were well-spaced, although in typical Manhattan fashion, there were several couples where the gentleman (ahem) was a good 20 years older than the lady with bare legs and impressive push-up bra cleavage.
Not that detracted from dinner at all. In fact, it was a great diversion as we munched on the truflles and candies – is that what those divine creations were – that were the final send-off.
Would I go back? Of course! I just need to save up for the experience.