Dining at The French Laundry has always been a dream of mine. I know that sounds so cheesy and melodramatic, but these are the fantasies of food people. Unfortunately, reservations are DAMN hard to nab. So even though I live a heck of a lot closer to The French Laundry, I had to trek cross country to have my first Thomas Keller dining experience at Per Se.
We had amazing seats that looked out onto Columbus Circle and the southern edge of Central Park. Too bad it was on the gloomy side. Don’t be fooled, gray does NOT equal cold like it does in Portland. It was hot and muggy, but still a great view. I’m a city girl, and this is the kinda view that takes my breath away. I think The Pouter and her 2 fellow New Yorker foodie friends were equally impressed.
Amuse Bouche gruyère gougères
Our meal started off with the famous gougères, which I have seen many times in pictures. They were A LOT smaller than I had imagined or even had before at other restaurants. Usually, they have been the size of a cream puff, but these were the size of a large marble. They were still pretty darn good, but I wanted more!
Amuse Bouche salmon coronets
Deliciously smoked salmon served like a mini ice cream cone. Cute and tastey.
Oysters & Pearls sabayon of pearl tapioca with island creek oysters, sterling white sturgeon caviar
I’ve read about this dish so much and it REALLY lived up to the hype. It was both delicate and daring. The juxtaposition of salty caviar with the smooth creamy sabayon went smashingly well with the perfect little oysters.
Hawaiian Hearts of Peach Palm Bavarois santa rosa plums, toasted cashews, sorrel, vadouvan curry
I’m bummed because I meant to order the foie at an added supplement cost, but messed up and got this vegetarian dish instead. You know me and vegetarian anything are like oil and water. However, this dish was still quite delicious. It encompassed many different textures and flavor profiles, smooth, crunch, sweet, salty, sour. It was elegant.
Fillet de Rouget Barbet grilled shishito peppers, lemon condiment, cornichon jus, basil dressing
Confit of Georges Bank Sea Scallop chanterelle mushrooms panade, corn kernels, brocolli veloute, seasoned foie gras pastrami
I love scallops, but this was a bit of a disappointing preparation. I’m used to seared scallops but I feel like these were sous vide or something like that because they had absolutely no color or caramelization. They appeared a bit grey and translucent, which was a bit off putting. They shaved a foie gras pastrami over the dish at tableside. I can’t say I really noticed much added flavor. Another minor complaint I had was that I wished the food was hotter. Things just tasted warm.
Four Story Hill Farm’s Poussin ragout de lentilles du puy, celery root, piedmont hazelnuts
I almost NEVER order chicken when I dine out. This was an excellent juicy chicken breast in a light creamy sauce. The hazelnuts added great texture and brunch. Overall, the flavor profiles were quite simple.
Elysian Fields Farm’s Selle D’Agneau merguez, heirloom tomatoes, moroccan black olives, romaine lettuce, tabouleh
The stomach real estate starts to get pretty tight when the red meat dishes roll around. There was a bit of a mediterranean/middle eastern flare to this dish. I gobbled up the tabouleh because it was certainly easier to find room for that than more protein.
Herb Roasted Miyazaki Japanese Wagyu pommes puree, glazed carrots, arrowleaf spinach, sauce bordelaise
The beef was definitely fatty and unctuous, and more than I could handle. It was definitely a refined “meat and potatoes” dish.
Camembert Le Pommier black mission figs, sunchokes, aji dulce peppers, arugula, slivered almonds
I thought the dish was a nice transition to desserts, but overall my palate is not skilled at appreciating a fine cheese when it crosses my path.
Assortment of Desserts fruit, ice cream, chocolate, candies
This was a refreshing palate cleanser of melons and fruit.
I can’t remember this dish that well. It was some sort of coffee mousse with a chocolate wafer.
Who doesn’t like a good donut hole? These were doughy, sugary, and warm.
Selection of Chocolates
The selection of chocolates was insane with such a diversity of flavors, miso, hazelnut, tamarind, etc. Smooth, sophisticated, never too sweet. Well done.
Special thanks to the The Pouter for making Per Se happen and for lending me her pictures. I’m sure you can tell when the transition from SLR quality pictures to point-and-shoot occurs. As passionate about food blogging as I am, I don’t think I could bring myself to lug around a giant camera to document my experiences. Buuuut, I won’t deny any of my dining companions that pleasure.