Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Per Se

So I was able to spend the weekend down in New York City. The highlight of the trip was dinner at Thomas Keller's Per Se. This is a restaurant that is regarded by many as the best place in the United States. Without a doubt it could be.

Unfortunately because it is in high demand, the only table I could get was at 10 PM on Sunday. We usually eat dinner late, so it was fine. The minute you enter the restaurant your eyes are filled with the opulence of the place. There were 6 foot wide bouquets of cherry blossoms in several corners of the dining room. Each table was table scaped with spotless white china, sparkling silver and centerpieces of fresh hydrangea. As we entered the Maitre d' New my name (I had not met the person before) and whisked us away to our table. I was surprised to see several other tables arrive at 10 PM also. This was the 6th seating that day including 3 for lunch.

The menu changes every day, but you only have two choices when you go. Would you like the 9 course chef's tasting menu or the 9 course vegetable tasting menu. My girlfriend and I got the veg tasting and our friend had the chef's tasting. This way we could all three see the full menu and taste everything. What an experience.

After all the extra course the chef had sent out, we ate 17 course in 4 hours. Yes, if you are doing the math, that means we finished dinner at 2 in the morning.

Ironically Chef Leroux had talked about Per Se in class the day before. He was talking about how restaurants get ratings and what actually sets them apart. All the cooking techniques are the same as those used in non-rated places. Everyone in the classroom could make everything that was served at Per Se. The difference is the overall experience...The view, the first class tableware, the silent service.

I took chef the Menu on Tuesday morning. After he looked at it and saw the price at the bottom he went into the same lecture..."why pay that for a meal when you can make the same thing yourself." Chef, sometimes I want to be wow'ed by someone else. Thank you Per Se for Wow'ing me!


braingirl said...

Thom! Incredible. And also a good tip for getting in. Eat when they can take you. Want to hear more about -- hope you saved menus!

Anonymous said...

Thats awesome Thom, I had an opportunity to meet Thomas Keller this weekend in Chicago and it was like meeting the Dalai Lama.

You should talk a little more in detail about your dinner.