My Surprise Dinner at Per Se

June 4, 2015

Marcona sorbet, pluot

"Where should we meet for a drink near Columbus Circle?" we asked each other, ticking off the possibilities.  We thought about Porter House, Stone Rose, Jean Georges.  We considered going up to Lincoln or Bar Boulud. But it was just a drink, and so in the end we opted for Per Se.  After all, the price of a glass of wine doesn't vary all that much from place to place.

It was early, and the entire salon was filled with the late afternoon light.  The sedate room was hushed, and I relaxed into a pillow-strewn sofa. The wine, served in almost weightless glasses, was cool and crisp. I was instantly happy to be in this calm oasis. And that was before they brought out hot, tiny gougeres that evaporated in the mouth like so much cheese-scented air, or that beautiful sorbet of marcona almonds above, in its elegant pluot wrap.

The flavors were so seductive we each ordered a little something more. Why not?

Foie gras

Out came a beautiful mousse of foie gras, surrounded by cherries in a pistachio scented gastrique. That green tuile on top? A crisp little bite of matcha, Japanese green tea. The silken mousse arrived with this sextet of salts and little puffs of warm brioche. Sheer luxury. 



My companion chose these gorgeous ricotta anolini, strewn with a spring pea custard.  Such an extraordinarily delicate dish.



After that, there was no stopping us. We were riding the excess express, eating great dollops of caviar perched on exquisite pillows of pommes soufflees and crowned with tiny chive blossoms…..Pommes souffles, caviar


….and this remarkably intense truffle custard, nestled into an egg shell. 

Truffle custard

This is sumptuous indulgence on a very grand scale.  You wouldn't want to get accustomed to eating like this. But every once in a while it's wonderful to be reminded that, somewhere in the world, some people are living the luxe life. It's nice to know you can join them if you're so inclined, for a short, sparkling interlude.

To me it was like going to a spa: the effects of this little sojourn have buoyed me up all week. 

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  • Sue Story says:

    Looks and sounds wonderful. Love Thomas Keller’s work. Was it very expensive? Visiting New York from NZ soon and have to add a quarter on to every bill. At present.

  • Ruth Reichl says:

    Hi Sue,
    I was taken there by a friend, so I didn’t pay the bill. But take a look at the menu; it is VERY expensive. On the other hand, a lot less than a full meal in the restaurant.
    But you could stop in for a drink, order one dish, and then go on to somewhere less expensive for dinner. When I was small, that was my parents’ strategy for seeing all of New York’s finest restaurants.

  • DevBrn says:

    I had this same, very expensive experience for the first time a few months ago. By the end, I would have given them any amount they wanted. Being around people striving for excellence is an inspiration.