Reviewed by Justine Murphy, CEO of mymuybueno – March 2017
per se is Thomas Keller’s second three star restaurant, Opened in 2004, it has received three stars annually since 2005, and it’s one of only seven restaurants in the US to have three Michelin stars. Thomas Keller also owns the The French Laundry, another three star restaurant, and he currently holds seven Michelin stars in total. per se is located in Columbus Circle, a shopping centre in New York City, which felt a little surreal.
The wine menu was extensive and presented as a tablet, which I’ve never seen before, and it’s a genius idea. However, after viewing it and speaking with the sommelier, I selected the tasting menu with a new world wine pairing. However, this tablet was then left on my table for the entire duration of the meal and, after course seven, I asked for it to be taken away as no one had picked it up. Painful and certainly not what I would expect from any restaurant even holding one star.
The start was an amuse bouche of Salmon Cornette, Salmon Tartare and Chives, Sweet Onion Crème Fraîche and Black Sesame Tuile. This was delightful – light and sweet and very well balanced.
A ‘cheese and cracker’ Ritz-style biscuit with a Cabot Cheddar centre, (much like a Cheddar-flavoured ‘Tuc’ biscuit) was also presented. This just felt odd and very plain as an amuse bouche after the salmon and, as lovely as it was, it was out of place.
This next dish was off-menu, as a gift from the chef. A Hen’s Egg Custard infused with White Truffle Oil and Black Truffle Ragoût served in an egg shell with a potato and chive crisp. This was sublime and, as a truffle lover, I found every mouthful full of depth and just heavenly.
Salad of Gem Lettuces, Cured Squire Hill Farm Hen Egg Yolk, Pain de Campagne, Sungold Tomatoes, Pearl Onions, and Ranch Dressing. This was a salad of gem lettuce and beautifully sweet tomatoes with cured four-day egg yolks grated over the top, which added texture and richness and also a lovely bright yellow addition to the plate. The ranch dressing was delicious with hints of cumin and coriander coming through. This was a fresh and simplistic taste on a salad. The Albariño pairing was stunning, I am a huge fan of what is produced in Spain, so to try one from America was really something.
It was served with a warm sesame Pain d’Epi, which was absolutely delicious.
Bluefin Tuna Belly Tataki. This was served with Spiced Cashews, Persian Cucumbers, and Granny Smith Apple Vierge. The tuna was buttery, light and beautiful but one of the two pieces had way too much salt sprinkled on top. This was my first bite and it ruined what would have been an absolutely perfect dish. After my cleaning my palate with my wine, the second piece was beautiful and worked really well with the crisp freshness of the Granny Smith apple and the subtle flavour of the Togarashi spiced cashews. This dish was paired with the only old world wine, a Riesling, which always pairs well with tuna, so was well chosen.
Beer-Battered Nova Scotia Lobster Mitts – Pickled Peppers, French Leeks, Meyer Lemon Chips, and Artichoke Aioli. These beautiful lobster claws had been encased in a batter and fried, but I felt that it took away from the delicate flavour of the shellfish and was quite unnecessary, making the dish quite rich and almost greasy. Needless to say, I left most of the batter and only ate the content. The vegetables were excellent, hailing from the French Laundry’s own vegetable garden. The leeks especially were amazing and the lemon chips that had been dusted with tapioca, ginger and cayenne pepper and flash fried were a revelation. The artichoke aioli was also absolutely perfect and full of flavour.
Bread and Butter – Bitter Cocoa Laminated Brioche and Diane St. Clair’s Animal Farm Butter. The last time I had Bread and Butter served as a main dish was in Copenhagen at Geranium. It also reminded me of the Hélène Darroze brioche dish I recently ate, and was beautifully light and buttery. Their Bouchon Bakery is just downstairs in the shopping mall and all freshly baked goods are brought up daily for the restaurant.
Charcoal Grilled Miyazaki Wagyu. Hand-Rolled Orecchiette, Bluefoot Mushrooms, Tokyo Turnips, and Dijonnaise. Like all good Wagyu, the flavour was stunning, and paired with the Dijonnaise, which was made from a veal sauce and worked really well. However a lack of information, and a guess at what the grade was, made me feel lightly fobbed off.
Gougere. Andante Dairy Etude. Choux pastry made from Gruyère cheese and filled with a goat’s milk cheese. This was very rich for my palate, especially after eating so many courses already. It would have been better suited as an amuse bouche.
Assortment of Desserts. Fruit, Ice Cream, Chocolate, and Candies. This was an overload of dessert, not helped at all by the fact that upon asking for coffee to accompany my dessert as I always do, they chose to bring out the petit fours too. There was just to much going on at once here, and it diluted my experience of being able to enjoy each dish based on its own merit. Each dish was very beautiful, however I could not appreciate or explain anything further about them to you, other than that they each tasted incredible from the one spoonful that I had from each, as different components were melting fast.
If I had to pick a favourite, it would be the golden compressed pineapple with treacle-soaked walnuts and cream cheese mousse. This was very good. The coffee and donut with a cappuccino semifreddo was also good but I did not have the time to enjoy it.
The end was a bit confused and rushed and I would have preferred to have enjoyed my desserts first, and then be offered another coffee with petit fours, like any other restaurant.
A handmade selection of elegant and beautiful domed chocolates was brought out, but after the dessert and petit fours avalanche that had already taken place, I had little room. However, I did try a taste of a maple pecan one and it was delightful.
- Andre Jacquart, Brut Nature, Blanc de Blancs, Experience, Le Mesnil sur Oger, Grand Cru MV
- Ransom, Albariño, Willamette Valley 2015
- Domaine Valentin Zusslin, Riesling, Clos Liebenberg, Alsace 2012
- Ceritas, Chardonnay, Porter – Bass Vineyard, Sonoma Coast 2014
- Evening Land Vineyards, Pinot Noir, Seven Springs Vineyard, Eola-Amity Hills 2013
- Blackbird Vineyards, Arise, Napa Valley 2013
- Paul Marie & Fils, Tres Vieux, Pineau des Charentes
Favourite Dish: Selle de Lapin Grand Veneur – The Rabbit
Napkin Fold: Yes
Menu to take home: Yes
Meal for two, including drinks and service: £975.
Final Thought: I had high expectations of per se, being a huge fan of Chef Keller. Some things really hit the mark, while others left a bad taste. The service was flawless apart from the wine menu issue, which was a ball drop. The restaurant itself was beautiful and pristine with stunning views over Central Park. The menu changes daily, therefore product knowledge at times definitely felt lacking, unless speaking about their French Laundry grown produce. This was a very expensive meal for what was received, with mistakes that just should not have happen at a three star level, such as the overload of salt garnish ruining the tuna dish.
Address: Time Warner Center, Ten Columbus Circle (at 60th Street), 4th Floor,Manhattan, New York
Telephone: (212) 823-9335
Hours: Lunch: 11.30am – 1pm, Dinner: 5.30pm – 9.30pm