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“A memorable and admirable meal”
Review of Per Se

Per Se
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Ranked #5 of 13,936 Restaurants in New York City
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $25 - $100
Cuisines: American, French
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Restaurant details
Good for: Romantic, Special occasions
Dining options: Breakfast, Dinner, Lunch, Late Night, Reservations
Dining style: Fine Dining
Neighborhood: Midtown
Cross street: 60th Street
Transit: 1,9,B,D,A,C to Columbus Circle
Reviewed April 12, 2013

Per Se, to me, is like an oasis of calm and beauty above a bustling and oftentimes chaotic city. Once you step through the doors, you notice the tranquility within, and the natural light filling the room. We were seated next to the sleek open-sided fireplace with a large expanse of window overlooking Central Park, which fortunately for us, was one of our two most preferred tables in the house (the other being the one on the opposite side of the hearth).

The young and attractive staff were warm, welcoming, well-spoken, and well-trained.

As there were certain items my companion and I preferred not to have, there was absolutely no problem with substitutions, and thus we ordered suggested items off of three separate tasting menus, with the staff re-arranging the service to synchronize our new courses.

Some of the highlights of our meal that still stand out in my mind include:

the “oysters and pearls”, which looked to be a seemingly simple dish of fresh oysters and a quenelle of caviar surrounded by a savory sabayon, but underneath was the pleasant surprise of tapioca pearls; the dish tasted of the sea, but the brininess of the oysters and caviar was beautifully balanced and smoothened out by the creaminess of the sabayon, and the tapioca pearls added an interesting and unexpectedly playful textural element, all of which was served with a spoon carved from mother of pearl- a decadent yet delicate treat;

perhaps similarly “decadent yet delicate” was the veloute of caramelized salsify from the vegetarian menu- the taste was surprisingly rich and flavorful, and the texture velvety and light- it was hard to believe that a dish so luxurious could be prepared entirely of vegetables;

then there was the artfully presented crab, which I thought was perhaps the most striking of all the presentations; it was a deconstructed crab salad, with a cylinder of pressed crab wrapped in a dark green lettuce leaf atop a slice of egg, served with a swoosh of black olive puree, a dollop of red tomato marmalade, sprinkled with slivers of radish and a couple leaves of baby romaine - it tasted as good as it looked;

as there seemed to me to be a bit of a British theme running through parts of the menu, I thought the cod topped with a “flower” of crisp thinly sliced potato looked to be a take on English fish and chips, which I appreciated and thought looked and tasted wonderful;

the beef short rib, as one would expect, was well-cooked and delicious, but what I thought was the star of the show were the petit thumbnail-sized “barbajuan”, which are savory pastries that were fried til golden and puffed, looking like little flowers or turtles scattered around the plate and one precariously perched on the edge of the beef;

the degustation of suckling pig was also delicious and impressive in its painstaking preparation- it featured pork three ways; jellied in aspic on toast, cured and pressed with mustard, and cassoulet with beans;

the cheddar Yorkshire pudding with ham was good, but what made it unusual was the “micro-confetti” atop the filling which I believe was different colored cauliflower- purple, green, orange, and white, along with a cauliflower “tree” sticking out the top.

The desserts were impressive and presented very whimsically, and the amount of work and thought that went into their preparation was evident:

I especially liked the “banana moon pie” which featured a chocolate brownie, chocolate mousse, banana compote, banana crème fraiche sherbet, and what looked to be a banana gel;

and the presentation of the deconstructed chocolate caramel ‘cheesecake”, whether intended or not, looked like little “mice” playing in the woods, and featured a chocolate mousse, a caramel mousse, a log of dulce de leche, and a cream cheese ice cream “mouse” sitting atop chocolate soil- if the scenario was intended, then it would be one of the most clever and amusing “plays” on words and food that I have ever had the pleasure of seeing and tasting.

There were however some problems with the meal, most certainly not for presentation, as the plating was exceptionally artful and exquisitely executed throughout, but rather for the taste of several of the seafood dishes, which we found were particularly over-salted. Some of the meal’s misses included:

the lobster with tangerine confit, which was so salty that it was not possible to finish the dish;

and the scallop with brown butter, although featuring only one scallop, was also left unfinished, as one bite was enough.

The meal in its entirety was concentrated, complex, and imaginative- new layers were found to the meal even long after having finished it.

The aesthetics and intricacy of the dishes, the complexity in conception through to execution, were exceptional. Incredible attention was certainly paid to the often striking and memorable multi-layered presentations, however, for two of the simplest dishes both in terms of presentation and preparation, the biggest detail was missed- the taste.

The service, as expected, was accommodating, attentive, yet discrete.

Overall, a memorable and admirable meal.

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Thank globalgastronomist
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed April 9, 2013

I love experiences - and a 3 hour meal in the rarefied heights of the Time Warner building overlooking Central Park fits the bill of major life "experience.

It seems strange to enter one of the most acclaimed restaurants in the world through a shopping mall, but once you pass through the sliding door, you are transported to another land. The decor is muted and understated, luxurious without being stuffy in the least. It is wide open and airy, with a sense of privacy - given the limited number of tables.

We were heartily welcomed and shown to our seats. A friend had sent a bottle of champagne, so we began there and perused our menus. Because we were there for lunch, there was a more moderately priced $185 5-course chef's menu, in addition to the $295 regular chef's tasting and vegetable tasting menu.

In my confirmation message to Per Se I had mentioned an aversion to 2 ingredients, which of course my waiter knew about upon our arrival. Although the 5 course menu was not a vegetable tasting, the waiter said that he could accommodate a 5 course vegetable tasting. In the end I decided to go for the full 9-course vegetable tasting menu.

Some of the best parts of this experience are all the little extras that you get. We were presented with a one-bite grueyere puff to begin, followed by a carrot gratinee in some sort of cone (my friend got raw salmon in a cone as part of her chef's tasting menu).

After the 2 amuse bouches, the main event began. The food was delicious, though certainly not the best I had. In fact, not even better tasting than the $20 roasted chicken dinner I had had the night before at Bobo. But this is food as art. Food as science. Food to admire and question and savor. Is a hard cheese like parmesan best served as a foam? Probably not, but I can appreciate the effort and concept.

Most dishes are unrecognizable for what they are or what they are stated to be. For that purpose, if I were to go back I would ask to keep my menu for reference throughout the meal. Perhaps it is by design that other than giving you the name of each dish the servers don't really elaborate too much on what you're eating. Perhaps the idea is to experience the food solely with your eyes, nose, and mouth and not with your brain. But personally, I would have like a point of reference for what I was eating.

Part of experimental food is playing with texture and presentation. To this end, I found the most commonly utilized texture was gelatinous. As I am not a person who particular enjoys gelatinous food, particularly savories, these parts were not a highlight of the meal. I would say nearly every dish incorporated some sort of gelatin presentation.

I, as other reviewers noted, found the food extremely salty. *Almost* to the point of unpalatable and overwhelming. And I am a person who likes salt. A lot. There were no salt and pepper shakers on the table (as was to be expected) and there was certainly no need. I could imagine someone with less tolerance for sodium would be very put off by the saltiness. I was salty to the point of going beyond food enhancement. It was, frankly, surprising that such a high end, michelin starred place would commit such a diner-type infraction.

The service was excellent - polite but not stuffy. Accommodating without being salacious. More people at our table than I can count, all without being intrusive. In a 3 hour meal, my water glass went empty only once (and I drink a lot of water).

The extras were great - baskets of bread brought around (though not quite often enough), a trinket box of various truffles (in addition to the menu dessert), and a box of shortbread cookies to take home.

One peeve is that the price is $295, service included. Yet when the bill comes, there is a space for an extra gratuity. In my opinion this is tacky. Personally, it makes me feel as though I am being cheap if I don't add an extra tip, and taken for a ride if I do add extra. I hate that kind of mental tug of war, especially when going into this experience you have the mindset of $295, gratuity included. Not having budgeted for additional tip, I did not leave extra - although the service was wonderful, I probably would have tipped 20% were it not included. I don't know why I need to go above and beyond what is already included. Not tipping extra, I felt bad and like I needed to skulk away before the server saw that he didn't get a bonus. Not the best feeling in the world after having such an amazing experience.

Other than those small gripes, this was an incredible experience that I won't soon forget!

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Thank Caitlin M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 8, 2013

This the most unbelievable places I have ever been. The food and the service is outstanding, I think is by far the best restaurant in the united states. If you argue its to expensive then you do not enjoy fine cuisine. I would go there every night if I could.

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Thank gregfilms
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 6, 2013 via mobile

We had a excellent dinner in Per Se, we had a new amazing taste experience. We never forgetting this restaurant. I wonder try again

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Thank Runner78
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 5, 2013

I've been to Per Se twice and it's definitely the best out of the 4-5 three star Michelin restaurants I've been to in NYC. Some people may argue that it's too expensive and it is but the Service is spot on and all the food is executed very well.One of the most unique dining experiences I've ever had - in every way. Between the army of waiters that anticipate your every need (yet are completely out of your way), the execution and presentation of the food, the amazing views of Central Park, the little extras they give you, I could go on and on. If you take a look at the clean and quiet kitchen, you'll understand how they can prepare such fine dishes

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Thank walterd669
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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