Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Per Se Experience

I now refer to it as the Per Se “sexperience”, since few things are more enjoyable. For those of you who are not tuned-in to the New York restaurant scene, Per Se, the sister restaurant to Thomas Keller’s French Laundry in Napa, is widely considered to be the finest dining experience in New York, and one of the finest in the world (Michelin 3 stars and New York Times 4 stars). After the extended wait for reservations, I finally sat down at the Columbus Circle hot spot with my lady Deborah last Sunday afternoon anticipating the feast of a lifetime. And that is exactly what we got.

Sparing you most of the decadent details (as to assuage any inadvertent jealousy), I’ll abridge the experience for you with the following assessment…..This 5 ¼ hour gastronomic marathon was a sheer delight for all of the senses (for instance, no music was playing in the background and many courses featured specialized utensils, all to heighten the effect of the cuisine). We sat in an elegant, minimalist dining room overlooking Central Park while the city’s most meticulous and professional wait staff presented to us a seemingly-endless 18-course lunch with 9 world-class wines to match. Put simply…..to work your way through the Per Se tasting menu is to enjoy oysters, sablefish, poached lobster, caviar, 3 types of foie gras, black truffles, white truffles, duck pastrami, pork shank, Wagyu beef, Himalayan sea salt, olive oil ice cream, homemade chocolates, Zind-Humbrecht Riesling and René Rostaing Cote Rotie all in the same sitting (whew!). Not to make a blanket statement about everything I ate, but there was a common thread of extraordinary textural refinement throughout, and a fundamental sense of ümamí that I have yet to uncover in European fare. This meal will rate as one of my top 5 to date, and is the only one of those 5 to be consumed in the U.S!

I won’t tell you how much the “sexperience” costs, but I will declare that, for the passionate foodie, it is one of those endeavors that are painfully expensive but worth every penny (I think we’ll start saving now for the winter menu). I want to extend kudos to the brilliant Per Se staff, warm gratitude to Alice and Stanley for generously making it all possible, and my love to Deborah for picking me as your chow
mate. Cheers, all! –Michael Koehler - http://www.suburbanwines.com/

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