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My wedding anniversary is coming up in August...after going back and forth whether to go to Maestro or Citronelle...I got reservations at Per Se in New York. I hope Per Se lives up to its reputation. I still have reservations for Maestro that I have not cancelled yet...I shouldn't forgo the Per Se experience, right?

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My wedding anniversary is coming up in August...after going back and forth whether to go to Maestro or Citronelle...I got reservations at Per Se in New York. I hope Per Se lives up to its reputation. I still have reservations for Maestro that I have not cancelled yet...I shouldn't forgo the Per Se experience, right?

If you've got the reservations - go to Per Se. We went for our anniversary last year and loved it. This is the one meal that I'd rank above the one I had at Maestro for this year's anniversary.

But when you're talking about places at this level, sometimes ranking them doesn't do them justice. They all do what they do well.

My one word of advice. Don't go into your meal at Per Se, or any of these places for that matter, with unreasonable expectations. I think I did that at French Laundry and came away a little disappointed (well, that and my Taylor's Refresher meal you read about on the other thread). But at Per Se I knew what to expect and it exceeded my expectations.

No meal is going to be perfect - just let the overall effect take you over and you'll be happy.

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Did you do the tasting menu + wine tasting? Or should I just order wine by the bottle?

I had the Chef's Tasting menu while my wife had the Vegetable Tasting menu - a nice way to be able to try more dishes without a fuss. And several of the Vegetable dishes were highlights of the evening. We each had the wine pairing, with different wines paired with the various courses.

It is a lot of wine - I am a big guy and not exactly a lightweight and I was feeling a little silly by the end of the evening. But I've always enjoyed having wines paired with my courses to enhance the food and to try new things. My wife prefers getting something she's sure she'll like to have throughout the evening.

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I had the Chef's Tasting menu while my wife had the Vegetable Tasting menu - a nice way to be able to try more dishes without a fuss. And several of the Vegetable dishes were highlights of the evening. We each had the wine pairing, with different wines paired with the various courses.

It is a lot of wine - I am a big guy and not exactly a lightweight and I was feeling a little silly by the end of the evening. But I've always enjoyed having wines paired with my courses to enhance the food and to try new things. My wife prefers getting something she's sure she'll like to have throughout the evening.

Just to echo Bill's comments - Per Se is well worth the trip. I've been three times since it opened (once for business, twice for fun), and really recommend it. The wine pairings are a good idea, and I think the tasting menus are a must. My wife and I each had the Chef's tasting menus, although they did bring us different dishes at some points, which was a nice touch as we were able to taste some things off each other's plate.

If you ask, you may be allowed to tour the kitchen area after service, which was neat.

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We each had the wine pairing, with different wines paired with the various courses.

When I was there early August, the sommelier said that they did not have wine pairings. We went with his recommendations, and started with champagne, a 1/2 bottle white from "beverly hills" and a bottle of pinot noir.

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I am planning ahead, and would like to treat my wife to per se for her 30th birthday. We would like to go OCT 27th, 28, or 29th. Does anyone have any good tips on how to get a reservation. I am prepared to be on the phone for an hour starting Aug 27th

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Scalini Fedeli has a new (opened about a year ago) restaurant called Piano Due http://www.pianoduenyc.com/site.htm Has anyone been there?

Also, for those who have raved about Per Se I HAD a reservation for six for late January. I just found out the prix fixe is now $250. Remembering how expensive the wine list was at the French Laundry I am assuming that wine will run at least $100 per bottle and all six of us drink. Some a lot! With wine (4 @100 + other drinks), tax (10% or so in NY) and tip that will total out about $2,500-2,600 for dinner. I just cancelled. I'll go back with my wife and invest $800 or so for the both of us. I have personal resistance to $250 prix fixe and over priced wine lists.

Maestro and Citronelle now seem like absolute bargains.

FYI, I believe that Per Se includes the tip in their prix fixe.

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I was quoted $250 per person and told that this amount (defined as the "prix fixe") would be charged to my credit card if we were no shows. Additionally, if we cancelled within 48 hours I would be charged $150 per person. Both of these were from American Express concierge who made the reservation for me. Bill, I just looked at the website and it does say $210 for "all menus." I have to wonder if the website has not been updated because I confirmed the number (I was really surprised!) with American Express. It is possible that they made a mistake but it seems unlikely since that is the amount I was told they would charge my card. I also suppose it is possible that they are charging an amount MORE than the actual prix fixe amount. If the later is true it seems to me to be outrageous! I suspect this has become a case of how much can we get for our meal? Robuchon at the Mansion in Vegas is prix fixe $350. In Europe Jean Veyrat charges Euro 350 (about $475 prix fixe) which, to the best of my knowledge is the highest of anyone.

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I was quoted $250 per person and told that this amount (defined as the "prix fixe") would be charged to my credit card if we were no shows. Additionally, if we cancelled within 48 hours I would be charged $150 per person.

Per Se only has 16 tables, and is probably still the hottest reservation in New York. Do you think that the no-show charge is excessive?

Per Se is expensive, no doubt. While I haven't been to Robuchon at the Mansion, or Guy Savoy (in Vegas) yet, my gut feeling is that $250 is better spent at Per Se, and the wine markups will be lower. Per Se also will accept corkage....

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I was quoted $250 per person and told that this amount (defined as the "prix fixe") would be charged to my credit card if we were no shows. Additionally, if we cancelled within 48 hours I would be charged $150 per person.

I made reservations for lunch on a Sunday in February, and was told that no shows and cancellations made less than 48 hours before the meal would be $150 per person, and the hold message for Per Se quotes $210 per person including gratuity.

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Getting lunch reservations at Per Se for a special occasion during a quick trip to New York is luck. Sitting down at Per Se and having the sommelier approach you and say, "The chef would like to cook a special meal for you. Is that acceptable or would you prefer to order from the menu?" is the grace of God.

It also makes me want to reconsider my career in government and follow my brother's footsteps in the restaurant biz because he clearly has better connections.

Twenty courses, ten wine pairings, and four-and-a-half hours later, my brother and I were giggling like schoolchildren. A table for two nearly as large as my bedroom, a view of Columbus Circle and Central Park, and impeccable service didn't hurt. Every dish was a visual masterpiece that capitalized on the best of ingredients treated with the best of European and Asian technique. Among my absolute favorites (and I have to say "absolute" because we're really splitting hairs here) were:

"Tartare" of Kindai Bluefin Tuna

Grilled "Pain de Campagne," Summer Vegetables "Cuits et Crus," and Summer Vegetable Consomme

White Truffle Oil-Infused Custard

With "Ragout" of Perigord Truffles

Pan-Roasted Maine Sea Scallop

Summer Truffles, Warm New Crop Potato Salad, Watercress and "Pomme Mousseline"

Blueberry Sorbet

Cornmeal "Financier," Macerated Blueberries and Vanilla-Scented Yogurt

The wine pairings were inspired, with the showstopper being Copain Pinot Noir "Tous Ensemble," Anderson Valley 2006, matched with roasted squab, apricots, and glazed sunchokes.

The was one small miss with the fois gras "peach melba," which neither brother nor I finished, despite the fact that foie is his favorite thing in the world (aside from his sister of course), but we're just talking degrees here, and we just made the judgment call to keep that space in our bellies open for successive courses.

Truly, the entire experience was stunning. I consider myself lucky to have been able to eat at Cyrus, Arzak, Komi, Citronelle, the Inn at Little Washington, and other extraordinary houses in the last few years, but this edged to the top of that list. Stunning.

Two people, lunch: $940. And it was worth it. I'll be rattling my tin cup for change on the corner of 18th and Columbia for the next few months, but I'll be smiling.

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First trip to Manhattan since BLBaby was born. Alone!!!! One dinner free. Meeting a friend for dinner on election night. Cocktails will be important. Before, after and during dinner. Mr. BLB will be texting me as results come in. Price not a huge factor. Totally not interested in WD-50. Not going to spend a day on the phone trying to get into Per See. Staying near Park 28th and Park.

I've loved Hearth, liked Babbo a lot and L'Imperio remains in my memory as one darn perfect meal. But I want to try something new.

Eleven Madison Park seems the obvious choice. Right?

Am I missing something?

Thanks!

If you do want to go to Per Se I'd call the day before and throw your name on a list and be flexible with the time- it's very very likely that you'll get a table

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Yep, and the bottle may not be on their list. While this is no deal, it does beat paying some of the mark-ups, especially on their bordeaux selections.

Can someone clarify their corkage policy? I'm not finding it on their website. Prices on the tasting menu have gone up so I'm wondering if the corkage fee has. Also, I thought it was appropriate to only bring bottles NOT on their wine list, but it sounds like you're saying the opposite? I can't imagine actually following through on it, but I have a special sparkling wine I've been saving that I would love to just drink through my meal there, but it's special on my terms (probably a $50 bottle, no longer available from a very small winery in the Finger Lakes), they would probably look down on it. :P

I can't find the cost for a wine pairing either. I really like to pair wines with my dishes, but I'm really balking at the cost of this meal (and I also find I end up a little tipsy and don't remember the last couple of courses well). We're going up the day after Thanksgiving specifically for this meal, staying the night in a hotel and coming back. I said yes because it's to celebrate a friend's 40th and I figured if not now, then when, but as it approaches I'm remembering that after my meal at CityZen right before it closed I sort of swore off both tasting menus and outrageously priced meals.

Someone please reassure me it will be worth it? :)

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Someone please reassure me it will be worth it? :)

Every single person I've talked with (including me) has said "it's worth it" on their first visit (and I paid $550 for lunch on top of bringing expensive wine!)

You're in a position where you should call and explain about your bottle, so why not ask then? They're extremely friendly!

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We went last year, fulfilling a goal of mine from when I was a penniless med student in NYC. Aside from the sentimental attachments, I'd still say for you have the means, it's worth it. Is it the "best" meal in NYC? No, I don't think so...but the whole experience was fun. We did not do a wine pairing because there is no set price, and the sommelier puts something together for you. We opted to do half bottles, and did well. The wine list is crazy expensive, so I say if you have something that is special to you, that you want to enjoy at a special dinner, who cares what anyone might think. (They are also consummate professionals and wouldn't blink an eye if you brought in Yellowtail and a sixer of Yuengling as long as you paid the corkage.)

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When I saw your mention of "denim" I thought of jeans which seemed inappropriate for a dinner that realisitically would be $1,000 per couple.  Now "Miami Vice" is a different matter:  that would be appropriate.  More than appropriate, I would applaud!  Especially if I could lose a few pounds and look good dressed like this.

Sorry:  before there was Don Johnson there was Davey Crockett.  I really am old!

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When I saw your mention of "denim" I thought of jeans which seemed inappropriate for a dinner that realisitically would be $1,000 per couple. Now "Miami Vice" is a different matter: that would be appropriate. More than appropriate, I would applaud! Especially if I could lose a few pounds and look good dressed like this.

Sorry: before there was Don Johnson there was Davey Crockett. I really am old!

:D Toogs is lucky he has friends who can advise when a shirt gets left behind. I spared him the humiliation of gray pants, a brown polo, and a black jacket and he rocked his "older gentleman" outfit. :P

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Mike Brey?  DeMatha.  I am old enough to have seen them beat Lew Alcindor and Power Memorial at Cole Field House....

We're getting off-topic enough where I'll have to move these (to here), but I'm almost certain Brey was too young to be on that team. Hawkeye Whitney and Charles Branch (Adrian's older brother who was the Washington Post Player of the Year if I'm remembering correctly) with Brey? I think that's closer.

Don't forget Brian Magid and Cedric Boatman, Mr. Heflin.

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We're getting off-topic enough where I'll have to move these (to here), but I'm almost certain Brey was too young to be on that team. Hawkeye Whitney and Charles Branch (Adrian's older brother who was the Washington Post Player of the Year if I'm remembering correctly) with Brey? I think that's closer.

Don't forget Brian Magid and Cedric Boatman, Mr. Heflin.

Two players on the '65 DeMatha team went to Notre Dame:  Bob Whitmore and Sid Catlett.  They established a link and a tradition between DeMatha and Notre Dame which Mike Brey, a '77 DeMatha graduate and Notre Dame coach proudly continues.

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Two players on the '65 DeMatha team went to Notre Dame:  Bob Whitmore and Sid Catlett.  They established a link and a tradition between DeMatha and Notre Dame which Mike Brey, a '77 DeMatha graduate and Notre Dame coach proudly continues.

The name "Bob Whitmore" sounds very familiar; Sid Catlett is a legend to DC high school basketball historians.

My memory begins with Adrian Dantley, whose picture is in Springbrook's 1972 yearbook (Springbrook was Maryland "AA" State Champion that year, but still lost to a Dantley-led DeMatha in the regular season).

Incidentally, I'm old friends with Tracy Jackson, and especially his older brother Austin (we may even be Facebook friends) - Tracy's idol was Adrian Dantley, and that's saying something from the man who was probably the best Montgomery County basketball player in history.

I'll never forget the son of a bitch saying (during the JV game which came first), "Whenever we play Springbrook, we be playing poker in the locker room and shit." I swear to God I heard those exact words with my own ears. Later that night, he proceeded to break away and *tomahawk dunk* the damned ball - maybe by today's standards, that's not a big deal, but in 1977, it was a *huge* deal. The game was at Springbrook, and the entire gym stood up and gave him a screaming, standing ovation - nobody had ever seen anything like that before.

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We went last year, fulfilling a goal of mine from when I was a penniless med student in NYC. Aside from the sentimental attachments, I'd still say for you have the means, it's worth it. Is it the "best" meal in NYC? No, I don't think so...but the whole experience was fun. We did not do a wine pairing because there is no set price, and the sommelier puts something together for you. We opted to do half bottles, and did well. The wine list is crazy expensive, so I say if you have something that is special to you, that you want to enjoy at a special dinner, who cares what anyone might think. (They are also consummate professionals and wouldn't blink an eye if you brought in Yellowtail and a sixer of Yuengling as long as you paid the corkage.)

I have to admit, when I read JoshNE's review my thought was, I'm about to pay upwards of $500 for a meal and it's not the best in NYC? The "experience" isn't going to make up for that. But I am happy to say that I was wrong. Really his review nails it. Dishes ranged from very good to mind blowing, but there is something about the service here that will knock your socks off. I had a feeling I was going to be happy from the moment I sat down and took a sip from the delicate water glass and I was not wrong. I won't bore you with a play by play of the whole meal, but will give you a few highlights that really made this meal stand out:

  • The best gin & tonic I've tasted. It ain't cheap at $25, but damn if it wasn't good.
  • The ease with which my lamb course was replaced with a culotte de boeuf dish that was easily one of my favorites of the night
  • The fact that when the smoked salmon ice cream cone amuse was delivered to our table I was given one made of beets because a server had noticed in my request to replace the beef dish that "there weren't many things I didn't enjoy, but lamb and salmon were the two I didn't" (I had no idea there would be salmon in the amuse, I just mentioned that in passing)
  • The wine service - the sommelier never batted an eye when I asked for us to stay at the lower end of the price range and he did an excellent job of finding wines that worked with our dishes and that made everyone happy (we ended up each doing a cocktail or glass of wine on our own, then sharing a bottle each of white and red amongst the table). Add to that that we weren't always timing our requests for wine well as we hadn't thought out what we wanted to do in advance, but I never sat there with food getting cold while we waited for the wine to arrive. Their speed in delivering it was almost ninja-like at one point.
  • Oysters and pearls, enough said
  • The vanilla and salted chocolate ice creams, oh, and those donuts
  • The ability of the staff to perfectly settle on a balance of attentive, but not overbearing

The only thing I would change if I could - less dessert. Things really slowed down at that point in terms of delivery, and it was too much - although that was in part probably because we were celebrating a birthday and I believe had an extra course. This isn't a complaint, it was just, for me who doesn't have much of a sweet tooth, too much. I would have been happy with a trio of ice creams and a couple of donuts, though the pumpkin dessert was really good. The cheese course however you would have to pry out of my cold dead hands. Not that it was the best course of the night, it's just that I really enjoy a savory cheese course nicely balanced with a touch of sweet and they did that quite well (and the cheese itself was delicious).

In the end, the cost was "only" a little over $400 each and that included a couple of people doing the foie gras upcharge. I felt like we had an appropriate amount of alcohol, enough to pair with the courses without leaving me fuzzing on the details later in the evening so I was happy. I'm really glad we went and look forward to the day when I have a sugar daddy or have won the lottery and can eat there again.

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Ouch. We were lucky enough to be spared any service related foibles, but I could see being let down if the restaurant didn't already loom large in your imagination for other reasons.  Like I said, I was a poor med student when it opened, and it took on a kind of mythical status in my mind.  That most certainly influenced my experience (not that I would change anything).

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Scathing review in the Times ... I really like Pete Wells writing.

"At Thomas Keller's Per Se, Slips and Stumbles" by Pete Wells on nytimes.com

Ten years ago, whenever I claimed that a chef loses greatness when (s)he opens multiple restaurants, essentially trading in the chef's toque for a suit and tie, and becoming a restaurateur, "experts" invariably brought up Thomas Keller as a counter-example, and I had to agree: Indeed, he seemed to be able to pull it off.

But then came Bouchon Bistro, Bouchon Bakery, ad hoc + addendum, the passage of time, and this:

05/05/15 - "Chef Thomas Keller Brings his Secret Sauce to $20B Hudson Yards Project" by Teresa Novellino on bizjournals.com

and while the man himself is still just as great, the brand - Thomas Keller Restaurant Group - may indeed be slipping - I certainly wouldn't want to risk another high-dollar meal at Per Se at this point in time.

I should add that I've been to Bouchon twice in the past year, and really enjoyed it.

Do I blame Thomas Keller? Not one bit, and I'd do the same thing.

Do I like Thomas Keller? Yes, very much from my limited exposure.

Do I wish Thomas Keller success, wealth, and happiness? Absolutely.

Love that he threw "bong water" out there.

I actually don't love this. When a critic writes a scathing review, there's a certain responsibility that comes along with it (says the person who wrote, "Rosa Mexicano Sucks Ventworm Nut") but I think there's a big difference between obvious slapstick, and the use of something so viscerally disgusting as "bong water" to describe a bouillon.

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I actually don't love this. When a critic writes a scathing review, there's a certain responsibility that comes along with it (says the person who wrote, "Rosa Mexicano Sucks Ventworm Nut") but I think there's a big difference between obvious slapstick, and the use of something so viscerally disgusting as "bong water" to describe a bouillon.

 

Hmmm... that wasn't the first reaction I got from "bong water"... His recent review of Senor Frog's is pretty amazing, too.

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"What the Stars Mean Ratings range from zero to four stars. Zero is poor, fair or satisfactory. One star, good. Two stars, very good. Three stars, excellent. Four stars, extraordinary."

That review certainly didn't read like a "very good" verdict.

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"What the Stars Mean Ratings range from zero to four stars. Zero is poor, fair or satisfactory. One star, good. Two stars, very good. Three stars, excellent. Four stars, extraordinary."

That review certainly didn't read like a "very good" verdict.

well, by the standards of this restaurant and Keller, it's not good. compared to probably most other restaurants in New York, the restaurant is very good.

Sam Sifton's final review a few years ago was a re-review of Per Se where he gave it 4 stars and proclaimed it the best restaurant in the city.

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Ten years ago, whenever I claimed that a chef loses greatness when (s)he opens multiple restaurants, essentially trading in the chef's toque for a suit and tie, and becoming a restaurateur, "experts" invariably brought up Thomas Keller as a counter-example, and I had to agree: Indeed, he seemed to be able to pull it off.

But then came Bouchon Bistro, Bouchon Bakery, ad hoc + addendum, the passage of time, and this:

05/05/15 - "Chef Thomas Keller Brings his Secret Sauce to $20B Hudson Yards Project" by Teresa Novellino on bizjournals.com

and while the man himself is still just as great, the brand - Thomas Keller Restaurant Group - may indeed be slipping - I certainly wouldn't want to risk another high-dollar meal at Per Se at this point in time.

I should add that I've been to Bouchon twice in the past year, and really enjoyed it.

Interesting as when we did eat at the Vegas location of Bouchon shortly after it opened, we were not all that impressed. It was very good, but no better than many other great bistros we had eaten at, most recently at that time Bistro Jeanty which we thought blew it out of the water. Granted Jeanty had the advantage of being located in Napa with easier access to much fresher ingredients probably, but still no comparison. I would still not pass up the opportunity to try out French Laundry or Per Se, but am a little more wary with the review of Per Se.

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The comments section on the NYT review are pretty interesting. Mostly it's shock and anger that a place exists where a foursome costs $3K, some glee at the "rich suckers" who go there thinking they're eating good food but they're unknowingly being taken advantage of, some agreement that it has fallen far from what it once was, a few "I just had a wonderful meal there" and at least one, "Pete Wells is just trying to get attention in social media era of highly informed diners".

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