Per Se, NYC 3

November 9, 2009

In our meal at Per Se last January the two best courses were vegetables; so when Linda and I returned for dinner on November 4, 2009, we ordered the “Tasting of Vegetables” Menu. The welcome and service were excellent as always, but we immediately noticed one surprising problem: the enormous flower arrangements contained lilies that gave off a mild pervasive aroma that would interfere with the food and wine. But nothing could be done about it at that point so we decided to try to ignore it as best we could.

We ordered glasses of René Geoffroi “Empreinte” Champagne. It was toasty and good. Two small, creamy, warm gougères arrived followed by excellent little cornets of a cold beetroot purée on top of crème fraîche. On the recommendation of our waiter, we ordered a bottle of 2007 Rivers-Creek “Willow Creek Vineyard” (Sonoma) Pinot Noir. It had interesting complexity, but needed a few more years. Fluffy warm Parker House rolls arrived with two kinds of butter. A bread basket was passed later.

Then the menu started:
“Quatre Epices” Mousse and French Prune Purée with Garden Tarragon
The vanilla seemed to be top quality, but dominated everything else. The dish needed a vegetable stronger than salsify to stand up to the vanilla. The various little dabs were submerged.

Sunchokes, Meyer Lemon “Suprêmes,” Crosnes and Castelvetrano Olives with Trappitu Extra Virgin Olive Oil

The artichoke slices had been cooked sous vide, but there were not enough of them to make a statement. Each of the five ingredients played an equal role and so the dish had no character.

Sweet Carrot Salad, Young Onions, Candied Walnuts and Pea Tendrils with Madras Curry “Aigre-Doux”

The little soft carrot cake was dominated by fresh ginger. It was pleasant, but too much like comfort food.

Asian Pear, Watercress Leaves and Whipped Forest Honey with Cardamom-Scented Yogurt

The beignets were very crisp, which hid the flavor of the squash. The dish was pleasant with nice textures, but bland.

Soft Poached Hen Egg, French Breakfast Radishes, New Crop Potatoes, Field Mizuna and “Pommes Mousseline” with Black Winter Truffle Coulis

This was very good. The crisp buttery potato slices on top had a luscious flavor which melded nicely with the egg and truffled potato purée underneath. Everything in the dish was directed to showing off the potatoes.

Chestnut Confit, Granny Smith Apples, Crispy Sage and Toasted Oats with Apple Cider-Brown Butter Emulsion

The cider-brown butter emulsion, which dominated this dish, was very good.

We had a choice for this course; the other one was:
BUCKWHEAT  RIGATINI, “Stracciatella” with Shaved Burgundy Truffles (50.00 supplement.)

Compressed Belgian Endive, Northstar Sour Cherries, Candied Walnuts, “Balsamico al Ciliegio” and Field Mizuna with Tellicherry Pepper Aigre-Doux

The piece of Stilton was good, but surprisingly small. There was more garnish than it needed. We had finished our Pinot Noir and drank glasses of 2006 Casa Blanca Banyuls with this course. It went very well, better than Port would have.

There was also another choice for this course:
“ARDRAHAN”, Piccalilli and Frisée Lettuce with Nyons Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Ardrahan is an Irish cheese. 

Banana Bread, Plumped Raisins and Sweetened Salty Macadamia Nuts with Verjus “Sabayon”


We had a choice of two desserts. I chose:
Cider Poached Quince, Almond “Frangipane,” Quince Jam and Cider Jelly with Diane St. Glair’s Buttermilk-Thyme Sherbet


Linda chose:
Huckleberry Compote and Sugar Crisps with Vanilla-Scented Lyle’s Golden Syrup


A mini-crème brulée and a yoghurt pot-de-crème with guava jelly.

Chocolates etc. We also received a bag to take home with breakfast cakes and fine chocolates.

The meal was not what I was expecting. The two vegetable dishes we had enjoyed so much the last time at Per Se, the YUKON GOLD POTATO “AGNOLOTTI” with goat cheese and the chard “RAVIOLI GNUDI,” were straightforward, sort of elegant peasant food, beautifully done and showing off the main vegetable.

The cuisine tonight was fussy with many ingredients and little apparent effort to procure outstanding produce and bring out the flavor of the main vegetable in each dish. Only with the potatoes did they try and succeed. Per Se seems no longer to be trying to be in the same category as Arpège, for example. In fact, I cannot think of any New York restaurant which has a true vegetable effort, as opposed to vegetarian cuisine like this. I have not been to The French Laundry (Per Se’s parent,) Manresa or Ubuntu, three very highly regarded restaurants in the San Francisco Bay area which emphasize vegetables. I imagine I will enjoy them when we get there.

To see the blogpost on our meal at Per Se last January click here

Per Se’s website:

2 Responses to “Per Se, NYC 3”

  1. Oly Stokes Says:

    I guess if a vegetable “effort” is less than pleasing it’s branded “vegetarian”
    Hee hee.

  2. […] find inspiration for my Christmas meal ‘salad course’, I came across a dish listing at – and in particular, it was the salad dish described as:  Sweet Carrot Salad, Young Onions, […]

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