Per Se, NYC 4
August 30, 2010
On Saturday morning August 14, 2010, Blair called and suggested that we find a place for lunch. So I went to Open Table and searched the whole Manhattan list to see what was open and available on a summer Saturday. The interesting selection was small, but I was astounded to see an availability at noon at Per Se. We hadn’t planned to be so extravagent, but why not? So two hours later we were ushered into a table by the window overlooking Central Park and offered the wine list. We ordered a bottle of Spottswoode, Sauvignon Blanc, Sonoma County/Napa County 2009 for apéritif and to go with the early courses. This was followed by a bottle of Rochioli, Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley 2008. Both wines were chosen from Per Se’s recommended list, which I have found useful in the past. We enjoyed them. The sauvignon blanc avoided that slightly grapefruity tinge which is often their downfall. It was refreshing enough to be a good apéritif and solid enough to go with the food. The pinot noir was quite hearty and came into its own with the beef and cheese.
The starter was the signature dish of Per Se; it is always served with the Chef’s Tasting Menu.
“OYSTERS AND PEARLS”
“Sabayon” of Pearl Tapioca with Island Creek Oysters
and Sterling White Sturgeon Caviar
This seemed even better than I had remembered it, perhaps becuase of the very generous serving of very good California caviar.
GLOBE ARTICHOKE PANNA COTTA
Crispy Artichokes, Greenmarket Peppers, Fairy Tale Eggplant and Arugula Leaves with Garlic Nuage
This was a real disappointment. The garnishes, particularly the pickled shallots, were quite vinegary, which didn’t meld well with the somewhat sour panna cotta.
Warm Parker House rolls had been served at the start. Now the bread basket was passed with two kinds of butter. I took a pretzel bread.
HERB ROASTED PAVÉ OF COBIA
Fork Crushed Potatoes, Cherry Belle Radishes and Mustard Cress with Whole Grain Mustard Emulsion
Cobia is a flavorful fish as it feeds on seafood itself. This piece was simply cooked and served with garnishes and a sauce which enhanced it. Excellent.
BUTTER POACHED NOVA SCOTIA LOBSTER MITTS
Orecchiette, Summer Pole Beans, Ecketon Hill Farm’s Heirloom Tomatoes, Marinated Squash and Petite Basil with Armando Manni Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Unlike the cobia dish, this one tried to do too much and had no coherence. The lobster and the minestrone probably would each have made a nice course on their own as the ingredients were excellent.
LIBERTY FARM’S PEKIN DUCK BREAST
Champagne Grapes, Hakurei Turnips, Candied Virginia Peanuts, Purslane and Condensed Milk Powder with Duck Jus
This should have been a very good course as the garnishes and sauce were all interesting and well chosen to enhance the duck, but I was not inspired. The meat didn’t seem better than any other duck breast.
SNAKE RIVER FARMS ‘CALOTTE DE BOEUF GRILLÉE’
Bone Marrow Croûtons, Creamed Black Trumpet Mushrooms, Young Onions and Watercress with “Sauce Bordelaise”
Once again the garnishes and sauce were all interesting and well chosen to enhance the meat, but this time I felt inspired because the beef was top quality and perfectly cooked.
Buckwheat Blini, Pearson Farm’s Pecans and Broccolini with Peach Relish
“Sablé au Poivron Sauvage” with Whipped Mint Tea
We had a choice of two desserts; mine was
“DARK AND STORMY”
Chocolate-Ginger Crémeux, Coconut Succés
and Arlettes with Coconut-Ginger Sorbet
Blair’s dessert was
Strawberry Mousse, Saigon Cinnamon Soda
and Strawberry Génoise with “Glace à la Fraise”
A tray of fresh chocolates was passed including curry, orange and other flavors. Then came little popcorn sorbet balls, a semi-freddo and brioche donuts. Finally the circular offering of caramels, macaroons and chocolate truffles arrived. It was hard not to take too much.
The service, pace and calm ambience were excellent. The meal had only one course, the artichoke panna cotta, which I didn’t like, but once again I came away from Per Se feeling that it lacks the joie de vivre and creative inspiration which it needs to be considered New York’s top restaurant or to rank high on a world scale.
To see our last blogpost on Per Se click here.
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