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Is Per Se worth it?

  • c

There's a lot of hype, but is it worth it? I have reservations, and they were willing to knock it down to one person because the person who I was suppose to be going with got ill, but I am wondering if the hype is true.

They raised the price again, and not having any idea what kind of food I am going to be getting make me a little nervous.

How was your experience, and did you have any complaints?

I guess I should say I am looking for a true French experience - cheese cart, etc. Daniel looks nice, but their menu is limiting (I am allergic to all seafood)

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  1. Per Se is the single best restaurant I have ever been to and I have been to many. I don't like dressing in a jacket btw and have a bias against higher end french places for that reason.

    Per Se is definitely better than Daniel.

    Worth it depends how important good food is relative to how much money you have. If you are one of those people who must know what the absolute best tastes like or if you are very wealthy or both, I would say yes it is.

    3 Replies
    1. re: tpigeon

      From my understanding it is more 'American food with a french twist' than French. I've spent many moons in France, and don't want to be let down - especially when spending ~400. And I do like to have a decision in what I am going to eat. I really booked this restaurant because I was told it was French, and now I am hearing different - from all over.

      1. re: cmm3

        It is not true French. And in regards to tpigeons comment of "definitely better than Daniel" - this is why ice cream comes in so many flavors, not everyone agrees vanilla is better than chocolate.

        In regards to the seafood allergy I don't think that would be a problem at Daniel especially because the tasting menu there is flexible enough to allow changes. However, Daniel, although closer to a French experience then Per Se, is again not full on French but it is an incredible French influence (the service and surroundings are very French).

        1. re: cmm3

          I did not spend many moons in france but I did drive around the country for a month going to a different 2 or 3 star almost every night. Per Se was better than all of them.

      2. A good guide to what to expect would be The French Laundry Cookbook, which features all the classics. As far as whether its French or American, I'm not sure what that distinction means anymore, but I think you can be pretty assured that the technique is very French--maybe even hyper-French. No cheese cart, however, but a plated cheese course, which I think is kind of lame. It will blow Daniel away.

        1. It is definitely worth it! It was the best meal that I have had and the service was fantastic. My boyfriend took me for my 30th birthday and we were there for six hours. You definitely will not be disappointed.

          1. Yes it if it something you can afford it is definitely worth going to. It's an amazing experience. And in my opinion a step above anything else in the city.

            It's not true French, nor is there a cheese cart (but there is a cheese course). If you do the regular tasting menu instead of the vegetarian one there are normally seafood courses. BUT - you can talk to them in advance (or even once you get there) and they will adjust the meal in any way that you need. They are VERY VERY good about that. (For example, if you tell them you have nut allergies, the parting bag of cookies they give you will be chocolates instead of macaroons which have coconut in them).

            If you go, please report back to us about your meal! I love hearing about that place.

            1. Hi cmm3,

              My experience at Per Se had been nothing but spectacular. I had tried their normal tasting menu, vegetarian menu, and most recently, the fulll tasting menu at lunch. Since you don't eat seafood, you may miss out on some of Keller's signuature dishes, like the amuse of salmon cornettes, the decadent oysters and pearls, and the juciest langoustines. However, I will suggest you calling them ahead to tell them that you are allegic to seafood so that they can plan your substitutes prior to the visit. I know you can do that when you order, but I always think that giving the restaurant advanced notices on your needs / preference will improve your experience as they can plan ahead and make sure the substitutes are just as good as the original. Their non-seafood dishes were all excellent and I am sure you will not be disappointed by the food.

              I used to find the ambiance at Per Se a little stiff (not too bad, and as bad as Daniel actually). However, in my recent lunch visit I found the service to be much more "friendly" and causal. Even the staff seemed to have more smiles on their faces. I don't know if they have improved the service overall recently or if it was just a lunch thing, but I found the lunch to be very relaxing without all the fuss of having to dress up for dinner (though I did sort of dressed much better than normal) or maintaining a consistent level of very formal fine-dining etiquettes.

              As for true French experience, I agree with Spiritchaser that it is not really traditional French dining, and it is reflected on the dishes which tend to be more contenporary both in plating and flavors. I don't recall any dishes having a "sauce" so to speak, and the sauces were replaced by dots of oils, a dash of purees, etc. In terms of the "carts", as jasmurph mentioned, no cheese cart. However, if you feel strongly about choosing the cheese yourself, you should call ahead and see if what they can do about it. Per Se is extremely accommodating and even they may not be able to give you a cheese cart experience, they may be able to come up with an alternative for you.

              All in all, I will say Per Se is sort of the kind of restaurant that you should experience once at least (IMO) if you live in the US. Now you have the opportunity and I will say go for it!

              1. My husband and I went to Per Se on our honeymoon and it was wonderful. We've travelled and eaten comparably rated food all over the world and we both agree that the meal at Per Se tops our list. Not only was the food great, but so was the service. The sommelier recommended some great wines, taking into account both our tastes and our budget. As for true French, for me that means more rustic and less artistic than the food you'll find at Per Se.

                1. I suggest that before you decide you check out menupages.com where you can take a look at the prix fixe menu. You'll see that there are quite a few seafood dishes- including what for many people is their best dish- the poached lobster.
                  So I think that the the real question isn't if it's worth it- but if your seafood allergy makes Per Se not worth it for you.
                  You might also consider calling them and asking what substitutions they can make for you if you do decide to go. (You'll see that they also have avegetarian tasting menu).

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: Ann900

                    I decided to go. I spoke with them and they agreed to make one of my favourite dishes, so here I come.

                    What are some of the additional items you can add on?

                    I asked about the juice pairings as I can't drink more than 3 glasses of wine and they noted that. And a silly question, could I buy a large bottle of wine there and take what I don't finish with me?

                    So the average time people spend there is 4-6 hours, if I understand correctly?

                    1. re: cmm3

                      I was also following this thread and decided to take the plunge. It will be a real extravagance for us, so I am really hoping it lives up to the hype.

                      1. re: cmm3

                        Yes, you can take home the bottle, but I think it's only possible to bring home one. Maybe bring one with you instead? You can get so many great wines for under $100 retail. I wonder if the corkage at Per Se is obscene.

                        1. re: jasmurph

                          I don't think you can bring your own wines to Per Se. And the wines ARE expensive.

                          They do have an interesting array of natural sodas but contrary to what other threads on here have said, there is no set "soda pairing." (I asked last time we were there). They will help you arrange something though.

                          As for their menu...You can check menu pages but their menus change every day. If you really want to get an idea of what they're do, go by the Time Warner center. They often leave out the extra previous day's menus for the public to take home.

                          As for "add ons"- there are no set ones. If, however, you have a chance to add truffles to a course (esp. white truffles), and you can afford it, I suggest you take it. Yum!

                          Also, unlike other restaurants like Daniel, there isn't really a bad table in the house.

                          1. re: BW212

                            I have a menu from January 25-the black winter truffle add-on is $75.00 and the foie gras add on is $45.00.

                        2. re: cmm3

                          What dish did you ask them to make??

                          1. re: cmm3

                            They seriously have juice pairings?

                            Last visit we did the wine pairing but I'm pregnant for our planned meal there next month, and my ears just perked up ;)

                            Can anyone tell me more about the juice pairing?

                            1. re: Nehna


                              ooh, I think I just answered my own question. how cool!

                              1. re: Nehna

                                At the FL I requested tea pairing and they did a great job and were not snooty about it at all.

                        3. You can bring your own wines .I've done this everytime I've eaten there. I believe corkage is now $90 a bottle. There is a limit of 2 or 3(not sure) a table. Their wine prices are high(I hear they are now lower), so it is still worth the corkage fee.

                          It is hands down the best restaurant I've ever eaten at. My shortest meal was 4 hours and my longest was over 8 hours!, that was in the private room for a wine dinner.

                          1. yes, yes, yes....worth every penny!!!
                            The food and service are truly a wonderful culinary experience

                            1. take out a second mortgage if you have to (just kidding)
                              worth every penny!

                              1. By the way, yesterday there were several lunch and dinner slots in Aug and Sept on opentable.com. So if you all are itching to go, it looks like a good time of year!

                                1. i like per se. sunday lunch works best for me. i don't go to be "wowed". it's a pleasant room with great views. food is very good, staff attentive. absolutely no stuffiness. you own the table for as long as you want to stay. if you can afford the price of poker, i say go.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: steve h.

                                    Steve....you seem to have great taste in restaurants...I have not been to Per Se yet, but can't wait to go..and I think your response is going to make that happen knowing it is not a stuffy environment.

                                  2. Per Se is not true French, but you should try at least once! American French & worth the splurge at least once. Enjoy!

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: links42

                                      Well of course not -- Thomas Keller is entirely original and I think it would be difficult to pin him to any specific region's cuisine. That's one of the things that makes the man the celebrated chef he is...