question popped, Per Se enjoyed, etc...
Thanks for all the love over on my old thread from 3 weeks ago (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/628155#4775124). Wanted to tell you all it went down very well and I was hoping to share my food experience at Per Se.
To start, the service was truly world-class. I showed up in pants spoiled by mud on one knee, my now-fiance came in still red-in-the-face and trembling slightly (this was about an hour after the moment, but still, it really lingers...) and we were greeted like royalty - my heads' up really paid off. They doted on us with champagne and all sorts of offerings as we sat in the salon (we arrived a little early). They won us over quickly, to say the least. We were escorted to a corner table at the top left of the steps, looking down on the park and rubbing against each other on the sofa.
I kept my camera on the pillow next to me and snapped photos of most of the courses. You can see them at http://fazamonster.wordpress.com/2009... . I have to warn you that these photos are closer to food pornography than a truly artful depiction of the night's courses: exploitative angles, unromantic proximity, and shoddy production (look at how the ambient light ranges from white to yellow - thanks, Picnik!).
So onto the meal itself...
The gruyere balls got the ball rolling - wonderful tastes.
The salmon cornettes were reminiscent of a party dip. A nice treat, but a bit of a one-liner. It's great we only got 1 each. We appreciated the slow start.
The sashimi was delightful. I admit it caught me off guard to have chopsticks and sake (which had the best story! The sake was collected in a vat in the igloo of an eskimo, droplet by droplet as it seeped from a sack of individually-polished grains of rice ... wow, how j-peterman!). It's a french/american place, right? What if we weren't huge sushi people? Oh well...
The foie gras was as rich and delicate as one would hope, and paired with figs it's hard to say anything bad - so i won't - but I enjoyed Daniel a bit more in the foie gras department, but Per Se beat EMP in turn so ... to each, his own.
Lobster mitts were next, and just the word "mitts" elicits the fact that this is the meatiest bit of the best part (da craw, da craw!) - and it did not disappoint. I noticed that despite being "butter poached" there was no butter in the dish (other than what the lobster had absorbed) - it was all creamed corn! Fascinating! I LOVE corn! This course was my personal standout, and left me wishing for more.
Next was the duck with peach/turnip/watercress trimmings, and again, so hard to fault I can't think of a thing except the turnips were slightly flat in taste for me. That's an observation and not at all a criticism - i wouldn't necessarily wish them otherwise.
The veal was fine, but somehow failed to raise up to the level of the other courses. Can't put my finger on it, but it simply failed to burst off the plate in the four or five bites it had the chance.
The cheese course was the only actual complaint i might have. Melba's fine by me, but there was something out of place with a block of cheese sitting on a plate like that. And it wasn't just presentation, it seemed like a throwaway course. Don't get me wrong, it was high quality and it fit with the rest of the meal and I enjoyed it, but at the same time i felt as though the dish had come from another restaurant. There wasn't even a fun little story from the staff, they just gave us some cheese. I don't know, maybe the lesson is you can't have it all (especially if you don't know what you're looking for or what you're missing).
The sorbet was a little too sweet for us at first blush, but we paced it more slowly and let it thrill us. The cherry praline treat was far better than the blueberry sorbet.
Then came the legendary/infamous doughnut. I can see what's meant by others who've said it would be gimmicky to return too often to be greeted by the same doughnut after a meal. It was also just simply a fresh doughnut, no different from one at the famer's markets except it was warmed. Again, not a complaint - it was more like a 'garnish' to the real deserts. And the mud pie was a very straightforward dance of chocolates. Some something might have helped - i couldn't keep myself from wishing for a hint of orange in there, but maybe that's the plight of the spoiled child.
Bottomline: an amazing experience, but for a touch over the four-figure mark, i don't feel it will quite make my go-to list of restaurants. Maybe all foodies should go once, perhaps not.
I hope my words and pictures help others feel out the experience. (Again, sorry about how poor some of the pics are - was too anxious to start eating!)