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Will I enjoy Per Se?

My fiance and I have dinner reservations at Per Se in May in order to celebrate a special occasion. I'm VERY excited about trying the tasting menu at Per Se... but I wonder if I will enjoy it as much as I hope to?

A bit about me: I love fine dining and have been to several fine dining restaurants in NYC. My favorites so far are Jean-Georges and La Grenouille, and I've been a repeat customer to both. I love the amazing quality of food + French recipes, impeccable service, and the tasty amuse-bouches. I'm also glad these 2 restaurants provide enough quantity to keep my 6'4 tall fiance full!

On the other hand, I'm not a huge fan of Le Bernardin, Gilt, or Daniel. I didn't think the food was all that memorable, and Gilt had the tiniest portions I've ever seen. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad I made the trip to those restaurants, but once was enough to satisfy my curiosity. :)

Based on the above, do you think Per Se will be worth it for me and my fiance? I'm hoping the food quality and quantity will match my experiences at JG and LG. :)

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  1. My birthday dinner there last year was one of the top ten most memorable restaurant experiences of my life. It's a whole other order of experience from the other restaurants you mention. There was more than enough food and the service was impeccable (the only other place with service that surpasses it in my experience is Taillevent). Fine dining doesn't get much finer than Per Se.

    3 Replies
    1. re: buttertart

      I agree with buttertart 100%. We both had birthday celebrations at Per Se last August (different days with different menus), and we both adored Per Se. There is definitely enough food in the standard 9 course tasting menu, but just in case you're concerned, I've read that Per Se also does an extended (additional cost) tasting menu. A favorite CH poster, uhockey, wrote a brilliant report of his extended tasting dinner at the end of December. (BTW, I'm not a big fan of Gilt, Daniel or Le Bernardin myself either).

      1. re: ellenost

        I agree with the above two as well. I go there twice a year and have such wonderful times there. But I want to mention that if there are any allergies or food concerns that you should tell them ahead of time. They won't be annoyed but you will have an experience catered to you. Example, my friend can't have alcohol. By telling them ahead of time, they had an alternate "bar" menu ready in which I had the most delicious mojito ever--and it was "virgin"!

        1. re: Bobster427

          I agree with Bobster; there are certain foods that we don't like (rabbit, sweetbread), and my sister doesn't eat pork. When I made the reservation, I told them of our food concerns, and they couldn't have been nicer about it.

    2. My personal opinion is that you should go to Eleven Madison Park and skip Per Se. I love J-G and La Grenouille, I like Le Bernardin, and I am not a fan of Gilt and Daneil. And I am not a fan of Per Se. I find it contrived, cold, and robotic. And by this I am talking about the food, the room, and the service.

      12 Replies
      1. re: gutsofsteel

        Were you there on a business dinner or seem like you were on a business dinner? I was there alone with my camera and they were warm and engaging. I got sent extra courses of Keller signatures and went to see the kitchen afterwards. It's been mentioned on the board here before, that if you go there and you show that you're really excited about the food and the occasion, they'll reciprocate, but that they aren't as open if they think you're on an expense account business dinner. Here was my full review: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/681732

        That being said, Eleven Madison is a great choice too. It's my favorite restaurant overall and I think it's miles ahead of JG.

        1. re: fooder

          I've been to Per Se 5 or 6 times, every time I hoped it would get better. None of them were business dinners (and anyway the idea that somehow that could make a difference in the service is very odd to say the least). The last time I went, I decided that I would not go back and continue to hope for improvement.

          I agree that EMP is better than JG, but I'm not sure it's "miles." I do however think EMP is miles better than Per Se.

          1. re: gutsofsteel

            I happen to love both EMP and Per Se. For the money, EMP is far better value ($175 for 11 course Gourmand vs. $275 + supplements for 9 course tasting).

            1. re: ellenost

              Indeed. I don't think Per Se is worth the pricel. And I think the automatic inclusion of the service charge is outrageous.

              1. re: gutsofsteel

                and the fact that they've increased the supplement for the foie gras from $30 to $40 basically means the cost is now at least $315 for me (EMP doesn't charge a supplement to the Gourmand menu for foie gras; they do charge a $20 supplement to the 3-course menu).

                1. re: ellenost

                  For that kind of money...I have to sent to the moon in terms of enjoyment. I can eat at a Michelin 2 or 3 star restaurant in France for that money. It's absurd. Per Se is not at this level.

                  1. re: gutsofsteel

                    I don't know about that. There have been extended menus at Per Se that can match or beat l'Arpège, l'Ambroisie, Marc Veyrat and others in the top echelon of 3 star restaurants in France. The tasting menu at l'Arpège is about $530 and their wine list makes Per Se's crazily marked-up wine list look thrifty in comparison; in that context, their prices seem appropriate. Per Se is the only restaurant in NYC aiming for the top tier 3 star experience available in France, and I think they are absolutely capable of reaching that standard.

                    On the other hand, I haven't had any meals at EMP that came close to approaching that level. Great value, sure, but certainly not in that league.

                    1. re: hcbk0702

                      Hear, hear. Per Se is the only place I've been in the States that could be compared to Taillevent or l'Arpege (my only 3-stars) and come out looking good.

                      1. re: hcbk0702

                        Agree....I've had 3 incredible experiences at Per Se and have never found anything about it to be cold or robotic. Nor have I ever felt annoyed by the bill in the wake of such an amazing meal.

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                        Per Se
                        10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

                        1. re: Nehna

                          Personally, I think I enjoyed my gourmand dinner at EMP a bit more than Per Se (altho both had some hits/misses with dishes) and obviously price was better at EMP.

                          BUT I do actually like the fact that Per Se includes service (at least with them you know you'll get quality service...and I think I read somewhere that they tip from 18-20%..could be totally wrong tho)

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                          Per Se
                          10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

          2. re: gutsofsteel

            I've only been to French Laundry, but Keller's food far outpaced anything I ever had at EMP. Don't get me wrong -- I love EMP, too, but I don't believe it's in quite the same league as Per Se foodwise.

          3. I myself did not really enjoy Per Se though my dining-mates did very much. To me, it was largely about service and presentation - with service in a pseudo-hip fancy style and luxurious but un-relaxing. Then again, I don't like stylized banter about various things I'm ordering.

            As OP said, in terms of food, I have had much more outstanding and enjoyable meals in France.

            With all that, I was glad to go once, so I could know -- and calibrate CH reviews.

            1. I recently took my wife to a celebratory dinner at EMP. The food was superb and the service, especially on that night, was probably the best I've experienced anywhere in NY. The server could tell that we were torn between several different items on the menu and were contemplating the gourmand menu. Upon seeing this, he proposed that we offer up 5 or 6 of the things that we really wanted and he'd ask the chef to fashion these items into a tasting menu for us. As you can imagine, we were thrilled and enjoyed our meal and wine pairings thoroughly.

              That said, I have not had a dining experience in NY that matched my experience at Per Se. My wife and I went for our 1st anniversary and to this day we both agree that it was amont our top dining experiences (nostalgic reasons aside). We got the 9-course plus wine pairing and left adequately stuffed. Each course was total bliss, the progression well thought out and the wine pairings spot on. And we did get the tour of the kitchen where you can see the CA-based chefs on a TV monitor. They also printed a menu with our names on it wishing us a Happy First Anniversary. I know it's a small, maybe cheesy to some, gesture but it was a detail that we appreciated.

              Bottom line is that you can't lose at either place. While PS is more expensive, the $275 does include service which brings it more in line with EMP. The room at EMP is more impressive as was the service. But it's not like either place is lacking in decor or service. So what it boils down to for me was the food and I enjoyed PS substantially more.

              1. Per Se was good. Probably not worth the money. I will certainly go back though. The service was more memorable than the food and i didnt find the actual dining room attractive. The huge hallway with the bar and glass walls was beautiful though.

                EMP is amazing. I love it. I'm a regular there and they really know what they're doing. Its a bit younger feeling compared to daniel or le bernardin.

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                Per Se
                10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

                1. From my lap top, I am looking across the foot of my bed at the framed Per Se dinner menu from August 23,2006. I don't know how many framed menu's you have in your bedroom but I hope that's a small indicator of the power of Per Se. Furthermore, it was the occasion not for an occasion.

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                  Per Se
                  10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019