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Post-Benno Per Se

Has anyone had a recent experience there? Our last visit was right before Chef Benno left. I would be very interested to hear a status report. Is it still the best food in New York?

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Per Se
10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

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  1. Dined there last week, food and service were impeccable. Wife and I rank Per Se with Alinea and French Laundry as the top 3 restaurants we've dined at the past year.

    Read some comments on Chowhound that the new chef is in some ways better than Chef Benno, fwiw.

    Of the 'options' on the menu (we tried everything) I thought the $40 extra for the foie gras terrine was definitely worth it, but the $75 extra for the Osetra caviar was a bit much for this (instead of the old favorite 'oysters and pearls'), unless you are a big fan of caviar. The night we dined they also offered an American wagyu ($100 xtra) vs lamb option and I thought the wagyu was worth the extra charge (today's menu doesn't have the waygu option so this comes and goes), but I can see how many would disagree with that due to the cost.

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    Per Se
    10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

    3 Replies
    1. re: willyum

      Thank you much. I loved a previous meal there, but am somewhat hesitant to return for some reason.

      1. re: willyum

        Here's the Chowhound post I mentioned discussing post-Benno ("Is it still worth trying Per Se without Benno?") ... the last post is by someone who apparently worked the kitchen with both chefs.

        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/685021

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        Per Se
        10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

      2. Hey there,
        My wife and I did our anniversary dinner there in February. We'd never been before so nothing to compare it to but it was wonderful. Here's my review:

        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/766624

        JeremyEG
        HomeCookLocavore.com

        1 Reply
        1. I think the quality is the same now under Kaimeh as it was under Benno. The execution, types of dishes, and overall philosophy remain essentially unchanged.

          As for the best, that's obviously subjective. For me and my tastes, I don't think Per Se is the best food in NYC, but if it was for you while Benno was running the kitchen, I'm confident that you'll still think that under Kaimeh.

          5 Replies
          1. re: ryansm

            Thanks for the informed reply. I appreciate it.

            The reality is that I don't really know if I think it is "the best." I haven't eaten there in some time and since I have had a large number of really good meals that have changed the way I think about food. I once thought it was the best and now I am contemplating returning in order to see if I still agree.

            1. re: nmprisons

              That's pretty similar to my experience with Per Se. The first time I ate there, I ranked it at the top of my list (or maybe tied for #1). But as dined around, other places began pushing Per Se further and further down the list. It's still an incredible experience, though.

              I really like your idea of returning to see how it compares with all your new experiences since then--it's a good way of really defining what you like and don't like in a restaurant and how your preferences have evolved.

              But yes, I think they're performing at the same level as they were under Benno, so if your rating changes, it's not because Per Se has gone downhill, it's because you've found something you like better.

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              Per Se
              10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

              1. re: ryansm

                Thanks, Ryan, I appreciate it. It seems like I will have to give it another go, then. I would be very interested to here about where you think I might get a better meal. I am leaving new york in a few months and moving to a place with absolutely no food scene to speak of (small town in deep south) and and contemplating one or two last hurrahs.

                1. re: nmprisons

                  My recommendations certainly aren't ground-breaking or surprising, but they're the two places that consistently give me the best experiences: food, service, ambiance, and all.

                  My absolute favorite restaurant (anywhere) is Eleven Madison Park. If you haven't been, I think it's a must. If you've been, but not since the menu format changed, it's still a must. Many people on this board love and promote it, and I think all that praise is more than warranted. If you want to go all out, have the dinner tasting menu. Compared to Per Se, I think the EMP tasting menu is more exciting and not as heavy and full of fat/richness. There's a lot more diversity. For me, at least, Per Se's dishes seem a bit predictable and rarely surprise me; it's just the opposite at EMP. I also much prefer the service and ambiance at EMP; Per Se just seems too much like a temple.

                  I also prefer Jean Georges over Per Se. The first time I ate at Jean George, I was actually pretty disappointed in the food and service. But I decided to give them another chance a few months later, and it was like a completely different restaurant. I've been steadily liking it more and more since then, and it's now in my NYC top 3. Even though the dishes don't change, I never get tired of the signature dinner tasting menu. The young garlic soup with frog legs and the turbot with chateau chalon sauce are two of my favorite dishes anywhere.

                  You certainly deserve a few last hurrahs before moving!

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                  Eleven Madison Park
                  11 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10010

                  Jean Georges
                  1 Central Park W, New York, NY 10023

                  1. re: ryansm

                    Thank you, thank you.

                    I had an absolutely wonderful meal at EMP (gourmand tasting) about nine months before the menu change. It was certainly in the top three meals that I have had in NYC. I also had a very good dinner there (regular tasting) right before the menu shift. I was planning on going back for my last meal in NYC as I have a sneaking suspicion it is only going to keep getting better and better. Your comments above have probably sealed the deal on that one.

                    As for the other hurrah . . . still pending.

          2. Sorry to bump this thread, but I just wanted to see if anyone else has a before/after experience that they wouldn't mind sharing.

            Thanks.

            4 Replies
            1. re: nmprisons

              Not yet. But I'll be in town this weekend and am going to both (EMP dinner Friday, Per Se lunch on Saturday). Will check back in afterwards.

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              Per Se
              10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

              1. re: ZJY82

                what a wonderful 24 hours! enjoy!

                1. re: nmprisons

                  Just to follow up on this. It was indeed a wonderful 24 hours. After having some time to think (daydream) about both meals for a few days, I think my initial thoughts remain the same. EMP was lovely, but Per Se was magical.

                  Again, while I have no frame of reference for what a meal was like w/ Benno, Per Se does not seem to have missed a beat.

                  Additionally, it was ironic that we unanimously preferred the desserts at Per Se while the Pastry Chef at EMP won the Beard Award. I should note that I don't believe Per Se's PC was up for that and there was one absolutely stunning strawberry dessert at EMP.

                  In sum, go with confidence!

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                  Per Se
                  10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

                  1. re: ZJY82

                    Thanks so much for the report. I very much appreciate it. I am glad that you enjoyed both meals, as I have fond memories of EMP as well.

                    (Of all of the James Beard awards, the pastry chef seems to be the one they get wrong most frequently. For example, the fact that Mindy Segal has been nominated each of the past five or six years, but hasn't one is truly absurd.)

            2. Had a truly remarkable meal at Per Se last night. I will post a more detailed review at some point, but wanted to update this thread with my conclusion that Per Se is firing on all cylinders and remains, in my opinion, the very best dining experience that this city has to offer.

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              Per Se
              10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

              1 Reply
              1. re: nmprisons

                So glad to hear great things about Per Se. I look forward to your review. Thinking about taking my mom and sister back to Per Se to celebrate my mom's birthday in August. Good thing Per Se will be back open after their vacation.

              2. Who can tell me the secret of getting a table there?!! DO YOU HAVE TO KNOW SOMEONE?? Its the last NYC restaurant I have "on the list" and Ive had them on speed-dial for 2 years. I only get to NY for about a week out of every year and this year, exactly 30 days to the hour out, I started dialing. First 3 days of this I couldn't get thru until after 10am (too late) and finally on the last day possible I got thru at 905am but in only 5 mins, the only table available was 10pm. My husband wont eat after 10pm so I had to pass. I was so bummed!

                2 Replies
                1. re: FlaFoodie2008

                  We just dined at Per Se last weekend, a 9:00 rez and I don't have an "in" at Per Se, just times it right. Would you consider, and have you tried, a lunch rez? Seems we have had a much easier time grabbing the lunch slots and it is just as wondeful as dinner.

                  1. re: FlaFoodie2008

                    I have always just called right away and been fine. The recording can be a bit tricky: sometimes it tells you they aren't open yet, so you have to call back, and sometimes it puts you on hold. The problem is that the two sound very much alike and so it is easy to get confused and hang up and try again, when you should actually just be waiting (I have made that mistake).

                    You might also just get on the waiting list. Because the reservations are made so far in advance, someone is likely to drop off the list.

                    If you put a ton of cash on your Am Ex, their concierge service can also help out in a pinch.