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Spoiler Alert: It's Per Se

Yup. Sifton's final review calls Per Se NYC's best.
Let the discussion begin.

But first: I could never afford to eat in the dining room at Per Se.
Questions for fellow hounds: Is a meal in the salon nearly as good as a meal in the dining room?
What is the reservation policy for the salon?

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Per Se
10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

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  1. Salon is walk-in, but I have never eaten there.

    Congratulations to Chef Kaimeh and the team at Per Se.

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    Per Se
    10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

    1. As Sifton intimated in the food issue of the magazine, his final review (and New York's best restaurant full stop) is Per Se.

      I've thought of returning to Per Se to try a few dishes at the Salon: the full menu in the dining room is awfully long (to say nothing of the 'extended' menu), but the dishes cost enough that $295 starts to look like a deal. On the other hand, I feel it would be more excusable to order a couple of glasses of wine in the Salon rather than hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars of grand cru vin de garde.

      When I walked through the Salon, I noticed a lot of young couples...

      http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/12/din...

      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/810121

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      Per Se
      10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

      1. I'm lucky enough to have dined at a good amount of restaurants in NYC and I agree with Sifty that Per Se is the best restaurant in the NYC area. There's definitely going to be some counterarguments on this board for EMP and maybe Le Bernardin or Blue Hill Stone Barns. Jean Georges and Daniel are very good, but I don't think they hold a candle to Per Se. I've never been to Masa.

        I've only gone to Per Se once two years back (in the dining room) and I can still recall fond memories of the food I ate there. It was "only" $275 a person then, including gratuity. I cannot comment on the salon, but I have considered going as to just eat my favorite dishes (or at least their current variants) from my only visit at a lower overall cost. The salon doesn't take reservations and is first-come, first-serve. Jackets are still required, I believe.

        5 Replies
        1. re: deepfry7

          I don't feel I can speak about Per Se with any authority as I've dined there only once (last October, post-Benno), but I recall the dishes were almost all technically faultless (the one exception, bizarrely enough, was Keller's trademark butter-poached lobster, which was overcooked and rubbery -- it was better at EMP and Ai Fiori!).

          However, I do think Per Se will never rank as best overall restaurant -experience- in New York because I find the room so sterile. I appreciate the implicit luxury of the spacing and the massive windows overlooking Central Park, but the room's anonymous corporate decor is not only a disappointment but a pall that drapes everything else in its soullessness. How I wish they would refurbish their space.

          Whereas, -everything- at Eleven Madison Park is lovely and a delight, even if only a handful of dishes I have eaten there come up to the standard of Keller's kitchen.

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          Per Se
          10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

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

          Ai Fiori
          400 5th Ave, New York, NY 10018

          1. re: Winterpool

            i go to a restaurant to eat the food...i guess you go to look at the flowers?

            1. re: jabowkE

              'i go to a restaurant to eat the food...i guess you go to look at the flowers?'

              I'm not a Michelin inspector, if that's what you're implying...

              I don't think it's silly to suggest the tone and atmosphere of a restaurant affect the dining experience. To take an extreme example, serving Keller's cuisine aboard a plane in flight would surely detract from the -food- (apparently one of the reasons everything tastes awful on a plane is the -noise-).

              http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-env...

              Another, slightly less extreme example: I'm sure many of us have had a dinner ruined owing to egregious service even when the food was perfectly fine.

              At this level of dining (and at this price), I don't think it's unreasonable to regret that a restaurant's atmosphere doesn't match its cuisine.

              1. re: Winterpool

                I would like to point out that the view from Per Se is really good. I am much more food focused than atmosphere focused, but I did enjoy the view very much.

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                Per Se
                10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

                1. re: Winterpool

                  Those are red herrings.

                  The service at Per Se is not only technically flawless, but surprisingly warm, comforting, and hospitable. While some might prefer the (wonderful) EMP approach (or even the Le Bernardin approach), you will find few allies in the "service at per se doesn't match its cuisine" side of the aisle.

                  As for atmosphere, I guess reasonable people can disagree about this one. That said, in the winter by the fireplace or the fall or spring by the window overlooking the park are, in my book, as nice a seat as you can get in a restaurant in New York. Now that I think about it, the most memorable meal that I have had there took place in a corner table by the window, but facing out towards the dining room. The atmosphere was just dandy then, too.

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                  Per Se
                  10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

                  Le Bernardin
                  155 W. 51st St., New York, NY 10019

          2. I've eaten at the Salon. The seating's kind of awkward. You have to lean forward and down to eat. You get the same amuses, petit fours, and take-home cookies as the dining room.

            The photos of my meal can be found here if anyone's interested: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cheeryvi...

            3 Replies
            1. re: Cheeryvisage

              How much would you say it might cost to pay for, oh, 4 courses in the Salon? $150ish?

                1. re: Winterpool

                  My meal of 3 courses was around $100. $150 for 4 courses sounds about right.

                  You can find the Salon's menu updated daily here, it's the last page: http://www.tkrg.org/upload/ps_menu.pdf

                  ETA: lol, kathryn was faster than me.

              1. "Is a meal in the salon nearly as good as a meal in the dining room?"

                - No, the dishes will seem meager and out of context. In the dining room, the experience is greater than the sum of its parts. The signature dishes like Oyster and Pearls are also not available in the Salon.

                "What is the reservation policy for the salon?"

                - First come, first served. Jackets required.

                6 Replies
                1. re: peter j

                  'No, the dishes will seem meager and out of context. In the dining room, the experience is greater than the sum of its parts.'

                  That's the impression others have suggested as well. Yet the full menu was a bit too much for my untrained stomach (my BMI is generally round 19-20, ha!). Perhaps I'd find 5-6 courses ideal, mmm.

                  1. re: Winterpool

                    I think that during weekends you can still do five courses for lunch in the dining room for about $195. It's still a spectacular meal with all the extras.

                    1. re: Winterpool

                      There is the five-course lunch option.

                      1. re: Winterpool

                        'No, the dishes will seem meager and out of context. In the dining room, the experience is greater than the sum of its parts.'

                        Agree with this. I was very ambivalent about my meal, detailed here: http://www.chow.com/topics/800179

                        1. re: Cheeryvisage

                          Ha! It becomes even tougher if I let my brain start calculating how for the same amount I could have dined at Eleven Madison Park, in a beautiful room with proper tables and chairs, even if the food isn't at quite the same level.

                          I've never been able to do the luxe luncheon thing. I'm not a morning person, and 1 pm is too early to appreciate what's being set in front of me.

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

                      2. re: peter j

                        Well then, put me on team meager-and-out-of-context. I agree with Cheeryvisage that the seating in the Salon is not ideal, although it was a good deal more comfortable than the torture-rack chairs at A Voce. But for those of us who want to eat Per Se food, but less of it, and at a (relatively) affordable price, the Salon is a godsend. I tip the scales at 88 lbs - of FURY! - and I wouldn't have a snowball's chance in Hell's Kitchen of making it through Per Se's full menu without dying. And as someone a lot closer to the 99% than the 1%, I also appreciate the opportunity to enjoy the occasional fancy-pants meal without having to sell a kidney to pay for it. Not that anyone would want my kidneys, at this point.

                        I'll also bet you dollars to donuts that if you want Oysters & Pearls in the Salon, you can have them.