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Dec 27, 2012 07:46 PM

Per Se Salon Anniversary Help

So I've got an anniversary coming up and I wanted to get a table at EMP first, but couldn't get one even after calling 28 days before. I've given it some thought and would like to try Per Se instead. I assume that I won't be able to secure a reservation this late, and I'm also worried that my partner and I won't be able to handle a full tasting menu. (Typically, we can't even finish our desserts after having an appetizer and an entree each.)

The Salon seems to be a good fit for us in terms of being able to just sample a few dishes without having to commit a full tasting menu. I'm just wondering if the ambiance will be romantic enough for our anniversary dinner. I've been reading some of the other posts here and many Salon diners mention tables that sit next to a window that overlooks the city and this seems like it could be quite romantic.

I'd also like some suggestions on what to order that is available on the Salon menu. Are they generally willing to serve you a dish that is on the tasting menu that night but not on the Salon menu? I'm also a huge fan on desserts but I sadly don't like the taste of chocolate--are there any great desserts at Per Se that don't incorporate chocolate? Also, the dessert tasting menu sounds fascinating but I don't think I'd be able to eat it all on my own. Can it be shared between two? Thanks for all the advice!

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  1. The Salon would be an excellent option BUT I think there is really only one very "romantic" table that overlooks the city, you would be able to see out from the other tables and the Salon in general is very nice in the evening but that one table is the prime location and the Salon is first come, no rez so...

    Per Se is extremely accommodating and if something jumps out at you from the dining room menu you shouldn't have a problem with requesting it in the Salon.

    The menu changes on a daily basis so something on it today may not be on it when you go but I have always had great success with anything they do with lobster, beef, or fleshy white fish, and their pastas can be out of this World good.

    Regarding the dessert tasting, they will absolutely split between two people but last time we did it some of it was chocolate, we didn't have a need for substitutions so I don't know if they can adjust it but I will say it was incredible.

    And just FYI, if you have trouble finishing tasting menus then EMP or Per Se dining rooms would have been a bad idea because you get a lot of food. Lastly, you always have the option of dining a la carte in the EMP bar area...

    4 Replies
    1. re: Spiritchaser

      Hmm...I never thought of going to the EMP bar area. Do you know if there are tables in the bar area or do you have to sit facing the bar? I'm worried that it might be a little awkward to sit facing the bar in this situation.

      Also, thanks for all the advice on Per Se! My SO likes to eat early so we'd probably get there right when it opens--perhaps there'd be more a chance that we'd get that table?

      1. re: bartholomeu

        You would probably have a very good chance if you are early.

        Regarding EMP, yes, there are some tables in the bar area and the bar area stays open all day BUT food service ends after lunch and restarts at 5:30. A good trick is to get there early and tell them you are going to have a drink but will be staying for dinner.

        1. re: Spiritchaser

          That being said I always enjoyed immensely my lunches and dinners at the per se salon while I wouldn't go back to the EMP bar area...

          I don't know how to explain it but the whole experience was a little bit of a let down. At per se in the salon you still feel that special occasion feeling, at the EMP bar I felt only that I was at a bar, the service didn't remember me of a special occasion, nor the food did.

          Maybe I'm one of the few, but the per se salon for me is a winner against the EMP bar.

        2. re: bartholomeu

          I have eaten frequently at the EMP bar, but it is noisy and crowded on a friday or saturday. but i really like the 35 dollar corkage fee as i am a wine collector.

          Be there at 5 45 to get a prime piece of real estate.

          i also think that you should consider Jean-Georges and Bernadin. I never have had trouble getting a table at Bernadin at 6 pm.

      2. I personally think that Per Se is overrated ( haven't been there but heard many negative things, and it is very expensive ), so I would recomend Bouley, Le Bernardin, or Jean Gorges. EMP is also great, I would recomend trying it another time as well.

        6 Replies
        1. re: lovethosebites

          That's a ridiculous statement. How can you think something is overrated if you've never been there?

          Per se is incredible, both the main dining room and the salon. I remember there being a few tables that look out on to Columbus circle, no? In any event they will treat you like royalty.

          1. re: jon

            I have had 5 different friends go and say they had a horrible time. They may all turn out to be wrong but from the things I heard, I will be staying away.

            1. re: lovethosebites

              Well, you're missing out one of the best restaurants of the world and probably the best in manhattan...

              It's often cheaper than the EMP bar, the sizes are bigger, the service is better...

              Actually a starter+entree+dessert at the per se salon is cheaper than all the restaurants you've mentioned at dinner where you're stuck with prix fix or tasting menus.. (Jean George, bouley, Le bernardin, EMP)

              1. re: alepenazzi

                This is actually one of the reasons that the Per Se Salon is at the top of my list. We don't have the stomach space to truly appreciate a full tasting menu and it's much more economical to go a la carte. I like that the Salon still has that special occasion feel however.

              2. re: lovethosebites

                Yeah, although I enjoyed dining at Per Se most of the time, my latest experience at Per Se Salon was really, really disappointing. The foie gras was way too salty and had too strong cognac flavor (which was not the case previously) and the serving interval was average 30 minutes between the dishes. Our dessert course, which used to be really amazing previously, was uninspiring and boring on that particular day.

              3. re: jon

                Jon - I guess you and I can't comment on the ridiculous statements or our comments get removed.

            2. The original comment has been removed
              1. Oh, and another question: Has anybody had an experience here as a fairly young diner? We're still in college and I don't know how they'll feel about serving us. I'm just a little concerned about fitting in since I assume that they typically have a slightly older clientele. (Sometimes, we're treated a little less graciously by the waitstaff at certain dining establishments because we appear to be quite young.)

                8 Replies
                1. re: bartholomeu

                  I think they are incapable of not being gracious here.

                  1. re: bartholomeu

                    There was a couple in their 20's when I was there last month and the staff seemed gracious to everyone in the restaurant. I myself look younger than my age and was still treated courteously by everyone and they even gave me a chance to check out their kitchen.

                    1. re: bartholomeu

                      So we finally made it to the Salon and it was an incredible experience. We really wanted that table by the window and so we got there a little early and were the first ones in the restaurant. I definitely recommend trying to get that table because it's truly the best table in the Salon. When I asked our waiter for this table, he let me know that he thought that it was not only the best table in the Salon, but his favorite table in the entire restaurant.

                      We each ordered 3 courses each (appetizer, entree, and dessert) and were quite satisfied with how much food we received. I'm not a very big eater but the food was so good that I ate it all and was quite full by the end. My favorite dishes of the night were the foie gras appetizer and the lamb entree. The foie gras came in quite a sizeable portion and I'm sure we would have been satisfied with half the portion even considering that we shared the dish between us. My lamb entree was much larger than her quail entree and I was really surprised at how generous my portion of lamb was. It was really delicious and the roasted artichokes it was served with were also quite delectable too.

                      While I really enjoyed the food, I wasn't particularly blown away by the presentation of the food. However, this isn't usually one of my main concerns when dining out. Where Per Se really shines in my experience was in the service, which was extremely gracious. They were very accommodating at all times. When I asked to retrieve my phone from my coat that I had checked when we had first entered the restaurant, they brought my phone out to me on a little silver tray. It was totally unexpected and it made us feel like we were just as special as those who were dining in the main dining room.

                      At first, I'm fairly certain they didn't know how to treat us since we were by far the youngest diners in the whole establishment. The waitstaff definitely warmed up to us as the meal went on and our main waiter turned out to be quite talkative once he realized that that we were really enjoying the novelty of the whole experience. We ended up spending a little over 2.5 hours for the entire meal and it was definitely the most pleasurable dining experience I've ever had. I really do want to go again and try the rest of the menu in the Salon. I think we had more fun in the Salon than we would have had in the main dining room and it was surely the best choice for us.

                      1. re: bartholomeu

                        Awesome, so glad this was worthwhile for you. I've only been to the Salon twice, and my second meal was even better than the first. So I found it very repeatable, if you want to go again!

                        I agree that the dishes are composed in a more restrained way—I think it expresses their Californian-inspired cooking philosophy very well. Which restaurants' presentations have blown you away in the past? I'll have to check those out sometime :)

                        1. re: bartholomeu

                          I love The Salon and am glad you went there. I am perplexed by the few comments above that were not complimentary to Per Se. I can understand people not thinking it is worth it (the main room is expensive) I think it is worth it now and again... (which is where The Salon comes in, to fill in between now and again)
                          As to the service, if they were unsure of how to treat you... it was about how to treat you right... not whether to treat you right. Someone said upthread "they are incapable of being ingracious" and that is true. They probably recognized you as a couple out for an event and not a pair of trustafarians out showing off (though they would be well treated too, perhaps snickered at later) It is not so rare at a good restaurant. Some time back I was at Tocqueville and the couple at the next table was freshly engaged... he was barely old enough to shave... anyway, he had his sport coat on and she was in her pearls (they looked like they were playing dress up) the staff even hammed it up a bit for them as it was a special night for the youngsters and the good service meant even more to them on their special night than to grumpy old men like me out for a nice weekly sort of dinner(we did buy them a congratulatory drink)

                          1. re: dyrewolf

                            Right. I think the default assumption may very well be for the waitstaff NOT to be too chatty (after all, you're out with each other, not them), and then to adjust that if they see that patrons want more interaction. As dyrewolf said, it always seems clear to me there that they WANT to treat you the way you want to be treated. That they take immense professional pride in doing so.

                            1. re: Sneakeater

                              (And, I feel compelled to add, the dining room is small enough that, unlike at Daniel, they can give this fabulous level of service to all comers -- even if regulars and VIPs get treated better at Per Se as at everywhere.)

                      2. Finally had dinner at Per Se's Salon. The weather was very "iffy", and I knew if I went home and it was raining, I'd never go to the gym. Since my office moved a bit further west, the walk to Per Se is about 10 minutes, and since it was barely drizzling, I decided to finally try the Salon menu at Per Se since I had just checked their website, and they had posted the evening's menus which included 2 of my favorites: the calotte de boeuf and lobster.

                        I arrived at Per Se at about 6:00 (the table in front of the window was already occupied so if one does want that table, one should plan to get to the restaurant very early.

                        I was seated at the table next to it. The sofa is very comfortable, and the table height was perfect for me. Service was very attentive and friendly throughout the 2 hour dinner. Courses were well spaced, and my water glass was always being refilled without asking. Finished dishes were cleared promptly. Napkin was refolded when I left the table. Same level of service as in the dining room.

                        I started with a "mocktail" of grapefruit juice, ginger, lemongrass and tonic water that was lovely. I was served 2 gougeres, and the cornet of salmon roe and creme fraiche.

                        Not only did I have a choice of breads (4 or 5 choices with 4 pieces of each type), but my server left the bread basket on the table. Had two of the pretzel breads--delicious!

                        I asked whether there was any limit on the number of courses one could order, and the waiter said there is no limit.

                        In addition to the calotte de boeuf and lobster, I ordered the foie gras torchon and the angolotti. All were excellent, and very filling.

                        The interesting thing was that lobster was not on the regular menu last night, so I was extremely lucky.

                        The full description of the dishes are:

                        1) "Gateau" of Hudson Valley Moulard Duck Foie Gras with demi-sec Mission Figs, Hazelnut Puree, Red Onion Rings, Frisee Lettuce and Sherry Reduction. ($40)

                        2) Mascarpone Enriched Yukon Gold Potato "Agnolotti" with Brentwood Corn, Pickled Pearl Onions and Smoked Ricotta "Vichyssoise". ($32)

                        3) Butter Poached Nova Scotia Lobster with "Oeuf Frit et Garniture a la Blanquette". ($40)

                        4) Charcoal Grilled Snake River Farms' "Calotte de Boeuf" with "Pruneaux d'Agen," Roasted Sunchokes, Wilted Arrowleaf Spinach, Sweet Carrots and Smoked Foie Gras-Madeira Emulsion. ($46) (this is still my favorite beef dish)

                        When the foie gras was served, my server originally brought only 2 types of salt, but when I joked that I wasn't getting the usual 6 types of salt, she quickly brought over the usual 6 salt dispenser, and removed the original 2 salts without any hesitation. My warm brioche was replenished 2 additional times while I was eating my foie gras (I hadn't finished the ones of my plate, but this is Per Se, they wanted me to have warm brioche throughout the course--very nice touch!).

                        After my savory courses, I ordered the "coffee and doughnuts" ($18), and also received a tray of mignardises, and a tin of 3 chocolate cream filled shortbread cookies to take home (just remembered they're in my tote bag--nice snack when I have my coffee later).

                        Bottom line: for anyone who either doesn't have the time for the full dinner, is unable to get a reservation, wants to dine at Per Se at the last minute, or doesn't want a full 9 course tasting menu, the Salon at Per Se is a spectacular way of enjoying Per Se. Definitely plan to return to the Salon at Per Se!

                        7 Replies
                          1. re: ellenost

                            Just curious, was the trip to the gym before or after that meal....? : )

                            1. re: cobpdx

                              Skipped the gym and went to Per Se instead.

                              1. re: ellenost

                                Ha, love it! That would have been my first choice, as well.

                                1. re: cobpdx

                                  Since I adore Per Se, and the gym is a necessary evil, it was a very easy (and dangerous) choice.

                            2. re: ellenost

                              I've picked the Foie Gras course at the Salon before, and was *not* subjected to the Fresh Brioche Treatment. Looking back at my notes, it might have been a busy evening (even on a Monday), so maybe the staff's efforts were concentrated elsewhere. Still had a memorable meal as well, though.