Current views on Per Se?
Considering Per Se on an upcoming trip. I never quite know what to think about the experience there. People often say it's the best meal they've ever had, but some also say it's "great, but not worth the price". The one common theme I'm hearing is that the desserts are a bit underwhelming, which is unfortunate because I really look forward to dessert.
I'm also going to EMP this trip (second time dining there), so I'm on the fence about Per Se. It would be a shame to spend $350+drinks on Per Se only to have it be bested by EMP a few days later.
Would I be better off going elsewhere? Maybe Le Bernardin? I've eaten at or will be eating at EMP, Ko, Atera, and Jungsik. No way to get a reservation at Brooklyn Fare and I'm waitlisted for Kappo. I still see Per Se mentioned on many threads here, so I'm hopeful, but it seems to get recommended on reputation without many people actually explaining the experience.
I had been going to Per Se every three to four months. After I experienced really disapponting desserts in my extended menu, I stopped going back.
Its savoury dishes are good to great. Some are just plain good, some are really mind blowing. If you wanna try it for the first time, I think it will be worth it. Just be prepared for dull desserts at the end of the meal. You may enjoy 'Coffee and Donut' though, if you try it for the first time.
As for the comparison with EMP, both are very different. I enjoy EMP slightly more because it's more fun and intimate and the staff are more personalized and friendlier. Per Se's service is courteous, but it's a bit mechanical.
Overall, however, I think Per Se has passed its peak, because long ago it used to be much better than it is now.
I went to Per Se in 2007 and my meal was perfect.
I went back this January and was really disappointed. Only 3 out of the 9 courses were extraordinary.
I went a couple of weeks ago and haven't had time to do a full write up, but it's coming.
Basic summary: I felt that Per Se was more of an excellent meal like JG LB Daniel and less of a "magical" and "special dining event" like what EMP or Atera tries to do. I think they are still capable of providing that experience, but my guess is you'd have to get the extended tasting for that.
Also, completely agree with kosmose7 that the desserts were disappointing. There was no real surprise, no complexity in the layering of textures. Tasty, but I expected more from Per Se. It all depends on expectations really.
Of comparable places that you haven't been yet, I would suggest looking at Juni. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/923232
Just another opinion, but I find EMP to be a similar dining experience to Per Se, but with better food, more fun, and at about half the price (if you do the supplemental dishes at Per Se).