Per Se, NYC

The day before my meal here I was in hell. Two nights before around 2 am, I have this dream. I see myself above a couch, the whole scene is really strange and lynchian and I’m levitating off a couch like 1 ft horizontally with a fire that is literally burning a hole through my stomach. There’s this little girl in an indian pose floating above my levitated body in a meditative position singing some weird chant-like she was mocking me or something! I wake up shortly from that dream, like my eyes open very quickly and abruptly and I am in REAL-LIFE gripping stomach pain- it felt like something was burning in my stomach just like in my dream. I’m in an out of the bathroom all night and half of the next day when I realized that I probably have food poisoning. This is bad news when you need to digest a 7 course meal in about oh..18 hours.

I was praying that I would be okay enough to endure dinner. I was, but I felt sad that before my meal at Per Se I was still in a food poisoning hangover. In every bite there was a bit of fear that I’d get nausea. I also wanted to drink some champagne but I just settled with one cocktail because I knew something bad would happen from an indulgent decision during mid recovery.

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A complimentary starter, chilled and scooped salmon tartare flavored with chives in a hardened crepe cone filled with cream cheese.

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Out of all the breads, the pretzel is my absolute favorite. So soft and chewy, loved the street pretzel vendor inspiration here. This was the airier version. Either way I love both Thomas Keller’s version and the street stuff. I could have used a little mustard with this but it was delicious with their fresh butter too.

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You know I go on the cheap with Caviar? Like I get the $35 per can one because Caviar is so expensive, and you know cheap caviar still tastes good.  Of course high quality caviar isn’t cheaper than 1200 per can. This Osetra caviar was really delicious and I appreciated it more because I am used to the $35 per can one! If I had taken more photos of this dish, you would see the strong japanese Kaiseki influence in it, from  that translucent pink which is the red onion gelee cut into a perfect circle (it seemed like it was made of agar-agar) to the little cucumbers which were cut into little leafey star patterns. Yea, there’s kaiseki all over this not only in presentation but in the use of ingredients. Nonetheless it was wonderful.  Under the red onion gelee there was another layer of smoked sturgeon bavarois. Bavarian cream is traditionally used in french desserts, it’s like a french mousse but set in mold with gelatin. Here it was used as a savory counterpart.

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Oysters and pearls is my favorite dish here. While the caviar featured above is cold and summery, this one’s warm. The soupe-y base is thickened with tapioca, and topped with perfectly cooked oysters. To make it even more decadent, a spoonful of white sturgeon caviar is placed on top.

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A simple yet chic summery tomato salad with basil gelee, fennel bulbs.

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Little inclusion of a fried tomato too…

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5 different kinds of salts for the next course… Foie Gras, I just need to know where this dish is from.

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That’s some fig marmalade to the left with a roasted beet and a very very tiny salad. No isn’t that just a garnish?  Then there’s that kaiseki style again with that perfectly cut out  yellow flower. I don’t know what that is because I didn’t eat it. They give you slices of freshly toasted brioche for this, so the first thing I did was scrape the foie gras and the fig marmalade on top. I didn’t add any of their salt because the foie gras was salty enough for me.

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Basically, do you know what this is? A high class PB&J. They give you two slices of Brioche (which tasted like Balthazer brioche by the way!) and I was tempted to make a sandwich out of this but the waiters kind of stare at you here so I was scared to do so.  What was nice though was that before I could even get to my second slice of brioche, they take away your plate and bring you two freshly toasted slices of brioche. But who gets to eat that delicious brioche that cooled while it was sitting at my table? I hope someone is making use of it in the kitchen.

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Striped bass below with Olive oil confit and horse radish foam. I won’t lie I am kind of over foam. There I said it, I just don’t like foam. In the back there’s this little square with a bottom layer of potato and the top tasted like a delicious corn beef hash cake.

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Pied de cochon with braised cranberry beans, turnips, pickled mustard seeds and watercress.

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So buttery and rich. I think that’s a thin layer of concentrated gelatin from the pig’s feet, a perfect way to present it.

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Poularde with glazed kohlrabi (turnip), collard greens and corn ragout.  The presentation is so nice, when in doubt, just make a miniature version of the real thing and it automatically looks pulled together. I didn’t taste this dish so I don’t know what it was like.

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Butter poached nova scotia lobster with the ripest peaches I’ve ever tasted, onions, and soubise. Soubise is just a simple bechamel sauce made with onions.

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Now my second favorite. I just like a perfectly cooked cut of meat, and this was it. Here a herb roasted lamb with eggplant porridge, cepes, artichokes and pine nute jus.

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The eggplant porridge was just an excellent compliment, and the lamb was cooked to perfection.

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Now to the transition plate from main course to dessert: ‘Mrs. Quickies Cheddar’, with braised bacon, cauliflower, and capers. It was not my favorite dish, the ingredients together were too salty. Bacon is salty, and so is cheddar. Together it was too much. But I tasted the ingredients separately and they were all great on their own, especially the bacon, the best bacon I’ve ever had.

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Dessert 1; Pistachio nougatine with apricot compote and burnt honey ice cream. I have my own name for this and it’s called creme brulee upside down. The burnt honey ice cream had these really hard crystals of sugar that tasted the same as the top of a creme brulee.

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Dessert 2, maple syrup ice cream (really really amazing) with toasted pecan creme diplomate, and caramelized puff pastry

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Raspberries in black and green.

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I was so full by this time that I was unable to enjoy the 3-tier coffee supplements, macarons, chocolates and candies.

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At the end I had some iced coffee to finish the meal, which would also explain why I couldn’t sleep until 2 am.

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I don’t go to 3-star michelin restaurants often because it is far from affordable, and even when I do go out to restaurants I rarely bring my camera..somehow it’s okay when you’re traveling and eating out in another country cause they look at you like you’re a tourist anyway, but taking food photos in public especially at a place like this is akin to farting in public. Now I tried to get photos with my G10 but the quality was crap and I needed my macro lens with my DSLR to deliver a quality post.  I also don’t feel comfortable in places like this because every other woman here is in a proper knee length dress, but the food is definitely worth the visit. The only other place I want to try now is Alinea in Chicago that is run both by the head chef genius Grant Achatz (who was trained under Thomas Keller btw) and his business partner Nick Kokonas. I’ve heard good things about their hot potato cold potato truffle explosion, but I can’t work in a plane ticket to Chicago just to eat for one night, at least not with my budget right now.

On a final note, after I finished this meal I needed something really really spicy and soupey to cut through all the wonderfully rich french inspired sauces and the creamy oysters. I headed home and made myself a little bowl of spicy ramen.