The Vegetarian Tasting & Chef’s Tasting at Per Se: Is It As Good As Everyone Says?

The Vegetarian Tasting & Chef’s Tasting at Per Se: Is It As Good As Everyone Says?
Joe Squatch

Joe Squatch

September 7, 2022

Opened in 2004, Per Se is a New York-based restaurant serving a combination of New American (modern American cuisine) and French dishes, receiving three Michelin stars since the creation of the New York City Guide in 2006. 

Despite being presented with a series of awards by industry commentators, there are many who might still view Per Se as being too good to be true, and as such, this article is going to take a look at what exactly they have to offer, and try to answer that question for you. 

The Vegetarian Tasting & Chef’s Tasting at Per Se: Is It As Good As Everyone Says?

So, without further ado, let’s take a closer look at what exactly Per Se has to offer!

History

Based on the fourth floor of the Time Warner Center at 10 Columbus Circle in Manhattan (8th Avenue and Broadway), Per Se was founded by celebrated chef Thomas Keller, an American chef, restaurateur, and cookbook writer from Oceanside, California (Also check out the Best Restaurants In Burlingame). 

With a string of successes in the industry, Keller opened Per Se with the intention of bringing classic French cooking to a contemporary American audience, infusing it with elements of New American cuisine to bridge the gap between the two. 

Style

Classically trained in French cooking, and with a history running successful restaurants, Keller’s strengths lie in the blending of the old with the new – taking something traditional and established, and infusing it with his own Californian sensibilities to create something timeless, attractive, and utterly delicious.

What Do They Offer? 

Guests lucky enough to visit Per Se will be greeted with two main menu options: the Chef’s Tasting Menu, and the Tasting of Vegetables Menu. 

The Chef’s Tasting Menu

The main menu at Per Se, the Chef’s Tasting Menu is an all round menu, including meat, fish, and seafood. 

Tasting Of Vegetables Menu

The Tasting of Vegetables menu is a vegetarian-aimed concoction, employing Keller’s unique style albeit without the inclusion of meat, fish, or animal products. 

Chef’s Tasting Menu: The Facts

At $355 dollars per person, the Chef’s Tasting menu is the more expensive of the two options, but includes the service charge and a fixed price. The Tasting menu includes the following items. 

  • Oysters & Pearls – A sabayon of pearl tapioca, Island Creek oysters, and Regiis Ova caviar. 
  • Royal Ossetra Caviar – Sacramento delta green asparagus, Fines herbes, and Kendall farms creme fraiche. 
  • Salad Of Forono Beets – This salad includes strawberries from Harry’s Berries, California pistachios, and Greek yogurt to create the perfect palette cleanser. 
  • Hudson Valley Moulard Duck Foie Gras – Assaisonné au confit de canard, demi-sec satsuma mandarins, frisée lettuce, and sesame seed dentelle. 
  • Bread & Butter – Bitter cocoa-laminated brioche, and Diane St. Clair’s Animal Farm butter. 
  • Confit Fillet Of Atlantic Black Bass – Served with glazed parsnips, arrow leaf spinach, and a saffron-vanilla emulsion. 
  • Boudin De Saint-Jacques – Pommes Maxim’s, celery branch and chowder sauce. 
  • Diamond H Ranch Quail Breast – Holland white asparagus, pickled green garlic, Belgian endive, and sauce Albufeira. 
  • Hand Cut ‘Rigatini’ –  broccoli buds, aged parmesan, and shaved black winter truffles from Perigord. 
  • Prime Rib of Elysian Fields Farm Lamb – mille-feuille de légumes racines, Tokyo turnips, and sauce Navarin. 
  • Charcoal Grilled Miyazaki Wagyu – forest mushrooms a la Grecque, creamed leeks, and compressed watercress. 
  • Gougere – served with aged comte, and black winter truffles. 
  • Assortment of Desserts – fruit, ice cream, chocolate, and candies. 

Is It Worth It?

This menu certainly offers a lot of courses, but whether it is worth the money paid is another thing entirely. 

That being said, the ingredients are fresh, imported from their country of origin, and prepared by some of the best chefs in the country, and while the price might be expensive, those who operate in these circles, or who are looking to expand their horizons with a taste of gourmet cuisine will find this the perfect sampling experience. 

Tasting Of Vegetables: The Facts

The vegetarian menu comes with the same price tag as the Tasting menu, with a price of $355 dollars per person, including service charge, and features a multitude of vegetarian recipes, each of them bursting with that flair that makes Keller’s work so special. 

The menu includes: 

  • Green Asparagus Veloute – purple top turnips, pepitas, and spring onions. 
  • Salade Laitue – brioche ‘crouton’, Hass avocado, compressed radishes, and ‘green goddess’ lettuce. 
  • Bread & Butter – bitter cocoa-laminated brioche, and Diane St. Clair’s Animal Farm butter. 
  • Charcoal Grilled Holland White Asparagus – Belgian endive, empire apples, candied walnuts, and bleu d’auvergne. 
  • Forono Beet En Croûte – preserved cabbage, whole grain mustard condiment, and mushroom bordelaise. 
  • Peas & Carrots – agnolotti doppio, pickled carrots, and vin jaune emulsion. 
  • Hand Cut ‘Rigatini’ – aged parmesan and black winter truffles from Perigord. 
  • Dégustation de pommes de Terre – pommes maxim’s, marble potatoes,  pommes mousseline, green garlic, and black winter truffles. 
  • Gougere – with aged comte, and black winter truffles. 
  • Assortment of Desserts – fruit, ice cream, chocolate, and candies. 
The Vegetarian Tasting & Chef’s Tasting at Per Se: Is It As Good As Everyone Says?

Is It Worth It? 

Personally, I would say that this menu definitely isn’t worth it. 

Firstly, the price remains the same, despite lacking many of the expensive meats, seafood, and ingredients that you would expect to bump up the market price. 

There are also far fewer courses available with this menu, and the size of the portions (and their potential to satisfy your appetite) are far more diminished than those on the Chef’s Tasting menu. 

Per Se: The Verdict

The Experience

The first thing worth saying about Per Se, is that it is testament to what Thomas Keller does best: that is, delivering old world cuisine in a new world packaging.

Keller has a knack for making traditional French cooking accessible to modern palettes, and presents them in a way that transcends the modern and looks downright futuristic. 

The restaurant itself is also elegant, tasteful, and attractive, with an inviting atmosphere that wouldn’t make the casual diner feel out of place.

And with some of the finest chefs, staff, beverage consultants, and consiglieres in the country, you really are in for a treat when it comes to presentation and service.

The Food 

The food itself is delicious, as would be expected by an esteemed chef like Keller, and a restaurant that has maintained three Michelin stars during its 18 year tenure. 

The combinations are exciting and complex, and the order of service is the perfect combination of rich and light meals to keep you primed. 

The Price

The price, when compared to what is on offer, is not always consistent, and with the vegetarian menu especially, it is clear that the customer is losing out. 

The Chef’s Tasting menu is comparable to the price, and those versed in such circles would pay for the privilege. 

Final Thoughts

And there we have it, everything you need to know about Per Se, Thomas Keller, and whether the menus they present are really as good as everyone says they are. 

What’s clear is the knowledge and experience that Keller has, taking a lifetime of French cooking, and incorporating it with a new age flair that makes old ideas seem exciting, and delicious.

If you have the time, money, and inclination, something tells me you won’t be disappointed!

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