I've said it before and will say it again, I'm a sucker
for food "adventures" and "mis-adventures" at that! I like eating in hole-in-the-wall places, cheap eats and fast food (once in a while!) and similarly, I like being on the other end of the spectrum and occasionally indulge in an upscale experience. A few weeks ago, we found an opportunity to try Per Se, another Thomas Keller creation. It's actually the counterpart of French Laundry, Napa Valley which is dubbed as the best restaurant in America.
I was with my Jo (my husband), Am and Lisa. The two girls just recently graduated from culinary school here in the city and was scheduled to go back to Manila already so it was sort of their "despedida". At the same time, it was Jo's post birthday celebration. We had to find a good enough reason to splurge and thankfully we did!
Per Se is located at the 4th floor of Time Warner Building overlooking a breathtaking view of Columbus Circle. It was a perfect time to go because the holiday lights were sparkling all around and it added to the whole ambiance. As we entered the famous "blue door" (the trademark of French Laundry, Napa), my stomach felt queasy (in a good way that is!). I felt like a kid entering a huge toystore...anxious, overwhelmed and excited! We were properly dressed as there is a strict dress code (no jeans and sneakers!) so it was one of those rare times, my hubby actually wore a suit to dinner! Ha! We arrived earlier than the girls so we were first brought to a waiting lounge. When Am and Liza arrived, we were all escorted to our table and were eager to see the nine course tasting menu. There were two offerings : Chef's Tasting Menu and Offal Tasting Menu. We knew at once that we wanted to be able to try both so Am and I got the Chef's Tasting while Jo and Liza got the Offal Tasting. We took pictures of each and every dish that was served and exchanged plates so that each one would be able to get a taste of all the dishes. We had to make sure we got our money's worth in every way possible. Let me share with you some of the beautiful and inspiring plates they served us;
"Oysters and Pearls" - Sabayon of Pearl Tapioca and Island Creek Oysters and Sterling White Surgeon Caviar - This was absolutely HEAVENLY! I can't even try to describe how magical this dish tasted in my mouth.
Look at how pretty this hearts of palm salad is? Each vegetable is intricately placed over the fine puree.
* Braised Radishes and Pea Tendrils with White Sesame Seed Puree
Their take on BLT - A deconstructed BLT at that! - Salmon Creek Farms' All Day Braised Pork Belly. "Pain de Champagne" Melba, Violet Artichokes, San Marzano Tomato Marmalade and Watercress Puree with "Sauce Perigoudine". Genius.
this was Joel's Dessert - French Prune Pudding and Sugar Pumpkin Pie with Pumpkin Seed Oil topped with a quenelle of Hudson Valley Moulard Duck Foie Fras "Sherbet". Foie gras sorbet, need I say more?
We told our server that we were new chefs and that Am and I were from FCI. Turns out, he was an alumni as well so he offered to show us the kitchen. It was spotless and just plain amazing. Everything was just white and very clean. And there was a huge flat screen TV showing the French Laundry Kitchen in Napa Valley. It was Thomas Keller's way of monitoring both kitchens. Wow wow wow.
Over-all, the experience was magical. Each plate was a work of art, intricately and delicately made. The different flavors and textures left our palates wanting for more (but with the price, it will take an extremely long time again until we come back!)