Per Se tasting menu delivers on its 3-Michelin Stars reputation

by Anthony
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a plate of food on a table

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New York City (NYC) is a foodie’s paradise. At the time of this writing, there are four 3-Michelin-starred restaurants in NYC and multiple 2-Michelin-star and 1-Michelin-starred restaurants. On my last NYC trip for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, I secured a reservation for the Per Se tasting menu and was joined by family.

Thomas Keller’s Per Se is located at Columbus Circle in New York on the fourth floor of the Time Warner Center, where you can find other fine restaurants, such as Masa ( another 3-Michelin-starred Restaurant), just right next to it. I can’t remember the last time I visited a 3-Michelin-starred restaurant whose doors were right next to another 3-Michelin-starred Restaurant. Per Se earned its 3-star rating back in 2006 and since then has been able to maintain it each year (which is no easy task, as many restaurants do lose their 3 Michelin Star rating). Executive chef Thomas Keller is the only American-born chef to hold multiple three-star ratings – his other restaurant, The French Laundry, in California, also has 3 Michelin Stars.

a glass doors of a building

Columbus Circle Entrance

a wall with letters on it

per se NYC

Per Se Tasting Menu – Ambiance and Table setup

Upon entering Per Se, the first thing you notice is “the garden.” It’s an open space with fresh greenery and two light green leather chairs where you can wait until the rest of your party arrives. As it’s inside, a mall light orchestral piano music from the mall was playing while I sat in the garden.

a elevator with plants on the wall

Per Se Garden

As we entered, the receptionist took your coats and jackets and walked us to the table. We walked through a small hallway before entering the main dining room, which has two levels of seating. A gas-powered fireplace at the center of the lower-level dining room adds a warm glow to the rest of the dining space.

a room with tables and chairs

Per Se hallway

a group of people sitting at tables in a restaurant

Main Dining Room

a fire in a glass fireplace

Per Se Dining Room – Fireplace

We were seated on the upper level. Each table had an Alvar Aalto vase with fresh roses and a single candle to add some soft light. Samantha, our primary server, greeted us. However, many other servers also cared for us, bringing out the various dishes as the night progressed. Samantha asked if we were celebrating anything and explained the tasting menu’s various add-ons/supplements, such as Waygu beef, caviar, and foie gras. She also gave us the drinks menu on a tablet.

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Per Se Table Setup

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Dining Room view from table

At this point, I explained to Samantha that I had left my reading glasses in my jacket and asked if I could go back to get them. And then, a first for me in all my 3 Michelin Star dining experiences, she told me she could provide me with a pair instead and brought out a mahogany box with over a dozen glasses with different frames and magnifications. She provided me with the perfect pair to read the menu. All I could say at this point was “3 Michelin Star service,” this set the tone for the level of attention to detail as the night progressed.

Per Se Tasting Menu – Drinks and 9-course meal

There are two menus, a traditional tasting menu and a vegetarian option, which cost the same, $390 USD (includes gratuity) + tax. While they offer a wine pairing with the meal, I have started to go with the restaurant’s signature cocktails when I dine at these restaurants. I went with two of the signature cocktails with my meal;

  • Brandy Crusta: Hennessy Privilege, Clement Creole Shrubb, Lemon
  • New York Sour – Basil Haydens Bourbon, egg white, Red wine Float (Per Se’s twist on the Traditional Whiskey Sour)

    a glass of pink liquid on a table

    Brandy Crusta

To start our tasting menu journey, we began with a tiny pastry cone stuffed with light salmon. This was accompanied by a cookie with a vegetarian-friendly creamy center that we all enjoyed.

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Amuse Bouche – Salmon Pastry

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Amuse Bouche: 3- Michelin Star Cookies


  • 1st Course: Golden Reserve Caviar – Japanese Hiramasa, Everything Bagel crumble, pickled shallots, gem lettuce and caper Ravigote – Served on a clear plate on a bed of oyster sauce, this first dish had a slightly salty texture with the caviar.

    a plate of food on a table


  • 2nd Course: Slow Poached Hudson Valley Moulard Duck Foie Gras – Honey Poached Cranberries, sweet potato chips, Magenta Spreen, and Five Spice “Aigre Doux.” – A succulent piece of Foie Gras wrapped in a red and white shell made from what I believe was cranberries served with cranberries and sweet potato chips. The Foie gras melts in your mouth as you eat it, and its meaty texture is well accented with the sweetness of the cranberries.

    a plate of food on a table

    Foie Gras

  • 3rd Course: Bread and Butter – A freshly baked warm brioche bun served with fresh salted butter

    a bread on a plate

    Brioche Bun with butter

  • 4th Course: Mediterranean Lubina (Sea Bass), Ecrasees Carrots, Castelfranco Radicchio, garlic puree and Parmesan Nage—Lubina is a white fish similar to halibut (as I was told), served in a white sauce with hints of parmesan and garlic flavour that soaked into the fish as I cut into it.

    a plate of food on a table

    Mediterranean Sea Bass

  • 5th Course: Stonington Maine Sea Scallop; Saffron Braised Fingerling potatoes, young fennel and Billibi. : One Scallop is served with potato in a mussel and saffron-infused sauce.

    a plate of food on a table

    Maine Sea Scallop

  • 6th Course: Thomas Farm Squab Rillettes—Crispy Maitake mushrooms, roasted cipollini onions, Swiss Chard, and Jis de Volaille. Two sausage-like pieces of Squab (pigeon) served with a crispy mushroom on a bed of onions in a sauce made from a turkey glaze reduction. The sauce was so flavorful and blended with the other ingredients. This was my second favourite dish of the night.

    food on a plate

    Squab Rillettes

  • 7th Course: 48-hour braised beef short rib: Tokyo turnips, charred bok choy, and Szechuan peppercorn mignonette—One of the softest, tender, melt-in-your-mouth pieces of beef I have had, in a sauce made from reduced beef jus, served with boy choy and turnips. This was my favourite dish, as it was perfectly cooked with the correct fat-to-lean meat ratio. It just melted in my mouth with each bite.

    a plate of food on a table

    Braised Beef Short Rib

  • 8th Course: Gougere Aged Comte and Black Winter Truffles—This dish cleansed the palate in preparation for dessert. It was a white cheese ball in a cheese sauce that was quite light in flavour, as I was expecting a more robust, sharp flavour. It helped to cleanse the palate from the prior beef dish.

    a round brown object on a white plate

    Gougere (basked pastry)

  • 9th Course: DessertsBartlett Pear – Pave Nicoise, Mascarpone mousse, Crysralized Ginger – Shaped like an Egyptian Pyramid the pear and mascarpone was hidden inside the pyramid shell as you dug into it.
    a plate of food on a table

    Mascarpone Mousse

    Toasted Marshmallow Ice Cream: Hot Cocoa Cream Chantille and Speculoos Cookie—3 Michelin star Ice cream at its finest. The flavours were a sensory overload, but I enjoyed every bite.

    a bowl of food with a cracker on top

    Marshmallow Icecream

    German Chocolate Cake: Biscuit Joconde, Dark Chocolate Mousse, and Coconut Ganache. – A simple piece of three-layer chocolate cake accented with a toasted coconut ball on top.

    a plate of dessert on a table

    Chocolate Cake

    Along with these three deserts, there were also Macaroons, Dark cocoa balls, Per Se’s version of Timbits (to put it simply) served in an espresso cup, a frothy chocolate and coffee-infused creamy custard dessert.

    a plate of food on a table


    a bowl of food on a table

    Per Se Tim Bits (?)

    Desert was simply a sugary sensory overload. All the above were brought to the table at once, and you felt like a kid in a candy store as you had to figure out where to start and what to save to end. In hindsight, I should have asked in what order the kitchen recommended eating the desserts.

    To finish the meal, we were brought a box of 8 different chocolates and asked to choose one. As one last sweet treat, I went with the Dulce de Leches, a personal favourite.

    a box of chocolates

    Assorted chololates

    Tea service was also included in the tasting menu, and I chose an Earl Grey with honey and lemon.

    a tea pot and a cup of tea

    Earl Grey

Per Se Tasting Menu – Overall Service and Takeaway

Throughout the meal, Samantha and the team were very attentive to us. As the meals were brought out, the servers explained each dish in detail and were happy to answer questions. The ambiance of the dimly lit dining room with the fireplace on the main floor was ideal for dining, and the noise level remained relatively low for a packed room of diners.

If I had to find any issues, as mentioned in a previous review of Addison Restaurant in San Diego, I would not like the additional “supplement” courses that can be added to the tasting menu price. I prefer to have everything (aside from the alcohol) included in a tasting menu. This is more of a pet peeve than an issue.

While a $400+ dinner may not be within everyone’s vacation budget, three Michelin-starred restaurants offer a more extensive dining experience than “just a dinner.” Our overall experience with the Per Se tasting menu was excellent.

On my next trip to NYC, I need to save up to try Masa, the last 3-Michelin Star restaurant I have yet to try, which is right next door and charges a hefty $750 – $950 for its sushi-based tasting menu.

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