Nothing justifies splurging like entertaining out-of-towners; if you don't board the plane home hungover and in semi-diabetic shock, then I didn't do my job properly.
So when a dear foodie friend came in all the way from Honolulu, I thought I might as well angle for the mother of all foodie prizes: A table at Per Se.
(THANK YOU, lovely ladies at AmEx concierge and Brobro EF, for making dreams come true!)
Without question, my favorite dish of the evening. It's not often you eat something lusty and delicate--briny bursts of caviar and oysters were highlighted by the rich sauce and the texture of mingling tapioca.
(EEEW. I think i just fell into romance-novel-food writing...sorry about that!)
Foie Gras Torchon with Toasted Brioche and Marmalade
Impressive feats of service for this dish...you see that toasted brioche? Naturally, you gob this dreamy puck of duck fat onto the still-warm slices of brioche for effective mouth delivery.
But just as you're about 3 bites into your first slice, a silent server swoops up, takes away the plate with the remaining triangle, and replaces it with a whole new piece, so that you're never without piping hot toast. Seamlessly, like bottomless brioche was a birthright. Uh...wow. They don't play here.
Caramelized Endive Salad
There was a choice between the above salad and the torchon (if you can call that a choice). In retrospect, I would have been hurting a little less by meal's end if I'd gone with the endives, which wisely moderate Effing BroBro really enjoyed.
Strangely, I found myself mostly using the bass as a mopping medium for the savory, deeply dairy-blessed watercress puree. (Which forced me to grant more-than-grudging merit to the idea of the offered vegetarian tasting menu.)
Butter-Poached Nova Scotia Lobster Tail over Wagyu Beef Ravioli and Demi Glace
Like cushioned Surf-n-Turf! It looks twee, but the triple threat of butter-saturated lobster butt, unctuous ravioli filling and Marmite-like (in a good way!) demi glace left me sated, and even a little worried about my stomach capacity.
Rightly so...linear memory starts gettin' fuzzy about here...
But who can say no to duck? Perfectly pink, paneled with crisp skin and sauced with its very own liver...reconstructive deconstruction!
<Plague of stars begins to strobe my vision.>
Lamb was a brilly move, 'cause I'm not certain that anything else could have registered on my palate at this point. The fat-striped lamb bacon definitively announced itself as the last welcome piece of protein in my belly for the evening.
Smoked Cow's Milk Cheese with Golden Sultanas and Purple Cauliflower Pickle
Cheese! I'm sorry my love, my primary preoccupation, I WAS SO FULL that I couldn't remember your name, but we enjoyed your smoky nuttiness next to the tiny jolts of sweet and sour.
<Belly says>: SWEET BABY JEEZUS, will it ever end???
<Brain says>: Sweet Baby Jeezus, let it never end!
Best spin on a Gin & Tonic, ever--tart, herbal, fizzy and bracing. Woke me up in time to get knocked down again.
Rhubarb Clafouti with Rhubarb Foam and Buttermilk Ice Cream
There was a choice of a chocolate vs. rhubarb for this course, and though rhubarb may be a bit of a dessert Baldwin, I was happy with this sour-and-light theme park on this plate of pink-and-white.
Done, right? A sorbet palate cleanser, a dessert, everyone can walk away with their heads still up?
WRONG! Choose your death!
To each person, either a tiny Creme Brulee, or an equally bitty Pot du Creme with Hibiscus Jelly.
Stunned. Stunned, I tell you!
And coffee service. And cookie service with coffee service. And rows of gorgeous painted chocolate truffles WITH the coffee AND the cookies.
The gorgeously congenial staff was all too familiar with the mixed look of defeat and awe that glazed our table. They chuckled quietly and encouraged us to sit at leisure with our caffeine, before sending us each off with a gift-wrapped bag of take-home cookies (an entirely separate thing than the coffee cookies, mind you).
We wandered dazed, our distended bellies leading us into the night, TOTALLY physically uncomfortable, but otherwise euphoric and grateful.
Time Warner Center
10 Columbus Circle
Upper West Side
NYC, NY 10019
Favorites: Everything, with a slight edge to the "Oysters and Pearls" course.
Want to try: Anything that Thomas Keller touches, or deems touchable.