My last full dinner at Per Se was a vegetable tasting four years ago. The dishes were beautiful and technically flawless, but the meal felt incomplete, as if each dish had a crucial component missing. The service was gracious, which made the experience a positive one, but overall the meal lacked depth of flavor. Because of this, I hadn't been back since.
Then, sometime in February, Per Se reached out to invite me back at their expense. I've visited Per Se nearly twenty times over the last decade, and I'm excited to say that my most recent dinner was exceptional.
Many changes were immediately apparent. The endless bread basket—which usually left me full somewhere around the sixth course—was replaced with a single, elegant cocoa-laminated brioche. Even vegetarian dishes such as the eggplant Parmigiana had tremendous depth of flavor; one combination of tomato, pine nut, and Parmesan cheese created an intense umami. In the past, I've been sensitive to the use of luxury ingredients—black truffle, uni, caviar—without express purpose. At this meal, the seemingly unending flurry of black winter truffle shaved over the ris de veau wasn’t solely indulgent; it enhanced the earthy flavor of the sweetbreads.
Without a doubt, this was one of the best dinners I have had at Per Se. Below are the photos from my meal at Per Se, New York, on March 11, 2017.