The remarkable thing about Per Se, is not that it exists in what is essentially a giant shopping mall. The remarkable thing is that you are taken back to Yountville, for a moment, as you gaze at Central Park amid the craziness that is New York.
The Salmon Cornet is what tugs at the taste-memory. I still remember because I managed to drop mine on the table in Yountville on my first visit to French Laundry in 2002. The rest of my table of eight waited anxiously while the waiter rushed to the kitchen to get me another. Yum.
Things went considerably more smoothly this meal. After a weekend of heavy meals, and expensive ones (I had dined at Masa the previous night), I was having second thoughts about making it to my Per Se reservation. Staying at the Mandarin Oriental helped. I hopped out of bed and into the dining room within minutes.
The highlights of the meal were the Romaine Lettuce Veloute, the Atlantic Fluke, and the Truffle Custard: pure clean flavors with twist, whether it be delicate cubes of Meyer Lemon flesh unexpectedly at the bottom of the bowl of veloute, the cold white flesh of the Atlantic Fluke against cold avacado ice cream, or the single chive leaf laminated between two paper-thin potato sheaths tucked upright into a rich and unctous Truffle Custard.
The best part of the meal was the end. I was given a tour of Per Se's massive kitchen, which is actually three or four kitchens. They have a main kitchen that has the garde-manger, hot lines, etc. However, they also have an equally-large back kitchen for prep work, a fully-staffed 24-hour bakery, a pastry kitchen, and even a chocolate room where they make all their own molded chocolates.
As a final reminder of Per Se's connection to French Laundry, I was shown a large plasma television mounted to the wall in front of the Chef, conveying a live video feed of the French Laundry kitchens back at Yountville. Now if they would only patch that through to the Food Network: imagine what you could learn!
Romain Lettuce "Veloute" - Hakurei Turnips and Meyer Lemon
"Oysters and Pearls" - "Sabayon" of Pearl Tapioca with Island Creek Oysters and Sterling White Sturgeon Caviar.
Tartare of Atlantic Fluke - Hass Avacado, Pickled Jalapeño and Petite Cilantro with Lime Coulis
White Truffle Oil-Infused Custard - "Ragoût" of Black Winter Truffles
"Pressé" of 24 Carrot Farm's Rabbit "En Persillade" - "Ragoût" of Rancho Gordo Pole Beans, Pickled Garlic and Celery Branch Salad with Horseradish Jus
Crazy selection of salts available for tasting.
Two types of butter.
Main Diver Se Scallop - "Fondue de Ris de Veau, "Braised Swiss Chard, Granny Smith Apples and Black Winter Truffles
Elysian Fields Farm's "Côte D'Agneau" - Wilted Arrowleaf Spinach, Hadley Orchards' Medjool Date Purée and Greenmarket Carrots with Madras Curry Emulsion
Coffee and Doughnuts - Cinnamon-Sugard Doughnuts with Cappuccino "Semifreddo"
"Mont Blanc" - Chesnut "Génois," Swiss Meringue, Chocolate-Juniper "Crémeux," Rum Parfai and "Marron Glacé with Chocolate Ice Cream
The most delicious Pot de Creme, ever!
Small sampling of house-made chocolates chosen from an enormous tray.
More housemade candies.