Here are some select pictures from Per Se. More to come.
I wish I had the words to title this blog post. I wish I had the words to describe what I experienced last night. I almost wasn’t even going to write about it in fear of not being able to do it justice, but as it figures into my future in such a strong way I feel like I have to include something of this magnitude on here. It is funny how an event centered around food can evoke so much emotion. Eating is something I do every single day, and yet unlike an album played on repeat for two weeks, or even a run done repeatedly every day, eating is never worn out on me. I haven’t been so excited or nervous for something in a long time, and it was just dinner! I had dinner yesterday and I will have it again tomorrow, but not like this… this was more than just a dinner, it was an event through and through. The fact that we were there from 6-11 speaks to that by itself, but ultimately this was a celebration of food.
Per Se. Arguably the top culinary experience achievable. Dan, Amy, Shannon, and I met up in a rather large mall, Time Warner Building at Columbus Circle, and headed up to the fourth floor. It is an odd thing that this restaurant is located in the heart of what can only
be described as a shopping mall. Amidst the like of Hugo Boss and Williams-Sonoma are two great big beautiful blue doors. These wonderful doors truly separate the chaos of New York and a shopping mall from something pristinely calm and surreal.
So we enter through the doors.
As we enter we are greeted by the hostess and led immediately to our table. I will let you discern the interior from the pictures to be posted later today after I get them from Amy and Dan, but ultimately is was simple and elegant. We sat next to the floor to ceiling windows that gave us Central Park and a New York skyline. Up against our back was the fireplace encased in glass. We definitely had the premier table in the house, front row and center to everything that was happening in the restaurant. Dan immediately picked out a stunning bottle of champagne for us to sip on as he browsed the wine menu picking out our selections for the night with his knowledge and pallet recently honed from his wine trip through France and Italy. Needless to say the choices were incredible, a sentiment echoed by the house sommelier.
We were presented with menus to read over, but as you have two real options: vegetarian menu or chef’s tasting menu, it was more of an insight as to what was about to head your way. Three of us went with the chef’s menu while Amy indulged in the vegetable tasting menu, which allowed us to see both sides of things. The menu is 10 courses, with each course chosen to impeccably follow the last and set up the next. I am not going to dive into every course but I have posted our personal menus (sent home with us in a folder at the end of the night) to illustrate the food. After the server took our order, everything turned into a perfect ballet for the next four hours. Course after course slid in front of us all perfectly dressed and stunningly prepared. Simple foods based on quality products and not showmanship. Yes, every dish was beautiful, but the focus really was on the ingredients. For example, when the pickled beets came out, they were the epitome of pickled beets, they executed in the best way to possibly do pickled beats. The same went for the lobster and lamb and sorbets… etc. You could not have improved on each dish.
After the wines, the courses, the endless desserts, morsels, sips, scotches, ports, grappas, cookies, coffees… we sat back in wonder in order to marvel at what the evening had given us. This moment didn’t last as long as I would have liked as we were promptly whisked out of our seats, and into the kitchen. Ushered into the kitchen by our amazing host we entered into a stunningly clean, well lit, perfectly organized world of cooking. Chefs were spinning here and there with hot pans, some were painting chocolates onto a plate with brushes, others dotting liquefied beans onto scallops… it was beautiful! Everything was just so precise and everyone moved only with exact intent, and yet everyone in there welcomed us and smiled! We barged right in being pushed right up into the belly of the kitchen! Insanity! It was simply inspiring.
All in all the night was indescribably amazing. As I write this all down I feel like it is simply a babbling of nonsense. I can’t write accurately about this, and my brain is way too jumbled around everything to convey anything resembling the night. Most importantly is solidified in my mind the importantly it solidified in my mind the potential that is embodied in the restaurant industry. What an opportunity it is to be able to host that many people every night, and night after night give someone a “once in a lifetime” meal. It is surreal.
I don’t have all of the pictures I want to put up on here yet, but they will be coming very very very soon. They more coherently describe the evening.
Finally, most importantly, thank you Amy. Thank you a million times over.
It is that question which I have taken to reciting without prompt as I answer the phone at 3 Am. The answer is rarely the same: Buns, Booze, Money, the cook is missing, basement is flooding, new kid didn’t show up… can you come down? At first my answer was a perky, “Of course! Hang in there I am on my way,” and now usually just an obscene comment about ineptitude, but no matter the retort I will of course be flying in the door ready to tackle whatever seems to be going awry. Being the manager of a New York restaurant has been challenging thus far, but I am finding out that I love it. Last 24 hours: 10 am – 5 pm at work, 5 PM – 2:30 AM @ home, 2:30 AM – 4:15 AM at Work, home to sleep until 10, then back to work by 10:45 AM – 2 PM… and so on. In spite of the constant erratic schedule I have not yet felt too much strain from it. It is at 4:30 in the morning walking through Manhattan, sipping a 15$ cocktail in a paper cup, and taking in the end of the night debauchery that occurs when the bars purge their most loyal customers, that you find that serenity which happens amidst the most chaotic situations. You know when things are so crazy, you run and run all night teetering on panic attack, nothing seems to be going right… and then it just finishes, the people go home, the place gets cleaned, and you find yourself smiling all the way home in the quiet cool early morning. It is fantastic. Anyways, work is crazy. Summer is definitely hot dog and bar season, and that makes us one ultimate destination. In between crafting cocktails and dogs we are also catering weddings in central park, hosting movie premier events, and taking part in week long drinking adventures (The Manhattan Cocktail Classic for example). It keeps me very much on my toes, but it also keeps my interested. Come visit me at work sometime.
Tonight we are heading to the mecca of American/Worldwide restaurants. Thomas Keller’s Per Se is a 3 Star Michelin rated restaurant, along with 4 stars from the NY Times, and alongside it’s sister restaurant, French Laundry outside of San Francisco, is the ultimate of ultimates. I am so nervous for this meal it is absurd! I am sure I will be updating you on how it goes immediately afterward. http://www.perseny.com/
Quick hello to everyone back in ABQ meeting up for the wedding! I wish I could be there! I miss you all! CONGRATS LINDS!!!! Much love.