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2010-12-30

>crosnes at Per Se

(Moved from Mar 19, 2007)

I am “looking forward” to “deconstructing” Per Se’s heavily “quotation-marked” menu, “course by course”.

Yesterday, I chose their nine-course Tasting of Vegetables option. I got to sample the nine-course Chef’s Tasting Menu as well. (Wine: one generous glass of Chateau d’Armailhac Pauillac lasted through the meal.)

Would you like a quick verdict now? It was a solidly executed dinner in a pleasant dining room with a wonderful view of Central Park and Upper East Side buildings. The service was well choreographed yet it felt charmingly casual. The staff looked happy to be working there – they all smiled sweetly, always ready to show off a joke. When I bumped my shoe against the chunky table leg (hidden behind layers of fabric skirting the table) the server remarked, “You found our drum!” I found this quite delightful. Was the staff knowledgeable? Yes, but they didn’t know certain details about the dishes - they misidentified a few ingredients. They did go back to check and came back with correct answers. The menu changes daily, so it must be hard to keep up with everything. Details later…

Were the vegetables better than, say, Manresa’s? Surprisingly, (perhaps unsurprisingly?) no. As good as the fare at their older cousin, the French Laundry? No. I almost didn’t make it to New York last Friday when JetBlue canceled their flights due to weather. (How did I get to New York on Friday, then?? Magic!) Some New York streets were hardly passable. Perhaps some of their vegetables didn’t make it? Wait, by Sunday it should have been just fine – it was a relatively sunny slushy day. Not as cold as Saturday in Brooklyn where I joined in the Saint Patrick's Day celebration at Two Boots.

Per Se’s veggies weren’t as pretty as I was expecting, either. I discreetly took pictures of the dishes (I never thought I’d do that… damn bloggers), so you’ll get some idea. I apologize for the picture quality - I am not a professional photographer. Please click on it for a large image.The dish I liked the best (which just happened to be the prettiest), pictured here. "The deconstructed version”:
 

>PICKLED HEIRLOOM BEETS
Cold Horseradish Bavarian Cream Custard, Marinated Red Onions and California Crosnes
with Lamb’s Lettuce

A server compared cartoony caterpillar-like crosnes to sunchoke/Jerusalem artichoke. You can see a paper-thin red coin of beet chip. Dried beet powder sprinkled on the plate. A dark beet cube. A slice of crosne "swimming" or "frozen" in the layered "Bavarois" gelee. The beet chip was delicious! The prominent green is the lamb's lettuce, a.k.a. mache.
 

Or per Per Se:
>PICKLED HEIRLOOM BEETS
H
orseradish Bavarois, Marinated Red Onions and California Crosnes with Garden Mache.

photo of Columbus Circle by Sharon Hahn Darlin
photo of pickled heirloom beets by Sharon Hahn Darlin

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