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Image 1: Located in The Time Warner Center, this small garden area at the entrance resembled its sister restaurant, the legendary French Laundry in Yountville.
Image 2: With the exactly same big blue door!
Image 3: We had a high expectation for this restaurant after our memorable experience at The French Laundry a few years ago.
Image 4: Our table was right by the window with a perfect view of the Columbus Circle.
Image 5: Per Se serves the same meal as French Laundry every night. The meal started off with amuse bouche of Warm cheese puff.
Image 6: And Keller's signature Salmon Cornette with fresh cream topped with chive, paired nicely with our first glass of the beverage pairing - Billecart-Salmon Rosé Champagne Cocktail or Sparkling Apple Cider for non-alcoholic pairing.
Image 7: Another signature, Oyster and Pearls. Oysters resting in sabayon with tapioca and an extremely generous portion of Sterling White Sturgeon Caviar. It definitely brought back our memory of French Laundry. After so many years of worldwide fine dining, this was still one of our best courses ever!
Image 8: Moist oyster and creamy sabayon along with "taste-of-the-sea" sparkling out from the glossy caviar. Truly amazing course of all time!
Image 9: Our server then came back with a warm tray of bread of the evening.
Image 10: Served with creamy butter from Animal Farm, a small farm with only a hand full of cows producing just enough butters Keller's two restaurants.
Image 11: We also asked if they had olive oil and they brought us four types!
Image 12: I was never a big fan of rhubarb but this salad of Braised Rhubarb with Shaved Celery had a lovely mild fruitiness without being too sharp and the usual fibrous texture, which I hated, disappeared from the braising! Nothing too exciting but a decent start!
Image 13: With a $40 supplement, Gâteau of Moulard Duck Foie Gras from Hudson Valley, decorated with dots of Greek yogurt and aged balsamic vinegar. Hmmm, it was too soft and too bland without much foie flavour!
Willi Schaefer, Riesling, Mosel 2005 / White Peach "fake Bellini"
Image 14: The toasted brioche was excellent by itself; very buttery that I couldn't even notice the foie after a while! What a waste of $40 supplement!
Image 15: Sautéed Fillet Of Florida Cobia, green asparagus, cherry with a Burgundy mustard "Nuage" cream underneath. The cherry gave a nice acidity to the fish but it was way too simple a course. Come on!
Bruno Giacosa Arneis 2009 / Ginger Lemonade
Image 16: Well, another ordinary course - hand harvested Maine Sea Scallop and leeks garnished with tiny potato chips. It had an appealing aroma of garlic. Was it because we became more fussy in recent years or Keller's cuisine slowly became outdated with the recent molecular trend dominating the global dining scene? I really felt a lack of excitement here!
Image 17: Oh my god! Could they serve a more simple dish than this "Poularde Rôtie à la broche"?! A piece of bland chicken sitting on a bed of tarragon emulsion decorated with beets and Mizuna leaves. At that point, I really didn't know what to say! Nice crispy skin though!
Image 18: Couldn't believe it was main course already - a saddle of Elysian Fields Farm's Lamb with spring peas, baby carrots, and ginger-scented lamb jus. Yes, this was the main course! We enjoyed our beverage pairing more than the food. What a shame!
Domaine Alain Burguet Gevrey Chambertin Mes Favorites 1999 / Pinot Noir Juice
Image 19: A very unusual cheese course - Ticklemore goat cheese...
Image 20: ... on top of a mixture of marinated forest mushrooms and fava bean tapenade. Not my type of food with an odd mixture of textures and flavours!
Image 21: A pre-dessert of Mango Sorbet resting on rice pudding topped with whipped jasmine tea and a rice wafer garnish. It reminded me of the Thai dessert mango sticky rice. As a side notes, the service was relatively fast since they wanted the table back within 2.5 hours!
Image 22: There were two choices for main dessert. The first one was all about Raspberry - Raspberry sorbet, raspberry jelly roll stuffed with hazelnut mousse, raspberry mousse cake, iced raspberry parfait, and fresh raspberries.
Image 23: Or Truffe au Chocolat et Pistache - Chocolate ice cream on pistachio, bavarois, bitter chocolate marquise and a slice of sponge almond cake. Both desserts were wonderful compared to the rest of the meal.
Chateau Rieussec Sauternes 1996
Image 24: Time for petits-fours. They called this Butter Popcorn! Once biting into this thin chilled white chocolate shell, a butter-popcorn flavoured cream burst inside our mouth! The most sensational "popcorn" ever!
Image 25: A selection of ganache: Pistachio, Milk, Chestnut, Honey, Vanilla...
Image 26: Also liquorice and curry!
Image 27: Once we finished the petits fours, the manager quickly came over and strongly suggested us for a kitchen tour. It was clear that they needed the table asap.
Image 29: Just like the kitchen of French Laundry, a video conference allowing chefs to communicate between the two kitchens.
Image 30: It was a very disappointing experience, with dull food and rushed service. Nothing wrong with any of the courses with Oyster and Pearls being the highlight, but the meal was too flat all the way through. On the way out, despite they handed us a bag of cookies to take home, our faces clearly expressed our dissatisfaction.