So, today I did one of the coolest things I will probably ever get a chance to do. I had dinner at Per Se.
|Before dinner, in front of the famous, non-working blue door.|
Now listen, I am not a food blogger, and this experience has been covered by ALL the food bloggers. So if you want a good description of the food (or pictures; I don't like taking pictures at the table), try these bloggers. And if you want an ode to the whole thing of it, Sam Sifton's got that right here in the New York Times.
What I will offer are things that stand out in my head about our experience tonight (because of course I went with the extremely dapper Mr. S!)
- We had an early reservation, and we were the first ones in when
the restaurant opened for dinner. As we were led through the dining
room to our seats, at least a dozen staff members stood at attention,
greeting us. It felt exactly like that POV shot in Titanic, when Rose
is on the grand staircase. When I mentioned that to Mr. S, he realized
that's what it had reminded him of too. A little intimidating, but man,
I have never felt more important.
- The service throughout the night consisted of at least four
different people answering questions, bringing food, explaining the
food, clearing utensils and dishes, bringing new utensils and dishes,
etc. We had one main person (I think he's called the captain) who
handled most of the talking (and recommended a really nice half-bottle
of wine when I told him we weren't big drinkers but wanted a little bit
to go with the food), and then there was like a whole team of people
looking out for us. I've never seen anything like it.
- The food just. kept. coming. Technically, it's a nine-course tasting menu:
- In addition to what you see here, there were two little dishes at the beginning (anyone know the plural of amuse bouche? I know the phrase means something like "please the mouth", and that they are one-bite delicacies that usually come at the beginning of the meal, but I don't know how to talk about the fact that we got two of them, gruyere gougeres and Chef Keller's famous salmon cornets) and about ten different little things that came out after dessert, all covered by the word "mignardises" on that menu. Seriously: truffles (we got to pick from a big selection of them), other truffles, macarons, little rounds of fudge, and "coffee and doughnuts", which actually meant coffee semifreddo (like less-cold ice cream) and little round perfect doughnuts. (ETA: I forgot--also tiny round perfect ice cream bon-bons--buttered popcorn flavor. I mean, really.)
- Most memorable: probably the gruyere gougeres, as they were the very first, perfect bite. A harbinger of so much good to come. I may have bounced up and down a little.
Since I am too full to make this relevant to reading and writing, I will ask you for your best comparisons: how is a great meal like a great book? What can writers learn from fine dining?