Glen and I celebrated our...drumroll please...25th wedding anniversary a couple of weeks ago by going to dinner at Per Se. Actually, we didn't eat in the restaurant with the umpteen course meals, we ate in the Salon area, which was fabulous. It's also a well-kept secret that you can dine in the Salon (also known as the bar area) and you don't even need reservations. You can stop in for drinks or dessert, or do what we did and enjoy a lovely dinner from a limited menu.
Before I tell you about Per Se, let me back track 24 years, to our first wedding anniversary. We saved up for six months in order to go dinner at Lutece, which was one of the best restaurants in the city. The food was classical French, in the heyday of luscious cream sauces over veal medallions, and wonderful meringues and fresh berries for dessert. During the course of the evening the chef, André Soltner, did a walk through the restaurant and greeted each diner. I felt like a teenage girl at a Beatles concert -- I was so excited to meet him! I think that experience is turned me on to fine dining, and Glen and I have made a tradition of fine dining on our anniversary.
We have thought about going to Per Se for years, but there are so many wonderful restaurants in town that we never got around to it before. It seemed like such a hassle just trying to get reservations, so when I heard about the Salon dining I was thrilled.
Instead of the 9 course tasting menu, we were offered a more traditional menu of three courses to choose from. Before we started our meal, we were served two amuse courses -- the first was a bite-sized gourges -- a puff pastry with an intense burst of cheese -- and a miniature cone topped with salmon tartare.
I started my meal with the Foie Gras terrine, served with toasted brioche. (Note, the waitress came by and replaced my half-eaten toast because, she said, it should be eaten hot and mine had cooled off.) And Glen had a "salad" of toasted lettuces and vegetables. For the main course, I ate a wonderful cut of beef that was so tender it melted in my mouth, and Glen ate the butter-poached lobster. (Use your imagine on that one and see if you can figure out how wonderful it was!) For dessert, Glen opted for the plate of cheeses, and I had the ice cream and sorbet sampler.
I have to take a moment here and describe the sampler. I wasn't served three scoops of dessert in a bowl, I was served five different and distinct ice creams and sorbets, each in it's own cup and resting on a bed what looked like "toppings". My favorite one was a lavender sorbet on a bed of rose meringue drops, but the dark chocolate ice cream served over toasted hazelnuts was equally delicious.
Glen and I don't drink wine, but we had heard that Per Se has some wonderful non-alcholic drinks. Our waiter/bartender brought us out several drinks during the evening that were paired with our meal. We were served a cucumber and mint "mojito" that was very refreshing, and an inventive chamomile tea and coke concoction. The drinks were a wonderful addition to our meal, and change of pace from having sparking water all night long.
Our kids were very excited about the little bags of cookies that were given to us as we left as a "takeaway" from dinner.
We had such a great meal -- I can't wait to go back again!
One note: sometimes the Salon is closed for a private party, so although you can't make reservations in advance, it's a good idea to call a few days ahead and make sure it's open for the evening.