Sunday, May 3, 2015

NYC Trip 2015 - Day 1: Dinner at Per Se, a Thomas Keller restaurant

So I admit it's been a while since writing on my blog. I created this blog as a of way of chronicling our food adventures, both at and away from home, starting with our trip to Las Vegas, San Francisco and Napa Valley exactly 5 years ago this week back in 2010.   This past week we took our first vacation since that trip, and I'm excited to share our food adventures once again!  I'm also now inspired to share more, planning to go through my backlog of endless iPhone photos of meals, hits and misses, to share with you.

This trip was in-part an early 10 year wedding anniversary present to ourselves (actual anniversary is later this summer) and a celebration of my continued successful recovery from the back problems that have been plaguing me for years now. If you know me, it's been rough, and this was my first real test as to what I could tolerate.  It was a huge success! Woo hoo! If nothing else, that is a reason to celebrate.   We splurged and splurged, ate and ate, and overall treated ourselves like kings and queens, having the time of our lives.  Some of my favorite moments were the unexpected ones, looking down a street and getting a stunning view of a landmark with the sun hitting it just right,  unexpected sunset views, or just a perfect new york street. I love New York, and would recommend each of our stops to everyone looking for their own New York food adventure!
What's a trip without the view-out-the-plane-window picture?
Trip Planning basics - we planned the trip based around the restaurants, shops, and markets we wanted to visit. We diligently made reservations for dinner as early as possible, usually 30 days in advance (or as early as the restaurant would allow). I highly recommend this as the top spots book up quickly! For lunch, we had a list of places to stop and graze, sometimes having a few smaller meals for "lunch" to be able to experience more dishes vs one larger mid day meal.  Then, we spent our time before and after each meal exploring the immediate areas with no set schedule, staying flexible and spontaneous. We have both been to NYC and seen all the main sites, so exploring neighborhoods and shops and off the beaten path areas was our main goal (both of us visited with our families while in high school, and then together for a long weekend in college thanks go my husbands winning of a contest for a free trip to NYC!), then we could pick and choose which of the key landmarks to return to.  Our typical day would begin my sleeping in (my husband always the first to arise), and getting out of the hotel between 9:45-10:15.  We'd explore, eat, explore, rest and freshen up late afternoon, then head out again for the evening.  Sleep. repeat.  

For this post I'll stick with Day 1, which was Sunday April 26, 2015. We flew into La Guardia, took a cab to Midtown, enjoyed terrific views from the Ed Koch Bridge, and started our adventure!  We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn - Midtown East, on 52nd street between 2nd and 3rd avenues.  I picked this hotel largely because of the close proximity to two subway stops (Lex and 53rd and Lex and 51st), our pleasant past history with Hilton family of hotels, and the value.  We opted for the City View King, and got a room on the 28th floor, the top floor of the hotel!  Highly recommend this hotel, was not disappointed at all. Location could not be beat! 
View from room, looking SE
We settled in about 5pm, rested, and then got ready for our dinner at Per Se.  Yes, Per Se! We first experienced a meal by Thomas Keller while in Napa Valley at Bouchon (view post here), and knew we would not be disappointed.   We wanted to start the trip off right for sure :).  

We would be in NYC for almost 6 days, so got the $31 unlimited Metro Card for each of us, WELL worth it.  No keeping track of balances, and it pays for itself after just a couple of days (particularly when you miss your stop!).  Rode the E train over to 7th avenue.

On our trek over to Columbus Circle and Per Se, had to stop by the Ed Sullivan Theater to see Dave's sign all lit up for the last time.  Oh, and I haven't mentioned yet that we saw the Late Show with David Letterman on Thursday! With guest Michelle Obama!  More on that later.....

Dinner at Per Se was AMAZING. I can't really express how perfect it was. So romantic, 10 courses but really more like 15, flavors like we'd never experienced, service that went above and beyond, and I could go on and on.  I had noted in our reservation that we were celebrating our 10 year anniversary with this trip, and noted I have back problems so would like a table near the perimeter as to not bother other guests if I needed to stand up a bit (the meal was expected to last 3 hours, longer than I'd been able to sit of late).  The maitre d' came over to greet us, asked about my back and what type of chair I'd prefer, and make sure we were taken care of. And we were! We also received complimentary glass of champagne each with our meal as part of our celebration.

Below is our view from our table of Columbus circle and Central Park.  Oh, and I am now aware of the purse stool. It's a little stool next to your chair for your purse, heaven knows putting it on the floor is the worst!

Menu for our meal

We both chose the Per Se classic Oysters and Pearls for our first course




Sampling of salts for Zac's Foie Gras dish

Even the butter was amazing!

Duck Foie Gras

Roasted Carrot

Halibut dish with asparagus

We were offered an assortment of breads for each course, this is the salted pretzel bread

Abalone dish - first time eating abalone, and not the last!

The Poulard was so tasty looking  that we had both eaten most of it before realizing I had forgotten to take a picture...

Veal course

Apple pie dessert, the first of many desserts! 

Champagne Grapefruit ice with cream, very refreshing! 



Cake and ice cream dish

Extra dessert for our anniversary! White chocolate ribbon, candied flowers, cake on the inside

Lots O Chocolate

sampling of cookies and candies, They brought around a box of 2 dozen chocolates for us to pick from

play on coffee and donuts, with frozen coffee

Two very full, very happy people

View from restaurant



If you had to choose one place in New York to eat, go to Per Se.  It's a once in a lifetime "event" of a meal, worth every penny!  We will never forget it!

Stay tuned for details on the rest of our trip! Preview: Letterman. Flushing. Le Bernardin. Momofuku. Sushi Yasuda.  Just to get started!



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