A Rotary friend from Japan, Woosie, invited www.ParamusPost.com to a posh NYC restaurant called Per Se. The reservation had to be made at least a month in advance and there was a last minute cancellation fee of $200.00 .. per person.
Never having experienced that before, it was exhilarating to be able to visit the place. Located at Columbus Circle on the 4th floor required elevators and long escalators to arrive. Of course I had Googled Per Se and learned that they had a Prix Fixee menu of $310.00 per person including Service for a 'Tasting Menu'. Wow! The earliest that Woosie could get a reservation for on Sunday 8/24/14 was 9 PM. This was over a month before. Very interesting.
Entering the restaurant, there were glass doors that opened immediately into a dimly lit hallway. We were led to our table which was a few steps from the entry level with diners on both levels, mood lighting with a candle on each table. The wait staff was clad in dark clothing, jacket and pants along with a wide collar shirt accommodating a full Windsor knot. Male diners were required to wear jackets and ties. There were some who violated this precept, b but were allowed in? The mood lighting allowed for fine dining and for being discreet or perhaps incognito.
We had a female head waitress who explained the menu, but her accent threw me off and thus needed special explanation. Some of the wait staff also had accents and that compounded my comprehension as they explained each dish that was served. The platters were, for the most part, about 10" wide with a 3 - 4" circle indented in the center upon which the presentation rested. While I took pictures, I did so without a flash and therefore they are a bit grainy and unusable for this account.
We had to pick many different courses; the presentation was gorgeous and, at times, puzzling. For example to start, I had Pearls and Oysters. Described as "Sabayon" of Pearl Tapioca with Island Creek Oysters and Sterling White Sturgeon Caviar. Don't think oyster shells nor oyster meat on that 4" circle. One did taste the caviar, but it was surrounded by the other ingredients. Each course was presented by several members of the wait staff so that we were all receiving the course immediately. Woosie ordered a bottle of champagne, selected the year and that involved a pouring exhibition. A waiter or Sommelier held the bottle at the base and poured from the base. He held a cloth to contain any drippings .. an artful demonstration.
Course after course kept coming out and although I had thought that the little portions would not be filling, at the end, passed up some of the desserts. One of us quit at the dessert line. Check Per Se on the Internet for the menu and get an idea of the selections.
I later learned that 'posh' was an understatement. Per Se is rated as the most expensive restaurant in New York City and one of the most expensive in the world. It was worth the experience.