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NYT Restaurant Critic Pete Wells: ‘At Thomas Keller’s Per Se, Slips and Stumbles’

Pete Wells:

The kitchen could improve the bacon-wrapped cylinder of quail simply by not placing it on top of a dismal green pulp of cooked romaine lettuce, crunchy and mushy at once. Draining off the gluey, oily liquid would have helped a mushroom potpie from turning into a swampy mess. I don’t know what could have saved limp, dispiriting yam dumplings, but it definitely wasn’t a lukewarm matsutake mushroom bouillon as murky and appealing as bong water. […]

Both dishes, though, came at an extra charge: $75 more for the caviar and $175 for the risotto. The supplements at Per Se can cause indignation, among other emotions. When my server asked, “Would you like the foie gras” — $40 more — “or the salad?,” the question had an air of menace. When the salad turned out to be a pale, uncrisp fried eggplant raviolo next to droopy strips of red pepper and carrot, it felt like extortion.

Some of those prices came down slightly when the baseline cost went up. With or without supplemental charges, though, Per Se is among the worst food deals in New York.

Per Se was one of only six restaurants with four stars from The Times; Wells knocked them back down to two stars.

See also: Jordan Weissmann, writing for Slate: “New York Times Food Critic Pete Wells Is a Populist Hero”.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016