Mon-Thu, 5:30pm-10pm; Fri-Sun, 11:30am-1:30pm and 5:30pm-10pm
1, A, B, C, D at 59th St.-Columbus Circle
American Express, MasterCard, Visa
The French Laundry is widely touted as the best restaurant in America, and Per Se seems to have been conceived, rather self-consciously, as its august big-city sibling. The rooms, which look out across the treetops of Central Park, feel grand but mildly antiseptic. The main dining room is colored, by the designer Adam Tihany, in muted tones of gray and brown, and decorated, at either end, with towering arrangements of flowers, and a working fireplace allows for fireside dining. The hyperattentive and hyperinformed wait staff are dressed in starchy dark suits and fat Armani ties, and as they troop silently to and fro in the ghostly evening light, the whole scene looks elegant but solemn and vaguely stagy, like a studious California version of what a first-class New York restaurant should be. There’s nothing stagy or solemn about the food, however, which is beautifully conceived, elegantly presented (on a new Thomas Keller line of dishes by Raynaud), and as varied as the colors of the rainbow. The menu, which changes daily, is a jumble of bite-size tastings, the most modest of which involves five courses, including cheese and dessert.Prix-Fixe Menu
Nine-course vegetable tasting; nine-course chef's tasting, $295
Best Meal Under $350
Get the prix-fixe at Per Se. Begin with "Oysters and Pearls," and be sure to save room for the "Coffee and Doughnuts" dessert.
Cappuccino of forest mushrooms; oysters and pearls; chaud-froid; bacon and eggs; macaroni and cheese; snails; scallops; boeuf grillee; creamsicle; coffee and doughnuts