Daddy Warbucks and I love to eat at the country's best restaurants whether it be in Dallas or when we travel. We are big "foodies" and have the red "loss of circulation" marks from our clothes to prove it.
Knowing this, a few years ago Daddy Warbuck's brother and sister-in-law generously gave us a Christmas gift of a $500 gift certificate to Thomas Keller's highly touted New York restaurant, Per Se.
We go to NY twice a year however getting reservations at Per Se is like getting backstage passes at a Miley Cyrus concert, competing in and winning "The Amazing Race" or getting a seat in the audience for Oprah's "Favorite Things" show. You need to call two months in advance during a window that they are actually taking reservations (like between 1:00 and 1:08). Ok, maybe not the last part but even so it still sent my dyslexia and annoyance level into overdrive so D.W. had to handle it. Being the Daddy Warbucks that he is, he called the Platinum American Express services and they got us in.
We met our very close and ultra-cool friends Evan and Jade who live in TriBeCa at the Stone Rose bar for a drink beforehand. It was extremely fabulous and made us further excited for our dinner later that evening. As expected, the menu at Per Se is a Chef's Tasting with wine pairings. I noticed our sommelier was not wearing a stitch of makeup - perhaps some Chanel lip gloss would get in the way of her sense of smell? They first offered us a piece of bread but I took just a tiny amount as I had done many tastings before and it is always a rookie mistake to eat too much bread.
Next was the "Peach Melba" including foie gras. For a $30 per person up charge I figured it would be sublime and worth it - I also thought the foie gras would be seared since Peach Melba is a piping hot dish. Instead it was a rather large slab of a room-temperature terrine, a quarter of the way through it I became somewhat sick at the sheer thought that I was eating a thick portion of pure duck fat. This portion size would unfortunately not be the continuing trend of the meal.
I have never had a Chef's Tasting where by the 7th course I haven't wanted to take my pants off at the table, so the tiny portions were somewhat shocking. Daddy Warbucks opted for the pasta dish instead of beef - which turned out to be 4 tiny Gnocchi pieces of pasta with a drizzle of sauce. Looking at my 'powerfully built' sexy husband, I thought they must be kidding - even doubling it they would have to be kidding. Evan and I momentarily lost our common sense and ordered the beef for a measly $75 upcharge each (on top of our $275 per person for food and $160 per person for wine). Granted, I wasn't expecting the "eat this steak and get it free" size of beef, however nor was I expecting a paltry 2 ounces of beef either. Many things were truly delicious such as the oysters and pearls (oysters, tapioca and caviar), macaroni and cheese (butter poached lobster with a cheese risotto) - I would have easily traded my duck fat slab for another spoonful of that risotto. Sadly, the portions were like a tease and could be eaten in literally two bites.
The $2100 (!) check came and plopping down our $500 gift certificate felt like a "Get One Appetizer Free" coupon. We actually asked them to wrap up all the after dinner chocolates to go, not wanting to leave a crumb behind at this point. I couldn't help but think, "Do I at least get a free tee shirt?" I also thought, "Did I go to the Bahamas for a weekend getaway or eat at Per Se for 3 hours?"
We then tried to go to the Mandarin hotel for a drink and despite 40 open bar tables they told us we would need to wait 20 minutes. They officially take the cake for the "asshole award" (suck it Mandarin Oriental).
We ended up at Donald Trump's hotel where, amazingly, everyone was very pleasant and more than happy to over-serve us. We said goodnight to Evan and Jade and as we headed back to the Waldorf Astoria (where the lobby was unexpectedly full of tourists in fanny packs and "I Love NY" tee-shirts) I made Daddy Warbucks walk with me an extra block as a NY street hot dog was calling my name. As I shoveled the nitrate-filled wiener with extra relish down my throat, Daddy Warbucks looked at me in amazement and lovingly said, "You know honey, you could have had 2100 of those."