2004 was a pretty good year for the NYC food scene. Among the openings were The Spotted Pig, Per Se, Momofuku Noodle Bar, and Shake Shack.
If there was a movement taking shape, its key players admit they didn’t notice until after the fact. And many of them spent the year struggling. Mr. Chang was desperate for customers in the early days at Noodle Bar, and kicking himself for having failed to apply for a kitchen job at Per Se or Masa. “I remember thinking very clearly, ‘What am I doing?’ ” he said. ” ‘This is stupid. I should be working at Masa!’ “
In some cases, 2004 was an outright fight. At the Spotted Pig, Mr. Friedman and Ms. Bloomfield, who had arrived from England, envisioned the vibrant boite as “a really cool bar that happened to have food as good as any restaurant in town,” Mr. Friedman said. “Who made the rule that you can’t have a real chef instead of someone who defrosts the frozen French fries?”
A fifteen-year old foodie used some of the money from his summer job to go dine solo at Per Se. In an attempt to secure the hard-to-get reservation, he asked to be excused from his classroom and dialed the reservations line while hiding in the bathroom.
It was September 29th; exactly two months from the Saturday of Thanksgiving break and one of the few times I would be able to make the trek up to New York to dine at Per Se. I would have to call to make the reservation at Per Se at exactly 10 A.M today if I had any hope of getting that Saturday reservation. The only problem? I had school.
I sat patiently in my 9:30 - 10:25 science class as the clock neared 10. Very strategically, at exactly 9:57, I innocently asked to use the bathroom. I walked, no sprinted to the bathroom down the hall. I scrolled down my contact list until I reached Per Se, then dialed, and waited…
Ed Levine gets served a hot dog at Per Se. “I’m quite sure this was the first time Thomas Keller ever served anyone a hot dog in one of his restaurants.” Let’s see if this works…I totally want a hot dog next time I’m at Per Se. (via the eater)
Snack has the scoop on which NYC restaurants got how many stars in the new Michelin Guide. Ducasse, Jean-Georges, Le Bernardin, and Per Se got top honors…Daniel and Masa must be a little disappointed with only two stars. (via afb)
Thomas Keller gets the butter for his restaurants from 6 cows in Vermont. The woman who owns them sells more than 80% of her butter to Keller: “When you’re small you can have a relationship with the people who buy your food. The reason I’m not big is because I’m a perfectionist. I’ve got to sell to someone who is the same way.”
Charlie Trotter bails out of his planned restaurant in the Time Warner Center and it seems that Vongerichten’s steakhouse might not be far behind. As I can attest from a fantastic birthday gift dinner, Per Se is doing quite well.
James Surowiecki, the New Yorker’s resident economist, weighs in on the tipping debate. (Previously discussed here.)
Wanna go work for Thomas Keller? Per Se is using Craigslist to fill some server openings in the front of the house.
Thomas Keller’s Per Se is getting rid of tipping, opting for a 20% flat rate for service to be split between the entire staff.
This review of Per Se mentions their non-alcoholic wine pairings. “With each course, we were given a beverage - ranging from grape juice to steamed milk - which complimented the tastes in the dish. Libby’s ‘Red Rice and Beans’ was completed by a lime margarita. My foie gras with a gossamer grape juice that was finer than most wines.”