March 01, 2006
I give Eater a lot of slack, because they’re part of the Gawker network which makes a living saying ridiculous things, and because they’re mostly spot-on. However, their recent re-review of Per Se had me scratching my head. Did we eat at the same restaurant? I’m not going to go into their claims of “memorability” or “quality”, because those are subjective things. Personally, I’ve been their twice and found the food to be phenomenal, and I certainly won’t forget either of my dining experiences there any time soon. However, when reading that this man’s colleague, a 90 pound size-zero was still hungry after eating there… I was flabergastified and confustibobulated. It is with a heavy heart that I call shenanigans; and disingenuous shenanigans, the worst kind. Unless that restaurant has changed completely in the past 8 months, there is no way that anyone leaves that place hungry.
My first meal there was a seven course meal, with several courses not even counting toward the total, such as extraneous bread and dessert courses at the end (I believe there were three dessert courses actually, but I may have lost count). This meal took about four hours to complete, and we had so much food that we had to take our last two dessert courses home in boxes, along with a free complement of cookies, chocolates, and Thomas Keller’s signature Macaroons. My second time there, Keller was actually in the restaurant at the time, and our waiter gave us the option of having the “Extended Menu”, which all parties involved that night now refer to colloquially as “The Meal of Death”. This is because there was so much food on the table, in our stomachs, and probably scattered on the floor by our chairs that we actually wanted to die. The waiters seemed to take a cruel delight in serving us our gastronomic demise; toward the end we were no longer eating out of hunger or even enticement, but rather that we were too embarassed to consider sending an unbelievable foie gras terrine or a lobster tail over orzo back to the kitchen unfinished. Toward the end of the night we wondered if Keller himself was preparing us, in a Twilight-Zonesque twist, for our own slaughter, after which he could feed our own fat livers to the next customer; I expected him to come out of the kitchen and force food down our beaks with exquisitely crafted, pearl-handled chopsticks.
I cannot conceive of any person, be they female, 90 pound, hypoglycemic, tape-worm infested, or of any other constitution, that could leave that place hungry. Unless of course, they were picky and didn’t eat the food in front of them… in which case I contend that the moniker of “Eater” is extremely disingenuous, no?
Written by Will who lives and works in New York. You should follow him on Twitter.