Explaining Per Se’s $685 Menu (Wine Is Extra)

Thomas Keller’s service-included Per Se, at $295 per person, is New York’s second most expensive restaurant. Service is included. And as The Price Hike has previously reported, things can get more expensive even before wine is involved.

Earlier this summer, we noticed that dinner for one could rise as high as $610 after adding on caviar, black Australian truffles, foie gras and wagyu. But last week, we spotted an even higher effective menu price of $685 for a solo diner, a 132% or $390 increase from the base menu. The $685 menu substitutes more expensive white Alba truffles for the black Australian ones.

Something we’d like to emphasize is that Per Se’s $685 menu doesn’t involve “outlier prices.” This is not page 483 of a 10,000 bottle wine list offering millions of pairing possibilities. Per Se was offering four choices on the savory portion of its menu last week. Precisely 100% of those choices involved supplements.

This is important. Diners can raise their bill by thousands of dollars at any restaurant by asking for a few bottles of Chateau Leroy or Harlan Estate. But statistically speaking, your date is more likely to order foie gras than Harlan by virtue of the fact that the foie is only one of four choices, Harlan is likely one of thousands of choices. 

In other words, just as you should study the wine list before dining at Per Se, you should read the menu too; the restaurant is courteous enough to update the daily offerings by 3pm or thereabouts. Food supplements aren’t typically a list of options tailed to everyone’s budget, like wine lists. Rather, food supplements are either or propositions. You either can afford them or you can’t.

So if you and your companion find yourself at Per Se and one of you orders all the supplements, dinner for two will cost $980, or $1,067 after tax. Theoretically dinner for two could cost as much as $1,370 under this rubric if you both order every supplement, but we’re making the assumption that you’re an accomplished eater who’s intelligent enough not to order the same thing as your companion. Because really, you can share the truffles.

Is the $685 menu a BUY HOLD OR SELL? Your call, fellow gastronauts. In the meantime, here were last week’s supplements and their individual prices:

  • Tsar Imperial Caviar With Applewood-Smoked Sturgeon and Dill Panna Cotta: $75 (replacing: Oysters & Pearls)
  • Gateau of Hudson Valley Foie Gras: $40 (standing in for Salad Nicoise)
  • White Truffle Risotto $175 (the understudy for Capon).
  • 100 Day-Dry-Aged Wagyu: $100 (The “dollar-a-day” substitute for roasted Elysian Fields Lamb).


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