Was Per Se’s $1,633 New Year’s Eve Blowout Worth It?
The Price Hike reported last week that Thomas Keller’s Per Se was charging $750pp for the late seating on New Year’s Eve, which works out to $1,633 for two after tax. That’s $991 more than a typical dinner service, when the $295 tasting runs $642 for two.
Was the holiday markup worth it? Well, that’s what we’re here to find out. We have a copy of Per Se’s pricey NYE menu so we’ll break down the iSuppli-style SUTTONOMICS on all the luxury ingredients and find out what type of value was involved. We estimate the additional prices of any foie gras, truffles or caviar based on what Per Se typically charges, and see if it ads up to $750 per person.
1. Welcome Glass of Champagne. Guestimated supplement: $34 (the cheapest glass of Champers on Per Se’s list).
2. Oysters and Pearls with Tsar Imperial Caviar. Estimated supplement: $75 (Per Se never charges extra for Oysters & Pearls, which usually includes very good Sterling White Sturgeon caviar; we’re tacking on extra value because of the Tsar Imperial caviar, which incurs a $75 supplement on Per Se’s regular menu).
4. White Truffle Oil-infused Custard With Black Winter Truffles (The French Laundry once sold me an extended tasting menu at $30 extra for three additional courses; this was one of them, so this really shouldn’t incur an additional charge to the $295 menu).
5. Terrine of Hudson Valley Foie Gras With Black Winter Truffles. Estimated Supplement: $140 (Per Se typically charges $100 for black truffles and $40 for foie gras. Quite frankly I can’t understand why Per Se, at $295 per person, charges extra for duck liver while restaurants like Eleven Madison Park include the dish “for free” on its $125 menu, but so be it).
6. Sole With Scallop Mousse (Per Se includes a white fish on its $295 menu, so no supplement here).
7. Butter-Poached Nova Scotia Lobster With Bacon-Wrapped Leek and Beet-Truffle Vinaigrette (Per Se always has a lobster course at no extra charge).
8. Four Story Hill Farm’s Capon (No supplement; there’s usually a poultry course).
9. 100-Day Dry Aged American Wagyu. Estimated Supplement: $100 (This is what Per Se charges for high-end American beef).
10. Brie with White Alba Truffles. Estimated Supplement: $100-$175 (Per Se charges $175 extra for its white truffle courses, which typically involve risotto with Castelmagno Mousse. We’re putting a range in here to account for the fact that you might have a smaller serving of brie and truffles than you would risotto, unless Keller thinks we’re all obese, which I don’t think is the case).
11. Green and White Mimosas.
12. Chocolate Bombe
Estimated Value Per Person: Around $744-$819 per person ($295 base + $34 champagne + $140 black truffle foie + $100 wagyu + $175 alba). Also recall that as with any any Per Se meal, there will likely be extra flights of amuses and excellent bread baskets.
Of course, this price range is judging value by Per Se standards; other fine Manhattan restaurants offer these luxuries for less. Also: value is dependent on exactly how many grams of caviar/truffles Per Se was giving away; experience tells us they’re very generous with those ingredients.
The downside of this New Year’s Even menu was that were no choices. On regular nights, supplements are optional and can push the menu as high as $685 menu per person; smart couples will let one person order the supplements and share with the other, resulting in a REAL COST of $1,067 ($685 + $295 plus tax), with the added bonus of some variety (the supplement courses are completely different, never just shaved truffles on a standard preparation).
So was this New Year’s Eve menu worth it? From a Per Se accounting perspective, YES, but we say skip Per Se on the holidays and eat there on a regular night “on the cheap.”