Per Se dishes are as “appealing as bong water” says the New York Times

Tsar Imperial Ossetra Caviar

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Pete Wells, the Times’ chief restaurant critic published a review yesterday of Thomas Keller’s Per Se, one of the most expensive restaurants in the city and until now, one of the best reviewed. Because, to put it gently, Wells. Did. Not. Like. It.  

His review is filled with nasty snipes about the food (“ranging from respectably dull at best to disappointingly flat-footed”), the service (“Servers sometimes give you the feeling that you work for them”) and the price, (“Per Se is among the worst food deals in New York”). We can’t argue with that last one; the price went up last week to $325 a person, including tip. Some highlights from the piece tell us that Wells knows what bong water looks like: 

“I don’t know what could have saved limp, dispiriting yam dumplings, but it definitely wasn’t a lukewarm matsutake mushroom bouillon as murky and appealing as bong water.”

He also prefers that his lobster not taste like peanut butter:

“The first time, it was served with a sugary Meyer lemon marmalade and a grainy chestnut purée that tasted like peanut butter to which something terrible had been done. Subsequently, it was paired with a slick of cold oatmeal.”

And he knows what a truffle looks like, thank you very much:

“When I asked to see the truffle being shaved over somebody else’s plate, it was whisked under my eyes for a nanosecond, as if the server were afraid I was going to sneeze. I know what truffles look like; what I wanted was to smell it.”

Wells was also horrified by the restaurant’s staff committing such immortal sins as setting the table wrong and pushing in a chair too loudly: 

“Once, the table was set for dessert so haphazardly that my spoon ended up next to my water glass instead of my plate. Sitting down after a trip to the restroom, one of my guests had his chair pushed back into place with a hard shove. Has the dance teacher been replaced by a rugby coach?”

Oh no they didn’t! We understand now why he demoted the restaurant from four stars to two; if we’re spending $3,000 on a meal, our spoon better be in the right damn place! How did eaters respond to this news? For whatever reason, Wells is now being hailed as a populist hero for his review (which seems pretty snobby to us!). Here are some choice tweets:

And this sad Instagram post from a chef who used to work there:

: so the story goes like this my mom came to NYC around my birthday one year and I was busy toiling on the canapé station @perseny she stopped by the host stand to leave me a nice card when who should appear but @chefthomaskeller after insisting that he show her around he sat my mom in the salon overlooking central park south and joined me in the kitchen to cook a few of the most important courses of my life after a few rounds of dessert a maitre’d floated by the table and handed my mom a card “you’ve got a great son your dinner is on me – thomas” mom started balling in the salon … my gratitude for that place for those people for that guy and that moment is infinite … critics are like socks they should get discarded when they start to stink A photo posted by ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀ (@gregkuziacarmel) on