Pete Wells’ Brutal Review of Per Se

TK.com_PER.SE_homepage_1a_0.jpgPer Se, the $325-a-plate dining experience which until today ranked among the only restaurants The New York Times deemed 4-star worthy, just received a deeply critical review from Pete Wells. Wells has been a restaurant critic for the Times since 2011, and he recently gained a little internet notoriety outside the circle of dedicated Times readers by giving a generally positive review to Señor Frog’s, the loosely Mexican chain whose motto (“Unleash Your Fiesta!”) tells you probably all you need to know.

The new Per Se review, which knocked the restaurant down a full 2 stars, is further indication that Wells is taking a hard look at price tags and complete experiences, and refuses to buy-in to old standbys if they do not continue to deliver. This attitude is perhaps best summed up when he writes

With each fresh review, a restaurant has to earn its stars again. In its current form and at its current price, Per Se struggled and failed to do this, ranging from respectably dull at best to disappointingly flat-footed at worst.

Wells had plenty of specifics to critique, ranging from the food to the service to the “price-gouging” of add-ons like fois gras. For $325, Wells fairly expects that every dish would be extraordinary, and his critiques of the dishes pull no punches. Perhaps most brutal, though, are the descriptions he gives to the restaurant itself, which he calls “grand, hermetic, self-regarding, ungenerous” and one of “the worst food deals in New York.”

While there are undoubtedly those who will continue to go out of their way to visit Per Se, or regard it as an essential experience in New York fine dining, perhaps the two lost stars indicate a larger changing of the guard, and an exciting move toward greater innovation in dining in 2016.

To read the full review, click here.

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