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Per Se is an overrated, ludicrously expensive hot mess.


That’s the gist of Pete Wells’s evisceration in The New York Times of Thomas Keller’s famous restaurant in New York City, the East Coast cousin of the chef’s flagship French Laundry in Napa Valley. It’s difficult to choose just one representative passage because the review is stacked like a Keller-esque tower with abuse, but this will do:

The kitchen could improve the bacon-wrapped cylinder of quail simply by not placing it on top of a dismal green pulp of cooked romaine lettuce, crunchy and mushy at once. Draining off the gluey, oily liquid would have helped a mushroom potpie from turning into a swampy mess. 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.

Wells downgraded Per Se to two stars, from its previous four stars. His review follows a similarly brutal critique of the restaurant by Tanya Gold in Harper’s