Can one meal be so good that it's worth $210 before wine, tax and tip? Well I'm going to find out today when I have lunch at Per Se, which I sometimes refer to as the Church of Thomas Keller. And though I know Keller a little bit, having met him three or four times at food functions, I am going to Per Se today as a regular Joe, just one member of a birthday lunch our friends Sam and Arietta are throwing for Sam's birthday. So we are not going to get the VIP treatment food writers and friends of Keller and Co. get when they go to Per Se.
The "treatment" usually involves another ten courses on top of the nine course tasting menu that's available to the general public for, yes, $210 before wine, tax and tip. But getting the special treatment entails making a five hour commitment to the meal (instead of the normal three), and I simply can't sit that long.
The $210 price tag boggles my mind. For that money I could get 77 Gray's Papaya specials (two excellent hot dogs and a medium papaya drink). I could eat lunch for two and a half months at Gray's for what I'm spending at Per Se today.